By The Progressive on December 08, 2005
Pinter Lays It All Out: Indict Bush, Blair
By Matthew Rothschild

December 8, 2005

Occasionally, an award recipient will chuck the clichés and park the platitudes and actually say something meaningful, something daring.

Such a thing happened on December 7 in Stockholm, when Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winner for Literature, delivered an amazing, taped address.

Taped, because he was too ill to deliver it in person.

But he was by no means weak.

He let Bush have it.

But it wasn’t just Bush.

It was Blair and Britain too, a country he called America’s “own bleating little lamb tagging behind it” on a leash.

Pinter asked, “How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?”

He said that was “more than enough,” adding, “Therefore, it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice.”

May I live so long!

Pinter not only assailed the Iraq War, which he called “a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law.”

He also denounced the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

And he confronted the crimes of the U.S. empire since World War II, noting that “the United States supported and in many cases engendered every rightwing military dictatorship in the world,” all the while “masquerading as a force for universal good.”

Like Noam Chomsky with style, he ran down the crimes of the United States in Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Chile.

“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries,” he said. “. . . 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.”

Pinter’s theme was the abuse of language, and the abuse of power, by politicians, who, he said, “are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies.”

At the end of his speech, he urged all of us to see through that tapestry.

He demanded an “unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”

That is our charge.

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This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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