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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize Speech

I had been waiting to post about this until I could come up with something coherent to say about it. Unfortunately, I am both too ignorant and too busy to say something wise about a speech that is so big, that covers so much, and that (wonderfully) speaks to so many things that Americans so rarely speak of or think about. The speech is called "Art, Truth and Politics" and covers a broad range of things including the War in Iraq, America's tendency to prop up right wing dictators in the name of anti-communism, and the problem of finding truth in our hyper-political world:
Political language, as used by politicians, does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, 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, upon which we feed.

As every single person here knows, the justification for the invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein possessed a highly dangerous body of weapons of mass destruction, some of which could be fired in 45 minutes, bringing about appalling devastation. We were assured that was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq had a relationship with Al Quaeda and shared responsibility for the atrocity in New York of September 11th 2001. We were assured that this was true. It was not true. We were told that Iraq threatened the security of the world. We were assured it was true. It was not true.

The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it.
Rather than claiming to be able to say anything much about it, I'll simply say this: set aside 45 minutes and watch it. And, if you feel so inclined, set aside 5 minutes and tell us what you thought.

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