We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


That lonely, marginalised, oppressed siren voice in the wilderness John Pilger has managed to escape from the daggers of the vicious McCarthyite witch-hunt that has cowed so many into a silence that has prevented them from speaking the truth about America and the war in Iraq.

This brave, determined peace-campaigner has finally succeeded in casting off the shackles of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that has, hitherto, so ruthlessly crushed his dissent with a one-hour television special screened earlier tonight on ITV1, Britain’s most popular TV channel. There is no link here, mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to go and look for one.

Neither could I actually be bothered to watch the programme. I have been exposed to enough of Pilger’s toxic, manipulative propoganda to know in advance exactly the kind of things he was going to be whining about. In fact, I think I can even summarise them:

Bush. Warmongers. Neo-Conservatives. Oil. Conspiracy. World domination. Capitalism. Globalisation. Unfair trade. Bush. Oil. Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz. CIA. Mossad. Inequality. Poverty. Despair. Hopelessness. Arms trade. Environment. Sharon. Zionist thugs. Oppression. Cruelty. Palestinians. Bush. Oil. Blair. NATO. Poodles. American bullying. Human rights. Amnesty International. Unilateral. Nuremburg trials. Nazis. Aggression. Bush regime. Conquer the world. Crush dissent. United Nations is our only hope.

And those were the good bits!

30 comments to Pilger-bot

  • G Cooper

    I don’t understand this. Truly, I don’t.

    Pilger, is a Left-wing imbecile polemicist – widely regarded as a joke.

    So what on *earth* is a commercial channel doing financing his rabid blathering?

    What say we buy one share each and attend the next shareholders’ meeting to demand an explanation why this Marxist moron is being paid to undermine our company?

  • Unilateral. Nuremburg trials. Nazis. Aggression. Bush regime. Conquer the world. Crush dissent. United Nations is our only hope.

    Are you sure you didn’t watch it David? I only saw the last ten minutes of it (after Dale Amon sent an e-mail to the Samizdatistas telling us he had just turned off his television to prevent himself from throwing a brick at it) and that description pretty much exactly describes what I saw. It touched on those exact points, in that order. Then it accused Bush of using the pretext that we are at war to advance his agenda of world domination, when clearly we are “not at war”. The program finished by discussing whether America is in a “pre-fascist” state or is a fascist state already, talked about the offenses the Nazis were charged with at the Nuremberg trials, and stated that George Bush and Tony Blair are guilty of the same crimes. Unbelievably nasty stuff.

  • Commercial televison in Britain is regulated in an unbelievably strange way, to firstly prevent it from being able to compete properly with the BBC, and secondly to control its content and prevent it from genuinely being influenced by the markets and the people who own it from having very much control over what it actually shows. (This is actually not nearly as bad as it once was, but it is still very much there). As a consequence you get things like this.

  • Katherine

    “The program finished by discussing whether America is in a “pre-fascist” state or is a fascist state already(..)”

    Remarkable. So the fascism is still aiming at America?. Let us hope that it will not land on Europe again.

  • G Cooper

    Michael Jennings writes:

    “Commercial televison in Britain is regulated in an unbelievably strange way, to firstly prevent it from being able to compete properly with the BBC, and secondly to control its content and prevent it from genuinely being influenced by the markets and the people who own it from having very much control over what it actually shows”

    No, not really. True, ITV is hedged around with restrictions and controls, but the real reason its owners have never managed to influence its broadcast content is largely because they have never tried.

    And this, of course, leads us back to the problem at the root of much of UK PLC culture – that the owners of a business are actively conspired against to prevent them exerting influence over the way it conducts itself.

    Sadly, this is as true of Granada and Carlton as it is of ‘new’ Labour Sainsbury’s or ‘new’ Labour BP.

    Were the ‘poor bloody infantry’ shareholders to flex their muscles, we might seem some remarkable changes.

  • True, ITV is hedged around with restrictions and controls, but the real reason its owners have never managed to influence its broadcast content is largely because they have never tried.

    I think one purpose of the restrictions and controls is (or at least was) intended to ensure that the sorts of people who would try to influence its broadcast content would not get to own it in the first place. Certainly a situation where the television network was split into a substantial number of tiny little franchises, and where different people owned the same television station on different days of the week and at different times of day, and where licenses were issued on a franchise basis and could be (and were) not renewed for spurious “quality” reasons didn’t lend itself to strong and assertive ownership. A lot of this is now gone, and we are down to two major companies owning everything who probably could assert themselves more than owners could in the past, but that’s where the culture came from. Certainly a lot of people believed for a very long time that the direction of American commercial television led to the end of the world, and ITV was specifically set up to not be that.

  • Liz

    David – Wow! You were right. But you underestimated how much he talked about the OOOOOIIIILLLLL. And a spectacular bit of moral equivalence: “Why was it wrong for Saddam to kill innocent people but okay for America [not the US Army, the whole country, seemingly!] to do so in the course of the war?”

    I just wanted to throttle him, really I did!

  • Susan

    “Europe is always predicting that fascism will land in the US, but when it comes, it always manages to miss us and hit Europe.”

    I forgot who said that. Probably Pilger has never heard that statement. Jean Marie LePen, anyone? How about Jorge Haider?

  • Chris Josephson

    There are many in the US who would have loved that program. They’ll probably play it at some time on one of our public stations.

    I wish I could get the folks here who believe we’re as bad as Hitler’s Germany to take it one step further and leave before it’s too late. I’ve listened to some of them talk and they get so upset they almost foam at the mouth. It shouldn’t take too much to make them leave?

    Many of the people who say we’re like Nazi Germany praise Castro’s Cuba to the high heavens. It’s got great health care, high educational standards, and nobody is homeless.

    Can’t understand why people would live in such a fascist country like the US when they could be living in the “People’s Paradise” (Cuba). Perhaps it’s the climate? I’m sure they could find some other ‘paradise’ that’s better suited. I JUST WISH THEY’D LEAVE!!

    I’m serious. If I were living in a country that I *really* believed was like Hitler’s Germany, I would leave. I would remember my history and realize those who left Germany before it got too bad, were very wise. So, I’d leave.

    Can’t understand why people don’t just leave. There are plenty of nice places to go. Canada isn’t that far away and has the sort of government many would like. They could leave room for people in other countries who are tired of living in a socialist state to come here.

  • David – You missed out “The Cowboy Entity”.

  • HTY

    Reminds me of a certain lunatic (Howard Dean supporter) who talked about her belief that George Bush will soon be cancelling the upcoming elections and suspend the Constitution. People that insane are almost amusing to watch. Kudos to President Bush for driving them absolutely out of their senses.

  • Andy Duncan

    In the extended highlights, they’re also playing:

    Vietnam. Agent. Orange. Cancer. Cuba. Freedom. Sugar. Blockade. Arafat. Assassinate. Evil. Mossad. Lockerbie. Set-up. Gadafi. Innocent.


  • llamas

    David – you missed out Halliburton.

    The conventional wisdom here across the wat (among the liberal left) is that the president went to war, caused thousands to die and spent billions in treasure to fatten the coffers of a corporation in which his Vice-President has a (blind) financial interest. In other words, so that the VP could earn a few thousands of extra dollars in profits. I’m suprised you didn’t list it, it’s perfectly obvious . . .

    [/] end irony [/i]



  • Michael,

    No, I didn’t watch it. I just guessed it would pretty much be an animated version of his cookie-cutter print articles and, hence, entirely predictable.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I saw the trailer, heard the lying bullshit about the war was all about oooooiiiiiiillllllll! and thought, no way, I’d rather read a book and put on a Mozart CD. I did just that.

    Can you imagine either the BBC or ITV screening a programme setting out the case FOR war?

    long silence…………..cough,………..

  • Paraphrasing the running joke of every Russian studies department in the US:

    “They tell us fascism is just over the horizon, which is great news, because the horizon is an imaginary line that recedes at the rate that you approach it.”

  • Earl Camembert

    But what about the Jews? Did Pilger go on and on about the Jewish neo-cons who run the country from their bunker in Virginia?

    I’m sorry, but if any rabid Anti-American tranzi performance art piece doesn’t include some good ol’ fashioned Jew-bashing, it just ain’t (ahem) kosher to me.

  • Paul Marks

    I was at home on the night in question, but I choose not to see the John Pilger show.

    I can not be accused of bias about the subject matter (as I have no strong opinions about the war and have a great dislike for the general domestic policy of President Bush).

    I choose not to see the show as all the previous output of Mr Pilger that I have seen or read has been vile – a tissue of lies.

    I know that there is strong competition for the title, but I believe that Mr Pilger is the worst journalist-broadcaster based in the United Kingdom today.

  • Ernie G

    I have no doubt that one of the main reasons that the program was made in the first place was so that the tape could be aired in the US on Public Television, or that the audio could be played on NPR.

    There is a Full Court Press on Bush right now, and this is just a small part of it.

  • A_t

    Did it ever occur to any of you that ITV aired this because *gasp* people like to hear this kind of stuff? Free market ‘n all that. People in the UK love US bashing; we’re *so* not immune. I’ve been saying this for a while; for all the “frogs hate the yanks” rubbish that gets bandied around, I suspect Brits as a whole hate/resent them even more.

    So where do you people suggesting shareholder activism fall? Are you suggesting that you should pressure the channel to adopt practices which run contrary to maximum profitability? What about the beauty of capitalism & profit?

    & hey, the reason why few bothered to make a show about reasons for war was a) there wasn’t much to go on and b) the US & UK governments were making what case there was quite well on their own; all the TV channels had to do was report it.

  • A_t,

    Speaking for myself, let me assure you that I am only too aware of how many people love ‘this kind of stuff’. Shedloads.

    And ITV is perfectly entitled to broadcast it as widely and as often as they wish. I simply reserve the right to call John Pilger a boring jackass.

  • A_t

    🙂 that’s perfectly fine with me. Even speaking as someone who has time for people in his general camp, i find him tedious, lecturing & simplistic.

  • G Cooper

    A-t writes:

    “Did it ever occur to any of you that ITV aired this because *gasp* people like to hear this kind of stuff?”

    Really? Top of the evening’s ratings was it?

    On the contrary, I think you’ll find even the most dyed in the wool ITV watchers managed to find the remote control when this drivel came on.

    They may, of course, have been replaced by a few converts from C4.

    “Free market ‘n all that. ”

    What free market? The broadcast media show nothing but this one-sided crap because the Guardian-reading classes comprise the editorial and programme staff of all UK broadcasters.

    Somnolent shareholders allow this to happen.

    “What about the beauty of capitalism & profit?”

    No point asking that question of ITV – it is headed for financial disaster. No doubt helped by making programmes such as this.

  • Michael Jennings

    I think ITV’s opinions of the likely ratings of the program can be deduced from noting they put it on at 11pm. I think that the number of people who go for conspiracy theories as extreme as Pilger’s is pretty small, actually. The is a much larger group who feel a bit of anti-Americanism and are uncertain about the case for war, but that is actually a different constituency. However, as Mr Cooper said, Pilger’s constituency does include the sorts of people who commission programs even for ITV.

  • DBG

    Nuremberg Principle VI

    The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

    (a) Crimes against peace:

    (i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
    (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).


  • R C Dean

    DGB – I’m not sure what the point of your post was. If you mean to imply that the US has violated this Nuremberg principle, you are sadly mistaken.

    The war on Iraq was repeatedly ratified by the UN. The recent invasion was the culmination of the war started by Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991, was no more than the enforcement of the ceasefire Saddam violated on a daily basis for 10 years, and was specifically approved by the UN in Resolution 1441. The so-called “18th resolution” that France killed was not necessary to legalize the invasion, and was in fact a negotiating ploy, an attempt to force Saddam into compliance with UN inspection demands.

    Now, on the other hand, Saddam and the Taliban both clearly violated international law and norms via their extraterritorial aggression, so if you mean to say that both those regimes got what was coming to them, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Barry Meislin

    Might it be possible that the sort of bilge spewed by Pilger is actually helpful?

    I don’t believe the “common person”(?!) is as foolish as some might like to think.

  • DBG

    UNSC Resolution 1441 does not specifically authorize the use of force:

    12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

    13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

    14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

    1441 required the SC to “convene” to “consider” the “situation” of Iraq’s “compliance” (12) before determining the “serious consequences” such as the use of force (13) in the event of non-complience. More, the SC retained the legal right to determine the consequences (14).

    If 1441 “specifically” authorized the invasion, then you should have little trouble pointing out which clause(s) states this and how it/they square with the three clauses above.

    Since 1441 clearly subsumes all prior relevant SC resolutions, the use of such prior resolutions to argue a legal basis for the invasion is absurd. But lets look at 687 (the cease fire resolution) to see if it even provides the claimed authorization if 1441 didn’t exist:

    33. Declares that, upon official notification by Iraq to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council of its acceptance of the provisions above, a formal cease-fire is effective between Iraq and Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Kuwait in accordance with resolution 678 (1990);

    34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area.

    Iraq formally accepted the terms of the cease fire, and the SC retained the authority to implement the terms. There is no authorization for member states to enforce the terms by resorting to force without the SC’s determination of “required” “further steps.”
    Again, if such a clause exists that invalidates clauses 33 and 34 I would like to see it.

    Iraq’s violation of these resolutions does not grant the United States the legal right to violate them as well. Therefore, the invasion of Iraq not only lacked any legal basis provided by the UN Security Council, it clearly violated the terms of the resolutions the US and Britain claimed they were enforcing. Further, as this invasion was planned, prepared, and initiated in violation of “international treaties, agreements, and assurances” it is a direct violation of the Nuremberg Principles. The only thing I am “sadly mistaken” about is the idea that US and its hysterical apologists would ever abide by the laws it helped to write.

  • James Stephenson

    So DBG in your reasoning, the Allied Invasion of Normandy also violates these rules.

    We should have left a man in charge of a country for 20 or 30 more years, let his kids take charge and in the process kill millions of people.

    Yes, I think I see your logic. After all what are a few million dead in that great Socialist experiment in Iraq.

  • DBG

    No James,

    The UN Charter and the Nuremberg Principles didn’t become international law until after WWII. You’ve down a fair enough job of undermining your credibility by suggesting a moral equivalence between WWII were there was an actual threat to the fate of democracy and Iraq which, according to Colin Powell on 2/24/01, wasn’t even a threat to its neighbors. Even though your attempt at reductio ad absurdum failed, it is heartening to know that you can’t find the legal authorization for the Iraq invasion in the UNSC resolutions either. People concerned with international law have two choices, they can argue that the US should be exempt from the law and provide reasons and logic to support this or they can hold the US to the same laws to which we hold others.