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Excerpt: "What's the new paradigm for resistance? You know, how do we learn from the old and confront the new?"

Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: The Real News Network)
Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: The Real News Network)


Chris Hedges Interviews Noam Chomsky: The System Is Radically Anti-Democratic

By Chris Hedges, The Real News Network

24 July 14

 

A fascinating, wide-ranging interview on major issues facing the public.

et's begin with a classic paradigm which is throughout the Industrial Revolution, which has been cited by theorists from Marx to Kropotkin to Proudhon and to yourself, that you build a consciousness among workers within the manufacturing class, and eventually you lead to a kind of autonomous position where workers can control their own production.

We now live in a system, a globalized system, where most of the working class in industrial countries like the United States are service workers. We have reverted to a Dickensian system where those who actually produced live in conditions that begin to replicate almost slave labor--and, I think, as you have written, in places like southern China in fact are slave [labor]. What's the new paradigm for resistance? You know, how do we learn from the old and confront the new?

NOAM CHOMSKY, LINGUIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think we can draw many very good lessons from the early period of the Industrial Revolution. It was, of course, earlier in England, but let's take here in the United States. The Industrial Revolution took off right around here, eastern Massachusetts, mid 19th century. This was a period when independent farmers were being driven into the industrial system--men and women, incidentally, women from the farms, so-called factory girls--and they bitterly resented it. It was a period of a very free press, the most in the history of the country. There was a wide variety of journals, ethnic, labor, or others. And when you read them, they're pretty fascinating.

The people driven into the industrial system regarded it as an attack on their personal dignity, on their rights as human beings. They were free human beings who were being forced into what they called wage slavery, which they regarded as not very different from chattel slavery. In fact, this was such a popular view that it was actually a slogan of the Republican Party, that the only difference between working for a wage and being a slave is that working for a wage is supposedly temporary--pretty soon you'll be free. Other than that, they're not different.

And they bitterly resented the fact that the industrial system was even taking away their rich cultural life. And the cultural life was rich. You know, there are by now studies of the British working class and the American working class, and they were part of high culture of the day. Actually, I remembered this as late as the 1930s with my own family, you know, sort of unemployed working-class, and they said, this is being taken away from us, we're being forced to be something like slaves. They argued that if you're, say, a journeyman, a craftsman, and you sell your product, you're selling what you produced. If you're a wage earner, you're selling yourself, which is deeply offensive. They condemned what they called the new spirit of the age: gain wealth, forgetting all but self. Sounds familiar.

And it was extremely radical. It was combined with the most radical democratic movement in American history, the early populist movement--radical farmers. It began in Texas, spread into the Midwest--enormous movement of farmers who wanted to free themselves from the domination by the Northeastern bankers and capitalists, guys that ran the markets, you know, sort of forced them to sell what they produced on credit and squeeze them with credit and so on. They went on to develop their own banks, their own cooperatives. They started to link up with the Knights of Labor--major labor movement which held that, as they put it, those who work in the mills ought to own them, that it should be a free, democratic society.

These were very powerful movements. By the 1890s, you know, workers were taking over towns and running them in Western Pennsylvania. Homestead was a famous case. Well, they were crushed by force. It took some time. Sort of the final blow was Woodrow Wilson's red scare right after the First World War, which virtually crushed the labor movement.

At the same time, in the early 19th century, the business world recognized, both in England and the United States, that sufficient freedom had been won so that they could no longer control people just by violence. They had to turn to new means of control. The obvious ones were control of opinions and attitudes. That's the origins of the massive public relations industry, which is explicitly dedicated to controlling minds and attitudes.

The first--it partly was government. The first government commission was the British Ministry of Information. This is long before Orwell--he didn't have to invent it. So the Ministry of Information had as its goal to control the minds of the people of the world, but particularly the minds of American intellectuals, for a very good reason: they knew that if they can delude American intellectuals into supporting British policy, they could be very effective in imposing that on the population of the United States. The British, of course, were desperate to get the Americans into the war with a pacifist population. Woodrow Wilson won the 1916 election with the slogan "Peace without Victory". And they had to drive a pacifist population into a population that bitterly hated all things German, wanted to tear the Germans apart. The Boston Symphony Orchestra couldn't play Beethoven. You know. And they succeeded.

Wilson set up a counterpart to the Ministry of Information called the Committee on Public Information. You know, again, you can guess what it was. And they've at least felt, probably correctly, that they had succeeded in carrying out this massive change of opinion on the part of the population and driving the pacifist population into, you know, warmongering fanatics.

And the people on the commission learned a lesson. One of them was Edward Bernays, who went on to found--the main guru of the public relations industry. Another one was Walter Lippman, who was the leading progressive intellectual of the 20th century. And they both drew the same lessons, and said so.

The lessons were that we have what Lippmann called a "new art" in democracy, "manufacturing consent". That's where Ed Herman and I took the phrase from. For Bernays it was "engineering of consent". The conception was that the intelligent minority, who of course is us, have to make sure that we can run the affairs of public affairs, affairs of state, the economy, and so on. We're the only ones capable of doing it, of course. And we have to be--I'm quoting--"free of the trampling and the roar of the bewildered herd", the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders"--the general public. They have a role. Their role is to be "spectators", not participants. And every couple of years they're permitted to choose among one of the "responsible men", us.

And the John Dewey circle took the same view. Dewey changed his mind a couple of years later, to his credit, but at that time, Dewey and his circle were writing that--speaking of the First World War, that this was the first war in history that was not organized and manipulated by the military and the political figures and so on, but rather it was carefully planned by rational calculation of "the intelligent men of the community", namely us, and we thought it through carefully and decided that this is the reasonable thing to do, for all kind of benevolent reasons.

And they were very proud of themselves.

There were people who disagreed. Like, Randolph Bourne disagreed. He was kicked out. He couldn't write in the Deweyite journals. He wasn't killed, you know, but he was just excluded.

And if you take a look around the world, it was pretty much the same. The intellectuals on all sides were passionately dedicated to the national cause--all sides, Germans, British, everywhere.

There were a few, a fringe of dissenters, like Bertrand Russell, who was in jail; Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, in jail; Randolph Bourne, marginalized; Eugene Debs, in jail for daring to question the magnificence of the war. In fact, Wilson hated him with such passion that when he finally declared an amnesty, Debs was left out, you know, had to wait for Warren Harding to release him. And he was the leading labor figure in the country. He was a candidate for president, Socialist Party, and so on.

But the lesson that came out is we believe you can and of course ought to control the public, and if we can't do it by force, we'll do it by manufacturing consent, by engineering of consent. Out of that comes the huge public relations industry, massive industry dedicated to this.

Incidentally, it's also dedicated to undermining markets, a fact that's rarely noticed but is quite obvious. Business hates markets. They don't want to--and you can see it very clearly. Markets, if you take an economics course, are based on rational, informed consumers making rational choices. Turn on the television set and look at the first ad you see. It's trying to create uninformed consumers making irrational choices. That's the whole point of the huge advertising industry. But also to try to control and manipulate thought. And it takes various forms in different institutions. The media do it one way, the academic institutions do it another way, and the educational system is a crucial part of it.

This is not a new observation. There's actually an interesting essay by--Orwell's, which is not very well known because it wasn't published. It's the introduction to Animal Farm. In the introduction, he addresses himself to the people of England and he says, you shouldn't feel too self-righteous reading this satire of the totalitarian enemy, because in free England, ideas can be suppressed without the use of force. And he doesn't say much about it. He actually has two sentences. He says one reason is the press "is owned by wealthy men" who have every reason not to want certain ideas to be expressed.

But the second reason, and the more important one in my view, is a good education, so that if you've gone to all the good schools, you know, Oxford, Cambridge, and so on, you have instilled into you the understanding that there are certain things it wouldn't do to say--and I don't think he went far enough: wouldn't do to think. And that's very broad among the educated classes. That's why overwhelmingly they tend to support state power and state violence, and maybe with some qualifications, like, say, Obama is regarded as a critic of the invasion of Iraq. Why? Because he thought it was a strategic blunder. That puts him on the same moral level as some Nazi general who thought that the second front was a strategic blunder--you should knock off England first. That's called criticism.

And sometimes it's kind of outlandish. For example, there was just a review in The New York Times Book Review of Glenn Greenwald's new book by Michael Kinsley, and which bitterly condemned him as--mostly character assassination. Didn't say anything substantive. But Kinsley did say that it's ridiculous to think that there's any repression in the media in the United States, 'cause we can write quite clearly and criticize anything. And he can, but then you have to look at what he says, and it's quite interesting.

In the 1980s, when the major local news story was the massive U.S. atrocities in Central America--they were horrendous; I mean, it wasn't presented that way, but that's what was happening--Kinsley was the voice of the left on television. And there were interesting incidents. At one point, the U.S. Southern Command, which ran--you know, it was the overseer of these actions--gave instructions to the terrorist force that they were running in Nicaragua, called the Contras--and they were a terrorist force--they gave them orders to--they said "not to (...) duke it out with the Sandinistas", meaning avoid the Nicaraguan army, and attack undefended targets like agricultural cooperatives and, you know, health clinics and so on. And they could do it, because they were the first guerrillas in history to have high-level communications equipment, you know, computers and so on. The U.S., the CIA, just controlled the air totally, so they could send instructions to the terrorist forces telling them how to avoid the Nicaraguan army detachments and attack undefended civilian targets.

Well, this was mentioned; you know, it wasn't publicized, but it was mentioned. And Americas Watch, which later became part of Human Rights Watch, made some protests. And Michael Kinsley responded. He condemned Americas Watch for their emotionalism. He said, we have to recognize that we have to accept a pragmatic criterion. We have to ask--something like this--he said, we have to compare the amount of blood and misery poured in with the success of the outcome in producing democracy--what we'll call democracy. And if it meets the pragmatic criterion, then terrorist attacks against civilian targets are perfectly legitimate--which is not a surprising view in his case. He's the editor of The New Republic. The New Republic, supposedly a liberal journal, was arguing that we should support Latin American fascists because there are more important things than human rights in El Salvador, where they were murdering tens of thousands of people.

That's the liberals. And, yeah, they can get in the media no problem. And they're praised for it, regarded with praise. All of this is part of the massive system of--you know, it's not that anybody sits at the top and plans at all; it's just exactly as Orwell said: it's instilled into you. It's part of a deep indoctrination system which leads to a certain way of looking at the world and looking at authority, which says, yes, we have to be subordinate to authority, we have to believe we're very independent and free and proud of it. As long as we keep within the limits, we are. Try to go beyond those limits, you're out.

HEDGES: But that system, of course, is constant. But what's changed is that we don't produce anything anymore. So what we define as our working class is a service sector class working in places like Walmart. And the effective forms of resistance--the sitdown strikes, you know, going back even further in the middle of the 19th century with the women in Lowell--I think that was--the Wobblies were behind those textile strikes. What are the mechanisms now? And I know you have written, as many anarchists have done, about the importance of the working class controlling the means of production, taking control, and you have a great quote about how, you know, Lenin and the Bolsheviks are right-wing deviants, I think, was the--which is, of course, exactly right, because it was centralized control, destroying the Soviets. Given the fact that production has moved to places like Bangladesh or southern China, what is going to be the paradigm now? And given, as you point out, the powerful forces of propaganda--and you touched upon now the security and surveillance state. We are the most monitored, watched, photographed, eavesdropped population in human history. And you cannot even use the world liberty when you eviscerate privacy. That's what totalitarian is. What is the road we take now, given the paradigm that we have, which is somewhat different from, you know, what this country was, certainly, in the first half of the 20th century?

NOAM CHOMSKY, LINGUIST AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's pretty much the same, frankly. The idea still should be that of the Knights of Labor: those who work in the mills should own them. And there's plenty of manufacturing going on in the country, and probably there will be more, for unpleasant reasons. One thing that's happening right now which is quite interesting is that energy prices are going down in the United States because of the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, which is going to destroy our grandchildren, but under the, you know, capitalist morality, the calculus is that profits tomorrow outweigh the existence of your grandchildren. It's institutionally-based, so, yes, we're getting lower energy prices. And if you look at the business press, they're, you know, very enthusiastic about the fact that we can undercut manufacturing in Europe because we'll have lower energy prices, and therefore manufacturing will come back here, and we can even undermine European efforts at developing sustainable energy because we'll have this advantage.

Britain is saying the same thing. I was just in England recently. As I left the airport, I read The Daily Telegraph, you know, I mean, newspaper. Big headline: England is going to begin fracking all of the country, even fracking under people's homes without their permission. And that'll allow us to destroy the environment even more quickly and will bring manufacturing back here.

The same is true with Asia. Manufacturing is moving back, to an extent, to Mexico, and even here, as wages increase in China, partly because of labor struggles. There's massive labor struggles in China, huge, all over the place, and since we're integrated with them, we can be supportive of them.

But manufacturing is coming back here. And both manufacturing and the service industries can move towards having those who do the work take over the management and ownership and control. In fact, it's happening. In the old Rust Belt--you know, Indiana, Ohio, and so on--there's a significant--not huge, but significant growth of worker-owned enterprises. They're not huge, but they're substantial around Cleveland and other places.

The background is interesting. In 1977, U.S. Steel, the, you know, multinational, decided to close down their mills in Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown is a steel town, sort of built by the steelworkers, one of the main steel-producing areas. Well, the union tried to buy the plants from U.S. Steel. They objected--in my view, mostly on class lines. They might have even profited from it. But the idea of worker-owned industry doesn't have much appeal to corporate leaders, which means bankers and so on. It went to the courts. Finally, the union lost in the courts. But with enough popular support, they could have won.

Well, the working class and the community did not give up. They couldn't get the steel mills, but they began to develop small worker-owned enterprises. They've now spread throughout the region. They're substantial. And it can happen more and more.

And the same thing happened in Walmarts. I mean, there's massive efforts right now, significant ones, to organize the service workers--what they call associates--in the service industries. And these industries, remember, depend very heavily on taxpayer largess in all kinds of ways. I mean, for example, let's take, say, Walmarts. They import goods produced in China, which are brought here on container ships which were designed and developed by the U.S. Navy. And point after point where you look, you find that the way the system--the system that we now have is one which is radically anticapitalist, radically so.

I mean, I mentioned one thing, the powerful effort to try to undermine markets for consumers, but there's something much more striking. I mean, in a capitalist system, the basic principle is that, say, if you invest in something and, say, it's a risky investment, so you put money into it for a long time, maybe decades, and finally after a long time something comes out that's marketable for a profit, it's supposed to go back to you. That's not the way it works here. Take, say, computers, internet, lasers, microelectronics, containers, GPS, in fact the whole IT revolution. There was taxpayer investment in that for decades, literally decades, doing all the hard, creative, risky work. Does the taxpayer get any of the profit? None, because that's not the way our system works. It's radically anti-capitalist, just as it's radically anti-democratic, opposed to markets, in favor of concentrating wealth and power.

But that doesn't have to be accepted by the population. These are--all kinds of forms of resistance to this can be developed if people become aware of it.

HEDGES: Well, you could argue that in the election of 2008, Obama wasn't accepted by the population. But what we see repeatedly is that once elected officials achieve power through, of course, corporate financing, the consent of the governed is a kind of cruel joke. It doesn't, poll after poll. I mean, I sued Obama over the National Defense Authorization Act, in which you were coplaintiff, and the polling was 97 percent against this section of the NDAA. And yet the courts, which have become wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state, the elected officials, the executive branch, and the press, which largely ignored it--the only organ that responsibly covered the case was, ironically, The New York Times. We don't have--it doesn't matter what we want. It doesn't--I mean, and I think, you know, that's the question: how do we effect change when we have reached a point where we can no longer appeal to the traditional liberal institutions that, as Karl Popper said once, made incremental or piecemeal reform possible, to adjust the system--of course, to save capitalism? But now it can't even adjust the system. You know, we see cutting welfare.

CHOMSKY: Yeah. I mean, it's perfectly true that the population is mostly disenfranchised. In fact, that's a leading theme even of academic political science. You take a look at the mainstream political science, so, for example, a recent paper that was just published out of Princeton by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, two of the leading analysts of these topics, what they point out is they went through a couple of thousand policy decisions and found what has long been known, that there was almost no--that the public attitudes had almost no effect. Public organizations that are--nonprofit organizations that are publicly based, no effect. The outcomes were determined by concentrated private power.

There's a long record of that going way back. Thomas Ferguson, a political scientist near here, has shown very convincingly that something as simple as campaign spending is a very good predictor of policy. That goes back into the late 19th century, right through the New Deal, you know, right up till the present. And that's only one element of it. And you take a look at the literature, about 70 percent of the population, what they believe has no effect on policy at all. You get a little more influence as you go up. When you get to the top, which is probably, like, a tenth of one percent, they basically write the legislation.

I mean, you see this all over. I mean, take these huge so-called trade agreements that are being negotiated, Trans-Pacific and Transatlantic--enormous agreements, kind of NAFTA-style agreements. They're secret--almost. They're not secret from the hundreds of corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing them. They know about it, which means that their bosses know about it. And the Obama administration and the press says, look, this has to be secret, otherwise we can't defend our interests. Yeah, our interests means the interests of the corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the legislation. Take the few pieces that have been leaked and you see that's exactly what it is. Same with the others.

But it doesn't mean you have to accept it. And there have been changes. So take, say--in the 1920s, the labor movement had been practically destroyed. There's a famous book. One of the leading labor historians, David Montgomery, has a major book called something like The Fall of the House of Labor. He's talking about the 1920s. It was done. There had been a very militant labor movement, very effective, farmers movement as well. Crushed in the 1920s. Almost nothing left. Well, in the 1930s it changed, and it changed because of popular activism.

HEDGES: But it also changed because of the breakdown of capitalism.

CHOMSKY: There was a circumstance that led to the opportunity to do something, but we're living with that constantly. I mean, take the last 30 years. For the majority of the population it's been stagnation or worse. That's--it's not exactly the deep Depression, but it's kind of a permanent semi-depression for most of the population. That's--there's plenty of kindling out there which can be lighted.

And what happened in the '30s is primarily CIO organizing, the militant actions like sit-down strikes. A sit-down strike's very frightening. It's a step before taking over the institution and saying, we don't need the bosses. And that--there was a cooperative administration, Roosevelt administration, so there was some interaction. And significant legislation was passed--not radical, but significant, underestimated. And it happened again in the '60s. It can happen again today. So I don't think that one should abandon hope in chipping away at the more oppressive aspects of the society within the electoral system. But it's only going to happen if there's massive popular organization, which doesn't have to stop at that. It can also be building the institutions of the future within the present society.

HEDGES: Would you say that the--you spoke about propaganda earlier and the Creel Commission and the rise of the public relations industry. The capacity to disseminate propaganda is something that now you virtually can't escape it. I mean, it's there in some electronic form, even in a hand-held device. Does that make that propaganda more effective?

CHOMSKY: Well, and it's kind of an interesting question. Like a lot of people, I've written a lot about media and intellectual propaganda, but there's another question which isn't studied much: how effective is it? And that's--when you brought up the polls, it's a striking illustration. The propaganda is--you can see from the poll results that the propaganda has only limited effectiveness. I mean, it can drive a population into terror and fear and war hysteria, like before the Iraq invasion or 1917 and so on, but over time, public attitudes remain quite different. In fact, studies even of what's called the right-wing, you know, people who say, get the government off my back, that kind of sector, they turn out to be kind of social democratic. They want more spending on health, more spending on education, more spending on, say, women with dependent children, but not welfare, no spending on welfare, because Reagan, who was an extreme racist, succeeded in demonizing the notion of welfare. So in people's minds welfare means a rich black woman driving in her limousine to the welfare office to steal your money. Well, nobody wants that. But they want what welfare does.

Foreign aid is an interesting case. There's an enormous propaganda against foreign aid, 'cause we're giving everything to the undeserving people out there. You take a look at public attitudes. A lot of opposition to foreign aid. Very high. On the other hand, when you ask people, how much do we give in foreign aid? Way beyond what we give. When you ask what we should give in foreign aid, far above what we give.

And this runs across the board. Take, say taxes. There've been studies of attitudes towards taxes for 40 years. Overwhelmingly the population says taxes are much too low for the rich and the corporate sector. You've got to raise it. What happens? Well, the opposite.

It's just exactly as Orwell said: it's instilled into you. It's part of a deep indoctrination system which leads to a certain way of looking at the world and looking at authority, which says, yes, we have to be subordinate to authority, we have to believe we're very independent and free and proud of it. As long as we keep within the limits, we are. Try to go beyond those limits, you're out.

HEDGES: Well, what was fascinating about--I mean, the point, just to buttress this point: when you took the major issues of the Occupy movement, they were a majoritarian movement. When you look back on the Occupy movement, what do you think its failings were, its importance were?

CHOMSKY: Well, I think it's a little misleading to call it a movement. Occupy was a tactic, in fact a brilliant tactic. I mean, if I'd been asked a couple of months earlier whether they should take over public places, I would have said it's crazy. But it worked extremely well, and it lit a spark which went all over the place. Hundreds and hundreds of places in the country, there were Occupy events. It was all over the world. I mean, I gave talks in Sydney, Australia, to the Occupy movement there. But it was a tactic, a very effective tactic. Changed public discourse, not policy. It brought issues to the forefront.

I think my own feeling is its most important contribution was just to break through the atomization of the society. I mean, it's a very atomized society. There's all sorts of efforts to separate people from one another, as if the ideal social unit is, you know, you and your TV set.

HEDGES: You know, Hannah Arendt raises atomization as one of the key components of totalitarianism.

CHOMSKY: Exactly. And the Occupy actions broke that down for a large part of the population. People could recognize that we can get together and do things for ourselves, we can have a common kitchen, we can have a place for public discourse, we can form our ideas and do something. Now, that's an important attack on the core of the means by which the public is controlled. So you're not just an individual trying to maximize your consumption, but there are other concerns in life, and you can do something about them. If those attitudes and associations and bonds can be sustained and move in other directions, that'll be important.

But going back to Occupy, it's a tactic. Tactics have a kind of a half-life. You can't keep doing them, and certainly you can't keep occupying public places for very long. And was very successful, but it was not in itself a movement. The question is: what happens to the people who were involved in it? Do they go on and develop, do they move into communities, pick up community issues? Do they organize?

Take, say, this business of, say, worker-owned industry. Right here in Massachusetts, not far from here, there was something similar. One of the multinationals decided to close down a fairly profitable small plant, which was producing aerospace equipment. High-skilled workers and so on, but it wasn't profitable enough, so they were going to close it down. The union wanted to buy it. Company refused--usual class reasons, I think. If the Occupy efforts had been available at the time, they could have provided the public support for it.

This happened when Obama virtually nationalized the auto industry. There were choices. One choice was what he took, of course, was to rescue it, return it to essentially the same owners--different faces, but the same class basis--and send them back to doing what they had been doing in the past--producing automobiles. There were other choices, and if something like the Occupy movement had been around and sufficient, it could have driven the government into other choices, like, for example, turning the auto plants over to the working class and have them produce what the country needs.

I mean, we don't need more cars. We need mass public transportation. The United States is an absolute scandal in this regard. I just came back from Europe--so you can see it dramatically. You get on a European train, you can go where you want to go in no time. Well, the train from Boston to New York, it may be, I don't know, 20 minutes faster than when I took it 60 years ago. You go along the Connecticut Turnpike and the trucks are going faster than the train. Recently Japan offered the United States a low-interest loan to build high-speed rail from Washington to New York. It was turned down, of course. But what they were offering was to build the kind of train that I took in Japan 50 years ago. And this was a scandal all over the country.

Well, you know, a reconstituted auto industry could have turned in that direction under worker and community control. I don't think these things are out of sight. And, incidentally, they even have so-called conservative support, because they're within a broader what's called capitalist framework (it's not really capitalist). And those are directions that should be pressed.

Right now, for example, the Steelworkers union is trying to establish some kind of relations with Mondragon, the huge worker-owned conglomerate in the Basque country in Spain, which is very successful, in fact, and includes industry, manufacturing, banks, hospitals, living quarters. It's very broad. It's not impossible that that can be brought here, and it's potentially radical. It's creating the basis for quite a different society.

And I think with things like, say, Occupy, the timing wasn't quite right. But if the timing had been a little better (and this goes on all the time, so it's always possible), it could have provided a kind of an impetus to move significant parts of the socioeconomic system in a different direction. And once those things begin to take off and people can see the advantages of them, it can become quite significant.

There are kind of islands like that around the country. So take Chattanooga, Tennessee. It happens to have a publicly organized internet system. It's by far the best in the country. Rapid internet access for broad parts of the population. I suspect the roots of it probably go back to the TVA and the New Deal initiatives. Well, if that can spread throughout the country (why not? it's very efficient, very cheap, works very well), it could undermine the telecommunications industry and its oligopoly, which would be a very good thing. There are lots of possibilities like this.

HEDGES: I want to ask just two last questions. First, the fact that we have become a militarized society, something all of the predictions of the Anti-Imperialist League at the end of the 19th century, including Carnegie and Jane Addams--hard to think of them both in the same room. But you go back and read what they wrote, and they were right how militarized society has deformed us economically--Seymour Melman wrote about this quite well--and politically. And that is a hurdle that as we attempt to reform or reconfigure our society we have to cope with. And I wondered if you could address this military monstrosity that you have written about quite a bit.

CHOMSKY: Well, for one thing, the public doesn't like it. What's called isolationism or one or another bad word, as, you know, pacifism was, is just the public recognition that there's something deeply wrong with our dedication to military force all over the world.

Now, of course, at the same time, the public is frightened into believing that we have to defend ourselves. And it's not entirely false. Part of the military system is generating forces which will be harmful to us, say, Obama's terrorist campaign, drone campaign, the biggest terrorist campaign in history. It's generating potential terrorists faster than it's killing suspects.

You can see it. It's very striking what's happening right now in Iraq. And the truth of the matter is very evident. Go back to the Nuremberg judgments. I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but in Nuremberg aggression was defined as "the supreme international crime," differing from other war crimes in that it includes, it encompasses all of the evil that follows. Well, the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq is a textbook case of aggression. By the standards of Nuremberg, they'd all be hanged. And one of the things it did, one of the crimes was to ignite a Sunni-Shiite conflict which hadn't been going on. I mean, there was, you know, various kinds of tensions, but Iraqis didn't believe there could ever be a conflict. They were intermarried, they lived in the same places, and so on. But the invasion set it off. Took off on its own. By now it's inflaming the whole region. Now we're at the point where Sunni jihadi forces are actually marching on Baghdad.

HEDGES: And the Iraqi army is collapsing.

CHOMSKY: The Iraqi army's just giving away their arms. There obviously is a lot of collaboration going on.

And all of this is a U.S. crime if we believe in the validity of the judgments against the Nazis.

And it's kind of interesting. Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor, a U.S. justice, at the tribunal, addressed the tribunal, and he pointed out, as he put it, that we're giving these defendants a "poisoned chalice", and if we ever sip from it, we have to be treated the same way, or else the whole thing is a farce and we should recognize this as just victor's justice.

HEDGES: But it's not accidental that our security and surveillance apparatus is militarized. And you're right, of course, that there is no broad popular support for this expanding military adventurism. And yet the question is if there is a serious effort to curtail their power and their budgets. They have mechanisms. And we even heard Nancy Pelosi echo this in terms of how they play dirty. I mean, they are monitoring all the elected officials as well.

CHOMSKY: Monitoring. But despite everything, it's still a pretty free society, and the recognition by U.S. and British business back 100 years ago that they can no longer control the population by violence is correct. And control of attitude and opinion is pretty fragile, as is surveillance. It's very different than sending in the storm troopers. You know, so there's a lot of latitude, for people of relative privilege, at least, to do all sorts of things. I mean, it's different if you're a black kid in the ghetto. Yeah, then you're subjected to state violence. But for a large part of the population, there's plenty of opportunities which have not been available in the past.

HEDGES: But those people are essentially passive, virtually.

CHOMSKY: But they don't have to be.

HEDGES: They don't have to be, but Hannah Arendt, when she writes about the omnipotent policing were directed against the stateless, including ourself and France, said the problem of building omnipotent policing, which we have done in our marginal neighborhoods in targeting people of color--we can have their doors kicked in and stopped at random and thrown in jail for decades for crimes they didn't commit--is that when you have a societal upheaval, you already have both a legal and a physical mechanism by which that omnipotent policing can be quickly inflicted.

CHOMSKY: I don't think that's true here. I think the time has passed when that can be done for increasing parts of the population, those who have almost any degree of privilege. The state may want to do it, but they don't have the power to do it. They can carry out extensive surveillance, monitoring, they can be violent against parts of the population that can't defend themselves--undocumented immigrants, black kids in the ghetto, and so on--but even that can be undercut. For example, one of the major scandals in the United States since Reagan is the huge incarceration program, which is a weapon against--it's a race war. But it's based on drugs. And there is finally cutting away at the source of this and the criminalization and the radical distortion of the way criminalization of drug use has worked. That can have an effect.

I mean, I think--look, there's no doubt that the population is passive. There are lots of ways of keeping them passive. There's lots of ways of marginalizing and atomizing them. But that's different from storm troopers. It's quite different. And it can be overcome, has been overcome in the past. And I think there are lots of initiatives, some of them being undertaken, others developing, which can be used to break down this system. I think it's a very fragile system, including the militarism.

HEDGES: Let's just close with climate change. Like, I read climate change reports, which--.

CHOMSKY: Well, unfortunately, that's--may doom us all, and not in the long-distance future. That just overwhelms everything. It is the first time in human history when we not only--we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for a decent survival. And it's already happening. I mean, just take a look at species destruction. Species destruction now is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth and ended the period of the dinosaurs, wiped out huge numbers of species. Same level today, and we're the asteroid. And you take a look at what's happening in the world, I mean, anybody looking at this from outer space would be astonished.

I mean, there are sectors of the global population that are trying to impede the catastrophe. There are other sectors that are trying to accelerate it. And you take a look at who they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward: indigenous populations, the First Nations in Canada, you know, aboriginals from Australia, the tribal people in India, you know, all over the world, are trying to impede it. Who's accelerating it? The most privileged, advanced--so-called advanced--educated populations in the world, U.S. and Canada right in the lead. And we know why.

There are also--. Here's an interesting case of manufacture of consent and does it work? You take a look at international polls on global warming, Americans, who are the most propagandized on this--I mean, there's huge propaganda efforts to make it believe it's not happening--they're a little below the norm, so there's some effect of the propaganda. It's stratified. If you take a look at Republicans, they're way below the norm. But what's happening in the Republican Party all across the spectrum is a very striking. So, for example, about two-thirds of Republicans believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and all sorts of other things. You know. So it's stratified. But there's some impact of the propaganda, but not overwhelming. Most of the population still regards it as a serious problem.

There's actually an interesting article about this in the Columbia Journalism Review which just appeared, current issue, the lead critical review of journalism. They attribute this to what they call the doctrine of fairness in the media. Doctrine of fairness says that if you have an opinion piece by 95, 97 percent of the scientists, you have to pair it with an opinion piece by the energy corporations, 'cause that'd be fair and balanced. There isn't any such doctrine. Like, if you have an opinion piece denouncing Putin as the new Hitler for annexing Crimea, you don't have to balance it with an opinion piece saying that 100 years ago the United States took over southeastern Cuba at the point of a gun and is still holding it, though it has absolutely no justification other than to try to undermine Cuban development, whereas in contrast, whatever you think of Putin, there's reasons. You don't have to have that. And you have to have fair and balanced when it affects the concerns of private power, period. But try to get an article in the Columbia Journalism Review pointing that out, although it's transparent.

So all those things are there, but they can be overcome, and they'd better be. This isn't--you know, unless there's a sharp reversal in policy, unless we here in the so-called advanced societies can gain the consciousness of the indigenous people of the world, we're in deep trouble. Our grandchildren are going to suffer from it.

HEDGES: And I think you would agree that's not going to come from the power elite.

CHOMSKY: It's certainly not.

HEDGES: It's up to us.

CHOMSKY: Absolutely. And it's urgent.

HEDGES: It is. Thank you very much.



 

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+30 # Dust 2014-07-24 13:19
Absolutely outstanding.
 
 
-39 # brux 2014-07-24 13:44
Mostly a lengthy consolidation of Chomsky's most famous riffs ... which is outstanding in that when you hear it all together you realize not only how brilliant and caring Chomsky is, but what Chomsky does not address.

I think Chomsky seems to imply that military entities, i.e. empires, super powers, religious hordes, are not necessary. That small powers will unite to meet threats from other powers. I think Chomsky sees no part for superpowers to play in "policing" the world.

The reason the US is like this are many, but the main thread that does not go away when things get cleaned up, if they ever do, is that the world needs a policeman. We have seen country attack country many times in Europe and more recently in the Middle East. People attack people mostly to do with religions and minority groups.

What happens when there is not a US? We let democracy go unrestricted and we get corruption because high level entities can manipulate it. So the world needs something that does not change frivolously, but is responsive to people as well. We don't get that not because the military state will never release its grip on the country or the world because it feels like it is necessary to them, and there is a decent argument that prove that.
 
 
0 # RobertMStahl 2014-07-24 16:02
For Occupy Wall Street, where is there a comment about the money? Why is gold debased to prop up the dollar. Of course, all questions lead to the unit of thought being ecological, and Hedges/Chomsky went there, but the pivotal point is the exchange rate versus the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Yes, trains are part of that exchange, but there are trains and there are trains, right?

There is territory, but the territorial have left us with a f'ing lot of baggage taking the entire laboratory of learning and placed it in the courtroom [sic] of war, and the judges have no constitutional connection to humanity, and just propagate the lies behind exchange RATES.
 
 
-3 # brux 2014-07-25 04:25
The idea of basing a currency on a commodity is ever more stupid than basing it on debt.
 
 
+9 # reiverpacific 2014-07-24 17:03
Quoting brux:
Mostly a lengthy consolidation of Chomsky's most famous riffs ... which is outstanding in that when you hear it all together you realize not only how brilliant and caring Chomsky is, but what Chomsky does not address.

I think Chomsky seems to imply that military entities, i.e. empires, super powers, religious hordes, are not necessary. That small powers will unite to meet threats from other powers. I think Chomsky sees no part for superpowers to play in "policing" the world.

The reason the US is like this are many, but the main thread that does not go away when things get cleaned up, if they ever do, is that the world needs a policeman. We have seen country attack country many times in Europe and more recently in the Middle East. People attack people mostly to do with religions and minority groups.

What happens when there is not a US? We let democracy go unrestricted and we get corruption because high level entities can manipulate it. So the world needs something that does not change frivolously, but is responsive to people as well. We don't get that not because the military state will never release its grip on the country or the world because it feels like it is necessary to them, and there is a decent argument that prove that.

Nothing changes "Frivoloulsly" but with populist resistance. You ARE a negative bod aren't you?
If you think you can do better, put together an article and apply to RSN to have it published
I've done it thrice.
 
 
-1 # brux 2014-07-25 03:52
I published an article critical of why we treat billionaire like millionaires. Not one person made a comment until months later, then just one. Why waste my time, people just want what they expect to agree with their ideas, they do not want to think or realize they are not thinking.

Here's the link:
http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/15460-we-should-stop-treating-billionaires-like-millionaires
 
 
+1 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-27 17:15
brux, Thanks for the e-link this interesting article looking at tax rates across American Society's various earnings. I've added a comment to your article looking at our monetary system including capital, currency, social-security , education, communication & taxation from their integrated tradition of humanity's indigenous ancestry & 1st Nation sovereignty. Accounting integration changes the way humanity interacts with all values being part of one continuum. When we responsibilize people through recognition & encouragement of their capital participation universally, then a collective intelligence is animated, distinction arises & all find a distinguished place of belonging. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy
 
 
-7 # brux 2014-07-25 04:03
Reiverpacific, I don't think I am negative, but even if I was, what I'm saying is true, so negative or positive, the truth is always shakes out positive.

BUT, the point is that the people in the "free world" sometimes need to be manipulated to face the threats that generate from manipulated peoples in the "unfree world."

Classic US & World History, everything else being equal, the US had to become involved in two world wars because of the trouble brewed up by the failings of European states, and Asian states - from being able to manipulate their people to war.

We are not talking 800 people as in Gaza, or 9000 people in the war on terror, we are talking millions and millions and millions of people, billions and billions of dollars wasted on war, miles and miles of resources wasted and up in smoke. Lifetimes of misery for millions of families.

I call it "frivolous" to the extreme not to keep that in mind and try our best to manage politically however we can to make sure it does not happen again. If that involved a little "Romanesque" American Empire, as long as we do not lose control of it, as we seem to be doing now, I am fine with that.

My view makes the problem we face reduced down to something that is understandable, manageable and discussable - which I think is very positive. How to fix what the framers created and how to expand the spirit and intent of the framers ... because we have reached a point where it has been burgled.
 
 
+11 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-07-24 17:09
The world got by without a US before...
 
 
-8 # brux 2014-07-25 04:24
Well, there was Britain before the US.

Before that pretty much chaos and war, with slavery and misery pretty much worldwide ... is that what you called getting by?
 
 
-6 # brux 2014-07-25 13:35
OK, since all you and your cronies can do is thumbs down ... when and how did the world get by so well without the US?
 
 
+15 # aljoschu 2014-07-25 03:03
Sorry, brux, I am writing from a European point of view – and thanks to the Internet we Europeans listen in in what you say and write (not only the other way round!): We don't need and we don't want an American policeman here. In fact, we don't want American conditions here in Europe!

On my recent visit to the US (I have many old friends there from an academic exchange year) I noticed again the decrepid state of the infrastructure, of public transport - as Mr. Chomsky described it. Stand under a rusty railway bridge in the US when a train goes over it - conversations stop in the whole neighborhood because of the incredible noise. New York never sleeps because the noise never stops. Try it out, stand under a bridge in Europe ... Visit a normal supermarket in the States, we Europeans are horrified at the low quality of products and their contents. I remember a young beautiful girl working as cashier at Walmart, all her teeth were rotten stumps. Pensioners had to clean out the shelves. Many of my academic friends live in precarious conditions today – which made me very sad. I remember a better, a more confident America during the late seventies under Jimmy Carter, when I was a student in your country!

And, especially, we don't need an American policeman in the Ukraine conflict. The rebellion was intentionally "engineered" and exacerbated by American agents (remember the "fucking" lady Nuland - her choice of words!)?

...
 
 
+14 # aljoschu 2014-07-25 03:03
...

Today we have a civil war going on there, started by the US-supported putsch-presiden t Poroschenko.

The American interests are obvious and tragically successful: To stop the rapprochement between the EU, Germany and Russia. Because any intensified civil, economic and peaceful exchange with Russia would necessarily weaken the militaristic, fear-driven, leverage of the US oligarchy on Europe. It would jeopardize the expected effects of the free trade negotiations with the EU.
People in Europe don’t want that free trade agreement with the US, because we want to keep our public transport system, our infrastructure, our quality food, and we want our children to have healthy teeth, and our pensioners to live a decent life, etc. etc.

And we want peace in Europe - not aggression, nationalistic thought, cold war rhetoric and war mongering against Russia. That was the first and foremost objective of founding the EU. Today - with the help of the US - we have a war again in Europe, and we have an enemy again: Putin and Russia.

Is that what you wanted, America?
Thanks a lot, dear American world policemen!
 
 
-12 # brux 2014-07-25 04:23
I don't think you get the concern about Russia. Russsia does not play fair or inside the rules of the game. Russia is a danger since it is so big. Russia in the EU is a problem that brings back all the same issues of lack of stability of pre-WWII Europe.

What do you do if they decide they want to take back their buffer states or expand past that?

I don't blame the EU for the their perceptions of US policy, industry, etc. For wanting peace if Europe you sure seem to be setting up things to fall apart and degenerate into war.

It is easy to say stuff, but Europe does have a history that the US has had to shepherd since WWII, and since there has been not further WWIII, maybe things have gone pretty well.

You can joke and laugh, when the bodies are rolling in the streets like they have for most of Europe's history, it's not so funny.
 
 
+10 # RMDC 2014-07-25 08:39
The US is not the world policeman unless you understand that the police are the front for the gangsters. The US always takes sides, and it sides with capital and racism and fascism.

Let's just agree never to use "the US as policeman" again. It is flatly wrong. The US is an empire and it is looting and destroying as much of the world as it possibly can. Brux is right. Before there was the US empire, there was the British empire. but the British empire burned itself out with its wars. WW I and WW II did it in. So now there is the US and it is burning itself out with its wars. The US regime is bankrupt and will collapse some day. We are all waiting for that day.
 
 
-8 # brux 2014-07-25 13:34
The only difference between police and gangsters is how transparent their actions are. The US is pretty damn transparent compared to most of the other systems its size, and its actions have been vetted and accepted by most of the world for 50+ years.

Perhaps you prefer Russia, China, India, North Korea, an Islamic Caliphate ??? -Do tell, tell us which one?
 
 
-1 # brux 2014-07-28 02:37
> The US is an empire and it is looting and destroying as much of the world as it possibly can.

Real black and white thinking. "The" US ... I am part of the US and I do whatever I can not to buy from corporations that do not support my political values and to explain to others why they should not.

Domestically I am in almost complete agreement with Chomsky, at least on trying some of his democratic ideas.

Notice in the discussion of equality that has been going in these last few years, Chomsky has pretty much stayed aloof of it. Notice how Chomsky has a very idiosyncratic idea about how the world works. Some of it is very well researched and on solid footing, but I don't see evidence that it is all of equal validity.

I also do not buy Chomsky's global political view. He has never mentioned or addressed the in the Middle Eastern situation the problem of Islam. The implication being that he things having a large number of non-democracies in the UN and having them vote on Israel is democratic, while at the same time nationally he thinks our own corporations are tyrannies.

No one hear ever bothers to take a machete to some of what Chomsky says and winnow out of the chaff, because though there is a lot of good stuff in there ... to hear any amount of good stuff and have it turn off you critical facilities and switch on worship mode is just stupid.
 
 
-12 # brux 2014-07-25 04:18
aljoschu ....

I understand a criticism of America .... seems like I do nothing but that in my life for many years now - but there is a side that I do not often harp on, and you might be interested in my last post just slightly above.

Europe says it does not want an American policeman, and to that I say - I'd like to thrash your forgetful ass. Europe and France would not exist today if they were not bailed out of their own foolishness. You put your pride and your frivolity above the real needs of the world.

America as a policeman, or anyone as a policeman is always frought with difficulties, Police are in general assholes, and we all know that power corrupts. Still, without the ability for some nation, good or bad to deter chaos the world has major problems that cost millions of lives and billions of dollars and destroy our environment. Rome fell & 600 years of darkness.

Yes, America has its economic and social challenges. Thanks to America you in Europe have not had to make a choice between military defense and social spending. But that is a different subject economic democracy, that I mostly agree with Chomsky on.

Yes, it may be that America pursues actively to attack its enemies economically. In general I am for it in Europe/Asia, but against it in South America because it is done for different reasons in the two regions. I am more a socialist, which should not be incompatible with the US.
 
 
+6 # Maturus 2014-07-25 09:17
They do say that a little knowledge I a dangerous thing, Brux, and you seem to go out of your way to prove the adage correct.
 
 
-11 # brux 2014-07-25 13:31
You seem to like to pretend you are sounding clever when you run away from an argument like a little bitch.
 
 
0 # Maturus 2014-07-26 06:42
It is impossible to argue with an ignoramus who spouts the garbage you do. You are a fine example of the problem that the US presents to the world: you don't know the difference between leadership and domination. As for the notion that you might be a socialist, I suggest you seek therapy. On the other hand, you might be the Oswald Mosley-type of socialist (I'll let you work out why). Oh, and I don't have to pretend.
 
 
0 # brux 2014-07-28 02:30
>> you don't know the difference between leadership and domination.

No, you just refuse to acknowledge that there are time when leadership IS domination, and if you don't like it you don't just have a temper tantrum you figure out a way around it. If you cannot figure out that way, then figure out what is keeping you from doing that, OR think maybe there is an actual valid reason for that.

> (I'll let you work out why).

Like I am going to waste any time trying to solve your silly puzzles and you just tried to do it again ... it being - pretend you are sounding clever when you run away from an argument like a little bitch.

Maturus ... yeah, right.
 
 
+8 # tedrey 2014-07-25 06:15
Few people who are not American (and continually less of them) want America to be "policeman of the world."
 
 
-5 # brux 2014-07-26 00:26
Well, that's just great ... who would they life to be the policeman of the world ... maybe Hamas.

China,
Russia,
North Korea,
India,
an Islamic Caliphate ... ?

If there was no policeman of the world do you really think all the problems would just go away?

The world is run by people who act, in order to act people have to have a reason. Most of that reason is supplied by money and power today. The solution is to get more people educated and into the system so they bother to give a damn, and by system I mean whatever military-social -racial-economi c system predominates over the others.

Russia is pretty backwards, but they are powerful. China is the most racist of the superpowers spreading a single way of life and race across their areas of influence. Ask Tibet about the Han Chinese. India at last is democratic, but cannot keep its house in order. And Islamic Caliphate would probably not do any better than it has in 600 years.

People pop off about what they want and who they hate, but they don't do a damn thing, which is good because they are usually full of it. People when polled and asked neutral questions always support Democratic values, and yet more of them vote Republican in the US. People are stupid, ignorant and uninformed. Change that and maybe there is some hope.
 
 
+12 # REDPILLED 2014-07-25 11:45
The alternative doesn't have to be "not a US". How about not a US EMPIRE all over the planet? How about a US which respects and abides by international laws and doesn't intervene, especially militarily, wherever and whenever its imperialist class decides to? As Chomsky has said, if you want to stop terrorism, then stop committing it.
 
 
+21 # ritawalpoleague 2014-07-24 14:31
So true, Dust. As legal assistant to brave, determined, and dedicated to liberty and justice truth telling and outing plaintiff's in the 'case of the century', Hedges, et. al. v. Obama, et. al., I was honored to be able to meet and assist Chris, Noam and our other, as you put it, 'absolutely outstanding' plaintiffs.

Most likely we, and so many others, are now listed as being 'terrorists' - pull up on Reader Supported News today's article: "The Secret Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist". Then note my comment made.

We absolutely must restore Constitutional rights, rule of law, and peace, peace, peace, v. war, war, war for $$$ endlessly flowing into the bottomless coffers of our actual rulers, the greed and need for power over all villainaires, a.k.a. the 1%.
 
 
-22 # brux 2014-07-24 13:22
The System Is Radically Anti-Democratic.

Fascinating article, fascinating premise. I would use the word Un-Democratic, though there are certainly enough Anti-Demcratic occurrences and issues that Anti-Democratic fits all too well,

I think the most important question to ask then is ... what would the difference be in a Pro-Democratic and Anti-Democratic system?

And of course ask that after we decide how to define Democratic, because what country actually is Democratic?

I think there is a reason we are not Democratic, whether that means Un-Democratic or Anti-Democratic , and that is the higher level more or less lawless structure of global politics, on whose stability all of our "status quo" rests ... for good or bad or indeterminate?

The key compromise is between these two factions, the people who run things do two things that screw up a majority of Americans. There is a such a war on average citizens, particularly citizens of color because in general they do not buy into the status quo, so if we were Democratic the status quo would collapse, most likely into chaos and violence.

The ruling class MUST, take care of Americans, a new Bill of Rights as FDR called it, in return Americans must to a certain extent wave good-bye to Democracy, mostly at the global level and support our presence on the world scene, difficult as that is to do, mostly due to our bumbling and deadly incompetence and incompetence.
 
 
-22 # brux 2014-07-24 13:25
In other words Americans must make a bargain with the Devil to step past democracy for now in the interests of equality and reconciliation. Eventually as things mature educationally, economically, culturally and we actually have an American culture again ... we can pick up the discussion about democracy.
 
 
-15 # brux 2014-07-24 14:18
So none of you "thumbs downers" have any argument against my argument, you just do not like it. Typically delusions.
 
 
+10 # wrknight 2014-07-24 21:48
No, actually there is a reason no one is countering your argument and that's because your rant makes no sense and doesn't constitute a rational argument.
 
 
-12 # brux 2014-07-25 03:50
Sorry you are just to stupid to get it, ... stupid and nasty is a bad combination, no wonder you just sit around here trying to irritate people.
 
 
+11 # pietheyn 2014-07-24 22:19
Quoting brux:
So none of you "thumbs downers" have any argument against my argument, you just do not like it. Typically delusions.

Sorry, brux, some readers probably do have arguments to counter some of your opinion blogs, however, I believe that readers of your past blogs, realize that to question your opinion with their own is considered combatative and can lead to fruitless debate, ad infinitum.
 
 
-13 # brux 2014-07-25 03:51
There is a reason when debate is fruitless - is my point. Most of the "debate" here is totally irrational and it shows.
 
 
+7 # NOMINAE 2014-07-25 10:42
Quoting brux:
So none of you "thumbs downers" have any argument against my argument, you just do not like it. Typically delusions.


First of all, you are not "debating" the comment queue here on RSN, Brux. You are "debating" Noam Chomsky, and you could not *be* further out of your depth, and it shows.

Speaking of avoiding a "debate", you don't understand Chomsky well enough to *be* involved in rational debate with his points, so you simply lift your leg on Chomsky and hide behind half-baked logic and baseless rant.

Fellow commenters, speaking for myself, don't fail to engage you because you are such an intimidating freakin' genius - they avoid your comments altogether because you seem to be consistently and enthusiasticall y "off the rails" the majority of the time.

For you to call the RSN debate "totally irrational" is both mirror gazing, and a case of the pot calling the kettle "black".
 
 
-9 # brux 2014-07-25 13:29
> You are "debating" Noam Chomsky, and you could not *be* further out of your depth

This is a statement of your prejudice and closed-mindedne ss - because you are assuming things about me versus your known Chomsky image, which is apparently your hero.

The only way you can react correctly is to listen or read arguments and evaluate them carefully, but you have already shown that you are pretty much like most people here, content and logic free.

You align emotionally with Chomsky and just used certain cues to decide is it makes sense or you should attack it. Your attacks are useless as well since it is so clear from them this is your thinking process.

You assume - wrongly again - out of your own prejudice that I don't know Chomsky, but I have been reading and listening to Chomsky's arguments and talks - carefully - for over 20 years.

I think highly of Chomsky, and I don't think you really "think" highly of Chomsky, because your hero worship precludes your thinking about anything. You are merely a zombie following and not an active listener and debater.

If I was as you say "off the rails" it would not be much of a problem to engage me in an argument and show me the error of my ways, but instead 100% of what I see here is stuff just like yours, faithful hero worship, which repulses me enough on its own.

Any time you care to actually "argue" something, you know where to find me.
 
 
+7 # NOMINAE 2014-07-25 21:06
Quoting brux:
> .....

If I was as you say "off the rails" it would not be much of a problem to engage me in an argument and show me the error of my ways, but instead 100% of what I see here is stuff just like yours, faithful hero worship, which repulses me enough on its own.


Yeah .... all of which demonstrates that you apparently suffer from problems with reading comprehension in the cases of Chomsky, me, or "stuff just like [mine]".

You dismiss my observations as "hero worship" and just run with it from there.

What if they were more than that ?

In other words, your mind is made up -
don't confuse you with facts.

Your comment here above, however, does leave me in your debt for *the* perfect example in answer to your *own* question regarding why people simply thumb you down, and rarely, if ever, bother to engage you in debate.

You don't "hear" debate.

One cannot reason with the totally unreasonable. Thank you for so eloquently proving my point.

I rest my case.
 
 
+6 # NOMINAE 2014-07-25 21:27
[quote name="NOMINAE"]
@ Brux
You know .... what if simple name calling, like a second grader in a sand box : "hero worshiper" is not considered debate in the adult dictionary.

And your "little bitch" to another commenter above has all the intellectual class and gravitas a redneck in a tavern brawl.

Rant on, Maestro, Rant on.....
 
 
-2 # brux 2014-07-28 02:26
Apparently you did not read this thread, you jumped into the middle of it rudely, uninvited and insultingly. That is why you get a nasty reply. When you do that what I said is not an insult, it is an earned description.

If you choose to give me a thumbs down and not say anything about it fine, but I can call you on it and point out your mistakes and fallacies - even if I do include some insults, you deserve it. Speak with respect or just do no speak, skulk around thumbs downing people ... like a little bitch.
 
 
-4 # brux 2014-07-26 00:18
> and you could not *be* further out of your depth

You began this discussion like this. The meaning was clear, so I responded in kind. Now you whine just like I said instead of apologize.

There was nothing to dismiss, you made no argument, you merely asserted authority that you clearly do not have.
 
 
+16 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-07-24 13:40
Excellent analysis. Thank you. Should be in major publications and read by all.
 
 
-10 # brux 2014-07-24 13:48
>> Does the taxpayer get any of the profit? None, because that's not the way our system works.

This is a brilliant point ... and points to the necessity for a certain amount of socialism to be fair.

>> It's radically anti-capitalist , just as it's radically anti-democratic , opposed to markets, in favor of concentrating wealth and power.

However, I don't think this means we are anti-capitalist , and reverting to use of that word is not productive in the discussion.

It's just unfair and anti-REPRESENTA TIVE DEMOCRACY is what it is.
 
 
-16 # brux 2014-07-24 13:51
>> about 70 percent of the population, what they believe has no effect on policy at all.

Of course ... you cannot drive a country with a foreign policy based on the ignorant whim of citizens ... if we did that back in the 50's and 60's the whole equal rights movement would have been squashed and tossed out.

We have a very important example of where democracy did not work or would not work and Chomsky just ignores that, i.e. racism, sexism. Those attitudes have been changed by an elite, that people damn and work against, but attitudes change thanks to the Manufacturing of Consent as well.

It is not all bad, and it works at the macro level ... but not so much at the micro-level - i.e. community level.
 
 
+14 # tedrey 2014-07-24 13:54
Another "must read" and "must ACT upon" from Chomsky and Hedges.
 
 
-4 # brux 2014-07-24 13:56
>> There've been studies of attitudes towards taxes for 40 years. Overwhelmingly the population says taxes are much too low for the rich and the corporate sector. You've got to raise it. What happens? Well, the opposite.

Yeah, WHY? Drill down into this and it has to do with the same thing most governments react most strongly too ... self-preservati on of the privileged class.

Working within the system now just means trying to engineer some kind of change that changes perceptibly but does not change so much that it threatens the government into as Malcolm Gladwell would say "autism".
 
 
+2 # anarchteacher 2014-07-24 13:56
http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/07/andrew-p-napolitano/democracy-is-a-fraud/

What If Democracy Is a Fraud?
 
 
+11 # reiverpacific 2014-07-24 17:25
Quoting anarchteacher:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/07/andrew-p-napolitano/democracy-is-a-fraud/

What If Democracy Is a Fraud?

I don't know why you are getting a bunch of thumbs down.
Maybe it's because you're getting close to an inconvenient, uncomfortable truth for many even on RSN, that all the trumpeted claims of the Fragmented States to being a Democracy are certainly a fraud and have been since the all-White Founding Fathers, property and slave-owning but admiring of the the Great Iroquois Six Nations Confederacy (there I go again), usurped it from a truly participatory Democratic collusive, cohesive body of ancient nations and ALL their peoples, into an experiment in representative (them of course) Republicanism in the older sense of the word, being simply without a Hereditary Monarchy.
This is hard for some even relatively Liberal people to swallow but for the types, genders, classes and races to become franchised, it's been an uphill battle against the same elite power structures as they morphed naturally into ever-more rapacious, land and resource-grabbi ng power enclaves, enslaving other races like the Chinese and ruthlessly visiting near-genocide on any who stood in their way like the natives of the continent.
If THAT isn't Anti-Democratic , I don't know what is and the country appears to be regressing on many fronts as the Theocratic, male-dominated SCOTUS keeps handing back power to the very elites that a true Democracy would keep in check.
 
 
+4 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-25 11:16
anarchteacher Great article & reiverpacific good comment, Europeans came universally as economic-ecolog ical refugees from a colonial destroyed Europe. 1st Nations as is indigenous heritage everywhere, welcomed fed, clothed, housed & healed E. refugees over the 1st decades. In fear-based submission to colonial hierarchy, refugees turned against their economic-democr acy hosts & imprinted dysfunction here.

For a period, many refugees joined with, intermarried, respected 1st Nation laws & customs & most adopted the string-shell (eg. Wampum) accounting system & joined Production Societies. 60% of Americans today mostly without their knowledge, carry 1st Nation blood. Around 1700 AD, worried about loss of their colonial power & in deference to colonial investors, church & royal authorities across the Americas reacted strongly by burning Wampum, Libraries & 1st Nation cultural infrastructure. What followed was massive cutting plunder of hugely productive 1st Nation Polyculture Orchards, biological waste-treatment systems & a range of environmental technologies not seen in Europe since their own colonial invasions.

Babylon, Greek, Semite & Rome progressively destroyed indigenous Europe's Celtic Polyculture Orchards & systems of Economic Democracy. Each invasion destroyed indigenous abundance, created empire dependency & so we find ourselves today hyper-dependent upon a colonial war economy. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy/8-economic-democr acy
 
 
+2 # brux 2014-07-26 00:15
>> Babylon, Greek, Semite & Rome progressively destroyed indigenous Europe's Celtic Polyculture Orchards & systems of Economic Democracy.

That is an interesting hypothesis. I tend to agree with it to an extent at least there were some very in-balance cultures, not not all. I don't think it was all like that, and I do think that the lesson should be learned now that any culture that wants to survive must be very defensive and paranoid.

What the smart and the strong did in the past, and do today is grounds for much talk, but what are we going to do about it is what I want to know?
 
 
0 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-27 15:48
brux, "but what are we going to do about it . . . ?"
1st recognize colonial violent appropriation & propaganda lies to make compliant populations, alienates us from & institutionally erased memory of our collective ancient worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') heritage. In USA & Canada some 5000$ per person / year is spent on ennobling colonial heritage & typically degrading 1st Nation heritage in school curriculum, museums, tourism, media & government archives. Each year only 5$ / person / year is spent on recording or preserving 1st Nation heritage or ethnohistory. Indigenous people worldwide use a Circle-of-Life summary of their interdisciplina ry constellation of life-enhancing social, economic & physical technologies. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/home/indigenous-circle-of-life

There are many applications of indigenous technologies today. From the 'Kaianerekowa' (Iroquois 'Great-good-way -of-kindness') or 'Ubuntu' (Nguni Southern Africa 'Human-kindness ') whose diverse wordings, formed the 'constitutions' of indigenous nations worldwide:
1) Multihome female-male intergeneration al living where all are recognized & use complementary capacities in mutual-aid. 70% of populations today live in multihome.
2) Participatory ownership & time-based human resource accounting in Production-Soci ety/Guilds. The most profitable corporations are participatory. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/relational-economy/3-rateable-corporations
 
 
0 # brux 2014-07-28 02:21
DJ - >> 1st recognize colonial violent appropriation & propaganda lies to make compliant populations, alienates us from & institutionally erased memory of our collective ancient worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') heritage.

What do you think people are? Everyone and everything does that. There is just no good way to get at this problem because the bad part of human nature always shines though.

I said " I do think that the lesson should be learned now that any culture that wants to survive must be very defensive and paranoid." and I meant it ... we need to learn how to empower all people in a system that enables and accepts them all.

There is just no turning back the hands of time or folding back history as it unfolds, and it happens ever faster and faster.
 
 
+1 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-28 10:30
brux, RE: "There is just no turning back the hands of time" Thanks for your reply.
Humanity is very old & the lessons learned by our 'indigenous' ancestors over 100s of 1000s of years are profound.
"Everyone and everything does that."
In the Circle of Life, a constellation of inter-disciplin ary science & practice is described, so that if one area fails, then another dimension is used to heal the process. The Circle-of-Life has been passed down by indigenous peoples everywhere on earth. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/home/indigenous-circle-of-life
Instead of being "defensive & paranoid", imagine cultures which reach out to their neighbours & invite them to openly participate. Imagine Israel / Palestine, where Israel having military control can reach out with processes by which all can participate & contribute. Indigenous peoples accomplish this through a number of economic, social, political & physical mechanisms.
1) Council Process involves open public both-sided, equal-time, recorded & published dialogues. By offering at every moment to dialogue, & letting the court of public opinion decide. Typically resolution involves each stakeholder group holding debates among themselves & then spokespersons who engage with other stakeholder spokespersons. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/both-sides-now-equal-time-recorded-dialogues
2) Participatory investment & ownership for all stakeholders as well enables all to invest & contribute.
 
 
-11 # brux 2014-07-24 14:13
>> Like, if you have an opinion piece denouncing Putin
>> as the new Hitler for annexing Crimea, you don't have
>> to balance it with an opinion piece saying that 100 years
>> ago the United States took over southeastern Cuba at the
>> point of a gun and is still holding it, though it has
>> absolutely no justification other than to try to undermine
>> Cuban development, whereas in contrast, whatever you
>> think of Putin, there's reasons.

Now, read this ... this is funny and interesting.

FIRST, I agree that the US has treated Cuba badly, many times, Guantamo is not the only case. We have acted as we are condemning Russia for acting as well in this Crimean situation.

BUT ... whereas Chomsky says that we should acknowledge there were reasons Russia is acting the way it is.

BUT ... there were reasons why we acted the way we do too ... so what. What does it mean to say there were "reasons" and why in Chomsky's eyes do Russia's reasons deem mentioning and discussing, and US reasons just get the silence of contempt?
 
 
+17 # janie1893 2014-07-24 15:31
And while we read and debated this profound discussion, a few more Palestinian children died vie Israeli bombs, a few more animal species died from poisons and a few more acres of land became useless from oil leaks and fracking.
 
 
-12 # brux 2014-07-25 03:46
You can blame Hamas for that.
 
 
0 # BKnowswhitt 2014-07-24 23:53
There can't be a 'Peoples Movement' when so much of our politics is bought and sold on K Street. Chomsky has much to contribute and his ability to pull historical perspectives from the past enlightening many times. Hedges has many leading questions and insists 'Capitalism' is broken. I don't think it is by any means. It might be transmuted but not broken. The system is more rigged than ever against the working class that is true. And the degree to which it is enables the bad form of Capitalism to prevail. The jury is still out however. The USA is still the best example of how good use of Capitalism works vs. the other more corrupt countries around the world. I think he 'reaches' in blaming Obama and saying he's the worst policy wise .. it began with 9/11 and Bush et al .. watch Fixed News today .. all they can say is how weak Obama is and his policies are responsible for it all why Putin has become enlivened .. our biggest problem today is lack of education of the masses and their inability to think critically .... and question ... which paves the wave for the complicit and compliant who cowtow to such bad policies ... as are today more than any time in recent modern history kept in the dark about it all ....
 
 
+7 # sschnapp 2014-07-25 05:40
Hedges is our Cassandra, foretelling (and eloquently describing) the destruction of society, but seemingly unheeded. Chomsky is our Aristotle, with immense and broad knowledge of how the world works. These men wield prodigious intellect to help us understand what is going on and confront the forces of oppression. Chomsky of late has been impressed by efforts, admittedly tiny scale, to construct economic and social endeavors that operate under a people & planet oriented set of principles -- democracy, equity, pluralism, etc. -- rather than the principles of neoliberal capital -- profit, individualism, rapaciousness, etc.

What neither have turned their attention to are the questions of what makes societies change -- I subscribe to the view that there are many strategies but principle among them is social movements. How then do we build a democratic, multi-race, multi-class, progressive movement?

There are many questions to ask about leadership, strategy & tactics, decision-making , resolving differences, coalitions, organizational forms, vision, infrastructure, financial resources, etc. Let's ask and dialogue, and do it with passion, compassion and respect.
 
 
+3 # Douglas Jack 2014-07-25 15:29
Chomsky, "I mean, there are sectors of the global population that are trying to impede the catastrophe. There are other sectors that are trying to accelerate it. And you take a look at who they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward: indigenous populations, . . "
". . unless we here in the so-called advanced societies can gain the consciousness of the indigenous people of the world, we're in deep trouble. Our grandchildren are going to suffer from it."

America's colonial economic system is dysfunctional upon many levels across many disciplines. Chomsky repeatedly mentions our need to become indigenous here. When we came as refugees to these American shores, instead of immigrating & respecting 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') laws & customs, we imposed violence, genocide & hierarchy upon a very democratic people who stewarded nature aligned abundant productive economies.

All humanity comes from once integrated 'indigenous' systems. Its only through the past 7000 years of violent colonialism whereby human understanding for biosphere & human-sphere have been deeply perverted from their origins. To give you an idea of the inter-disciplin ary systems integration needed, indigenous peoples describe this in a chart called the Circle of LIfe which touches upon human, biosphere & environmental relations, human-economy, natural-science , governance etc. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/home/indigenous-circle-of-life
 
 
+5 # Jingze 2014-07-25 10:53
Chomsky is right, of course, but what he never quite gets to is a way to bring about the change that is desperately needed. Serious leadership is sorely needed. Where that is found is unknown. It has not and will not come from the self-serving fools who run the government, nor from the increasingly ignorant and illiterate population. Perhaps it will never come, and the country is simply doomed to fail.
 
 
0 # brux 2014-07-28 08:26
You are right, Chomsky, besides being a great resource for understanding how we got to where we are and a general opinion for where we ought to be, does not know a way to bring about what he talks about ... that is why for that purpose, Chomsky is a dead end.

The country is perhaps due to shrink and kick out lots of extraneous people, like we are doing with so many unemployed that do not fit into the corporate mentality ... because that is really all there is, but the country will not fail because it has too much behind it and too many dependent on what it does.

Unless and until people find a reason to be taken seriously, they will no be, and who can take this lot here seriously?

They talk plenty, like Chomsky, but do not recognize a dead end. A social/politica l movement simply cannot start or get anyway by biting off more than it can chew, and these massive ideas of change are simply not going to happen - without complete breakdown, and in a complete breakdown nothing good or controllable will happen.
 

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