Noam Chomsky: Anarchist

Noam Chomsky is an enigma.

The New York Times has called him “America’s greatest intellectual.”  That’s ironic, considering he has called the New York Times part of “the elite media, the agenda-setting ones,” whose real goal is to divert the public away from real issues and serve the interests of the power systems that own them.  Besides, to Chomsky, “liberal intellectuals” are  “the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice… they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”

Noam Chomsky then represents some different kind of intellectual, a conscientious kind who calls things like he sees them, regardless of what his colleagues might think.  For fifty years he has relentlessly gone after American imperialism and dogmatic foreign policy, while attacking the media as being a giant propaganda machine in books like his Manufacturing Consent. As a result, the world-renowned linguistics professor from MIT and foreign policy expert rarely gets “ink” from mainstream media; “Chomskyans” tend to be found online at sites with names like “guerillaunderground.org”  and “countercurrents.org.”

One of the most fascinating aspects of Chomsky’s political views is his belief in anarchism, which Chomsky says is probably not well-known because “little is known about (his) views on anything.” In a 1995 interview, Chomsky defined the point of anarchism as, “to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom…”

To hear Chomsky tell it in his singular, sensible way, anarchism does not sound like the thing to be feared that some would have us believe. Indeed, he said that the misrepresentation that has surrounded the theory of anarchism has been promulgated by the ones who have a vested interest in preventing public understanding on anarchy.  Instead of being chaos, true anarchy would mean “a highly organised society, integrating many different kinds of structures, but controlled by participants, not by those in a position to give orders…”

In today’s climate of Tea Parties and heightened distrust of government, Chomsky seems like the ideal candidate to lead a revolution of political thought and address the disenfranchisement many Americans feel.  For his part, Chomsky was recently quoted as saying the United States is lucky no truly charismatic yet honest leader has come along to capitalize on “the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger” that exists in America today, the likes of which he has never seen.

“The mood of the country is frightening,” he said. “The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.” He said people like Joe Stack are asking, “What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing.”

As more and more Joe Stacks crop up, the public may become more inclined to give ear to philosophers like Chomsky who propose a new way of governing, however much the liberal intellectuals and media elite might like to keep such ideas under wraps.

Chomsky says, “More than ever, libertarian socialist ideas are relevant, and the population is very much open to them. Despite a huge mass of corporate propaganda, outside of educated circles, people still maintain pretty much their traditional attitudes… Intellectuals may tell a different story, but it’s not all that difficult to find out the facts.”

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One thought on “Noam Chomsky: Anarchist

  1. The ten most important ways of manipulating the public, as catalogued by Noam Chomsky

    Noam Chomsky, a fearless critic of the wealthy elite that governs the United States, has compiled a list of the ten most common strategies for using the media to manipulate the people of America.

    In the past our communications media have created or destroyed social movements, justified wars, tempered financial crises, and encouraged or destroyed some other ideological currents.

    Chomsky has compiled a list of the ten most important tools for manipulating our media. Basically, they encourage stupidity, promote a sense of guilt, create distractions, or construct artificial problems and then magically solve them. Here are the ten most important techniques:

    (1) The strategy of distraction:

    The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction diverting public attention from important issues and changes controlled by our political and economic elites using the techniques of overwhelming the public with continuous distractions and insignificant information.

    Distraction strategy is also essential to kill off public interest in the essential knowledge of science, economics, psychology, neurobiology, and cybernetics.

    This technique also diverts public attention away from the real social problems by emphasizing matters of no real importance. The idea is to keep the public very busy, with no time to think about the most important principles and the core facts behind our social problems.

    (2) The creation of problems, followed by the offer of solutions:

    This method essentially emphasizes symptons while hiding underlying causes. For example, it emphasizes urban violence or the details of bloody attacks without investigating the causes of these problems. It also creates and manipulates crises that involve economics or violence to encourage the public to accept as a necessary evil the reduction of social rights or the dismantling of public services.

    (3) The gradual strategy:

    This basically involves gradually implementing destructive social policies which would be unacceptable if imposed suddenly on the public. That is how the the radical right’s new socioeconomic conditions were imposed during the 1980s and 1990s. They include the minimal state, privatization, precariousness, flexibility, massive unemployment, reductions in the purchasing power of wages and guarantees of a decent income. All these changes would provoke a generalized revolt if they had been applied all at once.

    (4) The strategy of deferring:

    Another way gain public acceptance of unpopular decisions is to present them as “painful but necessary” to gain public acceptance for their future application. This is similar to the gradual strategy. It is easier to accept future sacrifices instead of immediate slaughter–first, because the effect is not felt right away.

    Later on, the public is encouraged to believe that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that future sacrifice will be unnecessary. This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of changes to their disadvantage and and their acceptance of them with resignation when the time comes. This strategy was very popular in the Soviet Union in its five-year plans, for example.

    (5) Treating the public like little children:

    A lot of advertising and propaganda uses childlike speech and children’s intonation, as if the viewer or listener were a little child or mentally deficient. The principle is that if people are treated as if they are twelve years old or younger, they tend to react without a critical sense the way children do.

    (6) The encouragement of emotional responses over reflective ones:

    This is a classical technique for short-circuiting rational analysis and encouraging critical reflection. It also opens the door to the unconscious for implanting ideas, desires, fears, anxieties , compulsions and desired irrational behavior.

    (7) Bombarding the public with trivia to keep them ignorant:

    It is important to make people incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to enslave them. The quality of education given to the lower social classes is deliberately kept as poor and mediocre as possible so that they can be manipulated like sheep.

    (8) Encouraging the public to be happy with mediocrity:

    This involves encouraging the public to believe that it is is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated while encouraging everyone to believe that these characteristics are the essence of the wisdom of the ages.

    (9) Encouraging guilt and self blame:

    This is an exceptionally perverse strategy. It involves constantly scolding people for their own misfortune because of the failure of their intelligence, their abilities, or their efforts so that they will not examine the structural defects of a social and economic system that enslaves them.

    One of the most perverse controlling myths of American society is that if you work conscientiously and long enough, then you will be successful and grow rich. This does happen occasionally to some people, and their success is widely publicized in the media. The few times that this happens, all of us are constantly reminded that if these people can do this, then we can too.

    Of course, if you work hard and don’t grow rich, then the problem, of course, is that you didn’t work hard enough or weren’t smart enough and ended up a loser. So no matter what happens to you, the myth remains intact, and America remains a land of opportunity and the best country in the world.

    (10) Getting to know individual people better than they know themselves:

    Over the past fifty years, scientific advances have generated a growing gap between public what the public knows and the knowledge of dominant elites. Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has gained a sophisticated understanding the physical and psychololgical nature of people. This knowledge is cynically used to manipulate the public as if they were sheep.

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