The revolutionary act of telling the truth
By John Pilger
September 30, 2015 "Information
George Orwell said, “In a time of universal
deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
These are dark times, in which the propaganda of
deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has
been privatised and illusion legitimised. The information
age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by
media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media -
a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.
Wondrous technology has become both our friend
and our enemy. Every time we turn on a computer or pick up a
digital device – our secular rosary beads -- we are subjected to
control: to surveillance of our habits and routines, and to lies
who invented the term, “public relations” as a euphemism for
“propaganda”, predicted this more than 80 years ago. He called
it, “the invisible government”.
He wrote, “Those who manipulate this unseen
element of [modern democracy] constitute an invisible government
which is the true ruling power of our country …We are governed,
our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested,
largely by men we have never heard of ...”
The aim of this invisible government is the
conquest of us:
of our political consciousness, our sense of the world, our
ability to think independently, to separate truth from lies.
This is a form of fascism, a word we are rightly
cautious about using, preferring to leave it in the flickering
past. But an insidious modern fascism is now an accelerating
danger. As in the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the
regularity of a metronome. Muslims are bad. Saudi bigots are
good. ISIS bigots are bad. Russia is always bad. China is
getting bad. Bombing Syria is good. Corrupt banks are good.
Corrupt debt is good. Poverty is good. War is normal.
Those who question these official truths, this
extremism, are deemed in need of a lobotomy – until they are
diagnosed on-message. The BBC provides this service free of
charge. Failure to submit is to be tagged a “radical” – whatever
Real dissent has become exotic; yet those who
dissent have never
been more important. The book I am launching
WikiLeaks Files, is an antidote to a fascism that never
speaks its name.
It’s a revolutionary book, just as WikiLeaks
itself is revolutionary – exactly as Orwell meant in the quote I
used at the beginning. For it says that we need not accept
these the daily lies. We need not remain silent. Or as Bob
Marley once sang: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
In the introduction, Julian Assange explains that
it is never enough to publish the secret messages of great
power: that making sense of them is crucial, as well as placing
them in the context of today and historical memory.
That is the remarkable achievement of this
anthology, which reclaims our memory. It connects the reasons
and the crimes that have caused so much human turmoil, from
Vietnam and Central America, to the Middle East and Eastern
Europe, with the matrix of rapacious power, the United States.
There is currently an American and European
attempt to destroy the government of Syria. Prime Minister David
Cameron is especially keen. This is the same David Cameron I
remember as an unctuous PR man employed by an asset stripper of
Britain’s independent commercial television.
Cameron, Obama and the ever obsequious Francois
Hollande want to destroy the last remaining multi-cultural
authority in Syria, an action that will surely make way for the
fanatics of ISIS.
This is insane, of course, and the big lie
justifying this insanity is that it is in support of Syrians who
rose against Bashar al-Assad in the Arab Spring. As
Files reveals, the destruction of Syria has long been a
cynical imperial project that pre-dates the Arab Spring uprising
To the rulers of the world in Washington and
Europe, Syria’s true crime is not the oppressive nature of its
government but its independence from American and Israeli power
– just as Iran’s true crime is its independence, and Russia’s
true crime is its independence, and China’s true crime is its
independence. In an American-owned world, independence is
This book reveals these truths, one after the
other. The truth about a war on terror that was always a war
the truth about Guantanamo, the truth about Iraq, Afghanistan,
Never has such truth-telling been so urgently
needed. With honourable exceptions, those in the media paid
ostensibly to keep the record straight are now absorbed into a
system of propaganda that is no longer journalism, but
anti-journalism. This is true of the liberal and respectable as
it is of Murdoch. Unless you are prepared to monitor and
deconstruct every specious assertion, so-called news has become
unwatchable and unreadable.
Files, I remembered the words of the late Howard Zinn, who
often referred to “a power that governments can’t suppress”.
That describes WikiLeaks, and it describes true whistleblowers
who share their courage.
On a personal note, I have known the people of
WikiLeaks for some time now. That they have achieved what they
have in circumstances not of their choosing is a source of
constant admiration. Their rescue of Edward Snowden comes to
mind. Like him, they are heroic: nothing less.
Sarah Harrison’s chapter, ‘Indexing the Empire’,
describes how she and her comrades set up an entire Public
Library of US Diplomacy. There are more than two million
documents, now available to all. “Our work,” she writes, “is
dedicated to making sure history belongs to everyone.” How
thrilling it is to read those words, which also stand as a
tribute to her own courage.
From the confinement of a room in the Ecuadorean
embassy in London, the courage of Julian Assange is an eloquent
response to the cowards who have smeared him and the rogue power
seeking revenge on him and waging a war on democracy.
None of this has deterred Julian and his comrades
at WikiLeaks: not one bit. Isn’t that something?
The WikiLeaks Files: the World According to the
US Empire is published by Verso