File spoon-archives/postcolonial.archive/postcolonial_2003/postcolonial.0306, message 53

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2003 15:46:01 -0400
Subject: Review of Pilger's New Ruler's of the World

16 June, 2003

“The New Rulers Of The World,” by John Pilger
Verso (London), 2002, 254pp, $CD21, ISBN 1 85984-412-X

reviewed by Julian Samuel

John Pilger’s “The New Rulers of the World” shows us how the 
rich-and-getting-exponentially richer are responsible for producing 
land dispossession, poverty, blindness, and death. We learn about the 
effects of recent imperialism such as the holocaust of communists and 
others in Indonesia (1965-66); this particular slaughter was backed by 
many Western leaders including Prime Minister Harold Macmillian and 
John F. Kennedy who agreed to ‘liquidate President Sukarno, depending 
on the situation and available opportunities.’ pp. 30. (Our smiling 
Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, in 1997, in front of TV camera put his 
arms around Indonesia’s killer of millions - Suharto). Many politicians 
and corporations - Tony Blair is one of Pilger’s central targets - are 
presented as killers who are really no different from Hitler. Blair 
approved “eleven arms deals with Indonesia under cover of the Official 
Secrets Acts and Cook’s declaration of an ‘ethical’ dimension to 
foreign policy.” p. 23

This ethical dimension or understanding between western greed - 
embodied in corporations - and third world dictators is developed in 
four fast chapters: “The Modern Pupil”; “Paying the Price” “The Great 
Game.” The final chapter, “The Chosen Ones” shows Australia’s genocide 
against the Aborigines. Pilger’s Australia is incurably racist. The 
Aussie Olympic Co-ordination Authority used stellar sellouts to stay 
the charge of racism in the eyes of the world; the political elites 
continually use illegal land rights traps that have reduced many 
Aborigines to suicide. Many become blind: “…up to 80 per cent of 
Aboriginal children have potentially blinding trachoma because of 
untreated cataracts.” pp. 169 Does one want to boycott Australia and 
Australian products after reading Pilger’s book? Their prime minister, 
John Howard, has made the colour of one’s skin a life and death issue.

As a Canadian, I am aware that we do not have a single journalist who 
is as courageous or as well-informed as Pilger. Canadian journalists 
exactly know how and why the Jewish State is killing Palestinians and 
snatching their land in the West Bank and Gaza but are either censored  
by editors (especially at The Montreal Gazette) or self-censored. 
Pilger, however, is unequivocal: “We need an awareness of lethal double 
standards…while more than 400 UN resolutions calling for justice in 
Palestine are not worth the paper they are written on.” pp. 11-12.

Michael Ignatieff, a Canadian who works in the human rights industry at 
Harvard, is “an enthusiastic backer of the West’s invasions and bombing 
(as a way to ‘feed the starving and enforce peace in the case of civil 
strive’), prefers ‘liberal intervention’.” pp. 161 Ignatieff is given 
full access to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Pilger’s inexorably attacks academics. I quote him at length on these 
high priests of silence: “Those with unprecedented resources to 
understand this, including many who teach and research in the great 
universities, suppress their knowledge publicly; perhaps never before 
has there been such a silence.” (pp. 3) and, “By keeping silent, they 
have allowed government to diminish a wealth of knowledge of how the 
world works, declaring it ‘irrelevant’ and withholding funding. This is 
not surprising when the humanities departments – the engine rooms of 
ideas and criticism – are close to moribund. When academics suppress 
the voice of their knowledge, who can the public turn to? ... By never 
recognizing western state terrorism, their complicity is assured. To 
state this simple truth is deemed unscholarly; better say nothing (my 
emphasis). ” pp. 163

Despite the useful lessons on western state terrorism and imperialism 
(Pilger uses ‘imperialism’ not ‘globalization’), a few questions 
persist. Is it fair of him to *not* point out how imperialism should be 
counter-attacked? He knows its weaknesses deeply. Why is he silent on 
how to actually *do* something to turn back the ravage of Africa, the 
Arab world Asia et al? Would a tax revolt be a relevant or useless 
strategy? It is clear that street protests accomplish nothing. What 
would he answer?

In Iraq, America’s current-day Nazis as well as others are directly 
responsible for the current holocaust of about 6000 children a month 
(pp. 9). Let’s put that figure in another context: A goateed cultural 
studies academic takes 20 minutes to read a paper on Inuit Hip Hop at 
an Queer Theory conference in Melbourne; by the time he finishes his 
presentation 2.6 Iraqi kids will have been killed. It takes 
approximately eight hours or 62.4 deaths to read “The New Rulers of the 

Julian Samuel -

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