Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Saturday, May 12, 2007

John Pilger on the myth of Robert Kennedy

In my preview of Gordon Brown's new book Courage, I criticised Brown's selection of Robert Kennedy, a 'liberal anti-Communist', as a 'hero'. However, to be honest, my knowledge of 'Bobby' Kennedy was quite poor, so I am relieved to read a piece by the legend that is John Pilger, a journalist who knew Robert Kennedy, which confirms my worst suspicions about the man. Here is an extract:

'As a witness to such times and events, I am always struck by self-serving attempts at revising them. The extract from Gordon Brown's book Courage: eight portraits that appeared in the New Statesman of 30 April is a prime example. According to the prime-minister-to-be, Kennedy stood at the pinnacle of "morality", a man "moved to anger and action mostly by injustice, by wasted lives and opportunity denied, by human suffering. [His were] the politics of moral uplift and exhortation." Moreover, his "moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence".

In truth, Robert Kennedy was known in the United States for his lack of moral courage. Only when Senator Eugene McCarthy led his principled "children's crusade" against the war in Vietnam early in 1968 did Kennedy change his basically pro-war stand. Like Hillary Clinton on Iraq today, he was an opportunist par excellence. Travelling with him, I would hear him borrow from Martin Luther King one day, then use the racist law-and-order code the next.

No wonder his "legacy" appeals to the Washington-besotted Brown, who has sought and failed to present himself as a politician with enduring moral roots, while pursuing an immoral agenda that has privatised precious public services by stealth and bankrolled a lawless invasion that has left perhaps a million people dead.'

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