The New Rulers Of The World by John Pilger

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The New Rulers Of The World by John Pilger

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A powerful indictment of the current world order by a seasoned and highly-respected campaigner. Less sensational in style than Michael Moore and more accessible than Noam Chomsky, Pilger provides an angry but precise critique of Western hegemony. Recommended reading for those on all sides of the debate.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 246 Date: February 2003
Publisher: Verso Books
ISBN: 185984412X

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John Pilger is an unreconstructed leftie. He is probably one of the few people left who use the word "comrade" without a trace of irony. Journalist, writer and maker of TV documentaries, Pilger has won just about every award going, including an Emmy. He is Australian, but bases himself in London. His abiding theme is of that of modern imperialism, known by some as the global economy. In this book, The New Rulers of the World, Pilger continues this theme and updates it. There is little new material here. The book is, essentially, a bringing-up-to-speed refining of his previous work. At its heart, lies the argument that wealthy nations and global corporations (with the US at their head) wield a modern day imperial power whose greed and rapaciousness is a force in the world far more destructive than that of any terrorist organisation. In fact, his point is that these are the real terrorists.

There are four essays.

The first, "The Model Pupil" deals with Asia and the birth of globalisation. It talks of the bloodbath in Indonesia and the rule of Suharto. It speaks of a million deaths and the carving up of Indonesia's economy by western corporations fully aware and dismissive of those deaths and countless other human rights abuses. The second, "Paying the Price" talks about intervention in Iraq since before Operation Desert Storm but spends most time in an analysis of the effect on Iraqi civilians of the sanction blockade, particularly on the children. It is distressing reading. "The Great Game" talks about the aftermath of 9/11, and the prologue to it, if you like. It exposes western foreign policy's role in the destablisation of entire regions and it exposes more corruption than you could have possibly made up i n your own personal conspiracy theory. Finally, in "The Chosen Ones" Pilger returns to his native Australia to discuss the plight of its first people, the Aborigines. This too, is distressing reading.

I don't really want to précis the book here for you any further than I have. What then, would be the point in you reading it, save to acquaint yourselves with the sources and to check the verification of Pilger's facts? Neither do I want to pick out the most sensational of tidbits from the endless record of the suffering of real people. That seems irretrievably tasteless. These are Pilger's themes and I think you need to explore them for yourselves.

Oh, you know, I was brought up with John Pilger. As soon as I was able to read, I read him, there in the Daily Mirror at home, alongside people such as the recently deceased Paul Foot, a man who will be missed terribly. (What a shadow of its former self is that newspaper today). In all those years, I have never had any cause to doubt his sincerity. He is, whether you agree with him or not, a man of integrity. His research is impeccable, his sources open and well-documented. His argument is clear, cogent and very difficult to dismiss. His writing is restrained and accessible and yet his anger at injustice leaps at you from his each and every page. He is a seasoned campaigner and you simply cannot mistake the fact that he is the genuine article. I can say with much truth that this man has been a huge influence on my political thinking throughout my life.

The Rulers of the New World is, I would say, of interest to a broad range of people and not just those in sympathy with the theorists of modern imperialism. For those who do sympathise, he is more accessible and less of an intellectual challenge than such luminaries as Noam Chomsky. Pilger is not a rarefied academic and although I like him, I cannot deny that he is an effort for many people to read. Pilger is also better than Chomsky at relating his themes to the lives of real, normal people. He is less, well, inyerface than Michael Moore. He does not make jokes and he does not spend half his books self-publicising. Pilger is not like this. Whether or not one agrees with his conclusions, one has the inescapable feeling this is a man who wishes to expose what he sees to be the truth, and has no need to squash his ego into the equation.

For those politically neutral, Pilger is happily uninterested in party politics. He provides an accessible point of view refreshingly free from the taint of sponsored think tanks and he is clearly not motivated by self interest. And for those who consider a global economy to be the best hope for all our futures... well... then it is always good to read the enemy when he is as clear and as cogent as this, is it not? A variety of perspectives is invaluable to everyone.

At only two hundred pages, do not be deceived into thinking that The New Rulers of the World will be an easy read, for it is not. It is accessible in style and Pilger does not pitch it above the heads of those of us who do not spend our lives in the circles of politics or the halls of academe. However, its scope is massive, its cast of characters huge and its narration of recent history exhaustive. It will require your concentration. It is, though, an enlightening, angry, crusading read that exposes a view of the powerful that you may find both convincing and shocking.

Just the sort of thing I like then!

Booklists.jpg The New Rulers Of The World by John Pilger is in the Top Ten Non-Fiction Books To Make You Think.

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