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Intro: "The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There's never been anything like it that I can think of. If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead - because victory won't come quickly - it could prove a significant moment in American history."

Noam Chomsky talks about hope rising from occupy. (photo: Daniel Simpson)
Noam Chomsky talks about hope rising from occupy. (photo: Daniel Simpson)

A Rebellious World or a New Dark Age?

By Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch

08 May 12


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

f you had followed May Day protests in New York City in the mainstream media, you might hardly have noticed that they happened at all. The stories were generally tucked away, minimalist, focused on a few arrests, and spoke of "hundreds" of protesters in the streets, or maybe, if a reporter was feeling especially generous, a vague "thousands." I did my own rough count on the largest of the Occupy protests that day. It left Union Square in the evening heading for the Wall Street area. I walked through the march front to back, figuring a couple of thousand loosely packed protesters to a block, and came up with a conservative estimate of 15,000 people. Maybe it wasn't the biggest protest of all time, but sizeable enough given that Occupy, an organization without strong structures but once strongly located, had been (quite literally) pushed or even beaten out of its camps in Zuccotti Park and elsewhere across the country and toward oblivion.

It's true that if you were checking out the Nation or Mother Jones, you would have gotten a more accurate sense of what was going on. Still, didn't the great protest movement of our American moment (on a planet still in upheaval) deserve better that day? And no matter what you read in the mainstream, here's what you would have known nothing about: this country is increasingly an armed camp and those marchers, remarkably relaxed and peaceable, were heading out into a concentration of police that was staggering and should have been startling.

Cops on motor scooters patroled the edges of the march, which was hemmed in by the usual moveable metal barricades. Police helicopters buzzed us at rooftop level. The police managed to alter the actual path of the marchers partway along and the police turnout - I estimated up to 75 cops, three deep on some street corners doing nothing but collecting overtime - was little short of incomprehensible.

Though Occupy marchers used to chant, "Whose streets, our streets!" it was never so. The streets belong to the police. If this is the democracy and freedom to dissent that American officials constantly proclaim to the world as one of our core values, then pinch me. If most of it is even legal, I'd be surprised. But when it comes to legality, we're past all that. So any march on a sunny day is instantly imprisoned, and the protesters turned into a captive audience. When young people break out of the barricades and the serried ranks of cops and head in unexpected directions, it has the unmistakable feel of a jailbreak.

The fact is that, in a country whose security forces are up-armored to the teeth from the Mexican border to Union Square, just behind any set of marchers, you can feel the unease of those in power, edging up to fear. And no wonder. We remain in a "recovery" that's spinning on a dime. Let the Eurozone falter and begin to fall, the Chinese housing bubble pop, or the Persian Gulf go up in flames, and hold onto your signs. Like Bloomberg in the Big Apple, many mayors sent in their paramilitaries (with a helping hand from the Department of Homeland Security) to get rid of the "troublemakers." Only problem: their real problems run so much deeper and when the next "moment" comes, Occupy could look like a march in the park (which, in many inspirational ways, it largely was). In the meantime, the streets increasingly belong to the weaponized. Americans who protest blur into the "terrorists" who, since 9/11, have been the obsession of what passes for law enforcement.

If you want some sense of just what's lurking under the surface of all the police drones and helicopters and tanks and even mini-drone submarines, what underpins our fragile, edgy moment, then check out this talk TomDispatch regular Noam Chomsky gave. It's excerpted from his new book Occupy, with special thanks to its publisher Zuccotti Park Press. Tom


Plutonomy and the Precariat


he Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There's never been anything like it that I can think of. If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead - because victory won't come quickly - it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it's an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That's another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development, and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times.

I'm just old enough to remember the Great Depression. After the first few years, by the mid-1930s - although the situation was objectively much harsher than it is today - nevertheless, the spirit was quite different. There was a sense that "we're gonna get out of it," even among unemployed people, including a lot of my relatives, a sense that "it will get better."

There was militant labor union organizing going on, especially from the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations). It was getting to the point of sit-down strikes, which are frightening to the business world - you could see it in the business press at the time - because a sit-down strike is just a step before taking over the factory and running it yourself. The idea of worker takeovers is something which is, incidentally, very much on the agenda today, and we should keep it in mind. Also New Deal legislation was beginning to come in as a result of popular pressure. Despite the hard times, there was a sense that, somehow, "we're gonna get out of it."

It's quite different now. For many people in the United States, there's a pervasive sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. I think it's quite new in American history. And it has an objective basis.

On the Working Class

In the 1930s, unemployed working people could anticipate that their jobs would come back. If you're a worker in manufacturing today - the current level of unemployment there is approximately like the Depression - and current tendencies persist, those jobs aren't going to come back.

The change took place in the 1970s. There are a lot of reasons for it. One of the underlying factors, discussed mainly by economic historian Robert Brenner, was the falling rate of profit in manufacturing. There were other factors. It led to major changes in the economy - a reversal of several hundred years of progress towards industrialization and development that turned into a process of de-industrialization and de-development. Of course, manufacturing production continued overseas very profitably, but it's no good for the work force.

Along with that came a significant shift of the economy from productive enterprise - producing things people need or could use - to financial manipulation. The financialization of the economy really took off at that time.

On Banks

Before the 1970s, banks were banks. They did what banks were supposed to do in a state capitalist economy: they took unused funds from your bank account, for example, and transferred them to some potentially useful purpose like helping a family buy a home or send a kid to college. That changed dramatically in the 1970s. Until then, there had been no financial crises since the Great Depression. The 1950s and 1960s had been a period of enormous growth, the highest in American history, maybe in economic history.

And it was egalitarian. The lowest quintile did about as well as the highest quintile. Lots of people moved into reasonable lifestyles - what's called the "middle class" here, the "working class" in other countries - but it was real. And the 1960s accelerated it. The activism of those years, after a pretty dismal decade, really civilized the country in lots of ways that are permanent.

When the 1970s came along, there were sudden and sharp changes: de-industrialization, the off-shoring of production, and the shift to financial institutions, which grew enormously. I should say that, in the 1950s and 1960s, there was also the development of what several decades later became the high-tech economy: computers, the Internet, the IT Revolution developed substantially in the state sector.

The developments that took place during the 1970s set off a vicious cycle. It led to the concentration of wealth increasingly in the hands of the financial sector. This doesn't benefit the economy - it probably harms it and society - but it did lead to a tremendous concentration of wealth.

On Politics and Money

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. The legislation, essentially bipartisan, drives new fiscal policies and tax changes, as well as the rules of corporate governance and deregulation. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector.

The parties dissolved in many ways. It used to be that if a person in Congress hoped for a position such as a committee chair, he or she got it mainly through seniority and service. Within a couple of years, they started having to put money into the party coffers in order to get ahead, a topic studied mainly by Tom Ferguson. That just drove the whole system even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector (increasingly the financial sector).

This cycle resulted in a tremendous concentration of wealth, mainly in the top tenth of one percent of the population. Meanwhile, it opened a period of stagnation or even decline for the majority of the population. People got by, but by artificial means such as longer working hours, high rates of borrowing and debt, and reliance on asset inflation like the recent housing bubble. Pretty soon those working hours were much higher in the United States than in other industrial countries like Japan and various places in Europe. So there was a period of stagnation and decline for the majority alongside a period of sharp concentration of wealth. The political system began to dissolve.

There has always been a gap between public policy and public will, but it just grew astronomically. You can see it right now, in fact. Take a look at the big topic in Washington that everyone concentrates on: the deficit. For the public, correctly, the deficit is not regarded as much of an issue. And it isn't really much of an issue. The issue is joblessness. There's a deficit commission but no joblessness commission. As far as the deficit is concerned, the public has opinions. Take a look at the polls. The public overwhelmingly supports higher taxes on the wealthy, which have declined sharply in this period of stagnation and decline, and the preservation of limited social benefits.

The outcome of the deficit commission is probably going to be the opposite. The Occupy movements could provide a mass base for trying to avert what amounts to a dagger pointed at the heart of the country.

Plutonomy and the Precariat

For the general population, the 99% in the imagery of the Occupy movement, it's been pretty harsh - and it could get worse. This could be a period of irreversible decline. For the 1% and even less - the .1% - it's just fine. They are richer than ever, more powerful than ever, controlling the political system, disregarding the public. And if it can continue, as far as they're concerned, sure, why not?

Take, for example, Citigroup. For decades, Citigroup has been one of the most corrupt of the major investment banking corporations, repeatedly bailed out by the taxpayer, starting in the early Reagan years and now once again. I won't run through the corruption, but it's pretty astonishing.

In 2005, Citigroup came out with a brochure for investors called "Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances." It urged investors to put money into a "plutonomy index." The brochure says, "The World is dividing into two blocs - the Plutonomy and the rest."

Plutonomy refers to the rich, those who buy luxury goods and so on, and that's where the action is. They claimed that their plutonomy index was way outperforming the stock market. As for the rest, we set them adrift. We don't really care about them. We don't really need them. They have to be around to provide a powerful state, which will protect us and bail us out when we get into trouble, but other than that they essentially have no function. These days they're sometimes called the "precariat" - people who live a precarious existence at the periphery of society. Only it's not the periphery anymore. It's becoming a very substantial part of society in the United States and indeed elsewhere. And this is considered a good thing.

So, for example, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, at the time when he was still "Saint Alan" - hailed by the economics profession as one of the greatest economists of all time (this was before the crash for which he was substantially responsible) - was testifying to Congress in the Clinton years, and he explained the wonders of the great economy that he was supervising. He said a lot of its success was based substantially on what he called "growing worker insecurity." If working people are insecure, if they're part of the precariat, living precarious existences, they're not going to make demands, they're not going to try to get better wages, they won't get improved benefits. We can kick 'em out, if we don't need 'em. And that's what's called a "healthy" economy, technically speaking. And he was highly praised for this, greatly admired.

So the world is now indeed splitting into a plutonomy and a precariat - in the imagery of the Occupy movement, the 1% and the 99%. Not literal numbers, but the right picture. Now, the plutonomy is where the action is and it could continue like this.

If it does, the historic reversal that began in the 1970s could become irreversible. That's where we're heading. And the Occupy movement is the first real, major, popular reaction that could avert this. But it's going to be necessary to face the fact that it's a long, hard struggle. You don't win victories tomorrow. You have to form the structures that will be sustained, that will go on through hard times and can win major victories. And there are a lot of things that can be done.

Toward Worker Takeover

I mentioned before that, in the 1930s, one of the most effective actions was the sit-down strike. And the reason is simple: that's just a step before the takeover of an industry.

Through the 1970s, as the decline was setting in, there were some important events that took place. In 1977, U.S. Steel decided to close one of its major facilities in Youngstown, Ohio. Instead of just walking away, the workforce and the community decided to get together and buy it from the company, hand it over to the work force, and turn it into a worker-run, worker-managed facility. They didn't win. But with enough popular support, they could have won. It's a topic that Gar Alperovitz and Staughton Lynd, the lawyer for the workers and community, have discussed in detail.

It was a partial victory because, even though they lost, it set off other efforts. And now, throughout Ohio, and in other places, there's a scattering of hundreds, maybe thousands, of sometimes not-so-small worker/community-owned industries that could become worker-managed. And that's the basis for a real revolution. That's how it takes place.

In one of the suburbs of Boston, about a year ago, something similar happened. A multinational decided to close down a profitable, functioning facility carrying out some high-tech manufacturing. Evidently, it just wasn't profitable enough for them. The workforce and the union offered to buy it, take it over, and run it themselves. The multinational decided to close it down instead, probably for reasons of class-consciousness. I don't think they want things like this to happen. If there had been enough popular support, if there had been something like the Occupy movement that could have gotten involved, they might have succeeded.

And there are other things going on like that. In fact, some of them are major. Not long ago, President Barack Obama took over the auto industry, which was basically owned by the public. And there were a number of things that could have been done. One was what was done: reconstitute it so that it could be handed back to the ownership, or very similar ownership, and continue on its traditional path.

The other possibility was to hand it over to the workforce - which owned it anyway - turn it into a worker-owned, worker-managed major industrial system that's a big part of the economy, and have it produce things that people need. And there's a lot that we need.

We all know or should know that the United States is extremely backward globally in high-speed transportation, and it's very serious. It not only affects people's lives, but the economy. In that regard, here's a personal story. I happened to be giving talks in France a couple of months ago and had to take a train from Avignon in southern France to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, the same distance as from Washington, DC, to Boston. It took two hours. I don't know if you've ever taken the train from Washington to Boston, but it's operating at about the same speed it was 60 years ago when my wife and I first took it. It's a scandal.

It could be done here as it's been done in Europe. They had the capacity to do it, the skilled work force. It would have taken a little popular support, but it could have made a major change in the economy.

Just to make it more surreal, while this option was being avoided, the Obama administration was sending its transportation secretary to Spain to get contracts for developing high-speed rail for the United States, which could have been done right in the rust belt, which is being closed down. There are no economic reasons why this can't happen. These are class reasons, and reflect the lack of popular political mobilization. Things like this continue.

Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons

I've kept to domestic issues, but there are two dangerous developments in the international arena, which are a kind of shadow that hangs over everything we've discussed. There are, for the first time in human history, real threats to the decent survival of the species.

One has been hanging around since 1945. It's kind of a miracle that we've escaped it. That's the threat of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. Though it isn't being much discussed, that threat is, in fact, being escalated by the policies of this administration and its allies. And something has to be done about that or we're in real trouble.

The other, of course, is environmental catastrophe. Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps towards trying to do something about it. The United States is also taking steps, mainly to accelerate the threat. It is the only major country that is not only not doing something constructive to protect the environment, it's not even climbing on the train. In some ways, it's pulling it backwards.

And this is connected to a huge propaganda system, proudly and openly declared by the business world, to try to convince people that climate change is just a liberal hoax. "Why pay attention to these scientists?"

We're really regressing back to the dark ages. It's not a joke. And if that's happening in the most powerful, richest country in history, then this catastrophe isn't going to be averted - and in a generation or two, everything else we're talking about won't matter. Something has to be done about it very soon in a dedicated, sustained way.

It's not going to be easy to proceed. There are going to be barriers, difficulties, hardships, failures. It's inevitable. But unless the spirit of the last year, here and elsewhere in the country and around the globe, continues to grow and becomes a major force in the social and political world, the chances for a decent future are not very high. your social media marketing partner


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+37 # bugbuster 2012-05-08 11:31
Noam, it's no fun being decades ahead of your time. From where I sit, enough people are still too comfortable to rise up, even though they know that their position is precarious.

Each of us has a life to live. It's easy to believe that my paycheck comes on time every other week and everything is fine and these Occupiers are wrong about everything and should just go get a job. The last thing we want or need is somebody knocking down the house of cards we live in. And who knows? Maybe nobody will before our time in this world is up. If it happens, it will be somebody else's problem.

Of course if I were living on the edge and in my 20s or 30s in debt with no prospects and nothing to lose, why not kick down the whole house? Why not face the bullets and take one for the team? Like in Syria.

I don't think there is another way out unless we get insanely lucky and accidentally empower somebody who would lead us out of the abyss. Good luck with that.
+3 # tahoevalleylines 2012-05-08 15:06
There are books Mr. Chomsky might look at,and we would love hearing his comments and feedback. They are:

"The Woolsorter's Plague" by Chet Nagle. Not so fictional account of the Islamic approach to kicking down the house

In the Bible, the book of James , Chapter 5 -A word to the wise in the plutocracy community- And 1% wannabes

Empower who? See book "ELECTRIC WATER" by Christopher C. Swan (New Society 2007) and see a well-thought out methodology for separating America from Middle East Oil and domestic monopolies

Senator Frank J. Cannon writes the playbook for plutocrats: "Under The Prophet In Utah" and Candidate Romney read it
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-05-08 16:38
Quoting tahoevalleylines:
There are books Mr. Chomsky might look at,and we would love hearing his comments and feedback. They are:

"The Woolsorter's Plague" by Chet Nagle. Not so fictional account of the Islamic approach to kicking down the house

In the Bible, the book of James , Chapter 5 -A word to the wise in the plutocracy community- And 1% wannabes

Empower who? See book "ELECTRIC WATER" by Christopher C. Swan (New Society 2007) and see a well-thought out methodology for separating America from Middle East Oil and domestic monopolies

Senator Frank J. Cannon writes the playbook for plutocrats: "Under The Prophet In Utah" and Candidate Romney read it

I have to feel that you are being a bit presumptuous in recommending any kind of book to Dr. Chomsky, who has probably read, digested, regurgitated in his own words and written, more than you ever knew existed (but perhaps I'm the one who is being presumptuous here and if so, I apologize in advance).
From time to time, I too recommend certain appropriate books to readers of RSN from my own Socio-Political -Historical library but I'd never take the liberty of doing so to one of the leading doers and interpreters of the history of progressive action and the forces reigned against it, that this country has ever produced.
Most respectfully of course.
+3 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-05-10 06:32
"...accidentall y empower somebody..." Dear bugbuster, control is an illusion. Very best all of us 99%ers can do, literally and figuratively, is:

revolt not just for 'me and mine', but for all our earthly brothers and sisters and the world in which we live, in other words, restore altruism and deep devotion to humanitarianism

pray and/or seek good/God/Allah/ the Great Spirit, etc., recognizing (albeit, never understanding) evil, a.k.a. greed and power addiction, the very same evil that crucified the man/God Jesus

grab hold of courage and determination, so needed in today's POLICE STATE AIN'T GREAT, and revolt rather than fall for all the MSD (manipulation, spin, distraction) and karlroving dirty tricks, i.e. the 'mess' media's overcoverage of political caca, and undercoverage and false coverage of the massive OWS revolution that's brewing, with more and more groups and individuals joining up.

Please, Noam, keep writing and guiding us. The future of our world and generations to come, and the evolving and growth of us as humans needs great truthtellers such as you. Go, Noam, Go!
+1 # 2lilluc 2012-05-11 07:02
Bugbuster, I seem to always gravitate to your comments, I'm a fan...and yes, it may very well come down to facing the bullets, figuratively or literally. I think more and more people grow uncomfortable and realize that remaining in a state of complacency is no longer an option. Still, we're not quite there, but as I say....I believe in us.
+43 # Peacedragon 2012-05-08 11:37
I would say three things to those with political and/or economic power. Listen to Chomsky. Listen to Chomsky. Listen to Chomsky.
+23 # jlohman 2012-05-08 11:42
All of these are very deep issues, but the truth is, just get the politicians off the payroll of the special interests and these jokers will fix the economy. They may be corrupt but they are not stupid.
+36 # Activista 2012-05-08 12:06
Chomsky in a academic way tells US - we do not have a choice - WE NEED A CHANGE. Substantial change - we are in trouble.
US is NOT democracy - it is a police state serving 1% plutocrats.
+22 # jbell94521 2012-05-08 12:53
If we are serious about solving the most pressing problems and rescuing this nation from certain sefl-destructio n, we must look at the largely-ignored core problem. It is simply this: The currency that we all depend on is created by private banks. They create it out of thin air. Then they lend it to the Federal government and the people at outrageous interest. This is literally true, although not well-known. (The banks go to great lengths to be sure that it remains not well-known.)

Economists estimate that counting the face-value interest and the hidden interest, compounded, the banks are siphoning approximately 40% off the top of our money. Meyer Rothschild, founder of the House of Rothschild, still one of the largest and most powerful banks in the world, said: "Let me control the currency and I care not who writes the laws..." Because of their stranglehold on our money, the banks literally call the shots, buy the politicians they need, and set the major policies of this nation and the world. This icludes stifling democracy whenever it suites them.

Please learn about this inconvenient truth. Check out the Public Bankikng Institute to get the real truth on this.

Here's a link to my article on this issue:
+13 # jlohman 2012-05-08 13:00
We absolutely need a banking "public option." What would it hurt? Don't like it, don't use it!
+2 # tomo 2012-05-09 10:07
Try Uncle Credit Union.
+6 # Activista 2012-05-08 21:01
the new left in Greece wants to nationalize banks - not a bad idea.
+17 # Bodiotoo 2012-05-08 13:04
May Day Occupy was totally ignred by the local press.
What can be done?
Mass marches on a grand scale and at a "Minutes Notice? ...
i.e. the OC movement may have to be the new minutemen of the (I hate the notion of revolution as I truly believe we should be able to do this at the ballot box)...
We need Occupiers than can give the movement thier very real person and time...Grouping s all over the nation heading for desinations that possibly reflect a symbolic point...example . if 10,000 Occupiers headed to , short list: Cow Pens, Jockey's Hollow, Kings Point, Valley Forge...places where the Continental Army (mostly the youth who responded to the war drums...made up our army)either camped or turned back the oppressors (the British) and followed this with a massive march on New York City and then Washington...ho w could the media ignore this? College grads with no employment opportinities may need to spend a year in the ranks of the Occupiers, become part of a people's unarmed ARMY! Everybody needs to think in being self suffcient and backpack thier personal needs...for an extended period...not a one day rally...Like Chomsky staes...this is going to take time. Occupy. Vote. Make a Change.
+15 # paulrevere 2012-05-08 15:03
Why is OWS, national, not marching infront of and drawing attention to the likes of the NYT, WaHoPo, WSJ, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN etc? Those are the malfeasant 4th estate (touted in our very Constitution) members who are sucking up the ad dollar and giving us drug, celebrity, beer, sports and fear instead of information, real information so that the American populace can respond with informed and intelligent presense insted of drooling fear struck sheepdumb.

Okay...I'll take a breath.
+16 # Peace Anonymous 2012-05-08 13:10
FEAR. Isn't staggering to realize that the very wealthy are so very deeply afraid of, above all else, honesty and integrity. If they functioned with those 2 principles at the forefront of their thought process we wouldn't be where we are today. And all of those nice policemen could take their families to the beach this summer instead of hiding behind barricades as a small group of committed individuals exercise their legal rights. Where will it end?
+19 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-08 13:38
Let's remember that environmental catastrophe is not just about climate change.

Super bugs, resistant or immune to anti-biotics. We could easily get an epidemic which would make the flu of ww1 period look like a bad cold.

Crop decimation due to dwindling of varieties and GM crops taking over, and then failing.

Pollution, Radioactivity is one area: DU and Fukishima type disasters (including what Fukishima may do next). But also chemical pollution wiping out food sources: gulf spill, endocrine disrupters which can sterilize or kill in minute quantities, and all sorts of other pollutions, including pesicides, which can cause widespread disease and be virtually impossible to eliminate once they are out and all over the world. Include WMDs used in wars, such as white phosophorous and toxins, leading to birth defects, cancers, metabolic diseases, nervous system dysfunction, and retarded development in children.

Water pollution, and destruction of aquifers -- fracking is just one danger. Simply running out of potable water in important geographical areas.

Ecological imbalances and under and over populations of various species -- palugue of insects, or molds, or invading fish -- which could drastically change large areas of the biosphere.

It's not just climate disruption.
+5 # tomo 2012-05-09 01:20
The list you write, Bluepilgrim, is overwhelming. More important: it's realistic. You mention "overpopulation s of various species." LET'S START WITH US. Disease, war, and the Mad-Maxificatio n of the environment are terrible ways to reduce the human population--but that's what I see coming unless a new sense of responsibility does it instead. A reduction of human population initiated out of human thoughtfulness could do much to take the the insatiate madness out of the scramble for diminishing resources. The scramble generates, I suspect, much of the friction, violence, war, ethnic cleansing that now be-devil the world. And, of course, friction, violence, and war intensify the competition. The incomprehensibl e money-games America's dementedly rich and richly demented seem obsessively bent on playing have as their most certain consequence an increase in the misery of people everywhere. Miserable people tend to breed; and freshly bred generations become, if unprovided for, unpredictable, violent, and dangerous.

You see where I'm taking this. Unplanned reductions in human population are usually dreadful; unplanned increases in human population put the planet in increasing jeopardy.

Only a really profound overhaul of our human character, and a heartfelt redefinition of human needs and human values can save us. And how likely is that?
+11 # seeuingoa 2012-05-08 13:38
On 9/11 the terrorists tried
to change our way of living.

Did they win?
+4 # Jorge 2012-05-08 22:24
What terrorists? Could it be that the word "Terrorists" is just a made-up Rovian word to replace other bogeyman names (e.g. Communists) that the MIC needs to get your money and reduce your quality of life and reduce your freedoms (e.g. TSA). It is not even clear who was behind the 9/11 attacks (why did the Bush family fly out the Bin Laden clan?). 100,000 troops to fight 100 or 200 Al Qaeda?? People in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan) could not care less about the U.S. way of living, mostly they just want the Western Oil Plutocrats to leave them alone.
+5 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-09 03:28
I saw on the history section at there is a story Klaus Barbie:
25 years ago: “Butcher of Lyon” on trial in France

I had heard of him, of course, but details or the fact that he was used by US intelligence never fully registered. Other Nazis also fit in with US activities, and I knew that, but that also was part of the past, when I was being conditioned to ignore it, submersed in the hegemonys doublethink, where we were always the good guys.

It struck a nerve. I was so naive when young; no one ever told about how much evil there was, how much the US was responsible for, or how to deal with it -- or the horror of knowing about the huge extent it.

Of course I 'knew' -- but tonight the feel and taste of it hit me badly, like when you smoke too much and drink too much coffee and your mouth becomes like a sewer. Indeed, we are now the evil empire (and have been for quite a long time). It's like a 'protected' kid finally understanding that his family is in the mob and everyone he had feelings for while growing up are ruthless gangsters.

Mama never told me there would days like this, or what this 'Life in these United States' was really about. I don't know if one can ever get used to it -- this living in a loonie bin with the psychopaths running the place. There seems no end to it.
+3 # Jorge 2012-05-09 09:15
BP- Thanks for the info about Klaus Barbie.
Three insightful books "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" (Perkins, 2004), the Martha Stout book "The Sociopath Next Door" (helps to explain people similar to Dick Cheney), and Howard Zinn's History of the U.S. helped my understanding of world politics, business, and slanted media coverage.
+3 # tomo 2012-05-09 10:13
A milder account of an awakening similar to yours is the account, mostly by Tom Hayden, written fifty years ago: The Port Huron Statement.
+7 # BLBreck 2012-05-08 18:48
Thank you again, Dr. Chomsky. An oldster myself, I joined MoveOn about 2 years ago to become part of a (any! )group that seemed to be working on some of the problems we are facing (our core group has now splintered off, as MoveOn is just as top down establishment as our government and we are lefter than they.) All the people in our group are over 50 (many a lot over!) and we racked our brains on how to get some youngsters involved.... then Occupy rose up and we joyfully joined them in the streets and gave all the support we could think of. As in most other cities they were rousted from their sleeping bags at 3am (in a conference with the local press we learned the the police always waited until the early hours when the press gave up and the weary journalists left to get a couple of hours sleep to stage their raids) we continue to work with them now that they are no longer allowed to Occupy on a nightly basis.

One of our main aims from the start was to gather many of the progressive groups in the area to join forces and last August a conference was organized that brought together more than 50 activist groups like unions, environmental, economic and food justice, CPI, CEEC. It was lovely and many of those groups participated in rallies and actions with each other and then with Occupy and continue to.
+8 # BLBreck 2012-05-08 18:49
Occupy and the May Day Protests in NYC and other cities show to me that many groups can work together towards the same ends, because after all we are inspiring to the same basic ends: equality and justice for all.

I often work at a local university and the students speak to me about the continued cuts and the continued rise in tuition that are affecting them. Just this month a graduate student told me that the university is having unpaid students teach, unsupervised. The stipend for TA's was already a joke, but it looks like it is going away. So instead of choosing a certain university because you want to learn from a esteemed professional, you will taught by your peers. What's the point of paying exorbitant tuition and going deeply in debt for that? I am hoping that as they see their education become a bad joke, they will get angrier and angrier and continue to swell the ranks of Occupy and other groups willing to dear raise their voices. If you are going to be taught by your peers, perhaps the best peers to learn from are the organizers in Occupy! Ah, the doubling of student loan rates was just announced.... perhaps that will clinch it!
+5 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-09 03:30
May 6, 2012
The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps
+3 # 2lilluc 2012-05-11 06:46
I read Mr.Chomsky article with my heart beating fast and faster. Written with such clarity and simplicity, I was carried away into the dark heart of his words and the despair of our Nation. But I already know that these are dark and dangerous times, what frightens me is the ones who don't know, the ones who close their eyes and find it easier to keep believing the lie. You are right, Mr. Chomsky, when you say that "Occupy" is unprecedented. As much as the political right, the 1%, big money...big corporations would prefer us to stay complacent, compliant and way down low...I believe in us and we're not going to do that. Certainly it will take time, but the opposition will keep growing and challenging and peacefully marching. I believe in us.

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