Scoop Review of Books

Speaking Truth to Empire’s Beneficiaries

SRB Picks of the Week 20 June 2008
:By Jeremy Rose

images.jpgThe phrase, “Speaking Truth to Power”, popular among progressives, irritates me. It’s as if those using it think the powerful are simply ignorant of the facts and if only a few brave souls were prepared to tell them the error of their ways the massive inequalities in power and wealth that plague the world would fade away. But I have no such doubts about the blunt and truthful open letter from Bolivian President Evo Morales to the European Union.

Morales reminds Europeans, in his open letter dated the 12 of this month, of the huge number of emigrants from their lands absorbed by the Americas. He contrasts the treatment of those (mostly visa-less) immigrants to the Americas with the way the European Union is currently treating immigrants from Africa, Asia and South America. It’s powerful and important stuff. The newly empowered speaking truth to the beneficiaries of empire. A translation by Machetera – a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity – is available here.

For more on the plight of those attempting to make their way to Europe’s prosperity, see my Globalisation’s Unsung Martyrs on ZNet.

Charlie Chaplin was someone unafraid to speak the truth about power. Films like his parody of Hitler – The Great Dictator (which he later said he couldn’t have made if he had known the full horror of the Holocaust), and his anti-industrialisation masterpiece Modern Times saw him labelled a communist in the USA.

The New York Times has a fascinating account of his equally subversive but less well known Monsieur Verdoux. It’s a truly disturbing film in which Chaplin portrays a serial killer.

Talking of killers – there’s a great profile of Richard Wright the African American author of Native Son in the Times Literary Supplement.

It seems a fair bet that if Wright was alive today he would be backing Obama in the coming US election but this piece by Naomi Klein suggests the communist Wright may have been sceptical of Obama’s economics.

Finally, Otago Student newspaper critic has a thoughtful feature on the Listener.

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