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Socialism Today 129 - June 2009

In the Name of Justice

In the Name of Justice

By John Pilger

Released by Network DVD, 2008, £29.99

Reviewed by Iain Dalton

THIS DVD is the second set of John Pilger documentaries released over the last few years, a ‘sequel’ to Documentaries that Changed the World (reviewed in Socialism Today No.103, September 2006). It follows the same layout of twelve documentaries on an array of different topics.

The first film is The Mexicans. Despite being somewhat dated, this documentary conveys the hardship ordinary Mexicans face, in particular those related to the influence of the USA and the reasons that so many Mexicans migrate there illegally each year.

Next is Street of Joy. This documentary looks at the US advertising industry and asks whether it can influence politics. Pilger examines how advertising techniques have been used in presidential elections to boost the image of candidates, while saying nothing about their policies.

The film, Pyramid Lake is Dying, takes up the case of American Indians who, after being robbed of the majority of their land, now face discriminatory policies that are destroying their culture and the environment that it was created in, including Pyramid Lake.

Pilger investigates Czechoslovakia almost ten years after the 1968 Prague spring, in A Faraway Country. Contrary to what many wished to convey then and now, most of the people Pilger speaks to argue for socialism with democracy, rather than the capitalist restoration that eventually occurred.

There are two documentaries on Vietnam, Do You Remember Vietnam and Vietnam: The Last Battle, which look at Vietnam after the war. The first examines the causes of the war, the horrendous conditions endured by those who fought there and how, although under Stalinist rule, Vietnam was in much better condition than when it was under thinly-veiled imperialist rule. The second is 20 years after the war and examines, in particular, the so-called ‘market socialism’, which Pilger shows is but a stepping stone to full-blown capitalist restoration.

In The Truth Game Pilger looks behind the development of nuclear weapons. Especially interesting is his discussion of the cover-ups surrounding the dropping of nuclear bombs on Japan at the end of the second world war. He also deals with the nuclear weapons build up during the cold war.

The next film, Japan Behind the Mask, made during the 1980s, sees Pilger examining the economic ‘miracle’ of Japan’s post-war reconstruction. It exposes how the super-profits of Japanese corporations are based on the unseen super-exploitation of workers, especially women.

Then there is the film, Apartheid Did Not Die. In this, Pilger takes a critical look at post-apartheid South Africa and analyses the betrayal of the hopes of blacks by the now pro-capitalist ANC government.

The last three documentaries, The Last Dream: Heroes Unsung, Secrets and Other People’s Wars, are a series made for the 1988 Australian centenary. They take a look at the hidden and unmentioned history of Australia, from the untold tales of how it was colonised with the forced labour of exiles and natives alike, to Australia’s participation in wars at the behest of the major imperialist powers. As well as a critique of the then ‘Labor’ government of Bob Hawke, Pilger reflects on the often untold struggles of ordinary people in the country.

All in all, although some of the documentaries are a little out of date today, they are still very watchable. I would recommend that people buy Documentaries that Changed the World before this collection as it covers a wider array of topics. But this is still worth buying, if only for Apartheid Did Not Die, which I think is one of Pilger’s best documentaries.


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