A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia

Pilger, John
A.A. Knopf 1991
ISBN 0-394-57462-1
Date finished: 2003-02-28

Written a few years after the patriotic outburst of Australia's bicentennial celebrations in 1989, Pilger's book is a cool and cynical look at his home country. The downside of the book is just that it's not much fun, written in a hectoring and often plodding style.

Pilger's account of the 1975 fall of the Whitlam government was the most interesting chapter for me. He amasses some circumstantial but still partially persuasive evidence that the American CIA was involved. (I'd be interested in knowing what the current view of this is, ten years later; has there been any further confirmation of it, or is it an unfounded conspiracy theory?) In the 1980s Australia shifted rightwards, just as the US and Canada did, and the effect was much the same: the poor got poorer, the rich got richer, the social fabric wore away, and corporations began calling the shots. Depressingly, there's no hope offered for fixing things; Pilger has no suggestions on how to take the government back from the money-men.

For a US resident the discussion of Rupert Murdoch is especially disturbing. The Whitlam government's demise was partly due to a succession of scandals cried up by Murdoch's newspapers and TV stations; often these scandals were founded upon a single unsourced document that later proved to be a fabrication. Murdoch now has a US news channel, Fox News, that's highly right-wing and a reliable cheerleader for the impending US/Iraq war. And, oh what a coincidence, the US had its most serious electoral irregularity just a few years ago, and it will likely shift to electronic voting in the next decade, offering even more opportunities for manipulation.

Tagged: australia

Permalink: http://books.amk.ca/2003/02/Secret_Country.html

%T  A Secret Country
%S  The Hidden Australia
%A  Pilger, John
%G  ISBN 0-394-57462-1
%I  A.A. Knopf
%C  New York
%D  1991
%@  2003-02-28
%K Australia

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