Who Does John Le Carré Think He Is?
"To take a risk in a poem is not to write a big sweary outburst about how crap the war in Iraq is, even if you are the world's greatest living playwright. Because anyone can do that." (Chalotte Higgins, 'Pinter's poetry? Anyone can do it,' The Guardian, October 30, 2004)
In the Independent, Johann Hari wrote an article titled: "Pinter does not deserve the Nobel Prize - The only response to his Nobel rant (and does anyone doubt it will be a rant?) will be a long, long pause." (Hari, The Independent, December 6, 2005)
It is significant that Hari described Pinter's speech as a "rant" before it had even been delivered - the label exists independently of the work, indeed of the author, in question. To subject power to serious, rational challenge is by definition to "rant". Hari commented:
"Ever since Pinter was a teenager, he has been relentlessly contrarian, kicking out violently against anything that might trigger his rage that day."
This is the standard, Soviet-style assertion that critics of power are afflicted by psychological disorder, with the concocted 'sins' of power randomly selected as a focus for neurotic ire.
Brilliant Fools: Harold Pinter, John Le Carré And The Media, David Edwards & David Cromwell, 19 décembre 2005
It is a brutal fact of modern media and politics that honesty and sincerity are not rewarded, but instead heavily punished, by powerful interests with plenty at stake. It does not matter how often the likes of Pinter, Le Carré, Noam Chomsky and John Pilger are shown to be right. It does not matter how often the likes of Bush and Blair are shown to have lied in the cause of power and profits. The job of mainstream journalism is to learn nothing from the past, to treat rare individuals motivated by compassion as rare fools deserving contempt.
The benefits are clear enough: if even high-profile dissidents can be painted as wretched, sickly fools, then which reader or viewer would want to be associated with dissent? Then ’normal’ - conforming, consuming, looking after ’number one’ - can be made to seem healthy, balanced, sensible and sane.