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A Practical Policy quotes John Pilger:


One of the cleverest films I have seen is Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman who finds himself stuck in time. At first he deludes himself that the same day and the same people and the same circumstances offer new opportunities. Finally, his naivety and false hope desert him and he realises the truth of his predicament and escapes. Is this a parable for the age of Obama? … He will continue to make stirring, platitudinous speeches, but the tears will dry as people understand that President Obama is the latest manager of an ideological machine that transcends electoral power (more...)

Readers Comments

  1. Oddly, it is John Pilger himself who is the living examplar of a man forever stuck in the same groove, no matter what happens in the actual world.

    Nothing is perfect enough for Pilger, just as nothing is ever perfect enough for Bush.

    I throw my shoes at the pair of them and their unworldly, perfectionist ilk.

  2. Who said anything about perfection? In any event, it seems to me the onus is rather on those claiming that Obama represents a sea change in American politics. Pilger sees better than most.

    Wait.... I just re-read your second sentence.... "just as nothing is ever perfect enough for Bush"? What are you talking about?

  3. Pilger is stuck in the same groove; that groove being presumably something approaching a dignified person, still in possession of an intellect and sense of humanity. And what does happen in the actual world, I wonder. Is the accelerating rise of Western fascism intrinsically coupled with an accelerating sumbing-down of its populations that is supposed to have changed Pilger's opinions on reality?
    As for Obama and the brave new face of human warmth, Machiavelli wrote, "When the nobles see that they cannot withstand the people, they start to increase the standing of one of their own numbers, and make him a prince in order to be able to achieve their own ends under his cloak."
    "The blood of the people is become an inheritance, and those who fatten on it will not relinquish it easily",
    As for the Democrat Republican divide, perhaps Bill Hicks put it best: “I’ll show you politics in America.. “Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!’
    Though the same couldn't be said, of course, of the Conservative Labour Party in dear old blighty.

  4. Should read "dumbing-down of its populations." As for Fin's worldliness, when words like reality and worldly are generally used, it seems to be in the strange context of a worldliness that is nothing but a farcical delusion believed by quite a few people. There's a New Testament quote, "The world cannot hate you, but me it hates, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil." How boring and unworldly. Enough to make one reach for one's shoes.

  5. Responding to Andrew's and Richard's comments:

    First of all let me say that I have nothing but admiration for John Pilger's record of reporting from the Middle East and his commitment to journalistic truth: the man clearly knows more about the on-the-ground reality of suffering than I ever will.

    My problem is with the conclusions he draws. For Pilger, America can do no right, ever. Ever, ever, ever. Even when Americans roundly reject Absolutism as comprehensively as they did in November and take a chance on a candidate who seems to be of fine character and who clearly has a highly developed moral sense.

    (Beyond that, Obama has lived for long periods outside the US, has studied alongside Muslims, and witnessed the anxiety of his mother, dying while beset with worries about her health insurance coverage.)

    Barack may be the product of a debased two-party system...but that is the reality we have and, once in a while, it still manages to produce leaders who can do some good for their people and their world.

    On the perfectionism point: Bush is clearly a perfectionist because he could not (in the words of Bob Scheer) let Iraqis themselves pursue their own history. Bush wanted a tidy and neighbourly oil-producing state, democratic if needs be, at the heart of a shocked-and-awed Middle East. He was readily seduced by the neo-con delusion that Saddam's replacement by a civilized administration would set a stirring example to the likes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

    Pilger I see as perfectionist because he simply cannot accept that we have to work with the political realities of the one Superpower we have in the world. Messy and venal though the political and foreign policy workings of the USA are, it is still the best hope we have to stand as guarantor over lasting Middle East peace (remember that it already achieved a continental peace in PostWar Europe by tacitly guaranteeing French and German security from each other's aggression).

    Moral perfectionists of the Left or Right are, however noble their motives, a blight on actual progress.

    Remember it was a perfectionist Pied Piper, in the shape of Ralph Nader, who made possible the Bush Nightmare in the first place.

  6. If all you can say about Pilger's "conclusions" is that "American can do no right", than you obviously haven't understood him at all. That's the same kind of criticism Chomsky always gets, and it's not only simple-minded, it pre-supposes that America has the right to "do" any particular thing on the world stage. And it takes it for granted that America intends to "do" "right".

    Your entire comment is at best ignorant. Mostly it's just bullshit. "Perfectionism" had nothing to do with Bush's/America's invasion of Iraq. Power, money, energy, control. These are the relevant factors.

    Your point about Nader is simply false. Many Liberals believe what you wrote, but it can't be supported with recourse to the facts of the matter.

    Your point about the US in Europe after WWII is a non sequitur and incoherent. Your assertion about the US being "still the best hope we have to stand as guarantor over lasting Middle East peace" is hopelessly clueless. Again, how is the US the best hope for lasting peace when it is the primary cause and instigator of violence and instability in the region?

    You're right that we have to work with the political realities we have. Of course Pilger knows this. What he does to the best of his ability is to help us see what those realities are. And Obama is surely more palatable than is Bush, and may be personally moral or whatever, and he may even be reachable. But so far, he isn't inspiring confidence. His staff selections and cabinet picks have been just foul.

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