Noam Chomsky: Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!

  • metta

    Posts: 39108

    Feb 18, 2016 12:32 AM GMT
    Noam Chomsky: Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mxp_wgFWQo&feature=youtu.be
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    Feb 19, 2016 5:00 PM GMT
    Noam Chonsky is a communist sympathizing pathetic piece of human garbage. Marx is intellectualism for the brain dead....
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    Feb 19, 2016 6:28 PM GMT
    theantijock%20engage%20stalker%20reducti

    He's a libertarian socialist (a real libertarian, not the bullshit Republican use of the term) and he sympathizes with aspects of the anarchists. He's very much into Democracy.

    Here he explains libertarianism:



    And here's what he's said of communism:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Noam_Chomsky
    ...He has also defined Soviet communism as "fake socialism", particularly because any socialism worthy of the name requires authentic democratic control of production and resources as well as public ownership. He has said that contrary to what many in America claim, the collapse of the Soviet Union should be regarded as "a small victory for socialism", not capitalism....


    The man is brilliant.
  • blueandgold

    Posts: 396

    Feb 19, 2016 10:32 PM GMT
    Moam chomsky is brilliant, perhaps the most important contributor to the field of linguistics in all time.

    I'm always fascinated by the American semi disdain for the most intelligent members of our population.
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    Feb 19, 2016 11:08 PM GMT
    blueandgold saidNoam Chomsky is brilliant, perhaps the most important contributor to the field of linguistics in all time.

    I'm always fascinated horrified by the American Republican semi complete disdain for the most intelligent members of our population.


    fixed
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    Feb 20, 2016 1:25 AM GMT
    It would seem history has proven him wrong. It has been in existence since medieval times.
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    Feb 20, 2016 1:49 AM GMT
    blueandgold saidMoam chomsky is brilliant, perhaps the most important contributor to the field of linguistics in all time.

    I'm always fascinated by the American semi disdain for the most intelligent members of our population.


    Never underestimate the destructive power of intelligent people working together in groups.
  • blueandgold

    Posts: 396

    Feb 20, 2016 5:53 AM GMT
    desertmuscl said
    blueandgold saidMoam chomsky is brilliant, perhaps the most important contributor to the field of linguistics in all time.

    I'm always fascinated by the American semi disdain for the most intelligent members of our population.


    Never underestimate the destructive power of intelligent people working together in groups.


    A statement equally ominous and vague, lol. In other words, meaningless. What would you prefer to intelligent groups of people making decisions? The cast of the view? Honey boo boo and her mom?
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    Feb 20, 2016 10:03 AM GMT
    metta saidNoam Chomsky: Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mxp_wgFWQo&feature=youtu.be



    Thanks for posting this Metta! It is refreshing to see a thread about an intellectual of this caliber being posted in RJ. Mr Chomsky is in my opinion one of the greatest intellectuals this country has has ever produced. He would without a doubt outperform many other intellectuals from both the left and right ends of the political spectrum during a debate. Perhaps this is why we do not see him interviewed in traditional TV networks often.

    I encourage other RJ members to read his works and listen to his interviews and speeches on YouTube. He is truly an independent thinker who answers to no government or power structure. He advocates for a healthy distrust to any hierarchical authority structure and for complete community and worker management of national resources and means of production. He suggests these are the only ways to achieve participatory democracy.

    I look forward to see more members of the public examining and perhaps embracing some or most of his ideas. I believe that would indeed make this world a much fairer, safer and healthier place. icon_cool.gif
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    Feb 20, 2016 2:33 PM GMT
    Perhaps Comrad Chromsky would be happier living in Cuba.
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    Feb 20, 2016 3:18 PM GMT
    Chomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist
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    Feb 20, 2016 3:53 PM GMT
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    Feb 20, 2016 4:56 PM GMT
    For an 'unkempt shyster', it's rather ironic, then, that when interviewed in the late 50s and early 60s, he accurately predicted the path and outcome of US involvement in Vietnam. I'd recommend finding/reading a number of interviews of and articles by Chomsky - over a range of decades - to see how truly observant and astute are his understanding of linguistics, politics, and social structures.

    What he believes/proposes is difficult to place into context given our current political/economic structures. A true democracy requires huge participation by the individual - something 99.999999% of us don't do. Hence we elect about 535 people in the US to govern over 300,000,000 people. That means less than 0.00000185% of the population controls the rest of us. I guess I missed a couple decimal points above..... And taking it a bit further, there are those who want to whittle it down to the Constitution, and then the 5 main writers govern 300,000,000 (0.00000001666...%):
    "On July 24,1787, a committee of five — John Rutledge (South Carolina), Edmund Randolph (Virginia), Nathaniel Gorham (Massachusetts), Oliver Ellsworth (Connecticut), and James Wilson (Pennsylvania) — was elected to draft a detailed constitution. The Convention recessed from July 26 to August 6 to await the report of this "Committee of Detail". Overall, the report of the committee conformed to the resolutions adopted by the Convention, adding some elements."

    Aldous Huxley said it right - paraphrasing here - as long as governing bodies/individuals provide 3 main things to its population (employment/income, sense of safety, and just enough free time for the citizenry to feel like they can indulge in some of their favourite pastimes), then the governing can do whatever they want. When the governing's actions begin to threaten any of the 3, and the population begins to become unsettled/unhappy, government officials should realize/know they have gone too far and need to adjust their policies.

    Let's admit it, it would be difficult to be democratically active in your community (at all levels) and still take care of your personal daily needs. Hence we transfer all our personal democratic duties to a few elected people so we can 'go about our daily lives'. Then we bitch about how those few elected people handle the responsibility we gave them. Isn't there something missing in that - like owning our personal decision/responsibility in handing over the governing duties to the elected few? We've made the decision to not be actively engaged in our community (local to nation-wide).
  • wild_sky360

    Posts: 1492

    Feb 20, 2016 11:59 PM GMT
    S2Ki saidChomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist

    Are you suggesting the US hasn't at least had a hand in many of them. He deals in meticulously documented facts. I suppose it is up to individuals, like always, in how to interpret them, or how to avert their eyes and ears.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 14350

    Feb 21, 2016 12:10 AM GMT
    CrabNebula saidFor an 'unkempt shyster', it's rather ironic, then, that when interviewed in the late 50s and early 60s, he accurately predicted the path and outcome of US involvement in Vietnam. I'd recommend finding/reading a number of interviews of and articles by Chomsky - over a range of decades - to see how truly observant and astute are his understanding of linguistics, politics, and social structures.

    What he believes/proposes is difficult to place into context given our current political/economic structures. A true democracy requires huge participation by the individual - something 99.999999% of us don't do. Hence we elect about 535 people in the US to govern over 300,000,000 people. That means less than 0.00000185% of the population controls the rest of us. I guess I missed a couple decimal points above..... And taking it a bit further, there are those who want to whittle it down to the Constitution, and then the 5 main writers govern 300,000,000 (0.00000001666...%):
    "On July 24,1787, a committee of five — John Rutledge (South Carolina), Edmund Randolph (Virginia), Nathaniel Gorham (Massachusetts), Oliver Ellsworth (Connecticut), and James Wilson (Pennsylvania) — was elected to draft a detailed constitution. The Convention recessed from July 26 to August 6 to await the report of this "Committee of Detail". Overall, the report of the committee conformed to the resolutions adopted by the Convention, adding some elements."

    Aldous Huxley said it right - paraphrasing here - as long as governing bodies/individuals provide 3 main things to its population (employment/income, sense of safety, and just enough free time for the citizenry to feel like they can indulge in some of their favourite pastimes), then the governing can do whatever they want. When the governing's actions begin to threaten any of the 3, and the population begins to become unsettled/unhappy, government officials should realize/know they have gone too far and need to adjust their policies.

    Let's admit it, it would be difficult to be democratically active in your community (at all levels) and still take care of your personal daily needs. Hence we transfer all our personal democratic duties to a few elected people so we can 'go about our daily lives'. Then we bitch about how those few elected people handle the responsibility we gave them. Isn't there something missing in that - like owning our personal decision/responsibility in handing over the governing duties to the elected few? We've made the decision to not be actively engaged in our community (local to nation-wide).
    Exactly.
    +2,000,000
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    Feb 21, 2016 2:02 AM GMT
    CrabNebula saidFor an 'unkempt shyster', it's rather ironic, then, that when interviewed in the late 50s and early 60s, he accurately predicted the path and outcome of US involvement in Vietnam. I'd recommend finding/reading a number of interviews of and articles by Chomsky - over a range of decades - to see how truly observant and astute are his understanding of linguistics, politics, and social structures.

    What he believes/proposes is difficult to place into context given our current political/economic structures. A true democracy requires huge participation by the individual - something 99.999999% of us don't do. Hence we elect about 535 people in the US to govern over 300,000,000 people. That means less than 0.00000185% of the population controls the rest of us. I guess I missed a couple decimal points above..... And taking it a bit further, there are those who want to whittle it down to the Constitution, and then the 5 main writers govern 300,000,000 (0.00000001666...%):
    "On July 24,1787, a committee of five — John Rutledge (South Carolina), Edmund Randolph (Virginia), Nathaniel Gorham (Massachusetts), Oliver Ellsworth (Connecticut), and James Wilson (Pennsylvania) — was elected to draft a detailed constitution. The Convention recessed from July 26 to August 6 to await the report of this "Committee of Detail". Overall, the report of the committee conformed to the resolutions adopted by the Convention, adding some elements."

    Aldous Huxley said it right - paraphrasing here - as long as governing bodies/individuals provide 3 main things to its population (employment/income, sense of safety, and just enough free time for the citizenry to feel like they can indulge in some of their favourite pastimes), then the governing can do whatever they want. When the governing's actions begin to threaten any of the 3, and the population begins to become unsettled/unhappy, government officials should realize/know they have gone too far and need to adjust their policies.

    Let's admit it, it would be difficult to be democratically active in your community (at all levels) and still take care of your personal daily needs. Hence we transfer all our personal democratic duties to a few elected people so we can 'go about our daily lives'. Then we bitch about how those few elected people handle the responsibility we gave them. Isn't there something missing in that - like owning our personal decision/responsibility in handing over the governing duties to the elected few? We've made the decision to not be actively engaged in our community (local to nation-wide).


    If our "elected officials" are so bad, the why not lower the amount of money we send them, then enact a balanced budget ammendment, and make them accountable for what they do spend?

    This is far more practical and doable. But the unkempt shyster advocates dramatically higher taxes....probably because he takes in too much money being an armchair critic for a bunch of disaffected socialist losers.
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    Feb 21, 2016 2:09 AM GMT
    wild_sky360 said
    S2Ki saidChomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist

    Are you suggesting the US hasn't at least had a hand in many of them. He deals in meticulously documented facts. I suppose it is up to individuals, like always, in how to interpret them, or how to avert their eyes and ears.


    See my response above. If you are concerned about the many unseemly things done by our govt. maybe you need to vote for whomever lowers taxes and shrinks the size of govt. the most.
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    Feb 21, 2016 4:30 PM GMT
    S2Ki
    "If our "elected officials" are so bad, the why not lower the amount of money we send them, then enact a balanced budget ammendment, and make them accountable for what they do spend?

    This is far more practical and doable. But the unkempt shyster advocates dramatically higher taxes....probably because he takes in too much money being an armchair critic for a bunch of disaffected socialist losers.
    "

    Obviously, you don't like his proposals. But yet in your 'criticism' you fail to give a solid fact which points to his being a 'shyster'.

    From Merriam-Webster:

    Full Definition of shyster
    : a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics
    :

    So Chomsky has laid out his ideas and held to them over the decades. I think that would be called honest and above board. Whereas we have a Congress which keeps clamoring for 'balanced budgets' and 'paying down the national debt', but yet each year they do the opposite. I think you have the term 'shyster' applied to the wrong person.


    Let's look objectively at the current trend in US politics. The GOP control the House and Senate, and have done so for a majority of the past 15 years. Many of their new members ran on the very topics you say need to be addressed. Yet, here we are in 2016 with the same policies and budget process/problems they all claimed they were going to fix. Seems to me it's obvious the 'conservative' GOP is nothing but a tax and spend group, too. They just tax and spend in different ways and with different priorities than Dems. But they yield the exact same outcome - debt, decaying infrastructure, a larger police state, fewer civil liberties, less investment on basic research and development.

    Do you really think Donny Trump, Teddy Cruz, or Marka Rubia are going to change anything? Trump used public funds to float his 3 bankruptcies (who picks up the tab when someone doesn't pay their debt?) - hardly a guy who believes in having to face the consequences of your own business decisions. Ted and Marco have no track record of balancing budgets, and by their own actions don't believe in them. How many pork products have they put their name to in the federal budget? And the latter 2 claim to be all against welfare, except when it comes to their own. Let's see - a one-time stint at a 6 year job where you work 100 days a year (at most), are not held accountable if you miss a day (and some votes), get a supporting staff, have your own private health club, are guaranteed retirement and lifetime medical (and not just a basic catastrophic plan). How many private employers have offered you that? The biggest welfare moms and dads in the US are our representatives and senators. There is nothing urging them to change the status quo which so readily lines their pockets.

    And now business economics 101 - if things cost more due to inflation, how can we (as a nation) pay less in taxes and expect any part of our governmental structure to function? Just think of only one tiny part of our government's responsibilities - the interstate infrastructure. If we pay less in gas taxes, how can we maintain, improve, let alone expand it, as needed? Why is it that America is one of the few industrialized countries without a bullet train (or any of the associated technology? Why is America one of the worst developed countries for Internet connectivity (31 out of 33, the last comparison I saw)? Why do we pay some of the highest rates for that shitty connectivity?
  • wild_sky360

    Posts: 1492

    Feb 21, 2016 7:16 PM GMT
    S2Ki said
    wild_sky360 said
    S2Ki saidChomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist

    Are you suggesting the US hasn't at least had a hand in many of them. He deals in meticulously documented facts. I suppose it is up to individuals, like always, in how to interpret them, or how to avert their eyes and ears.


    See my response above. If you are concerned about the many unseemly things done by our govt. maybe you need to vote for whomever lowers taxes and shrinks the size of govt. the most.


    Rand and Ron Paul were the only candidates I COMPLETELY supported.
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    Feb 21, 2016 8:21 PM GMT
    CrabNebula saidS2Ki
    "If our "elected officials" are so bad, the why not lower the amount of money we send them, then enact a balanced budget ammendment, and make them accountable for what they do spend?

    This is far more practical and doable. But the unkempt shyster advocates dramatically higher taxes....probably because he takes in too much money being an armchair critic for a bunch of disaffected socialist losers.
    "

    Obviously, you don't like his proposals. But yet in your 'criticism' you fail to give a solid fact which points to his being a 'shyster'.

    From Merriam-Webster:

    Full Definition of shyster
    : a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics
    :

    So Chomsky has laid out his ideas and held to them over the decades. I think that would be called honest and above board. Whereas we have a Congress which keeps clamoring for 'balanced budgets' and 'paying down the national debt', but yet each year they do the opposite. I think you have the term 'shyster' applied to the wrong person.


    Let's look objectively at the current trend in US politics. The GOP control the House and Senate, and have done so for a majority of the past 15 years. Many of their new members ran on the very topics you say need to be addressed. Yet, here we are in 2016 with the same policies and budget process/problems they all claimed they were going to fix. Seems to me it's obvious the 'conservative' GOP is nothing but a tax and spend group, too. They just tax and spend in different ways and with different priorities than Dems. But they yield the exact same outcome - debt, decaying infrastructure, a larger police state, fewer civil liberties, less investment on basic research and development.

    Do you really think Donny Trump, Teddy Cruz, or Marka Rubia are going to change anything? Trump used public funds to float his 3 bankruptcies (who picks up the tab when someone doesn't pay their debt?) - hardly a guy who believes in having to face the consequences of your own business decisions. Ted and Marco have no track record of balancing budgets, and by their own actions don't believe in them. How many pork products have they put their name to in the federal budget? And the latter 2 claim to be all against welfare, except when it comes to their own. Let's see - a one-time stint at a 6 year job where you work 100 days a year (at most), are not held accountable if you miss a day (and some votes), get a supporting staff, have your own private health club, are guaranteed retirement and lifetime medical (and not just a basic catastrophic plan). How many private employers have offered you that? The biggest welfare moms and dads in the US are our representatives and senators. There is nothing urging them to change the status quo which so readily lines their pockets.

    And now business economics 101 - if things cost more due to inflation, how can we (as a nation) pay less in taxes and expect any part of our governmental structure to function? Just think of only one tiny part of our government's responsibilities - the interstate infrastructure. If we pay less in gas taxes, how can we maintain, improve, let alone expand it, as needed? Why is it that America is one of the few industrialized countries without a bullet train (or any of the associated technology? Why is America one of the worst developed countries for Internet connectivity (31 out of 33, the last comparison I saw)? Why do we pay some of the highest rates for that shitty connectivity?


    Bankruptcy is a legitimate and common financial tool. Business involves risk, and investors understand bankruptcy as a possibility. Your ignorance of this shows you know little about business and free markets.

    Read "The Road to Serfdom" if you want to understand why our internet sucks, there is no bullet train, etc. Hint: If these are such problems, where are the entrepreneurs who could solve them? Answer: Government regulation scared them away.

    I agree that the public should be wiser and more educated about political reality. But Chomsky? Sorry, he's like a Televangelist for socialists, selling drivel to bitter losers and gullible college students. It's certainly your right to buy it and believe it.





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    Feb 21, 2016 8:28 PM GMT
    wild_sky360 said
    S2Ki said
    wild_sky360 said
    S2Ki saidChomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist

    Are you suggesting the US hasn't at least had a hand in many of them. He deals in meticulously documented facts. I suppose it is up to individuals, like always, in how to interpret them, or how to avert their eyes and ears.


    See my response above. If you are concerned about the many unseemly things done by our govt. maybe you need to vote for whomever lowers taxes and shrinks the size of govt. the most.


    Rand and Ron Paul were the only candidates I COMPLETELY supported.


    I have respect and agree with many things Rand and Ron Paul say, and believe their viewpoints should have a louder voice in public policy. Trump is now the only other candidate who opposed going into Iraq at the time.
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    Feb 22, 2016 4:41 PM GMT
    On bankruptcy - Donny can claim bankruptcy at least 3 times and remain a billionaire. If you or I as a private citizen declare bankruptcy, we lose everything. Since the 2 bankruptcies are treated differently, I don't think you can say there is anything even closely relating to 'free market'. And you never offered to explain who in your 'free market' covers the loss in Donny's bankruptcy. Maybe his investors? I doubt it. In our current set of financial regulations (hence you can not claim we have a 'free market') all the losses are basically carried by the tax payer. Think of the 2008 financial bailout. Or the dot.com bust of 2001, or all the savings and loans busts of the later 1900s.

    Name a major corporation that hasn't either gotten its start on the back of taxpayers (via the taxpayer funded R&D of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. or military contracts) or doesn't receive a large portion of its current revenue via government contracts (you know, those kind where they over bill the taxpayer for toilet seats and tools, or can't quite deliver by the contract deadline, or aren't responsible for improperly installing water systems and soldiers then get electrocuted using them, etc.).

    The farce is to say or believe we use a 'free market' or 'capitalism'. At best we have a corporate welfare state. Remember we still have the Import/Export Bank - we send our money to another country to then use it to buy products from American corporations. That's pretty neat slight of hand to just write a cheque from the taxpayer to the corporation - but of course you can't be so blunt, and if you did do it directly to the corporation, how would the middle man make his cut?

    In a truly 'free market' system, Donny would probably be living in a claptrap house by the railroad. After his first bankruptcy, no one would want to do business with him after they had truly lost their money. In the current system, he doesn't lose his wealth, and the same players jump in bed with him because they know they won't lose a dime either. Someone else is covering all that red ink.

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    Feb 22, 2016 5:36 PM GMT
    CrabNebula saidOn bankruptcy ...

    Some reading for you:
    The Differences Between Personal and Corporate Bankruptcy
    http://www.thebankruptcysite.org/resources/bankruptcy/filing-bankruptcy/the-differences-between-personal-corporate-bankruptcy

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/31/news/companies/donald-trump-bankruptcy/
    Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy. But he has filed four business bankruptcies, which Bankruptcy.com says makes Trump the top filer in recent decades. All of them were centered around casinos he used to own in Atlantic City. They were all Chapter 11 restructurings, which lets a company stay in business while shedding debt it owes to banks, employees and suppliers.
  • blueandgold

    Posts: 396

    Feb 23, 2016 3:41 PM GMT
    S2Ki saidChomsky is a pseudo intellectual....an unkempt shyster, who's made millions off every crackpot liberal theory to blame America for every worldwide atrocity. Liberal lemmings spend millions on his books and lectures....so Chomsky at least only fleeces the chumps who hate America, while never being taken seriously by anybody else.


    http://www.hoover.org/research/noam-chomsky-closet-capitalist


    Psuedo intellectual? You can't do a passing glance at the field of linguistics without tripping over his name a dozen times. He invented the concepts of generative and universal grammar. The concepts he pioneered - whether you agree with them are not - are wrestled with by every major researcher in the field!

    What does one need to do in order to be a real intellectual, in your viewpoint?
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    Feb 23, 2016 3:53 PM GMT
    He is amazing, along with the likes of Arundhati Roy. They are brilliant.

    It reminded me of an essay I read by Arundhati Roy titled " The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky"

    Here is the essay (mind you it was written in 2003 during Bush reign)

    "I will never apologise for the United States of America — I don't care what the facts are."
    President George Bush Sr.
    Sitting in my home in New Delhi, watching an American TV news channel promote itself ("We report. You decide."), I imagine Noam Chomsky's amused, chipped-tooth smile.
    Everybody knows that authoritarian regimes, regardless of their ideology, use the mass media for propaganda. But what about democratically elected regimes in the "free world"?
    Today, thanks to Noam Chomsky and his fellow media analysts, it is almost axiomatic for thousands, possibly millions, of us that public opinion in "free market" democracies is manufactured just like any other mass market product — soap, switches, or sliced bread. We know that while, legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders. Neoliberal capitalism isn't just about the accumulation of capital (for some). It's also about the accumulation of power (for some), the accumulation of freedom (for some). Conversely, for the rest of the world, the people who are excluded from neoliberalism's governing body, it's about the erosion of capital, the erosion of power, the erosion of freedom. In the "free" market, free speech has become a commodity like everything else — justice, human rights, drinking water, clean air. It's available only to those who can afford it. And naturally, those who can afford it use free speech to manufacture the kind of product, confect the kind of public opinion, that best suits their purpose. (News they can use.) Exactly how they do this has been the subject of much of Noam Chomsky's political writing.
    Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, for instance, has a controlling interest in major Italian newspapers, magazines, television channels, and publishing houses. "[T]he prime minister in effect controls about 90 per cent of Italian TV viewership," reports the Financial Times. What price free speech? Free speech for whom? Admittedly, Berlusconi is an extreme example. In other democracies — the United States in particular — media barons, powerful corporate lobbies, and government officials are imbricated in a more elaborate, but less obvious, manner. (George Bush Jr.'s connections to the oil lobby, to the arms industry, and to Enron, and Enron's infiltration of U.S. government institutions and the mass media — all this is public knowledge now.)
    After the September 11, 2001, terrorist strikes in New York and Washington, the mainstream media's blatant performance as the U.S. government's mouthpiece, its display of vengeful patriotism, its willingness to publish Pentagon press handouts as news, and its explicit censorship of dissenting opinion became the butt of some pretty black humour in the rest of the world.
    Then the New York Stock Exchange crashed, bankrupt airline companies appealed to the government for financial bailouts, and there was talk of circumventing patent laws in order to manufacture generic drugs to fight the anthrax scare (much more important, and urgent of course, than the production of generics to fight AIDS in Africa). Suddenly, it began to seem as though the twin myths of Free Speech and the Free Market might come crashing down alongside the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
    But of course that never happened. The myths live on.
    There is however, a brighter side to the amount of energy and money that the establishment pours into the business of "managing" public opinion. It suggests a very real fear of public opinion. It suggests a persistent and valid worry that if people were to discover (and fully comprehend) the real nature of the things that are done in their name, they might act upon that knowledge. Powerful people know that ordinary people are not always reflexively ruthless and selfish. (When ordinary people weigh costs and benefits, something like an uneasy conscience could easily tip the scales.) For this reason, they must be guarded against reality, reared in a controlled climate, in an altered reality, like broiler chickens or pigs in a pen.
    Those of us who have managed to escape this fate and are scratching about in the backyard, no longer believe everything we read in the papers and watch on TV. We put our ears to the ground and look for other ways of making sense of the world. We search for the untold story, the mentioned-in-passing military coup, the unreported genocide, the civil war in an African country written up in a one-column-inch story next to a full-page advertisement for lace underwear.
    We don't always remember, and many don't even know, that this way of thinking, this easy acuity, this instinctive mistrust of the mass media, would at best be a political hunch and at worst a loose accusation, if it were not for the relentless and unswerving media analysis of one of the world's greatest minds. And this is only one of the ways in which Noam Chomsky has radically altered our understanding of the society in which we live. Or should I say, our understanding of the elaborate rules of the lunatic asylum in which we are all voluntary inmates?
    Speaking about the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, President George W. Bush called the enemies of the United States "enemies of freedom". "Americans are asking why do they hate us?" he said. "They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
    If people in the United States want a real answer to that question (as opposed to the ones in the Idiot's Guide to Anti-Americanism , that is: "Because they're jealous of us," "Because they hate freedom," "Because they're losers," "Because we're good and they're evil"), I'd say, read Chomsky. Read Chomsky on U.S. military interventions in Indochina, Latin America, Iraq, Bosnia, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. If ordinary people in the United States read Chomsky, perhaps their questions would be framed a little differently. Perhaps it would be: "Why don't they hate us more than they do?" or "Isn't it surprising that September 11 didn't happen earlier?"
    Unfortunately, in these nationalistic times, words like "us" and "them" are used loosely. The line between citizens and the state is being deliberately and successfully blurred, not just by governments, but also by terrorists. The underlying logic of terrorist attacks, as well as "retaliatory" wars against governments that "support terrorism", is the same: both punish citizens for the actions of their governments.
    (A brief digression: I realize that for Noam Chomsky, a U.S. citizen, to criticize his own government is better manners than for someone like myself, an Indian citizen, to criticize the U.S. government. I'm no patriot, and am fully aware that venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the leaden soul of every state. But when a country ceases to be merely a country and becomes an empire, then the scale of operations changes dramatically. So may I clarify that I speak as a subject of the U.S. empire? I speak as a slave who presumes to criticize her king.)
    If I were asked to choose one of Noam Chomsky's major contributions to the world, it would be the fact that he has unmasked the ugly, manipulative, ruthless universe that exists behind that beautiful, sunny word "freedom". He has done this rationally and empirically. The mass of evidence he has marshaled to construct his case is formidable. Terrifying, actually. The starting premise of Chomsky's method is not ideological, but it is intensely political. He embarks on his course of inquiry with an anarchist's instinctive mistrust of power. He takes us on a t