BOOKCASE : Freedom Next Time

• John Pilger • Random House • $37.99

Reviewing John Pilger book is somewhat futile exercise. It’s foregone conclusion that it will be brilliant, insightful and moving, like most of his others. Therein lies the problem. It seems that there has never been such good time to be left-wing subversive author, and Pilger is being shown up by the likes of Naomi Klein, Michael Moore and Eric Schlosser. These newer writers have yet to develop Pilger’s insight and quality but nonetheless exemplify new movement in political writing by proving that one can have serious debate whilst also being entertaining.
Of course, the transformation of these authors into ‘brands’ has meant that their names are overshadowing their messages, their arguments diluted, and the very people who most need to hear such views are pre-judging or ignoring them because of their origins.
The same applies to Pilger, but probably more so, for without the popularist style and easy-target subject matter of the new breed, Pilger risks being pigeonholed and taken for granted.
Those who most need to read his work are also those least likely to bother – it’s never been easier to find other writers or bloggers who comfortably confirm one’s views rather than creating disquiet by challenging them.
Pilger’s stories in Freedom Next Time are all worthwhile, and not just from political or humanitarian perspective. Because what Pilger demonstrates through five examples is what every manager should realise – that the accepted truth of how the world is, is only one perspective.
From Pilger’s alternative perspective, which is difficult to argue with, the US is operating as fascist dictatorship uncannily similar to Nazi Germany. From Pilger’s perspective, it is scandalous that Britain can essentially annihilate an entire island culture so it can provide the US with an air force base, without media scrutiny.
From Pilger’s perspective, it is the Palestinians who are the victims of Israel’s illegal invasion, an angle too politically incorrect for Western politicians or media to consider.
The writing and story-telling in Freedom Next Time is classic Pilger, and extraordinary reading as result. But one cannot help wondering that if Pilger could force himself to stop being quite so self-serious, and take leaf from the Michael Moore and Al Gore school of film-making, his message would reach significantly more people and initiate far greater change. – Jonathan Dodd

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