Harold Pinter dead at 78

December 25, 2008 at 11:35 pm 1 comment

BRITAIN/Harold Pinter, the British playwright and Nobel laureate, died on Christmas Eve at the age of 78  after a long battle with cancer. His plays were considered amongst the finest in the last half century. “The Caretaker” and “The Homecoming” were amongst his best works.

Pinter, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2005, vehemently opposed the Iraq war comparing the Bush administration to the Nazis and referring to Tony Blair as a “mass murderer.”

In 1958 Harold Pinter wrote the following:

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.”

I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

But it is his speech to the House of Commons in January 2003 that won the admiration of all peace-loving people in the world. I am reproducing it below.

House of Commons Speech – Tuesday 21st January 2003

One of the more nauseating images of the year 2002 is that of our Prime Minister kneeling in the church on Christmas Day praying for peace on earth and good will towards all men while simultaneously preparing to assist in the murder of thousands of totally innocent people in Iraq.I’ve been taken to task recently by the American Ambassador to Britain for calling the US Administration a blood thirsty wild animal. All I can say is: take a look at Donald Rumsfeld’s face and the case is made.

I believe that not only is this contemplated act criminal, malevolent and barbaric, it also contains within itself a palpable joy in destruction. Power, as has often been remarked, is the great aphrodisiac, and so, it would seem, is the death of others.

The Americans have the ostensible support of the ‘international community’ through various sure-fire modes of intimidation; bullying, bribery, blackmail and bullshit. The ‘international community’ becomes a degraded entity bludgeoned into the service of a brutal military force out of control. The most despicable position is that of course of this country which pretends to stand shoulder to shoulder with its great ally while in fact being more of a whipped dog than anyone else. We are demeaned, undermined and dishonoured by our government’s contemptible subservience to the United States.

The planned war can only bring about the collapse of what remains of the Iraqi infrastructure, widespread death, mutilation and disease, an estimated one million refugees and escalation of violence throughout the world, but it will still masquerade as a ‘moral crusade’, a ‘just war’, a war waged by ‘freedom loving democracies’, to bring ‘democracy’ to Iraq.

The stink of the hypocrisy is suffocating.

This is in reality a simple tale of invasion of sovereign territory, military occupation and control of oil.

We have a clear obligation, which is to resist.

Harold Pinter

May he rest in peace!

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