Friday, December 09, 2005
Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless...also very clever
Harold Pinter's lecture, "Art, Truth and Politics," presented by video
link as he received the Nobel Prize for literature, is well worth reading.
Here's an excerpt from the middle section of his talk.
* * * * * * * * * *
"The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right
wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second
World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay,
Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course,
Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can
never be purged and can never be forgiven.
Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries.
Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US
foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are
attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it
wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of
the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless,
but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it
to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power
worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a
brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show
on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it
is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most
saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American
presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the
sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend
the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust
their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the
It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep
thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly
voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie
back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence
and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not
apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line
and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons,
which extends across the US."
* * * * * * *
The text and video of the lecture can be found here.