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Excerpt: "We don't use the term 'working class' here because it's a taboo term. You're supposed to say 'middle class,' because it helps diminish the understanding that there's a class war going on."

America's leading intellectual, Professor Noam Chomsky. (photo: MIT)
America's leading intellectual, Professor Noam Chomsky. (photo: MIT)


Noam Chomsky: America Hates Its Poor

By Chris Steele, Zuccotti Park Press

01 December 13

 

Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky on our country's brutal class warfare -- and why it's ultimately so one-sided.

n article that recently came out in Rolling Stone, titled "Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail," by Matt Taibbi, asserts that the government is afraid to prosecute powerful bankers, such as those running HSBC. Taibbi says that there's "an arrestable class and an unarrestable class." What is your view on the current state of class war in the U.S.?

Well, there's always a class war going on. The United States, to an unusual extent, is a business-run society, more so than others. The business classes are very class-conscious-they're constantly fighting a bitter class war to improve their power and diminish opposition. Occasionally this is recognized.

We don't use the term "working class" here because it's a taboo term. You're supposed to say "middle class," because it helps diminish the understanding that there's a class war going on.

It's true that there was a one-sided class war, and that's because the other side hadn't chosen to participate, so the union leadership had for years pursued a policy of making a compact with the corporations, in which their workers, say the autoworkers-would get certain benefits like fairly decent wages, health benefits and so on. But it wouldn't engage the general class structure. In fact, that's one of the reasons why Canada has a national health program and the United States doesn't. The same unions on the other side of the border were calling for health care for everybody. Here they were calling for health care for themselves and they got it. Of course, it's a compact with corporations that the corporations can break anytime they want, and by the 1970s they were planning to break it and we've seen what has happened since.

This is just one part of a long and continuing class war against working people and the poor. It's a war that is conducted by a highly class-conscious business leadership, and it's one of the reasons for the unusual history of the U.S. labor movement. In the U.S., organized labor has been repeatedly and extensively crushed, and has endured a very violent history as compared with other countries.

In the late 19th century there was a major union organization, Knights of Labor, and also a radical populist movement based on farmers. It's hard to believe, but it was based in Texas, and it was quite radical. They wanted their own banks, their own cooperatives, their own control over sales and commerce. It became a huge movement that spread over major farming areas.

The Farmers' Alliance did try to link up with the Knights of Labor, which would have been a major class-based organization if it had succeeded. But the Knights of Labor were crushed by violence, and the Farmers' Alliance was dismantled in other ways. As a result, one of the major popular democratic forces in American history was essentially dismantled. There are a lot of reasons for it, one of which was that the Civil War has never really ended. One effect of the Civil War was that the political parties that came out of it were sectarian parties, so the slogan was, "You vote where you shoot," and that remains the case.

Take a look at the red states and the blue states in the last election: It's the Civil War. They've changed party labels, but other than that, it's the same: sectarian parties that are not class-based because divisions are along different lines. There are a lot of reasons for it.

The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay, bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight. They're probably a drain on the economy, and they become even more powerful when they are able to gain control of policy decisions.

That's why we have a sequester over the deficit and not over jobs, which is what really matters to the population. But it doesn't matter to the banks, so the heck with it. It also illustrates the consider- able shredding of the whole system of democracy. So, by now, they rank people by income level or wages roughly the same: The bottom 70 percent or so are virtually disenfranchised; they have almost no influence on policy, and as you move up the scale you get more influence. At the very top, you basically run the show.

A good topic to research, if possible, would be "why people don't vote." Nonvoting is very high, roughly 50 percent, even in presidential elections-much higher in others. The attitudes of people who don't vote are studied. First of all, they mostly identify themselves as Democrats. And if you look at their attitudes, they are mostly Social Democratic. They want jobs, they want benefits, they want the government to be involved in social services and so on, but they don't vote, partly, I suppose, because of the impediments to voting. It's not a big secret. Republicans try really hard to prevent people from voting, because the more that people vote, the more trouble they are in. There are other reasons why people don't vote. I suspect, but don't know how to prove, that part of the reason people don't vote is they just know their votes don't make any difference, so why make the effort? So you end up with a kind of plutocracy in which the public opinion doesn't matter much. It is not unlike other countries in this respect, but more extreme. All along, it's more extreme. So yes, there is a constant class war going on.

The case of labor is crucial, because it is the base of organization of any popular opposition to the rule of capital, and so it has to be dismantled. There's a tax on labor all the time. During the 1920s, the labor movement was virtually smashed by Wilson's Red Scare and other things. In the 1930s, it reconstituted and was the driving force of the New Deal, with the CIO organizing and so on. By the late 1930s, the business classes were organizing to try to react to this. They began, but couldn't do much during the war, because things were on hold, but immediately after the war it picked up with the Taft-Hartley Act and huge propaganda campaigns, which had massive effect. Over the years, the effort to undermine the unions and labor generally succeeded. By now, private-sector unionization is very low, partly because, since Reagan, government has pretty much told employers, "You know you can violate the laws, and we're not going to do anything about it." Under Clinton, NAFTA offered a method for employers to illegally undermine labor organizing by threatening to move enterprises to Mexico. A number of illegal operations by employers shot up at that time. What's left are private-sector unions, and they're under bipartisan attack.

They've been protected somewhat because the federal laws did function for the public-sector unions, but now they're under bipartisan attack. When Obama declares a pay freeze for federal workers, that's actually a tax on federal workers. It comes to the same thing, and, of course, this is right at the time we say that we can't raise taxes on the very rich. Take the last tax agreement where the Republicans claimed, "We already gave up tax increases." Take a look at what happened. Raising the payroll tax, which is a tax on working people, is much more of a tax increase than raising taxes on the super-rich, but that passed quietly because we don't look at those things.

The same is happening across the board. There are major efforts being made to dismantle Social Security, the public schools, the post office-anything that benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S. Postal Service are particularly surreal. I'm old enough to remember the Great Depression, a time when the country was quite poor but there were still postal deliveries. Today, post offices, Social Security, and public schools all have to be dismantled because they are seen as being based on a principle that is regarded as extremely dangerous.

If you care about other people, that's now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That's not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don't care whether other people's kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that's called "libertarian" for some wild reason. I mean, it's actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.

That's why unions had the slogan, "solidarity," even though they may not have lived up to it. And that's what really counts: solidarity, mutual aid, care for one another and so on. And it's really important for power systems to undermine that ideologically, so huge efforts go into it. Even trying to stimulate consumerism is an effort to undermine it. Having a market society automatically carries with it an undermining of solidarity. For example, in the market system you have a choice: You can buy a Toyota or you can buy a Ford, but you can't buy a subway because that's not offered. Market systems don't offer common goods; they offer private consumption. If you want a subway, you're going to have to get together with other people and make a collective decision. Otherwise, it's simply not an option within the market system, and as democracy is increasingly undermined, it's less and less of an option within the public system. All of these things converge, and they're all part of general class war.

Can you give some insight on how the labor movement could rebuild in the United States?

Well, it's been done before. Each time labor has been attacked-and as I said, in the 1920s the labor movement was practically destroyed-popular efforts were able to reconstitute it. That can happen again. It's not going to be easy. There are institutional barriers, ideological barriers, cultural barriers. One big problem is that the white working class has been pretty much abandoned by the political system. The Democrats don't even try to organize them anymore. The Republicans claim to do it; they get most of the vote, but they do it on non-economic issues, on non-labor issues. They often try to mobilize them on the grounds of issues steeped in racism and sexism and so on, and here the liberal policies of the 1960s had a harmful effect because of some of the ways in which they were carried out. There are some pretty good studies of this. Take busing to integrate schools. In principle, it made some sense, if you wanted to try to overcome segregated schools. Obviously, it didn't work. Schools are probably more segregated now for all kinds of reasons, but the way it was originally done undermined class solidarity.

For example, in Boston there was a program for integrating the schools through busing, but the way it worked was restricted to urban Boston, downtown Boston. So black kids were sent to the Irish neighborhoods and conversely, but the suburbs were left out. The suburbs are more affluent, professional and so on, so they were kind of out of it. Well, what happens when you send black kids into an Irish neighborhood? What happens when some Irish telephone linemen who have worked all their lives finally got enough money to buy small houses in a neighborhood where they want to send their kids to the local school and cheer for the local football team and have a community, and so on? All of a sudden, some of their kids are being sent out, and black kids are coming in. How do you think at least some of these guys will feel? At least some end up being racists. The suburbs are out of it, so they can cluck their tongues about how racist everyone is elsewhere, and that kind of pattern was carried out all over the country.

The same has been true of women's rights. But when you have a working class that's under real pressure, you know, people are going to say that rights are being undermined, that jobs are being under- mined. Maybe the one thing that the white working man can hang onto is that he runs his home? Now that that's being taken away and nothing is being offered, he's not part of the program of advancing women's rights. That's fine for college professors, but it has a different effect in working-class areas. It doesn't have to be that way. It depends on how it's done, and it was done in a way that simply undermined natural solidarity. There are a lot of factors that play into it, but by this point it's going to be pretty hard to organize the working class on the grounds that should really concern them: common solidarity, common welfare.

In some ways, it shouldn't be too hard, because these attitudes are really prized by most of the population. If you look at Tea Party members, the kind that say, "Get the government off my back, I want a small government" and so on, when their attitudes are studied, it turns out that they're mostly social democratic. You know, people are human after all. So yes, you want more money for health, for help, for people who need it and so on and so forth, but "I don't want the government, get that off my back" and related attitudes are tricky to overcome.

Some polls are pretty amazing. There was one conducted in the South right before the presidential elections. Just Southern whites, I think, were asked about the economic plans of the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Southern whites said they preferred Romney's plan, but when asked about its particular components, they opposed every one. Well, that's the effect of good propaganda: getting people not to think in terms of their own interests, let alone the interest of communities and the class they're part of. Overcoming that takes a lot of work. I don't think it's impossible, but it's not going to happen easily.

In a recent article about the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest, you discuss Henry Vane, who was beheaded for drafting a petition that called the people's power "the original from whence all just power arises." Would you agree the coordinated repression of Occupy was like the beheading of Vane?

Occupy hasn't been treated nicely, but we shouldn't exaggerate. Compared with the kind of repression that usually goes on, it wasn't that severe. Just ask people who were part of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, in the South, let's say. It was incomparably worse, as was just showing up at anti-war demonstrations where people were getting maced and beaten and so on. Activist groups get repressed. Power systems don't pat them on the head. Occupy was treated badly, but not off the spectrum-in fact, in some ways not as bad as others. I wouldn't draw exaggerated comparisons. It's not like beheading somebody who says, "Let's have popular power."

How does the Charter of the Forest relate to environmental and indigenous resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline?

A lot. The Charter of the Forest, which was half the Magna Carta, has more or less been forgotten. The forest didn't just mean the woods. It meant common property, the source of food, fuel. It was a common possession, so it was cared for. The forests were cultivated in common and kept functioning, because they were part of people's common possessions, their source of livelihood, and even a source of dignity. That slowly collapsed in England under the enclosure movements, the state efforts to shift to private ownership and control. In the United States it happened differently, but the privatization is similar. What you end up with is the widely held belief, now standard doctrine, that's called "the tragedy of the commons" in Garrett Hardin's phrase. According to this view, if things are held in common and aren't privately owned, they're going to be destroyed. History shows the exact opposite: When things were held in common, they were preserved and maintained. But, according to the capitalist ethic, if things aren't privately owned, they're going to be ruined, and that's "the tragedy of the commons." So, therefore, you have to put everything under private control and take it away from the public, because the public is just going to destroy it.

Now, how does that relate to the environmental problem? Very significantly: the commons are the environment. When they're a common possession-not owned, but everybody holds them together in a community-they're preserved, sustained and cultivated for the next generation. If they're privately owned, they're going to be destroyed for profit; that's what private owner- ship is, and that's exactly what's happening today.

What you say about the indigenous population is very striking. There's a major problem that the whole species is facing. A likelihood of serious disaster may be not far off. We are approaching a kind of tipping point, where climate change becomes irreversible. It could be a couple of decades, maybe less, but the predictions are constantly being shown to be too conservative. It is a very serious danger; no sane person can doubt it. The whole species is facing a real threat for the first time in its history of serious disaster, and there are some people trying to do some- thing about it and there are others trying to make it worse. Who are they? Well, the ones who are trying to make it better are the pre-industrial societies, the pre-technological societies, the indigenous societies, the First Nations. All around the world, these are the communities that are trying to preserve the rights of nature.

The rich societies, like the United States and Canada, are acting in ways to bring about disaster as quickly as possible. That's what it means, for example, when both political parties and the press talk enthusiastically about "a century of energy independence." "Energy independence" doesn't mean a damn thing, but put that aside. A century of "energy independence" means that we make sure that every bit of Earth's fossil fuels comes out of the ground and we burn it. In societies that have large indigenous populations, like, for example, Ecuador, an oil producer, people are trying to get support for keeping the oil in the ground. They want funding so as to keep the oil where it ought to be. We, however, have to get everything out of the ground, including tar sands, then burn it, which makes things as bad as possible as quickly as possible. So you have this odd situation where the educated, "advanced" civilized people are trying to cut everyone's throats as quickly as possible and the indigenous, less educated, poorer populations are trying to prevent the disaster. If somebody was watching this from Mars, they'd think this species was insane.

As far as a free, democracy-centered society, self-organization seems possible on small scales. Do you think it is possible on a larger scale and with human rights and quality of life as a standard, and if so, what community have you visited that seems closest to an example to what is possible?

Well, there are a lot of things that are possible. I have visited some examples that are pretty large scale, in fact, very large scale. Take Spain, which is in a huge economic crisis. But one part of Spain is doing okay-that's the Mondragón collective. It's a big conglomerate involving banks, industry, housing, all sorts of things. It's worker owned, not worker managed, so partial industrial democracy, but it exists in a capitalist economy, so it's doing all kinds of ugly things like exploiting foreign labor and so on. But economically and socially, it's flourishing as compared with the rest of the society and other societies. It is very large, and that can be done anywhere. It certainly can be done here. In fact, there are tentative explorations of contacts between the Mondragón and the United Steelworkers, one of the more progressive unions, to think about developing comparable structures here, and it's being done to an extent.

The one person who has written very well about this is Gar Alperovitz, who is involved in organizing work around enterprises in parts of the old Rust Belt, which are pretty successful and could be spread just as a cooperative could be spread. There are really no limits to it other than willingness to participate, and that is, as always, the problem. If you're willing to adhere to the task and gauge yourself, there's no limit.

Actually, there's a famous sort of paradox posed by David Hume centuries ago. Hume is one of the founders of classical liberalism. He's an important philosopher and a political philosopher. He said that if you take a look at societies around the world-any of them-power is in the hands of the governed, those who are being ruled. Hume asked, why don't they use that power and overthrow the masters and take control? He says, the answer has to be that, in all societies, the most brutal, the most free, the governed can be controlled by control of opinion. If you can control their attitudes and beliefs and separate them from one another and so on, then they won't rise up and overthrow you.

That does require a qualification. In the more brutal and repressive societies, controlling opinion is less important, because you can beat people with a stick. But as societies become more free, it becomes more of a problem, and we see that historically. The societies that develop the most expansive propaganda systems are also the most free societies.

The most extensive propaganda system in the world is the public relations industry, which developed in Britain and the United States. A century ago, dominant sectors recognized that enough freedom had been won by the population. They reasoned that it's hard to control people by force, so they had to do it by turning the attitudes and opinions of the population with propaganda and other devices of separation and marginalization, and so on. Western powers have become highly skilled in this.

In the United States, the advertising and public relations industry is huge. Back in the more honest days, they called it propaganda. Now the term doesn't sound nice, so it's not used anymore, but it's basically a huge propaganda system which is designed very extensively for quite specific purposes.

First of all, it has to undermine markets by trying to create irrational, uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. That's what advertising is about, the opposite of what a market is supposed to be, and anybody who turns on a television set can see that for themselves. It has to do with monopolization and product differentiation, all sorts of things, but the point is that you have to drive the population to irrational consumption, which does separate them from one another.

As I said, consumption is individual, so it's not done as an act of solidarity-so you don't have ads on television saying, "Let's get together and build a mass transportation system." Who's going to fund that? The other thing they need to do is undermine democracy the same way, so they run campaigns, political campaigns mostly run by PR agents. It's very clear what they have to do. They have to create uninformed voters who will make irrational decisions, and that's what the campaigns are about. Billions of dollars go into it, and the idea is to shred democracy, restrict markets to service the rich, and make sure the power gets concentrated, that capital gets concentrated and the people are driven to irrational and self-destructive behavior. And it is self-destructive, often dramatically so. For example, one of the first achievements of the U.S. public relations system back in the 1920s was led, incidentally, by a figure honored by Wilson, Roosevelt and Kennedy-liberal progressive Edward Bernays.

His first great success was to induce women to smoke. In the 1920s, women didn't smoke. So here's this big population which was not buying cigarettes, so he paid young models to march down New York City's Fifth Avenue holding cigarettes. His message to women was, "You want to be cool like a model? You should smoke a cigarette." How many millions of corpses did that create? I'd hate to calculate it. But it was considered an enormous success. The same is true of the murderous character of corporate propaganda with tobacco, asbestos, lead, chemicals, vinyl chloride, across the board. It is just shocking, but PR is a very honored profession, and it does control people and undermine their options of working together. And so that's Hume's paradox, but people don't have to submit to it. You can see through it and struggle against it.


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+61 # Barbara K 2013-12-01 14:24
We don't all hate the poor. Only the wealthy hate the poor, not many of us are wealthy. Rightwingers definitely hate the poor, but then they hate everybody and everything.

,
 
 
+20 # Capn Canard 2013-12-01 17:49
No, I disagree. We(all Americans) are all trained to hate the poor. And it works. Even the poor hate the poor. If you live among the poor you are very likely to develop hate toward the poor. BTW, the vast majority of the people in my neighbor are poor just like me.

In America we are taught to despise the poor. I presume that the idea is that if we despise the poor, then we will do all that we can to avoid being poor. After all, no American wants to be poor.

Just down the road from me is a public golf course. (we are poor, there is just not enough rich people to have a private country club.) The Golf course is a beautiful place that borders farmland with no houses on the south, just bucolic fields of corn. Corn.

And Rightwingers hate the poor? No, they don't hate the poor. But many of those Rightwingers do hate gays, fags, homos, negros, spics, commies and LIBERALS. Their claim to fame is that they always vote against their own best interest, but they see it as just more evidence that they don't discriminate. And they aren't even Dixiecrats!
 
 
-65 # Penn 2013-12-01 18:39
The wealthy do NOT hate the poor. The poor are irrelevant as the wealthy MAY have been poor at one time, but chose to work and save their way out of that financial condition. It is the left and Democrats who think so much less of the poor that they believe THEY can choose how the poor live, and where they live, and who they will vote for. It is the Democrats that will do what they can to keep the poor at the poverty level and promise them everything for free as long as they vote for Democrats. The Democrats have always believed in slavery. They owned the slaves. Controlled the courts to keep slaves. Fought a civil war to keep slaves. Changed from iron chains to economic chains to keep the slave mentality alive.
 
 
+26 # janla 2013-12-01 21:26
I believe the parties shifted after the civil war; they are not the same then as they are now. Today's Democrats have a larger and less oppressive world view than the Republicans who understand the value of slave labor and slave wages these days - Think WalMart for example. There is no reason they couldn't pay a living wage (say $15.00 per hour) except that they want the profits for themselves. To hell with poor people - let's blame them for their own condition, rather than looking at the system that keeps them being poor.
 
 
-12 # MidwesTom 2013-12-01 22:17
There is also no reason for them to pay a higher wage as long as they can hire everyone they need at a lower wage. I would be willing bet bet that they pay higher wages in much of North Dakota where labor is really tight. WalMart searches the world for the cheapest place to have things made, so they can sell things for far less than American made goods. Americans seem to live the low prices. Target and Kmart also pay low wages. sears and Penny's have historically paid higher wages, but shoppers prefer the lower prices at WalMart and Target, resulting in Sears and Penny's having to cut wages and close stores. Walmart would be eaten by Kmart and Target if it suddenly started raising prices to pay higher wages.
 
 
+21 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-01 22:56
You assumption about "Walmart would be eaten by Kmart and Target if it........"
Not so sure. It is the Walmart pigs at the top who are skimming the outrageous profits for themselves and not returning hard working efforts to their workers.
 
 
+10 # bigkahuna671 2013-12-02 10:52
I see you trying to make a positive point here, MidwesTom, but Walmart wouldn't be eaten by anyone unless they had Walmart's insatiable desire to destroy the American marketplace. Chomsky's idea that middle class and working class are one and the same is flawed because most people work. Does that make them all middle class. No, of course not. The term 'middle class' was used originally to describe lower and middle management types and small business types. The working poor were encouraged to push for middle class status and as they did so, society welcomed them into that group or they themselves assumed the middle class mantle. My working class parents worked multiple jobs to improve our lot and 'move' into the middle class. Yes, it was the lower middle class, but we made it eventually, all of the siblings getting degrees and learning the value of work and respect for our roots and who we were. Walmart and its ilk are trying to destroy that in America. They want all but the 1% to be poor with no hope of moving up, so don't expect higher wages and benefits to magically appear. Support local small businesses and artisans who make up a true spirit of community. We don't need Walmart and the sooner the rest of America realizes that, the sooner our overall economy will start to return to a saner economy.
 
 
+5 # jJLLA 2013-12-02 15:57
Actually, the shift happened much more recently after the Civil Rights Movement. White Southern Democrats were angered at the new legislation and the GOP decided to take advantage and woo them into the Republican Party (see "Southern Strategy"). Add to that the innundation of right-wing religious nuts and you have your modern GOP.
 
 
+1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-01 22:50
Penn, you are not yet potty trained. We certainly do not want to offer you Ex-Lax as long as you have that cork up your butt.
 
 
+9 # EverythingSolidMeltsIntoAir 2013-12-01 23:10
Wow nice one Democrats = slavery. That's not a logical stretch or anything. You hit some good anti-American House-approved pinko-commie talking points though. Good job.

To try to address the kernel of your argument, though -

The "wealthy" are sociopathic idiots and need to be incarcerated before they ruin the society that they are currently bleeding dry for private gain.

So, funny free market boosters = leeches.

Still trying to come up with a good equivalent to someone who defends the 'wealthy', however...not sure why an opinion such as yours would need to be argued...
 
 
+4 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 12:36
Quoting Penn:
The wealthy do NOT hate the poor. The poor are irrelevant as the wealthy MAY have been poor at one time, but chose to work and save their way out of that financial condition. It is the left and Democrats who think so much less of the poor that they believe THEY can choose how the poor live, and where they live, and who they will vote for. It is the Democrats that will do what they can to keep the poor at the poverty level and promise them everything for free as long as they vote for Democrats. The Democrats have always believed in slavery. They owned the slaves. Controlled the courts to keep slaves. Fought a civil war to keep slaves. Changed from iron chains to economic chains to keep the slave mentality alive.


Again; YAWWWWNNN!
The overwhelming majority of the stinkin' rich got it the old fashioned way; the INHERITED it!
I've only know one billionaire personally and he WAS self-made, a visionary, determinedly anonymous and compassionate philanthropist who practiced "drive-by giving" when made aware of a cause, family or person in need by dispatching an envelope by driver or even Lear Jet to the party in need.
He was a MODERATE Republican and WW11 pilot on the Pacific carriers. In a speech given later in life he said, "It was fun making all that money but even better giving it away".
He was disdainful of his mean-spirited, inherited-wealt hy peers and refused to become part of their little exclusive cliques.
You're such a predictable bore!
 
 
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-12-03 17:56
Penn, You really do need two pounds of Ex-Lax. You define yourself as a common horse thief. No, we did not define you. In the more educated, advanced countries, unlike the U.S., the poor are not hated. In those countries, they work on projects that keep them employed such as building and repairing roads, repairing bridges, massive alternative energy projects, high speed rail. The U.S. government "operates" approximately 1,000 military bases. The military/indust rial complex jobs program strip Godzillion amounts of money from the American taxpayer and therefore we are not employing our good citizens in productive home infrastructure projects. But then, why speak to you, a stupid man. You have your head up your "arse."
You are just a Capitalistic trouble maker who enjoys peeing on your fellow man.
 
 
0 # Walter J Smith 2013-12-03 09:41
They even hate themselves.

Listen to how they talk.
 
 
+42 # Vardoz 2013-12-01 16:14
The 99% are being assaulted and impoverished in every way- lack of jobs, low wages, high tuition, cuts in vital services, cuts in food stamps for low wage workers, vets and homeless and the poor in general, cuts in unemployment insurance and education as the cost of living keeps going up. Too many can't make ends meet as our wages are forced to remain flat. It is murder by cuts. It is an agenda of deliberate impoverishment. As we are printing tens of billions giving it to Wall St for home loans people can't afford to buy, & our outlandish military budget, NSA budget and all the gigantic subsidies that are being given to 1 in 4 rich corporations that pay zero tax. Added to this is our bloated prison system. All this as we descend into more and more into poverty. And now the secret, and even more pernicious, TPP is being forced down our throats, to be fast tracked by Obama, which will impinge even more on our ability to earn and survive, the TPP will further cut vital services, control our laws and protections, as they deregulate to cut oversight and accountability and enjoy total immunity. Corporations are out to destroy our nation and Democratic Republic. Period end of story. And too many of our so called reps are facilitating this destruction. Life is a precious gift that is not only reserved for those at the top. Those who can't see the forest through the trees.
 
 
+22 # janla 2013-12-01 21:28
Unions!! If you are a corporation, you have to hate them, and we all have agreed (following along like puppy dogs) that we too hate them, but, the truth is, that when we have strong unions we have decent wages for many more people than just union members.
 
 
-23 # MidwesTom 2013-12-01 17:15
I ran across the following article from the University of Chicago Divinity School, Sightings blog, pertaining to poor children. Well worth reading:

http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?
u=6b2c705bf61d6edb1d5e0549d&id=9c2c11bad2&e=204211e8d9

The problem here is adults having kids that they either do not want, cannot afford, or simply do not know how to raise. The kids are the ones that suffer, while the adults that created them continue to produce children that will enter the same street culture. Until we address the parent problem the urban problems will continue to grow.

The so called War on Poverty has simply facilitated the expansion of the urban ghettos. As automation advances the country will need fewer and fewer unskilled and under educated workers. Throwing additional money at the urban ghettos has proven to only exacerbate the problem.

As the Chinese currency gains more and more international recognition we are be forced ever closer to a situation where we will be forced to operate with a balanced budget as a nation. If were to happen now, we would have to cut 41% from the federal budget. It won't happen quickly, I hope; but it is coming; and it's arrival will force major changes on our society; which is probably why FEMA is for all practical purposes a domestic Army, prepared for civil unrest.
 
 
+24 # Vardoz 2013-12-01 17:41
Poverty has many consequences. It places tremendous stress on single mothers and families and neighborhoods. People, families and children are hungry and have poor diets, the poor don't have safe neighborhoods and receive poor education and essential services. The health, safety and welfare of the poor are threatened. There is also less money overall to spend on heat, utilities, rent, food and transportation. Less money to spend on clothes and recreational activities. There is not enough free daycare and often families can't afford daycare which impedes work opportunities. Desperate people also take drugs, are engaged in violence and millions end up in prison. As our nation descends into poverty, tens of millions more are deprived of all the amenities that comes with a middle class life style and leaves whole populations abandon. This circle of poverty affects generations and they fall into a barren landscape of lack of education and skills. This is why raising the minimum wage so that more people have money to live is so vital to a healthy nation. Right now we all know that 99% of the wealth is in the hands of 1% and corporations show little interest in helping our nation as a whole. More for them and less for us are all the words in their vocabulary.
 
 
-11 # MidwesTom 2013-12-01 22:08
Raising the minimum wage only helps those with a job, and as the wages rise, so do the resulting costs of products and services from the business paying the higher minimum wage. Add to that the new 29 hour work week brought on by Obamacare, and 1000's are making less, thanks to government meddling in the workplace.

Wages are a function of supply and demand. in North Dakota and in Odessa Texas, McDonalds is paying $15/hour because there is no one available willing to work for a lower wage. In Compton, California this Fall, the farms had to pay $12 to$15 per hour plus free lunch and transportation to get their crops harvested, because the ICE had conducted several raids in the area and eliminated a large part of the illegal workforce. Start arresting bosses at companies that hire illegals and wages will rise everywhere. The rule of supply and demand still works.
 
 
+11 # bigkahuna671 2013-12-02 12:40
MidwesTom, CEOs and their ilk don't have a minimum wage and they don't turn down the pay raises they vote THEMSELVES! If upper management made the kinds of wages upper management made prior to that great President, Ronnie Raygun, the economy would be stronger, workers would probably be making more vice the state of the economy, and we wouldn't have the national debt we do. Unfortunately, CEOs, CFOs, COOs and the rest of their cronies have milked the profit of American companies by increasing their salaries, reducing the numbers of American workers by busting unions and shipping jobs overseas, and contributing to the elections of a bunch of crooks who keep passing laws that benefit the 1% over the benefit of the 99%. Don't blame everything on illegals. Wages are low because American companies control Congress and the Stupreme Court and can do whatever they damn well please!!!
 
 
+20 # soularddave 2013-12-01 17:49
So those who hate gubment watch FAUX News, whine about Obama, and expect government to overthrow itself?

So, as Society advances, we decline because nobody is willing to be honest and work together.

As has been pointed out, if voting were really effective, it would be made illegal. In many cases it HAS become illegal (impossible); maybe voting is the MOST effective outlet for the disenfranchised among us.
 
 
-55 # Felix Julian 2013-12-01 17:55
Noam Chomsky "America's Leading Intellect?" God help us! Chomsky is a nutter. His describing Red State/Blue State as the Civil War was the last line I read on purpose. I'm sick of him. To make a remark like "America hates its poor" and expect to be taken seriously is pretty sad. I, of course, disagree with his pronouncement. To suggest that labor movements in other countries has NOT been met with violence also shows he's a nutter. I couldn't bear to read anymore. Just glad he's not just beginning his career as "American's Leading Intellect".
 
 
+14 # janla 2013-12-01 21:30
Yes - it is hard to read the words of people who are speaking the truth. Dang! Let's all just lie and lie to each other and then we'll be less agitated.
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 12:18
Quoting Felix Julian:
Noam Chomsky "America's Leading Intellect?" God help us! Chomsky is a nutter. His describing Red State/Blue State as the Civil War was the last line I read on purpose. I'm sick of him. To make a remark like "America hates its poor" and expect to be taken seriously is pretty sad. I, of course, disagree with his pronouncement. To suggest that labor movements in other countries has NOT been met with violence also shows he's a nutter. I couldn't bear to read anymore. Just glad he's not just beginning his career as "American's Leading Intellect".


So who's YOUR shining example of an American leading intellectual.
It takes a nutter to know one.
 
 
+7 # jJLLA 2013-12-02 15:53
I think America hates its poor - not because of what I hear from partisan news or read online - but because of what I hear from people I know. Case in point: I have a distant relative who is on disability, Medicaid, lives in section 8 housing but every day she posts at least a dozen anti-poor, anti-welfare bagger inspired memes to her Face Book page. Apparently she won’t accept the truth the she is a member of that company of “takers” and “bums” she gripes about. She HATES poor people –all the while being one. Now THAT is truly someone who has been drinking at the right wing Kool-Aid fountain!! Propaganda at its best.
 
 
+4 # soularddave 2013-12-01 17:59
Let me add: Half of the people on my block are in section 8 housing, and DEFINATELY NO, they're NOT hated.

Thank you Barbara K. We must express that we're in solidarity with those around us.
 
 
+19 # fredboy 2013-12-01 18:41
My parents were financially "poor" when I was a child, and we lived in a neighborhood of financially "poor" whites and blacks during the Civil Rights era. They demonstrated more character, courage, leadership, hope, resolve, and community spirit than any I have met or witnessed since that time.
 
 
+30 # Working Class 2013-12-01 18:50
Ever notice how the Right only calls it class warfare when the working class tries to stand up for itself and those less fortunate? The Right has been conducting class warfare for decades. Its just that the bought and paid for politicians and the corporate media won't call it for what it is.
 
 
+16 # reiverpacific 2013-12-01 18:52
Reality 1: America -as in mainstream media press and pundits, doesn't even admit to having ANY poor OR working class.
If they are recognized at all, it's to find a way of marginalizing them even further, making them invisible and forcibly relocating them from city centers nationwide as are the tribal peoples, the poorest, most neglected, marginalized and brutalized demographic in the so-called wealthiest nation that's ever existed.
Reality 2: 62% or > are truly working class, not the much-touted and speechified Middle Classes as we are all supposed to be and doing jes' fine -except many are one paycheck or less from homelessness themselves.
http://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/the-changing-working-class/.
When did you hear a politician even mention the poor or working class?
More and more homeless people are finding "No room at the inn", if you'll excuse the seasonal reference -and not even a manger to lay their heads in as they are policed out of city centers.
Again; "The White Man can make everything but he has never learned how to distribute it" Sitting Bull (Tatanka Leyoté) in a succinct description of capitalism.
 
 
+19 # janla 2013-12-01 21:32
It is so easy to blame the poor for their poverty; then we don't have to look at how our system keeps them in their 'place.'
 
 
+3 # jJLLA 2013-12-02 16:03
You are correct janla! Most of my friends did everything they were told to do so that they would enjoy financial stability and hold down good jobs. They obtained college degrees (sometimes two or three); chose good companies to work for; became loyal employees. Today all but a few have been downsized out of their jobs (mostly due to outsourcing) or laid off because their employers wanted to dump them before they were eligible for pension. Those who are still working are under employed – making less than half of what they did 12 – 15 years ago. They are now POOR, and it was NOT their fault.
 
 
-23 # jazzman633 2013-12-01 19:06
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.
 
 
+8 # EverythingSolidMeltsIntoAir 2013-12-01 22:51
The important point here is that we have all been conditioned to hate the poor. It is a convenient mechanism of control and an integral part of our culture. It blinds us from the privatization of what is ours.

(courtesy of Ristau and Bradley, from Walljasper's 'Why the Commons Matters Now', page 33)

"CHALLENGING THE OLD STORY:

1. Our value is determined by economic status. Hope for the future is tied to making more money to buy more goods and services.

2. It's natural that there are big winners and sorry losers in society. The winners have earned their wealth, fair and square. If you have not lived up to your expectations, the fault is largely yours.

3. We are all on our own. Competition is the only efficient, rational way to run a society, so don't expect much help in getting ahead. You can make it if you try.

4. Lower-income people have mostly themselves to blame. Watch out for them; they want what you have but aren't willing to work for it.

5. Government intervention in the economy tends to reward the undeserving, thereby weakening the entire society.

6. Infinite economic growth is the measure of a strong economy.

7. Economic health is more important than environmental health.

8. Frugality and conservation are old-fashioned virtues that are not really important to our future.

9. Don't talk about your salary or economic standing with anyone else - it is inappropriate under any circumstances."
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 20:21
Quoting jazzman633:
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.


I agree with your statement about marketing and advertising but if you've ever actually bought any of Chomsky's books, you might observe that they are NOT put out by any of the major publishing conglomerates but by small, no-frills operations who struggle along on a shoestring, having the courage to publish authors like himself and others who challenge the status-quo.
You won't see any of his publications on the book table of COSTCO or Barnes and Noble, where right-wing crap dispensers like Hannity and O'Reilly are on display. You pretty much have to go to small independent booksellers or alternative stores to get his stuff and that of almost any truly progressive author.
If you don't want to take my word for it, just ask any of your neighbors or regulars in y'r regular watering hole if you have one, if they've even heard of Chomsky or any of his progressive peers.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 20:24
Quoting jazzman633:
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.


I agree with your statement about marketing and advertising but if you've ever actually bought any of Chomsky's books, you might observe that they are NOT put out by any of the major publishing conglomerates but by small, no-frills operations who struggle along on a shoestring, having the courage to publish authors like himself and others who challenge the status-quo.
You won't see any of his publications on the book table of COSTCO or Barnes and Noble, where right-wing crap dispensers like Hannity and O'Reilly are on display. You pretty much have to go to small independent booksellers or alternative stores to get his stuff and that of almost any truly progressive author.
If you don't want to take my word for it, just ask any of your neighbors or regulars in y'r regular watering hole if you have one, if they've even heard of Chomsky or any of his progressive peers.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 20:24
Quoting jazzman633:
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.


I agree with your statement about marketing and advertising but if you've ever actually bought any of Chomsky's books, you might observe that they are NOT put out by any of the major publishing conglomerates but by small, no-frills operations who struggle along on a shoestring, having the courage to publish authors like himself and others who challenge the status-quo.
You won't see any of his publications on the book table of COSTCO or Barnes and Noble, where right-wing crap dispensers like Hannity and O'Reilly are on display. You pretty much have to go to small independent booksellers or alternative stores to get his stuff and that of almost any truly progressive author.
If you don't want to take my word for it, just ask any of your neighbors or regulars in y'r regular watering hole if you have one, if they've even heard of Chomsky or any of his progressive peers.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 20:24
Quoting jazzman633:
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.


I agree with your statement about marketing and advertising but if you've ever actually bought any of Chomsky's books, you might observe that they are NOT put out by any of the major publishing conglomerates but by small, no-frills operations who struggle along on a shoestring, having the courage to publish authors like himself and others who challenge the status-quo.
You won't see any of his publications on the book table of COSTCO or Barnes and Noble, where right-wing crap dispensers like Hannity and O'Reilly are on display. You pretty much have to go to small independent booksellers or alternative stores to get his stuff and that of almost any truly progressive author.
If you don't want to take my word for it, just ask any of your neighbors or regulars in y'r regular watering hole if you have one, if they've even heard of Chomsky or any of his progressive peers.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-12-02 20:24
Quoting jazzman633:
It is advertising and marketing that convince you that you need what they're selling, and it's PR that garners brownie points for corporations (sponsorships, scholarships, etc.) and covers for the company's screw-ups (the harder of the two tasks, sometimes called "crisis management"). In either case, it is, as Bernays said, "the engineering of consent."

I'm a linguist too, and I can tell you that for the longest time, anything Chomsky wrote got published without question. Amazing! So he's used to spouting uncriticized BS - somebody ought to fact-check his every sentence.


I agree with your statement about marketing and advertising but if you've ever actually bought any of Chomsky's books, you might observe that they are NOT put out by any of the major publishing conglomerates but by small, no-frills operations who struggle along on a shoestring, having the courage to publish authors like himself and others who challenge the status-quo.
You won't see any of his publications on the book table of COSTCO or Barnes and Noble, where right-wing crap dispensers like Hannity and O'Reilly are on display. You pretty much have to go to small independent booksellers or alternative stores to get his stuff and that of almost any truly progressive author.
If you don't want to take my word for it, just ask any of your neighbors or regulars in y'r regular watering hole if you have one, if they've even heard of Chomsky or any of his progressive peers.
 
 
+4 # Inspired Citizen 2013-12-02 06:47
Propaganda, in its essence, is persuasion. All political communications is persuasion. All advertising is propaganda. All public service announcements is propaganda. The word derives from the Catholic church attempting to persuade "heathens" to convert to Christianity.

The problem is with honesty and truth, and we now live in a world where facts are disputable. I have a relentless flame warrior who follows me on Disqus and attacks every comment I write with some dumb personal attack. He is infamous for turning any lie (his, Glenn Beck's, etc) into the "truth."

We live in a post-truth political reality where just understanding what the facts are very often required time consuming research. That makes all propaganda suspect at best.
 
 
+6 # Kathymoi 2013-12-02 09:31
everything solid melts into air's list is pretty good. I'd add to that :Don't talk about politics, no matter what, under any circumstances.
By making discussing politics taboo, it is hard for citizens to problem solve together, to strategize together, to work together for their own good.
The rich meet together and discuss problems that they face, such as people protesting walmart wages, or protesting non-labeling of gmo's. They set up think tanks and pay people to discuss strategies to achieve their goals (such as getting lower wages for production, avoiding environmental protection laws, grabbing more market share and putting small businesses out of business). We the people have no arena for discussion. It's not polite to talk with each other, and we can't afford think tanks. How are we going to organize ourselves to select pro-human candidates for public offices? How are we going to get ourselves into every public office and turn our laws around so that they support us instead of supporting corporate profits at the expense of everything we need and desire? How can we do it without talking about politics?
 
 
+4 # jJLLA 2013-12-02 15:40
"Some polls are pretty amazing. There was one conducted in the South right before the presidential elections. Just Southern whites, I think, were asked about the economic plans of the two candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Southern whites said they preferred Romney's plan, but when asked about its particular components, they opposed every one. Well, that's the effect of good propaganda: getting people not to think in terms of their own interests, let alone the interest of communities and the class they're part of. Overcoming that takes a lot of work. I don't think it's impossible, but it's not going to happen easily."

I beg to differ with Mr. Chomsky: this was not a case of propaganda winning over the voter: it was a case of racism: The black candidate vs. the white candidate. Had the poll been executed differently – for example, by asking southern voters which plan they liked without revealing whose it was until the end - you can bet Obama's ideas would have had a good deal of support.
 
 
+4 # dusty 2013-12-03 03:32
"I beg to differ with Mr. Chomsky: this was not a case of propaganda winning over the voter: it was a case of racism: The black candidate vs. the white candidate. Had the poll been executed differently – for example, by asking southern voters which plan they liked without revealing whose it was until the end - you can bet Obama's ideas would have had a good deal of support."

Yes, race had/has a lot to do with it, but it is still ignorant to vote against things you believe to be in your own interest in order to hurt someone else. That is stupidity in action -- Maybe the ugliest thing in the world.
 
 
+1 # tswhiskers 2013-12-03 12:30
I think those with money, i.e. those in Govt. and business, don't want to think about the poor. Why? Because they can't make money off them except by collecting regressive taxes; they have no purchasing or political power SO WHO GIVES A **** ABOUT THEM? I guess their power to elect politicians is considered unimportant since they don't vote as a rule. Also, the thought of real poverty may be an uncomfortable one; so either we won't clog our minds with them or we'll assume that they are lazy, shiftless and therefore they have brought poverty upon themselves. See there? A much more painless thought that they have only themselves to blame for their situation. After all, I made MY money with hard work and a little cleverness, why can't they? And that's how far a little narcissism and vanity can go.
 
 
+1 # barbaratodish 2013-12-26 04:42
Noam Chomsky says (and I quote: "There are other reasons why people don't vote. I suspect, but don't know how to prove, that part of the reason people don't vote is they just know their votes don't make any difference, so why make the effort? So you end up with a kind of plutocracy in which the public opinion doesn't matter much." One reason "public" opinion doesn't matter much is that the "public" is divided up into so many identitites. These identities (race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, nationality, politics, etc.,) "divide and conquer" and these ever exponentially expanding especially identities DILUTE the "PUBLIC". We need to all get involved in believing that there is ONE root problem: that society (civilization, etc.,) itself is rotten to the core, perhaps due to repression.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2013-12-30 03:17
I wonder if I have the last word, or if the last word has ME! Wish I saw comments after my comments!
 

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