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Samizdata quote of the day

“The Bush administration is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany because of the range and depth of its activities and intentions worldwide.”

2005 Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, displaying an interesting sense of historical perspective.

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Pinter has been a little strange for some time, but in recent years he appears to have taken a header into the deep end of lunacy.

    Ah, well. It’s not as if the Nobel Prize in Literature is given for talent. Not primarily, anyway.

  • Josh

    His plays have lots of pauses, but they aren’t there because of any intention of his own. His mind just simply shuts down and somehow it transfers into the script.

    I might as well also point out that he violates Godwin’s Law.

  • D Anghelone

    If I could identify what these flameholes fear in Bush then I might have a reason to support him. Shunning the Kyoto fraud was good but I’d like more.

  • Pinter is a nutcase and should be treated with the contempt we show towards people like Galloway.

  • Patrick

    I know it is an essentially sinful thing to wish, but I do wish anyway that the third Reich, and even more usefull, Stalin’s Russia, had been preserved in some parallel universe. That way, anyone who made such f**ken stupid comments could be led to the gate, and asked: ‘Do you absolutely completely deny that nonsense you just said?’

    Ah, how debate would be just that much more civilised.

  • mike

    Patrick: Amazingly, I suspect the answer might well be ‘no’.
    Pinter et al belong to the ‘loony’ left not merely because we think they are insincere, but actually because we deem them to be, well mad.

  • mike

    On re-reading my comment it occured to me that perhaps there is a little more to be said about that…

    It seems to me that people like Pinter are actually insane – not in contradistinction to any supposed insincerity in their political views – but precisely because of such insincerity with which those views are held and maintained in the face of substantial argument and evidence to the contrary.

    To hold a belief insincerely entails knowing, however vaguely, that it is wrong or at best faulty. What twists of reasoning or smokescreens of passion are then required to justify and protect this insincere belief? Inaccuracies and further insincerely held views would surely be involved. Madness.

    What bothers me is whether a play about Pinter or Chomsky based on a theme like this should be a comedy or a tradgedy…

  • John Steele

    … a flop …

  • guy herbert

    He may be mad, but he’s half right for half of the right reasons. It is just the reasons and conclusions don’t match up very much. He wants to hate America by hook or crook.

    American hegemony is not a bad thing in itself (pace Pinter). Capitalism is generally a force for good in human lives. But plenty of disastrous things have been done and are being done with American power in the world, as well as good things.

    The Bush administration’s combination of complete lack of doubt in its righteousness and unrivalled global dominance does make it dangerous, in the sense of hazardous, whether or not this or that particular action is good-hearted or objectively a Good Thing. In that sense, it is much more dangerous than Nazism. Where Pinter (and Chomsky, and the rest) go wrong is their drawing moral equivalence from the facts of power.

    They are essentially materialists who cannot see that hyper-Americanism for all its vast reach, despite contingent horrors committed in its name, and despite even the AEI, is unsystematic and unprogrammatic at an ideological level. It is not necessarily destructive of humanity as Nazi racial theory was, as the communisms were, as the Salafist sects would be if they had their unlikely way.

  • dubhail

    Subtext: Those clever sinister Joos have never had so much power as they have now. What a shallow tosspot.

  • susan

    If Bush is worse than Hilter why are so many Islamic-fascist reading “Mein Kampf”?

  • verity

    dubhail – Pinter is Jewish.

  • Bernie

    Guy I like that line about being half right for the wrong reasons. I think it is almost the official recipe for success in the “social sciences” and of course “literary” circles.

    I don’t think the USA is anywhere near as hateful as Pinter would have us believe but neither is it the force for good that it once might have been.

    I am bitterly disappointed in the USA.

    A hundred years ago it was pretty much justifed to believe it to be a true beacon of hope to the world as far as freedom and the opportunity to go as far as your own ability could take you.

    Then the statists came to power big time and had their own games to play. Wars and enemies were created for strategic statist reasons. Income tax, the Federal Reserve, the New Deal, etc. etc.

    Even in the 50’s America had fantastic PR around most of the world. Not as a so called superpower but as a place where able and honest people could create and prosper.

    I think there have been a handful of evil men who have not only betrayed their own founders but have also spat in the face of millions of people around the world who looked to them with hope.

    But it is even worse than this. China is an emerging superpower and will likely surpass the USA. China doesn’t even pretend to care about freedom and is, apparently, the only thing holding up regimes like Mugabe’s.

    So while I regard Pinter as part of the problems of the world I don’t see America as being part of the solution at the moment.

  • cassander


    Stop smoking that stuff!

    Sorry folks, he’s been like this ever since he found out the publishers had ‘Waiting for Godot’ ghost written.

  • J

    The phenomenon of artistic genuis coupled with a seemingly deliberately stupid set of political or social views is not a new one.

    I might go so far as to say that the extremely artistic often have sociopathic tendencies. In the event that these people become famous, and attract the usual set of flunkies, they stand little chance of maintaining a sane perspective on the world.

    I think Pinter’s early plays are among the best English plays ever written. When I re-read them I soon forget about the rather sad figure of Pinter the man as he is today – although TBH he was a fairly sad figure throughout his life, for various reasons.

    Einstein’s political views were not hugely well thought out or sensible, but that doesn’t stop the guy being a genuis. And I dimly recall that Hawking had some rather odd beliefs outside of physics.

    One of the good things about Nobel prizes (unlike, say, knighthoods or US diplomatic posts) is that you don’t get them for being popular or nice or mates with someone powerful.

    I’m actually trying to think of a great scientist or artist with unpalatable right wing views, but none springs to mind – Albert Spiers, perhaps, although he wasn’t that great. Nietsche perhaps, although he wasn’t that right wing. But if I found out that, say, Handel was actually a raving anti-semite, I would appreciate his music any less.

  • Chris Goodman

    The Bush administration’s combination of complete lack of doubt in its righteousness and unrivalled global dominance does make it dangerous…In that sense, it is much more dangerous than Nazism.“ Guy Herbert

    What a facade of reasonableness! What a nauseating combination of pedantry and moral corruption! You must be a lawyer.

  • Michael Farris

    I’m no fan of Bush (severe understatement), but that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve read in a long time. It’s the kind of thing you expect at a family reunion from a distant uncle who’s too senile to make sense but too aware to not invite. He blabbers out nonsense and people wait with a frozen smile for a second and go on with the conversation.

    I’ve never cared that much for what little Pinter I’ve seen either, repititions of maliceful snide comments and pugnacious silences do not for entertainment (or art) make. Maybe it’s an English thing, but I never got him.

    Generally, I prefer the nobel literature award to go to outstanding authors with a track record of literary achievement but who may be relatively unknown outside their native countries (of which there is no shortage).

  • ZUKI

    “The Iranian regime is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany because of the range and depth of its activities and intentions worldwide.”

    – I wonder if we’ll be hearing such a quote from the lips of Mr Pinter and his ilk anytime soon? Seems more comparable to Nazi Germany than the Great Satan).

  • Johnathan Pearce

    By the way, much to my surprise, the Guardian newspaper had an interview with Noam Chomsky recently which portrayed the old bastard in a thoroughly unflattering light. Maybe, just maybe some decent parts of the left are starting to get the point of these people and their cretinous anti-Americanism.

  • GCooper

    Of the beast, Pinter, Michael Farris writes:

    “Maybe it’s an English thing, but I never got him.”

    Oh, no. Not at all, in fact. Pinter is only beloved of a certain type . Most people here either wonder which team he plays for, or consider him a wildly overrated bigot with a minimal, derivative talent.

  • RAB

    Sorry Cassander, dont quite get the joke, and god knows I like a laugh.
    Samuel Beckett wrote “Waiting for Godot”
    You know, the Irish bloke whole perversley wrote in French.
    I attended a performance of Krapps Last Tape on a boat called the Thekla in Bristol harbour a long while back. After which there was a group audience disscussion(God knows why!) . During which it was voiced from one of the audience that it’s all very well for this old stuff to get aired but he preferred something from “Living authors rather than dead ones”.
    When it was pointed out to him that Beckett was, indeed, still living, some wag in the audience said “well he fuckin didn’t aught to be”.
    Much my sentiments regards Pinter.

  • mike

    “Nietsche perhaps, although he wasn’t that right wing.”

    J: what do you mean by ‘right wing’? Clearly Nietzche was no closet Friesian, but he did write stuff like this…

    …the state lies in all languages of good and evil and whatever it says, it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen.


    …’There is nothing greater than I, the regulating finger of God!’ – thus the monster bellows.’


    …Only there, where the state ceases, does the man who is not superfluous begin: does the song of the necessary man, the unique and irreplaceable melody begin.

    Dramatic language aside, such generally anti-statist views are surely not too dissimilar to our own. Mind you, I suppose he doesn’t qualify as either a scientist or an artist – unless you count his idiomatic style as ‘art’…

  • Joshua


    Are you serious about that article on Chomsky? I would love a link. I love reading leftist criticism of him. There was a good bit in the New Yorker about three years ago too painting him for the intellectual bully he is – so indeed I think the cracks in his personality cult among the leftists are starting to show.

    On a sidenote – a friend of mine claims to have seen him in the Boston airport yesterday but isn’t sure if it was really him. Wish I’d been there to heckle…

  • “The Bush administration’s combination of complete lack of doubt in its righteousness and unrivalled global dominance does make it dangerous…In that sense, it is much more dangerous than Nazism.“

    What a load of bollocks. It is completely counterfactual. What made Nazi Germany dangerous was its willingness to kill millions of people in pursuit of a warped racist/totalitatian vision. Since Bush is not willing to kill millions of people and is not pursuing a warped racist/totalitarian vision, trying to equate the two is a complete non sequitur.

  • gravid

    Hmmm….it is well documented that the grandfather of GWB had more than a hand in funding the nazi party in the early 1930’s. Check it out and see. try http://www.tarpley.net to start .