Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Humanising the Hemisphere: John Pilger’s The War on Democracy

John Pilger‘s latest film, The War on Democracy (R/T 93 minutes) is an interesting and important excursion into the Latin American hemisphere and US foreign policy towards its southern neighbours. It starts with Venezuela and includes a look at Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador and more, and addresses the politics at the human level, never shirking the grim details about torture, the US School of the Americas, and mass suffering inflicted as a result of US government policy.

One of many highlights is in the opening section that focuses on Venezuela is the interview with Chavez that begins at the 5 minute mark. We also discover that people’s constitutional rights are remarkably printed on supermarket packets to raise awareness, and that there is free health care — three vignettes just within the first 15 minutes.

Also check out Pilger’s latest article Israel: an important marker has been passed (New Statesman, 23 Aug).

4 comments on “Humanising the Hemisphere: John Pilger’s The War on Democracy

  1. 99
    25 August, 2007

    It struck me while watching this documentary that these things are doing more to paralyze those who might otherwise be working to stop the miserable fascist fucks than anything else. It just screams, “IF YOU DO ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL, WALK ON THE SAME STREET WITH DISSENTERS, YOU NOT ONLY WILL BE KILLED, BUT YOU WILL BE TORTURED HORRIBLY, AND THEN KILLED.” Is this the voice for the go-along-to-get-alongs, who want reason enough to keep still, or does Pilger really think that his, justified, seething hatred for “American Foreign Policy”, as expressed here and elsewhere, is going to inspire people to overcome their fear of these sociopaths and act?

    My new motto is: Blogging is not doing, but it applies to other forms of media as well. I saw a kid lecturing to a 9/11 Truth crowd on Google Video last night, here, and he was talking so fast it was hard to catch most of it, but one thing came through loud and clear: petitioning and marching and most of the rest we call “protest” nowadays is way so not cutting it; they mean to kill us; and we better DO something about it.

    This world needs more of that kid’s sense and less of Pilger’s terrorizing… and we need it NOW.

  2. Ann El Khoury
    25 August, 2007

    I had a similar conversation about this off-blog, 99, and I’m glad you’ve said it here. I don’t dismiss Pilger’s efforts wholesale, though — there’s a place for it — and I think what you say about widening our toolkit and set of strategies beyond the normal ‘protest’ basket is critical.

    Some people are going the lifeboat path — disengaging as much as possible from the corporate matrix, becoming as self-sufficient as they possibly can and to live modestly, grow their own stuff, becoming more active in local community etc, within their means.

    Others of us who are necessarily enmeshed in the system, dependent as we are upon a wage, in debt or mortgage, can still enact some of these strategies, but yes, more needs to be done. Ideas welcome.

    My reasons for posting don’t just have to do with strategies, though, directly at least. They also have to do with having an opportunity to see various Latin American countries presented at a human level, hence the title ‘humanising the hemisphere’, to counteract all the ideological demonisations in the mainstream press.

    Does Pilger do his own brand of demonising though, of US foreign policy? Perhaps. Intelligent viewers can make up their own minds. In knitting together an examination of several countries he’s obviously forsaken depth for breadth.

    My aforementioned correspondent’s problem with this video was similarly not so much with what Pilger presented as how he presented it. Also, he wondered whether there were not also working class or middle class supporters of Chavez; perhaps others reading this might be interested in addressing this. I had a Venezuelan student a fews years ago who was not a Chavez supporter, and sought her views to understand both perspectives.

    Coming back to this though, one need not endorse the whole video to gain something from it. And the current successes of many of these countries do provide a more hopeful message than their bloody histories would indicate. So that is the message I choose to take away from this video — yes, flawed, but valuable nevertheless from the two thirds of it I’ve viewed so far.

    Thanks very much for the video link, I’ll watch it with interest, keeping in mind what you have said.

  3. 99
    25 August, 2007

    Well, yes, there’s all kinds of good information in there about how corporatists have seriously sat on South America since the ships landed hundreds of years ago. Ordinarily I would think it was a very good thing, but killers are pillaging the planet and enslaving those they don’t kill… so… for all my admiration of Pilger’s knowledge and intellect and determination with the awful truth — for this point in human history — I’m giving it a big thumbs down.

    Right after leaving my first comment I surfed off to other parts of Outer Blogistan and learned that Aaron Russo has died… lost his long battle with cancer. It was like a red hot poker through my heart. One of the strongest voices for taking America back from the fascists is now silent. I’ve been re-watching some of his stuff, listening to him urge us to stop cooperating, to stand up, to take down the central banking system…. He was someone I was very happy to call my fellow American, and he is gone.

    If you haven’t seen his America: From Freedom to Fascism, I highly recommend it. The whole thing is great but the second half is the best. We really lost someone who could have been crucial to the whole future just now (yesterday now I guess) and I think he was cranking out the documentary and all the interviews and speaking engagements because he knew he probably wasn’t going to make it. I’m so bummed, and I better get in bed now or I’m going to be on my face.

  4. Ann El Khoury
    26 August, 2007

    99, I’m really sorry to hear that. He helped inspire and inform a lot of people on this important topic which I also learned more about in the last 12 months. His voice lives on.

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