“We’re supposed to believe that the US would’ve invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main exports were pickles and lettuce. This is what we’re supposed to believe. Now the truth of the matter, obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, is that Iraq has huge oil resources, maybe the second in the world, mostly untapped, that it’s right in the middle of the main energy-producing region of the world and that taking control of Iraq will strengthen enormously the US’s control over the major energy resources of the world. It will, in fact, give the US critical leverage over its competitors, Europe and Asia, that’s Zbigniew Brzezsinski’s [President Carter’s national Security Adviser] accurate observation. That’s the reason. Now suppose that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic, what would happen? Just think of the policies they would undertake. I mean, we can run through them, it would be a nightmare for the US.”—Noam Chomsky
“Most intellectuals are servants of power and counsel governments. They call themselves experts; they have sought prestige for centuries, not only today. However every society has critical intellectuals at its edges. Both types have influence: the servants of power and the dissidents.”—Noam Chomsky
“So maybe it’s a corporation or private business or something. First of all, internally, it’s essentially a totalitarian institution, almost necessarily. There’s a group at the top, maybe a person or a group, they make the decisions, they give orders, people down the hierarchy get the orders and transmit them. At the very bottom you get people who are permitted to rent themselves to survive, that’s called a job. Wage labor. And you get the outside community who’s allowed to purchase what you produce and of course they’re very heavily propagandized to make them want to consume it even if they don’t. So, that’s the nature of the system.
It’s kind of about as close to totalitarianism as you can imagine.”—Noam Chomsky
“You have to remember that stability is a cold code word. Stability doesn’t mean stability; it means obedience to US domination. So let’s go back to Kissinger again. He was the primary agent in, among other things, undermining the democratic regime in Chile. He later commented that “The US had to destabilize Chile in order to establish stability.” If you understand the terminology, that is not a contradiction. It means the US had to undermine, through Kissinger initiative, the parliamentary government in order to institute an obedient dictatorship and that is what he manes by stability. He doesn’t mean that things are calm and straightforward, he means they are under control. That of course it is inconsistent with democracy for the reasons I mentioned before. Just look at the studies of the public opinion.”—Noam Chomsky
“(The United States doesn’t) want democracy here, why would they want it in the Middle East? In fact, what’s going on in — you mentioned Wisconsin and that’s quite appropriate. The last thirty years have been a major assault against democracy here, and the governor of Wisconsin is trying to carry it forward. Finally there’s some resistance, but plainly elites here don’t want democracy. And why should they? Democracy is always harmful to elite interests. Almost by definition.”—Noam Chomsky
“So take the financial crisis. One of the reasons for it is that – there are several, but one is – say if Goldman Sachs makes a risky transaction, they – if they’re paying attention – cover their own potential losses. They do not take into account what’s called systemic risk, that is, the possibility that the whole system will crash if one of their risky transactions goes bad. That just about happened with AIG, the huge insurance company. They were involved in risky transactions which they couldn’t cover. The whole system was really going to collapse, but of course state power intervened to rescue them. The task of the state is to rescue the rich and the powerful and to protect them, and if that violates market principles, okay, we don’t care about market principles. The market principles are essentially for the poor.”—
“We’ve got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like ‘Support our troops.’ You’ve got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they’re properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they’re not competent to think. Therefore it’s important to distract them and marginalize them.”—Noam Chomsky - Media Control
When a language disappears, a lot is lost.A language is a repository of cultural wealth. Each language is a way of understanding and interpreting the world.
It carries the wealth of tradition in history, oral history, which can be extremely rich. Take the Bible, for example. For thousands years, that was oral history, before anything was written down. Homer is oral history.
And that’s all over the world. And we’re losing those treasures every time a language disappears.
And for the people themselves, they’re losing their identity. If English disappeared, we would lose our cultural identity, and the same is true if it’s a small group somewhere.
“But this use of Smith to justify free market economics is just another distortion. Adam Smith would have hated the capitalism we see today. Smith is explicit about it. He was not in favor of free, unbridled, markets. Today he would be called a libertarian socialist. He understood, and stated it clearly in The Wealth of Nations. He argues that England could be “saved” from a form of neoliberal globalization by an “invisible hand.” There needs to be control — or intervention. Daniel Defoe, argued something pretty similar in the eighteenth century.”—Noam Chomsky
It is quite striking that propaganda is most developed and sophisticated in the more free societies. The public relations industry, which is the advertising industry is mostly propaganda, a lot of it is commercial propaganda but also thought control.
That developed in Britain and the US – two of the freest societies. And for a good reason. It was understood roughly a century ago that people have won enough freedom so you just can’t control them by force.
Therefore you have to control beliefs and attitudes, it’s the next best thing. It has always been done, but it took a leap forward about a century ago with the development of these huge industries devoted to, as their leaders put it, to the engineering of content. If you read the founding documents of the PR industry, they say: ‘We have to make sure that the general public are incompetent, they are like children, if you let them run their own affairs they will get into all kind of trouble.
The world has to be run by the intelligent minority, and that’s us, therefore we have to regiment their minds, the way the army regiments its soldiers, for their own good.
“U.S. elections are run by marketing professionals, the same people who sell toothpaste and cars. They don’t believe in actual free markets or the nonsense taught in school about informed consumer choice. If they did, GM ads would say, “Here are the
models we are putting out next year. Here are their characteristics.” But they don’t do that, because their model is the same as the next company’s model. So what they do is show you an actress or a football player or a car going up a sheer cliff. They try to create an image that will trick you into buying their product.”—Noam Chomsky
The gross and ever-increasing degree of economic inequality in the United States has become a phenomenon that even the country’s elites can no longer ignore since the explosive publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.
“Right before the election there were extensive studies released about voters’ attitudes and intent. It turns out that only about 10 percent of them were voting for what the studies’ designers called “agenda, policies, programs, and ideas.” The rest were
voting for imagery.”—Noam Chomsky
“Privatization has other benefits. If working people depend on the stock market for their pensions, health care, and other means of survival, they have a stake in undermining their own interests: opposing wage increases, health and safety regulations, and other measures that might cut into profits that flow to the benefactors on whom they must rely, in a manner reminiscent of feudalism..”—Hegemony or Survival - Noam Chomsky
“Those who are seriously interested in understanding the world will adopt the same standards whether they are evaluating their own political and intellectual elites or those of official enemies.”—Hegemony or Survival - Noam Chomsky
“The target of preventive war must have several characteristics:
1. It must be virtually defenseless.
2. It must be important enough to be worth the trouble.
3. There must be a way to portray it as the ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our survival.”—Hegemony or Survival - Noam Chomsky
Lets just start by asking the simple question. What are the major media? The television channels, the cable channels, the big newspapers and so on. The answer is very simple.
They are big corporations. Some of them are huge corporations
which are integrated into bigger conglomerates. Like all other
corporations, they have a product which they sell to the market. Well, what’s the market?
The market are advertisers. Media are not funded by people, they are funded by advertisers. Ok, for newspapers you might pay 50 cents, but that is not enough to keep them going.
It’s the advertisers that keep them going. So basically what you have is big corporations selling the product to other big corporations, and the product is audience.
“The problem isn’t “governments,” at least in the West. They are not much involved in doctrinal management (though there are exceptions, like Woodrow Wilson and the Reaganites, both of whom ran huge state propaganda systems - illegal in the latter case; there were no relevant laws in the Wilson era). Doctrinal management is overwhelmingly the task of corporate propaganda, which is extraordinary in scale and very significant in impact; and [it is also] the task of the general intellectual community, including the acceptable dissidents who perform a very important service by setting the bounds of discussion and thus entrenching the unspoken presuppositions of the doctrinal system. Governments are marginal, outside of totalitarian states, though attention is always focused on them, to direct it away from what matters.”—Noam Chomsky (via indizombie)
“The large part of the media is diversion. Also, there is isolation.
You wanna make sure everybody is alone. Each person is
sitting alone in front of the tube. You don’t support one another. You don’t have any organizations where you can get together and try to work things out.”—Noam Chomsky
What is called foreign aid is, in fact, mostly export promotion. In fact, the aid does not go primarily the poor and needy in the countries because they’re not good consumers. If you look at the way the aid works it is basically aid from the US taxpayer to US businesses, which enable the businesses to sell to the countries on money that the US taxpayer gives them. It’s very small amount I should say, but what there is turns out substantially to be export promotion. And in a realistic sense it doesn’t leave the country. It goes from one pocket into another pocket, from the pocket of tax payers into the pockets of the exporter. Now sometimes the population that receives it, has benefits, sometimes not, often it’s harmful to them, because of the way it is selected.
So for example, take the Food for peace, what could be more benign than that. Giving food to the third-world. Well, you know it’s not benign. I mean when you look at it, the effects are to undercut the native agriculture, to make people dependent on US agriculture businesses.
In fact it is designed for that purpose, it looks benign but it is hardly so you can see the way this work over decades.
“I personally did not change anything. I was part of a movement and this movement accomplished many things. The world today is fundamentally different from the world 45 years ago. The actions for civil rights, human rights, women’s rights and environmental protection, resistance against oppression and violence have substantially influenced the world.”—Noam Chomsky
“The general principles are clear and explicit: free markets are fine for the Third World and its growing counterpart at home. Mothers with dependent children can be sternly lectured on the need for self-reliance, but not dependent executives and investors, please. For them, the welfare state must flourish.”—Powers and Prospects - Noam Chomsky
It is also necessary to whip up the population in support of foreign adventures. Usually the population is pacifist, just like they were during the First World War. The public sees no reason to get involved in foreign adventures, killing, and torture. So you have to whip them up. And to whip them up you have to frighten them.
Bernays himself had an important achievement in this respect. he was the person who ran the public relations campaign for the United Fruit Company in 1954, when the U.S. moved in to overthrow the capitalist-democratic government of Guatemala and installed a murderous death-squad society, which remains that way to the present day with constant infusions of U.S. aid to prevent the democratic deviations that might take place there.
It’s necessary to constantly ram through domestic programs which the public is opposed to, because there is no reason for the public to be in favor of domestic programs that are harmful to them. This, too, takes extensive propaganda.
We’ve seen a lot of this in the last ten years. The Reagan programs were overwhelmingly unpopular. Even the people who voted for Reagan, by about three to two, hoped that his policies
would not be enacted. If you take particular programs, like armaments, cutting back on social spending, etc., almost every one of them was overwhelmingly opposed by the public.
But as long as people are marginalized and distracted and have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments, people who said that they prefer social spending to military spending, who gave that answer on polls, as people overwhelmingly did, assumed that they were the only people with that crazy idea in their heads. They never heard it from anywhere else.
Nobody’s supposed to think that. Therefore, if you do think it and you answer it in a poll, you just assume that you’re sort of weird. Since there’s no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help your articulate it, you feel like an oddity, and oddball. So you just stayon the side and you don’t pay any attention to what’s going on. You look at something else, like the Superbowl.
And there’s a logic behind it. There’s even a kind of compelling moral principle behind it. The compelling moral principle is that the mass of the public are just too stupid to be able to understand things. If they try to participate in managing their own affairs, they’re just going to cause trouble. Therefore, it would be immoral and improper to permit them to do this. We have to tame the bewildered herd, not allow the bewildered herd to rage and trample and destroy things. It’s pretty much the same logic that says that it would be improper to let a three-year-old run across the street. You don’t give a three-year-old that kind of freedom because the three-year-old doesn’t know how to handle that freedom. Correspondingly, you don’t allow the bewildered herd to become participants in action. They’ll just cause trouble. So we need something to tame the bewildered herd, and that something is this new revolution in the art of democracy: the manufacture of consent.
The media, the schools, and popular culture have to be divided. For the political class and the decision makers they have to provide them some tolerable sense of reality, although they also have to instill the proper beliefs. Just remember, there is an unstated premise here. The unstated premise —and even the responsible men have to disguise this from themselves—has to do with the question of how they get into the position where they have the authority to make decisions. The way they do that, of course, is by serving people with real power. The people with real power are the ones who own the society, which is a pretty narrow group. If the specialized class can come along and say, I can serve your interests, then they’ll be part of the executive group. You’ve got to keep that quiet. That means they have to have instilled in them the beliefs and doctrines that will serve the interests of private power. Unless they can master that skill, they’re not part of the specialized class.
So we have one kind of educational system directed to the responsible men, the specialized class. They have to be deeply indoctrinated in the values and interests of private power and the state-corporate nexus that represents it. If they can achieve that, then they can be part of the specialized class. The rest of the bewildered herd basically just have to be distracted. Turn their attention to something else. Keep them out of trouble. Make sure that they remain at most spectators of action, occasionally lending their weight to one or another of the real leaders, who they may select among. This point of view has been developed by lots of other people. In fact, it’s pretty conventional.
For example, the leading theologian and foreign policy critic Reinhold Niebuhr, sometimes called “the theologian of the establishment, ” the guru of George Kennan and the Kennedy intellectuals, put it that rationality is a very narrowly restricted skill. Only a small number of people have it. Most people are guided by just emotion and impulse. Those of us who have rationality have to create “necessary illusions” and emotionally potent “oversimpli-fications” to keep the naive simpletons more or less on course. This became a substantial part of contemporary political science. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Harold Lasswell, the founder of the modern field of communications and one of the leading American political scientists, explained that we should not succumb to “democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.” Because they’re not. We’re the best judges of the public interests.
Therefore, just out of ordinary morality, we have to make sure that they don’t have an opportunity to act on the basis of their misjudgments. In what is nowadays called a totalitarian state, or a military state, it’s easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, and if they get out of line you smash them over the head. But as society has become more free and democratic, you lose that capacity. Therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear. Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state. That’s wise and good because, again, the common interests elude the bewildered herd. They can’t figure them out.
“Humanitarian intervention is an orthodoxy and it’s taken for granted that if we [the U.S.] do it, it’s humanitarian. The reason is because our leaders say so. But you can check. For one thing, there’s a history of humanitarian intervention. You can look at it. And when you do, you discover that virtually every use of military force is described as humanitarian intervention. The major recent
academic study of humanitarian intervention is by Sean Murphy, Humanitarian Intervention: The UN in an Evolving World Order. He’s now an editor of the American Journal of International Law. He points out, correctly, that before the Second World War, there was the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 that outlawed war. Between the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the UN Charter in 1945, there were three major examples of humanitarian intervention. One was the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and north China. Another was Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, and a third was Hitler’s
takeover of the Sudetenland.”—Liberating the Mind from Orthodoxies - Noam Chomsky
“One major step towards barring the annoying public from serious affairs is to reduce elections to the choice of symbolic figures, like the flag, or the Queen of England — who, after all, opens Parliament by reading the government’s political program, though no one asks whether she believes it, or even understands it. If elections become a matter of selecting the Queen for the next four years, then we will have come a long way towards resolving the tension inherent in a free society in which power over investment and other crucial decisions — hence the political and ideological systems as well — is highly concentrated in private hands.”—Deterring Democracy - Noam Chomsky
“Social Security is based on the idea that you’re supposed to care what happens to people who are in need. So like if there’s a disabled widow across town and she doesn’t have food to eat, you’re supposed to care about it. That’s what Social Security is about. And that’s a bad idea. You’re supposed to look after yourself, not care about other people. Social Security is dangerous. It kind of undermines preferred doctrines and can even lead to action, which could change the way the world works. So we don’t want that. In fact there’s a large scale attack on public education that’s based on the same principle, if you can privatize… and the same techniques are being used. Defund it so it doesn’t work, complain about how it doesn’t work, privatize it, it gets worse. But then you’ve undermined social solidarity and it’s fine for the wealthy anyway. They’ll get what they want.”—