John Pilger: the man they couldn’t silence

The most courageous, fearless and decent of journalists, who devoted his life to speaking the truth and uncovering imperialist lies.

A fearless opponent of imperialist war and bringer of truth, Pilger was one of the first major western voices to point to the drive towards all-out war against Russia and China by the Nato imperialists.

Born in 1939, the veteran journalist John Pilger died on 30 December 2023 aged 84. He was one of the most courageous, fearless and decent journalists, devoting his life in the service of speaking the truth and bringing into daylight what the coterie of hired servants of imperialism in the press and TV studios tried to cover up.

He made over five dozen documentaries and wrote a dozen books, not to speak of several hundred newspaper articles, relentlessly exposing the crimes committed by imperialism with the full complicity of bourgeois politicians and the media.

He exposed the horrible atrocities committed by the Indonesian armed forces against the people of East Timor. He also dealt with the dreadful treatment inflicted on the indigenous population of Australia, as well as the racism and the inhumane existence to which they were subjected. In his 1979 film Year Zero, he revealed the ruthless bombing of Cambodia by the US air force. He laid bare the criminal role of Blair’s imperialist Labour party in the Iraq war.

Though not a communist, he well understood the centrality of war to modern imperialism, writing:

“In our system of corporate democracy, war is an economic necessity, the perfect marriage of public subsidy and private profit: socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. The day after 9/11 the stock prices of the war industry soared … today the most profitable wars have their own brand. They are called ‘forever wars’: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and now Ukraine. All are based on a pack of lies.”

His wrath was specially directed at imperialist propaganda organs – press, television – which played a crucial role as cheerleaders leading up to various wars, and covering up the crimes committed during their course, by deceit and lies.

The torrent of propaganda portraying the neo-Nazi Nato proxy war against Russia for regime change and its dismemberment into easily digestible parts for looting by the imperialist countries, especially the USA, as a fight for democracy and freedom, Pilger characterised as “a litany of jingoism, distortion and omission”.

His principled and unrelenting support for Palestine had him purged by the allegedly liberal Guardian – the house paper of an assortment of social democrats, Trotskyists and revisionists. He was turned into a nonentity by the supposedly impartial BBC because of his principled and fearless support for the cause of Palestinian self-determination and his exposure and condemnation of zionist crimes against the people of Palestine.

Because of his documentary, Palestine is still the issue, he was slyly sought to be labelled as an ‘antisemite’. He very correctly regarded Israel as Anglo-American imperialism’s “attack dog” in the middle east, supported by those powers with weaponry and provided with diplomatic immunity.

He castigated the Labour party in the strongest terms for banishing those of its members who did no more than call for a ceasefire in the murderous zionist Israeli state’s ongoing genocidal war against the people of Gaza. He lambasted this treacherous imperialist party for supporting the withholding by Israel of food, electricity, water and medicines from the people of this prison camp.

Defying every attempt to silence him, Pilger continued his fight for the right of journalists to speak the truth and the right of oppressed people to resist. He was most fervent in his support for Julian Assange in the latter’s battle against extradition to the USA, and for David McBride, a whistleblower hounded by the Australian authorities, for exposing war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Literally on the eve of his death, he fearlessly wrote in Consortium News: “Julian and David are Spartacus. Palestinians are Spartacus. People who fill the streets with flags … and solidarity are Spartacus. We are all Spartacus if we want to be.”

John Pilger, though no longer alive, will forever put the mainstream media journalist prostitutes to shame, just as he will continue to be an inspiration for those embarked on the path of telling the truth and standing up against oppression and injustice, no matter where they may be.

John Pilger will be sadly missed.

Farewell, John Pilger. Your life was well-lived in the cause of service to humanity.