If there is any legacy left from the Old Cold War, it lies in the sphere of influence exerted by rhetoric and what is now termed "public diplomacy", that is, mass propaganda which newly emerging states such as Venezuela have been using for using external threats to consolidate domestic authority.
Often with radicals such as Noam Chomsky and journalist John Pilger, the "Anti-Americanism", has with them become an uncritical creed in which the rather cynical realpolitik of states like Russia, Venezuela and Iran has been ignored or overlooked in favour of emphasising the fact that all these states are threatened by the USA.
There is no doubt that these states are menaced by the White House and the Pentagon for the simple reason that the USA is desperate for sources of oil diversification and wants, to use Greg Palast's phrase, "the best democracy money can buy" by meddling in the affairs of these states. The fact is that even when possibly well intentioned it will backfire.
Notions of "sovereign democracy" in Russia, Venezuela and Belarus are responses to this as well as messianic Western New Cold Warrior rhetoric by those like Radek Sikorski, the Polish Foreign Minister, who in 2005 held a conference placing these Belarus as part of The Axis of Evil.
As George Orwell once wrote, such simplistic notions of Good versus Evil belong in the playground and not in sensible political analysis, though Orwell has been unfairly conscripted by Natopians as a Cold Warrior because he was brave enough to challenge the uncritical deification of Stalin's USSR.
Yet that period of Nazi and Stalinist totalitarianism was a less prescient vision of a nightmare to come than that offered by the conservative English novelist and essayist Aldous Huxley in the 1930s whose Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited, written after WW 2 has more relevance in 2010.
Huxley was a critic of the capacity both of Soviet totalitarianism and US style capitalism to stifle individuality and free thinking, one reason why even in those days The Daily Telegraph could praise Huxley's vision of mass manipulation and indoctrination as inimical to political liberalism.
Even in 1959 Huxley could write in Brave New World Revisited that the USA had very much moved away from the conservatism of the Founding Fathers and towards a more 'benign' form of indoctrination and thought control bolstered by mass production, Fordism, and consumerism.
During the Cold War only ideologues continued to ignore the evidence of systemic repression as though political liberty meant little in the USSR, scientists and technicians ( for example Sakharov ) were given freedom to do as they pleased providing they did not stray from the ideological strait jacket of Soviet ideology.
But what Huxley foresaw was that even in the USA, "representatives of commercial and political organisations...( had ) developed a number of new techniques for manipulating, in the interests of some minority, the thoughts and feelings of the masses.
"The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well being of individuals-is now the central problem of mankind and will remain the central problem for another century"Within Britain in particular, New Labour's policy of using mass migration as a tool of driving down wages and boosting the skills base or the pool of available labour has always created a quandary for the left since the 1960s and Britain is now vastly overcrowded and over populated.
Moreover, this massive increase in population created by "progressives" has been matched by New Labour's increased authoritarianism and the erosion of political liberties that too few take seriously, apart from those obsessed with seeing in other nations like Venezuela something different and better. Though Chavez has improved the living standards there
Some of the worst offenders in this respect are the journalists John Pilger and editor of The Guardian Seumas Milne who seldom deals with the Great Game for the oil needed to feed a growing population because he would be unwilling to countenance migration controls as they would be considered "racist".
When writing The New Rulers of the World, token mentions are made to Russia and China-their repressive regimes are taken for granted-but the fact that "leftist" radicals have often actively given their benediction to China, a nominally communist party state pursuing breakneck industrialisation is not mentioned by Pilger.
Take for example the fact that the ex-Mayor of London is feted as a man of the left by those like the Guardian editor Seumas Milne who support Ken Livingstone's veneration of Venezuela and also a cynical realpolitik that welcomes China's ascendency as a superpower without much concern for human rights.
Livingstone has, as Clive Bloom author of Violent London suggests, a very authoritarian streak in him. He makes jibes about about political opponents being like Nazis and Fascists like a student. Yet as Anne Applebaum in the introduction to Gulag: a History pointed out, he also still romanticises the Russian Revolution and thinks it was 'deformed' and not democidal totalitarian state from the moment Lenin took power in October 1917.
The only complaint Livingstone has is that Lenin's tactical mistakes were those of the economy. Not the fact that democracy has been crushed by January 1918 and alternative socialist rivals removed to Solovetsky island for "re-reducation". Such pro-communist sympathies go towards explaining how he can easily praise China.
The proof that Livingstone is past it was shown in his Orwellian statement comparing the police response to the Poll Tax Riots of 1990 to the Tianiamen Square massacre of 1989, a comment that was complained about for its facile and callous stupidity at the time but also for the craven sucking up to China and omitting China's appalling human rights record.
Anti-Americanism, 'identity politics' and allying with hard left ideologues like Calvin Tucker who supported the USSR's continued existence and who has rebranded himself into Chavez's main propagandist in Britain is hardly wise too. Few have read the interview he gave for the webzine 21st Century Socialism.
When Lenin took power in Russia, the only economic transactions people made was that they brought the food they would eat that day, and a couple of times a year they would buy an item of clothing. I remember my grandmother saying 'you could leave your front door open', we are talking about pre-WW1 London. You could leave your front door open, everyone said, but that's because no one had anything to steal.'There is no mention of China's concentration camps, the largest number of executions in the world and it's policy of "no strings attached" colonialism in Africa because "identity politics" means only white Europeans are to blame. The myth that only whites can be racist, as racism is connected to Lenin's dictum of kto-kogo, which dominant group is oppressing which holds.
And as someone like Lenin could see, you could organise supply and demand around the very simple needs that people had. But nowadays, even people living on state benefits make dozens of economic transactions a week. It is a huge complexity, and there is no way a centrally planned economy is going to be able to manage the scale of economic activity we now have.
The tragedy is, a lot of people on the left have moved from accepting, that as a means of distribution and exchange, the market can't be bettered- to assuming that therefore the market can do everything else in society. And really it can't. It's a very good mechanism for the distribution and exchange of goods. Full stop.
Fidel pre-dates the recognition of all this, and Raul has got to allow the most dramatic economic growth in human history has been China, where they kept control of the commanding heights of the economy, but allowed a service and light industrial sector to grow up around it.
'But still the majority of the economy in China was in the hands of the Party. When I was discussing where should I open an office in China - Shanghai was clearly the parallel city, but we also had to be in Beijing because that is where the decisions finally get taken
Whatever the big corporations are doing there, it requires the backing of the Party. And what the Chinese have done is, they have become totally predominant in a whole series of productsLivingstone is only anti-corporatist when it's US corporations and his none too secret admiration for Chinese superpower is a misguided one that puts him in the same category as "realists" like Rupert Murdoch and others sucking up to China like the doddering halfwit Lord Rees Mogg. Since Pilger hates "Murdochracy" Pilger's silence is odd.
There is no mention by Livingstone of democracy in Cuba, the political repressions, the jailing of dissidents or the effective policy of whites only beaches and promotion of covert sex tourism for Cuba is still trendy ( think of those Latin American bars in Fulham like Havana ) and Ken always wants to be "with it".
The Politics of Livingstone as a "global figure" detracts from his need to address mundane issues in London which he showed great skill at times. Yet looking at those views as expressed in 21st Century Socialism gives people an insight into the fact he would use London to promote an "alternative" to Tory Britain.
In 21st Century Socialism "Red Ken" still buys into the romanticism of the Russian Revolution as a "deformed" revolution, no doubt to please London radicals ( Trotskyist types and SWP fanatics who are terminally incapable of getting it that Lenin hijacked the Revolution and set up a totalitarian state almost immediately and intentionally. )
Livingstone absurdly omits all mention of his crimes, his terror his collective punishments and restoration of the death penalty after the Provisional government had abolished it in 1917. The reason is he wants to curry the favour of the StWC types, a motley band of power hungry ex-CPGB members.
"The biggest beneficiaries of the Russian Revolution were actually people in Europe and America who were given the welfare state. The terror of Stalin... none of this was conceded out of generosity, it was a fear of Stalin's legions".Tell that to the London Poles, either the new transient migrants or better the older generation of political exiles and it would be treated with utter contempt. Post-war reforms were conceded because it was Labour reformism which built on the limited liberal legislation and grassroots unionism.
It had something to do with the fear of the USSR seeming to provide social security, scientific wonders like the first satellite in the Space Age, the Sputnik- and other achievements that were bought at far too high a cost in human liberty and maintained by a system of repression. Hence Seumas Milne's paeans to the USSR in The Guardian.
The anti-Americanism and talk about the US role in Latin America also reflects double standards: Venezuela has the right to be free and have real self-determination but not Tibet. This doublethink might reflect a degree of reality but to call it "socialism" is as absurd as the USSR or CCP's brand.
"It is ridiculous. Also, when people talk about China's attitude towards Tibet; the simple reality is: no Chinese government, communist or capitalist, would ever let Tibet go - because they know that within a year there would be a huge American military base there, they would be surrounded on that side, and this is just the reality of big power politics".In which case, there is no need to single out the USA as uniquely malign. Sacrificing Tibet to what amounts to a cultural genocide has been met by silence by John Pilger and Seumas Milne. And in Burma and Africa, Chinese Imperialism has likewise not been mentioned. This is no "censorship by omission" as Pilger terms it.
Though it's little to do with the actual governance of London beyond grabbing the votes of Chavez fans in antinomian radical London, the votes of ageing anti-Vietnam types who must be approaching 60 and will be dying or dead in the next decade or so. Those like the pathetic Vanessa Redgrave.
In any case, Livingstones' connections with Chavez and the "anti-war' movement conceal the fact it's merely against the USA's "war on terror", human rights and its cynical alliances with unpleasant regimes are attacked but the double standard means that never gets extended to Chavez's allies like Iran or Zimbabwe.
The very word "leftist" is indicative of the problem: like conservatism it represents the demise of Western socialism as a coherent political project as radicals hitch themselves to this or that nation entrusted to act as the global hegemon or, as Martin Jacques calls China, a "systemic alternative".
As for John Pilger, his own view of the Soviet Union remains close to the Trotskyist version of the Russian Revolution that stagnated into bureaucratic excesses but which was still potentially reformable. Such radicals still use "Eastern Europe" instead of Central Europe and venerate the potentialities of "reformed communism".
Unlike Seumas Milne, an unabashed champion of the USSR, Pilger is too clever as a propagandist to call himself a "communist" or have any consistent vision of the complexities of the Russian Revolution or the Cold War, apart from being utterly self serving in hitching himself to the dissident cause in "Eastern Europe" in one or two essays.
The atrocious human rights record of Iran which has the highest rate of executions next to China does not stop Pilger's hero Hugo Chavez from aligning with it. States often operate according to self interests whilst prating about universal values. That's as true of Britain as Venezuela. But Pilger fawns on Chavez without asking difficult questions.
Hugo Chavez is also aligning himself very closely with Russia which is not known for having a particularly good record on human rights in Chechnya. Venezuela and Russia have been conducting joint naval manoeuvres in 2006 and have arms deals agreements as well. That's hardly edifying for a man who claims to be a libertarian socialist.
Yet Pilger does not condemn that. Nor does he condemn the bilateral deals with Belarus which also have an important role in propping up the international arms industry. If Britain is to be condemned, then it must be because the trade is inherently bad to Pilger. Or else only if Britain does it but not Venezuela.
Pilger does not make that argument with regards Venezuela. So it must be that it is the choice of nations that Britain chooses that is wrong. Yet if Chavez is doing deals with Russia and also voting in the UN General Assembly not to to oppose the Burmese military junta, then he is being hypocritical.
The reason for this is that Pilger's interpretation of morality is the defence of the revolution. Most of the oeuvre of the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist left is based on trying to prove that the failure of revolutions is wholly due to imperialist machinations that derailed them into Stalinist excesses.
Never that the original sin was planted within the revolution itself as experience has repeatedly demonstrated. If it can be proved that Britain had a Gulag in Kenya, then Stalinism is nothing out of the ordinary and can't be used as a reason why revolution cannot be tried again and again.
Mike Davis is another Trotskyist who wants to use history as propaganda in Late Victorian Holocausts. The Stalin terror famine was part of a deliberate attempt to kill people in Soviet Ukraine and to exterminate the kulaks as part of a class war. In British India the effects of a natural famine were compounded by incompetence.
The people killed in the Indian famines were victims of manslaughter and callous laissez faire policies whereas those victims in Ukraine were murdered intentionally in full consciousness of what was happening. The failure to distinguish is a rationalisation of an ideology of revolutionary change. That only Stalin made Lenin and Trotsky's regime become and Empire.
The one that goes from one extreme-that a crime is not a crime if 'we' commit it to the equally hypocritical one that crimes are only real crimes if 'we' commit them, whilst Stalinism is a historical 'detour' or 'deviation' and making no mention of those committed by the NLF in Vietnam, the Bolsheviks or Mugabe.
Pilger refuses to consider that the mujahadeen were not exactly the same thing as the Taliban or Al Qaida because he simply can't countenance the idea that a jihad against the Marxist-Leninist PDPA regime was popular amongst the rural masses. So the reality needs to be re-invented for pure propaganda reasons.
The root causes for the jihad against the PDPA lay in the revolt against its execution of the village sufi ulema, harebrained collectivisation plans and introducing widespread police state terror. Pilger airbrushes this out of his chapters on Afghanistan in both New Rulers of the World and Freedom Next Time.
The reasons for Pilger hypocritically introducing in his own work what he berates others for'-censorship by omission'-have as much to to with the element of racialism that pervades his entire output and the sentimental belief that Third World Revolutionary movements were 'internationalist'.
In the case of Afghanistan with the PDPA the historical facts never backed this up. Pilger fails to mention that the PDPA was ridden by tribal factions with the Khalq leader Amin organising the murder of rival Taraki, his Parcham, soon after coming to power by a coup. There was nothing edifying about this squalid power politics.
That and the mass murder of 27,000 people between 1978 and December 1979 i.e before the Soviet invasion is ignored in favour of a mendacious idea that the PDPA was trying to bring progress, women's liberation and freedom to Afghanistan. So the mass terror is conveniently ignored.
Pilger opines tenderly that "13,000 prisoners were freed and police files publicly burnt". Clearly this Bastille moment is considered to outweigh the evidence of PDPA brutality. Had Amin and later Mohammed Najibullah been close to the USA, Pilger would revile them as 'stooges'.
But the reality is that neither Communist faction ever had a popular power base is screened out in The New Rulers of the World because Pilger is only interested in trying to pin the entire blame for Afghanistan's descent into chaos and bloodshed on 'the West'.
'....although occasional reference was made to the Anglo-American role in the creation of the fanatical jihadi groups which spawned the Taliban, there was no mention of the extraordinary period in the recent past of this benighted society which would have cast 'our' war for human rights and 'civilised values' in its true perspective'The use of the word 'extraordinary' might seem as though 'promising', set up like some rosy , even potentially social democratic experiment in good living before the sinister capitalists wrecked it all. Whilst Brzezinski's machinations in funding the mujahadeen were badly conceived shoddy realpolitik, they exploited the chaos: they did not cause it
The PDPA is described as a 'liberation movement' which was 'by all accounts a popular revolution'. Pilger then backs that claim up by citing reports from, of all places, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. The very sources he usually claims are form of "invisible government" and part of the "hidden agendas" of corporate capitalism.
That is, the very corporate media he says obfuscates by omission. In fact, there was nothing 'popular' about it unless one has been trained to see reality correctly at a London conference of pseudo-worker-intellectual SWP ideologues. The revolution was always distinctly unpopular outside Kabul.
Not least due to the mass killing of respected village ulema and the Sufi Muslims who got in the way of Progress, a view held by Leon Trotsky who said in relation Central Asian Islam that "the putrescent tissue of Islam will vanish at the first puff". Tariq Ali, who suggested the title The New Rulers of the World to Pilger is still an ardent admirer of Trotsky.
The way Pilger propagates the falsehood about the PDPA is relevant in two ways.
Firstly, to give a subtle retrospin in favour of secular revolutionary politics and to fake the idea that the Soviet Union was a 'deformed' state due to Stalin. Hence Revolutions always create more good than evil and their failure just must be down to sinister imperialist machinations.
Secondly, the fact that the Afghan masses rose up against the PDPA regime just must means they were duped by the West. Stupid peasants can't think for themselves, unless, of course, they are part of the heroic and mythical 'the Iraqi resistance' who are fighting the USA, a view held again by Tariq Ali whom Dennis Potter correctly called a 'gibbering finger pointing nincompoop'
The idea that blacks or those with brown skins should naturally fall in with Third World Revolutionary movements is also part of Pilger's interpretation of South Africa. On page 289 where Pilger writes that 'the new African bourgeoisie' in the ANC, such as Mamphele Ramphele who was a Black Consciousness activist, share the,
'fawning of white technocrats in thrall to capitalism's new supercult'.
Evidently what comes naturally to 'whites' is somehow seen to be a betrayal of 'authentic' African values and consciousness, the revolutionary anti-imperialist ideology of Franz Fanon whose visceral racial ideologies and glorification of terrorist violence was inherent in The Wretched of the Earth which Pilger quotes from.
Pilger has many legitimate criticisms of the ANC elite and how many blacks have sunk further into poverty since 1994. Moreover, few ever bother to mention that Mandela,
'ordered the bloody invasion of tiny Lesotho. He allowed South African armaments to be sold to Algeria, Columbia and Peru, which have notorious human rights records. He invited the Indonesian mass murderer General Suharto to South Africa and gave him the country's highest reward ( Suharto had given money to the ANC in exile ). He recognised the brutal Burmese junta as a legitimate government, even though the plight of its legitimate leader Aung San Sui Kyi, who is under permanent house arrest, reflected his own struggle'Yet such criticisms of Mandela have also been made by the staunch conservative Peter Hitchens who made the documentary 'Beneath the Halo' looking at how liberal beatification of Mandela belied the reality. Yet Pilger can not bring himself to regard Mandela as an "Uncle Tom", the term he used for US President Barack Obama, so he takes up a different pose.
That Mandela was in exile too long, does not really understand the world any more and has been captured by 'white power'. In Freedom Next Time that becomes clear in Pilger's interview when he writes on how Mandela sitting in a mansion seems an unworldly figure with his shoelaces untied.
The irony is that all 'empowerment' on the basis of race is a form of racialism. In the end, black power movements advance the interests of those who use it to ride into positions of power and influence. In some ways, it is an inevitable consequence of what the Apartheid regime called 'group rights'.
The notion of group rights when aligned with class and resentment about 'haves' and 'have-nots' can make for a lethal combination. Yet Pilger never bothers to criticise Robert Mugabe, not least as Pilger wants to show solidarity with those calling for more radical forms of 'land restitution'.
Pilger mentions Mugabe only twice. First on page 274 when he writes that the level of land evictions has increased and that only 1% of the South African budget went on land restitution in 2005. Pilger writes of how when Mugabe attended a ceremony to mark Mbeki's second term 'he was given a standing ovation'.
To be fair, Pilger uses that to act as a warning of what might happen if restitution is not advanced more quickly. Naturally, how that could be done without provoking open conflict does not interest Pilger who cites another author Bryan Rostron who does refer to Mugabe's 'despotism'.
Yet when Pilger mentions Mugabe again on page 285, with regards forced removals, he hedges his language in such a way as to rationalise his policy of mass terror and murder into a predictable accusation of double standards from the West for criticising the Zimbabwean dictator but not South Africa.
This kind of brutal treatment, at worst, state vandalism, is not very different from that which drew the West's opprobrium to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe-but not to South Africa, where foreign capital investment has returned to the record levels of the apartheid years''State vandalism' is a curious term for mass murder not only of white farmers but also of their black workforce.
If Pilger can't see the difference between a policy of mass terror and dictatorship and land evictions that do not actually kill people, then its clear he can't be taken that seriously as an objective journalist. Pilger will not criticise Mugabe because one of his main supporters is none other than Chavez.
Chavez also backs not only Mugabe but has also voted against any actions to censure the Burmese Junta in the UN. Yet Pilger has uniquely held British businesses responsible for propping it up. If the USA had vetoed actions, Pilger would have been thundering against that and its backing for the generals regime and economic greed and hypocrisy.
But, of course, Chavez is not completely white and is officially an 'anti-imperialist' leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. As with other liberation leaders, they are only acceptable when they share Pilger's hatred of America. That the lens through which he judges all good and evil. This is precisely the kind of expedient falsehood Orwell complained about in the 1930s
As with Jose Maria Horta in East Timor, he sees them as sell outs the moment they become 'close' to the West, despite having risked their lives against the dictatorship of Suharto. Pilger did not do that and as such shifting allegiances on the basis of being Anti-American is precisely the definition of what Orwell mean by "transferred nationalism'.
Pilger thus has no right to invoke Orwell as a model for his own journalism. As ids clear when Pilger produced one of his more than usually unhinged diatribes for the New Statesman in Truth and War mean nothing at Party Conferences, September 25 2008 ).
In it he justifiably complains about how the media coverage of the British political conference season of 2008 has remained largely silent over the Iraq War which was supported by both parties, with virtually no real parliamentary debate or challenges as regards its wisdom, and the fact that the spread of the financial crisis is connected to the USA's colossal run up of debts.
Pilger is right that in Britain there are two political parties dominated by one ideology. Not least in foreign policy. Pilger writes,
Understanding this silence is critical in a society in which news has become noise. Silence covers the truth that Britain's political parties have converged and now follow the single-ideology model of the United States.This true. However, he makes yet another effort to compare his journalism to that of George Orwell in order to distinguish himself from the other creeping conformists in the mass media who merely trot out received platitudes and who regurgitate official propaganda.
This would be more convincing if Pilger did not increasingly base his own journalism not on reporting from stricken war zones but on writing articles based all on political spinning, crude propaganda and little substance.
This is shown when Pilger opines,
Reality can be detected, however, by applying the Orwell Rule and inverting public pronouncements and headlines, such as "Aggressor Russia facing pariah status, US warns", thereby identifying the correct pariah; or by crossing the invisible boundaries that fix the boundaries of political and media discussion. "When truth is replaced by silence," said the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko, "the silence is a lie."Yet what Pilger calls the 'Orwell Rule', the invertion of public pronouncements to reveal the real truth, was never, in fact, Orwell's rule, which is precisely why in 1984 he satirised the belief that truth could be arrived at purely by reversing by giving "The Party" slogans such as 'war is peace, slavery is freedom and ignorance is strength'.
Orwell was satirising those with a totalitarian mindset who believed, that by simply inverting 'official truths', one somehow arrives at unofficial truth when all that happened is that one set of untruths was replaced by another set by those far more dogmatic in preaching it as the total truth.
That is essentially what happened under the Soviet Union when the Bolsheviks came to power and what was meant with Orwell's concept doublethink. That because the 'morality' of their political opponents was hypocritical, then the only morality that mattered was the one that allowed the concentration of power in their hands so that they could change society for the better.
Doublethink was intended to be a concept that could be applied to all political dissimulation where those who were more aware of the truth decided that the masses were too stupid to be able to understand it. So it was necessary to feed them untruth in order to mobilise them and to get them to do what the political elite knew what was best.
What Pilger misses is that doublethink for Orwell is the systematic application of hypocrisy to its logical conclusion. For, if the political elite was telling lies, then the opposition should do so even more effectively than them and not have any moral scruples at all that they could be held accountable for.
All that would be necessary would be to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the powers that one was against and ignoring it when committed by people one regarded as being on one's own side or who are standing up the the power which is considered the sole and original first cause of all the world's problems. Today, for those like Pilger, that means overwhelmingly the USA.
In this regard, Pilger would be more convincing if he abided by the standards of journalistic integrity he is so keen to set for others in his profession with regards silence and hypocrisy.
The very article in which Pilger's citation of The Orwell Rule appears is itself loaded with ideological assumptions which cite 'Western' hypocrisy but screen out any consideration that Pilger might be somewhat of a hypocrite for mentioning two writers, Yevtushenko and Stephen F Cohen, who supported the continued existence of the Soviet Union until its demise in 1991.
Unless people had forgotten, the Soviet Union was a One Party State and an Empire. Why does Pilger mention these one dissident and one American supporter of the USSR and "reform communism" but not Solszentitsyn, Sakharov and a whole lot of Soviet dissidents and certain ?
Well, firstly, the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose quote "When truth is replaced by silence the silence is a lie", is one Pilger quotes with approval. Yevtushenko was a dissident who played an important role in 'breaking the silence' about Stalin's anti-semitism and who in 1961 wrote a poem Babi Yar
Yevtushenko attacked the way the Soviet regime had distorted the Nazi massacre of the Kiev Jews by pretending that it was targeted specifically against the Jews and not just all Soviet citizens of which some happened to be Jews. Pilger might also have mentioned those criticising the slave labour camps or Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Pilger quotes Yevtushenko , partly because it suits his image too to be some kind of dissident. He is always keen to identify himself with former Eastern European dissidents for his heroic correspondent pose in the West.
Yet he curiously continued to remain mostly silent about the Soviet Union's domination of Poland and Czechoslovakia, confined to its 'sphere of influence', whilst being very vocal about CIA involvement in the repression of left wing goverments in Latin America.
As Pilger has made it his purpose to cover most of the world's doomed uprisings, it is curious that he never bothered to report much about Solidarity in 1981. There are no reports from Pilger on that.
Yet those dissidents connected to it hated the Soviet system and wanted an end to it are almost entirely ignored.
It just didn't matter that much even though it happened and that most Poles, to Pilger's ire in his book Hidden Agendas, supported the Catholic Church and flocked in hundreds of thousands to turn out in Krakow back in 1979 to welcome John Pope Paul II. Glibly he compares it to the hullabaloo over Princess Diana's funeral.
For the simple point is that many Marxists were never that happy about Poland's resistance to Communist rule being so dominated by Catholicism nor the resistance to the spread of Communism through Poland even going back to the Polish-Soviet War of 1920.
Poland was regarded by many radical Marxists as a priest ridden backwater and den of reactionaries, a view held by those like Terry Eagleton, who wrote, in relation to Karol Wojtyla, (The Pope has Blood on his Hands, Guardian April 4 2005 )
"As a prelate from Poland, Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national outpost of the Catholic church, full of maudlin Mary-worship, nationalist fervour and ferocious anti-communism.So the Polish Church was a reactionary force no so different from the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Years of dealing with the Polish communists had turned him and his fellow Polish bishops into consummate political operators. In fact, it turned the Polish church into a set-up that was, at times, not easy to distinguish from the Stalinist bureaucracy"
Apart from the fact the Catholic Church had not, in fact, retained a role in Polish society by murdering political oppenents as Stalin did to so many of Poland's political elite who had formed part of a wartime resistance, the Home Army,
Such People who had also fought the Nazis, who had fought alongside the British, who had supplied pilots in the Battle of Britain and who were rewarded with very little despite their epic role in fighting Nazism
Then, after Stalin allowed the Nazi repression of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the execution of its leaders was followed in Poland with the installation of a communist puppet government unelected by the Polish people.
Terry Eagleton's sneering dismissal of Poland as a priest ridden backwater that stopped the Russian Revolution linking with the German one to create a 'United States of Europe' remains a source of bitterness for Marxoid relicts of his ilk.
Whilst Pilger did berate Stalinism and give a certain support to risings like the 1968 Prague Spring, Pilger seldom condemned the hegemony of 'the Party' as such but just the "Stalinist" versions of it.
Nor did Pilger vocally criticise much the notion of one party rule because he believed 'the people' would be able to revivify Communism and make it work for them rather than the state bureaucratic apparatus which existed for that purpose.
Pilger has remained a firm believer in Rousseau's concept of 'direct democracy' and the notion of the majoritarian 'will of the people' with regards his support of Hugo Chavez today in Venezuela.
So, secondly, the same notion of direct democracy lay behind Pilger's hope that the Soviet Union could yet be reformed in accordance with the original precepts as ostensibly laid down by Lenin and which were believed in even by Gorbachev until the last days of the Soviet Empire.
Pilger cites a whole lot of things wrong with US and British foreign policy such as the plots to destabilise Pakistan and Venezuela All that is true but it is post-Cold War politics and The Great Game Pilger elsewhere refers to.
In particular, Pilger focuses on the notion that Russia's invasion of Georgia was somehow 'started' by the USA and uses that to go to provide a thinly veiled retrospective rationalisation for the existence of the USSR, albeit 'reformed'.
"None of this is as potentially dangerous, or more distorted in permitted public discussion, than the war on Russia. Two years ago, Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian Studies at New York University, wrote a landmark essay in the Nation which has now been reprinted in Britain.* He warns of "the gravest threats [posed] by the undeclared Cold War Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-communist Russia during the past 15 years".What Pilger does not tell you is that Cohen was an advisor to Gorbachev and who tried to advise him on how to reform the Soviet Union.
The absurd notion that the USA is engaging in a 'war on Russia' taps into the rationalisation for the degeneration of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia because it was continually surrounded by imperial plots to encircle and destroy the Soviet regime. Certainly, the USA aims at hegemony in Central Asia. It hardly wants direct war with Russia,
The idea is that Russia was simply only reacting to 'NATO aggression' in the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia and was defending itself is ridiculous. It was reacting the aggression of Mikheil Saakashvili who was not directly order to bomb South Ossetia and kill 15 Russian peaceppers.
NATO itself was not "aggressive": most of its representatives had no intention of backing Saakashvili at all, though irresponsible proponents of NATO expansion caused Saakashvili to believe Cheney and the neoconservatives would back him up. But that's hardly tantamount to a NATO attack.
The Georgian leader initiated the conflict not because he was ordered by NATO to do it but because he hoped that by goading Russia into responding belligerently they would accelerate the accession of Georgia into NATO and get more Western backing to shore up his increasingly unpopular regime.
On the other hand, despite all the equally daft propaganda in the USA about Putin being some 'Neo Soviet' threat, Putin is not interested in starting another Cold War in any way whatsoever.
Putin is only interested in defending Russia's regional geopolitical interests against NATO expansion into Georgia and further into Central Asia and which is crucially concerned on both sides about control over the oil and gas of the Caspian.
Even so, the idea NATO wants to destroy Russian power or has directly aggressive intentions against it is vastly exaggerated, though it seeks to reduce it to the extent that it can control Central Asia
And indeed certain 'Democratic Geopoliticians' do have the messianic idea that by spreading US style market democracy to all these nations, Russia will lose its traditional imperial pretensions and, if it chooses, join 'the West'.
Yet the reason Pilger believes in 'imperialist encirclement' is no less for ideological reasons that bear no resemblance to the reality. For it was precisely this belief in imperialist encirclement that was one of the paranoid justifications for the Bolsheviks concentrating total state power in their hands and this was supported by even the most 'liberal' of them.
For example Nikholai Bukharin, whose glowing biography was written by none other than the very Stephen Cohen, the advisor to Gorbachev, who believed had he succeeded Lenin, the Soviet Union would have not degenerated into totalitarian terror. This is not borne out by the historical record.
In fact, it is now widely accepted by historians, in the light of access to the documents released during Gorbachev's policy of Glasnost, the relaxation of censorship and more open discussion of the past, that it was Lenin who instigated the policy of systematic terror that Stalin inherited.
Pilger wants to believe that a state founded on lies and deception only degenerated because of imperialist machinations in 1919, a myth that has been repeated over and over again and is factually incorrect.
Not least by those like George Galloway who use the idea of imperialist encirclement to justify Castro's retention of power and the suspension of democracy in Cuba. As well as taking money from the Iranians for his Press TV programmes. Pilger opinies that Galloway is a principled politician. But he is not.
Now though the Soviet Union is history, Pilger is not being completely honest about his position that everything would be better had not the Soviet Union not collapsed.
The fact the Soviet Union was a one party state that, at least, benefited more working people than what came later cannot really be compared with the fact that both political parties in the USA and UK share a consensus on the state not controlling the economy in the way Pilger believes it should.
What Pilger is objecting to is the rule of money and corporate interests and advertising in politics in Britain which makes party political differences seem to be meaningless. This is a legitimate criticism But this is hardly news. And it does not require specious analogies with the Soviet Union.
Huxley predicted growing resource wars and authoritarianism as a conservative. Peter Oborne, another conservative has criticised British foreign policy and the drive to War in Iraq in The Rise of Political Lying without making 'Ostalgic' comments about the Soviet Union's capacity for "reform".
To criticise this whilst having a nostalgia for the one party rule of the Soviet Union just because it was not dominated by the rule of money is actually beyond hypocrisy. It's the Orwellian doublethink he thinks other use but not himself. Pilger is an atrocious hypocrite for using Orwell to make the case for the continued existence of the Soviet Union.
It means effectively rationalising the imperialism of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe whilst criticising the USA for being imperialist in Latin America. And Pilger wrote little about life behind the Iron Curtain.
Yet Pilger has an important and formidably strong case when he mentions what is all too often omitted from triumphalist neoliberal narrative about the collapse of Soviet Communism when he writes how Stephen Cohen,
"......describes a catastrophic "relentless winner-take-all of Russia's post-1991 weakness", with two-thirds of the population forced into poverty and life expectancy barely at 59. With most of us in the West unaware, Russia is being encircled by US and Nato bases and missiles in violation of a pledge by the United States not to expand Nato "one inch to the east".The consequences that Cohen draws attention to with regards the living standards of the Russian people are undeniable but that should translate into a criticism of IMF ideology and not that NATO expanded into places like Poland which had every obvious reason to feel threatened by the continuation of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991.
Like it or not Poland wanted to be part of it as a final security solution to their age old strategic vulnerability between what often an indifferent West and an imperialist Soviet Union that treated like an colonial outpost that was part of its 'sphere of interest'.
Pilger is conflating the eastward expansion of NATO necessarily with neoliberal capitalism in order to retrospectively justify aspects of Communist rule and ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people in Poland never wanted it.
Such feelings are common to those like Seumas Milne who also habitually refer to 'Eastern Europe' when moaning about Poland's accession into NATO when it is more correct to write of Central Europe as Milan Kundera, a Czech dissident Pilger is fond of quoting, rightly called it.
The expansion of NATO beyond Poland, indeed beyond Europe into Georgia is the real problem.
To that extent there is a curious irony that the US neoconservatives have acted like Trotskyists believing that the spread of US style market democracy can be achieved by co-ordinating and choreographing 'regime change' in former territories of the Soviet Union like Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus.
The irony is that they are acting somewhat like the Communists once did in believing that their system was the only possible one that people could and must live under. Pilger gets that but glides over the realities of the Soviet Union's atrocious environmental record as evidenced at Chernobyl which helped bring down the Soviet Union.
The result, writes Cohen, "is a US-built reverse iron curtain [and] a US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. [There is even] a presumption that Russia does not have fully sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow's internal affairs since 1992 . . . the United States is attempting to acquire the nuclear responsibility it could not achieve during the Soviet era."Pilger was correct about the propaganda parroting simplistic tropes about "Russian aggression" and "Russia's attack on Georgia", but the rest of his ex-post facto rationalisation for the existence of the USSR is craven. It also reaches levels of potty surrealism when he opines that the USa was serious about attacking Russia,
"This danger has grown rapidly as the American media again presents US-Russian relations as "a duel to the death - perhaps literally". The liberal Washington Post, says Cohen, "reads like a bygone Pravda on the Potomac". The same is true in Britain, with the regurgitation of propaganda that Russia was wholly responsible for the war in the Caucasus and must therefore be a "pariah".
Sarah Palin, who may end up US president, says she is ready to attack Russia. The steady beat of this drum has seen Moscow return to its old nuclear alerts. Remember the 1980s, writes Cohen,"when the world faced exceedingly grave Cold War perils, and Mikhail Gorbachev unexpectedly emerged to offer a heretical way out. Is there an American leader today ready to retrieve that missed opportunity?"Pilger then histrionically adds "It is an urgent question that must be asked all over the world by those of us still unafraid to break the lethal silence". But back on Planet Earth two facts remain essential to understand.
Firstly, there is no way that the USA would have attacked Russia in 2009. This is a lunatic and unhinged assertion because not even Palin nor McCain would have launched a nuclear weapon and World War Three. Pilger in still living in the past. He has no conception of post-Cold War realities.
Secondly, there was no way out of the Soviet Union's implosion and few, not even most Russians, wanted it's continuation, though they were to only in retrospect find out that the USA was simply uninterested in the fate of ordinary Russians when it imposed IMP shock therapy.