“The phrase the ‘discovery of America’ is obviously wrong. What they discovered was an America that had been discovered for thousands of years before by its inhabitants. Thus what took place was the invasion of America – an invasion by a very alien culture.”— Noam Chomsky (via selchieproductions)
“Remember that the media have two basic functions. One is to indoctrinate the elites, to make sure they have the right ideas and know how to serve power. In fact, typically the elites are the most indoctrinated segment of a society, because they are the ones who are exposed to the most propaganda and actually take part in the decision-making process. For them you have the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, and so on. But there’s also a mass media, whose main function is just to get rid of the rest of the population—to marginalize and eliminate them, so they don’t interfere with decision-making. And the press that’s designed for that purpose isn’t the New York Times and the Washington Post, it’s sitcoms on television, and the National Enquirer, and sex and violence, and babies with three heads, and football, all that kind of stuff.”—Noam Chomsky (via beccastaysposi)
“Clinton, Kennedy, they all carried out mass murder, but they didn’t think that that was what they were doing - nor does Bush. You know, they were defending justice and democracy from greater evils. And in fact I think you’d find it hard to discover a mass murderer in history who didn’t think that-”—Noam Chomsky
“Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.”—Noam Chomsky
“It’s done differently in El Salvador. There they send in the death squads. Here what they do is try to hook you on sitcoms. It’s true that both are techniques of control, but they are rather different techniques.”—Noam Chomsky
“You have a couple of choices. One choice is to allow yourself to be co-opted a little bit. You dip your toe in the water. Pretty soon you put your foot in the water, pretty soon you’re swimming. And you don’t think you’re changing, you just say okay, I’ll do it a little more. You end up swimming. That’s what they’re anticipating. The other option is to resist. And maybe end up in Montana, you know, growing your own food.”—Noam Chomsky (interview with Morgan Spurlock in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)
“The doctrinal system, which produces what we call “propaganda” when discussing enemies, has two distinct targets. One target is what’s sometimes called the “political class,” the roughly 20% of the population that’s relatively educated, more of less articulate, playing some role in decision-making. Their acceptance of doctrine is crucial, because they’re in a position to design and implement policy.
Then there’s the other 80% or so of the population. These are Lippmann’s “spectators of action,” whom he referred to as “the bewildered herd.” They are supposed to follow orders and keep out of the way of the important people. They’re the target of the real mass media: the tabloids, the sitcoms, the Super Bowl and so on.
These sectors of the doctrinal system serve to divert the unwashed masses and reinforce the basic social values: passivity, submissiveness to authority, the overriding virtue of greed and personal gain, lack of concern for others, fear for real or imagined enemies, etc. The goal is to keep the bewildered herd bewildered. It’s unnecessary for them to trouble themselves with what’s happening in the world. In fact, it’s undesirable-if they see too much of reality they may set themselves to change it.”—(via hypersomniacreep)
Dear Prof. Chomsky, I am a student of history from the Netherlands and mainly interested in the development of mentalities. Recently I've become very interested in the anxiety found in American public opinion about the so-called decline of their republic. It occurred to me that very little is said about the systemic flaws in the American political system and perhaps the need to reform it. Is this assumption correct and why do you think Americans don't consider political reform an option?
Anyway about your questions, I think that most of ordinary people would like some kind of election or political reform. We hear complaints about politicians every day. Problem is that politicians and big businesses wont allow it. They might lose their power so they prefer status quo instead and avoid publicly talking and discussing the issue. They own the media so it is easy for them to do it.
“Corporate managers have a duty. They have to focus on profit making and seeking to convert as much of life as possible into commodities. It’s not because they’re bad people; it’s their task. Under Anglo-American law, it’s their legal obligation as well. There’s a lot to say about this topic, but one element of it concerns the universities and much else. One particular consequence is the focus on what’s called efficiency. It’s an interesting concept. It’s not strictly an economic concept. It has crucial ideological dimensions. If a business reduces personnel, it might become more efficient by standard measures with lower costs. Typically, that shifts the burden to the public, a very familiar phenomenon we see all the time. Costs to the public are not counted, and they’re colossal. That’s a choice that’s not based on economic theory. That’s based on an ideological decision”—Chomsky (via dontfeartahrir)
“Modern “democratic theory” takes the view that the role of the public —the “bewildered herd,” in Lippman’s words—is to be spectators, not participants. They’re supposed to show up every couple of years to ratify decisions made elsewhere, or to select among representatives of the dominant sectors in what’s called an “election.” That’s helpful, because it has a legitimizing effect.”—Noam Chomsky; Secrets, Lies, and Democracy 1994, p. 12. (via onegodonemaster)
Regarding Thought Control in a Democratic Society, Chomsky makes these points:
1) Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to a dictatorship.
2) Ordinary people have remarkable creativity.
3) People have a fundamental need for creative work, which is not being met in systems where people are like cogs in a machine.
4) What would make more sense as a way to govern is a form of rationalist-libertarian socialism — not one that increasingly functions without public input. Chomsky advocates a system where a community and its members run things in a democratic fashion and whose people do not function as some sort of wage slaves.
5) People need to be able to detect forms of authority and coercion and challenge those that are not legitimate.
6) The major form of authority that needs challenging is the system of private control over public resources.
7) The First Amendment means that democracy requires free access to ideas and opinions.
8) Democracy in America is not functioning in an ideal sense but more in the sense that Lippmann noted in Public Opinion (where a specialized class of about 20 percent of the people — but who are also a target of progaganda — manages democratic functioning) and, in effect, are under control of a power elite, who more or less own the institutions. The masses of people (80 percent) are marginalized, diverted and controlled by what he calls Necessary Illusions.
9) Manufacturing consent is related to the understanding that indoctrination is the essence of propaganda and in a “democratic” society occurs when the techniques of control of a propaganda model are imposed — this means imposing Necessary Illusions (see below): The Propaganda Model (a model is merely a factual accounting of how things occur) observes that American media have filters (including ownership, advertising, news makers, news shapers), which emphasize institutional memory, debate being limited and media content being shaped via emphasis, et.
“Through history, there has been no correlation between the internal freedom of a society and its violence and aggression abroad. For example, England was the freest country in the world in the 19th century, and in India it acted like the Nazis did. The United States is the most open — politically speaking, forget any social issues — and freest society in the world, and it also has the most brutal record of violence and aggression in the world.” - Noam Chomsky”—
“When I was in high school… I asked myself at one point: “Why do i care if my high school’s team wins the football game? I don’t know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me… why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense.” But the point is, it does make sense: It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports.”—Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky
“What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities. Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a “philosophy of futility” and “lack of purpose in life,” to “concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption.” Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They may abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self described “intelligent minorities” who serve and administer power.”—Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival (via afropunx)
“They want to adjust their audience to the more elite and affluent audience. So what you have in advertising is large institutions and large corporations that are selling relatively privileged audiences to other businesses. Well what do you expect to come out of this? You get an image of the world that is simply in the interest of the sellers, buyers and audiences of advertising.”—Noam Chomsky (via atomicsocialist)
“Well, apart from the enormous human cost of depriving most people of decent educational opportunities, these policies undermine the U.S. competitive capacity. That’s very harmful to the mass of the population, but it doesn’t matter to the tiny percent of concentrated wealth and power. In fact, in the years since the Pell Memorandum, we’ve entered into a new stage in state capitalism in which the future just doesn’t amount to much. Profit comes increasingly from financial manipulations. The corporate policies are geared toward the short-term profit, and that reduces the concern for loyalty to a firm over a longer stretch.”—Noam Chomsky (via triplanetary)
He’s quite accurate. Most oppression succeeds because its legitimacy is internalized. That’s true of the most extreme cases. Take, say, slavery. It wasn’t easy to revolt if you were a slave, by any
means. But if you look over the history of slavery, it was in some sense recognized as just the way things are. We’ll do the best we can under this regime.
Another example, also contemporary (it’s estimated that there are some 26 million slaves in the world), is women’s rights.
There the oppression is extensively internalized and accepted as legitimate and proper. It’s still true today, but it’s been true throughout history. Take working people. At one time in the U.S., in the mid-19th century, working for wage labor was considered not very different from chattel slavery. That was the slogan of the Republican Party, the banner under which northern workers went to fight in the Civil War. We’re against chattel slavery and wage slavery.
Free people do not rent themselves to others. Maybe you’re forced to do it temporarily, but that’s only on the way to becoming a free person, a free man, to put it in the rhetoric of the day. You become a free man when you’re not compelled to take orders from others.
That’s an Enlightenment ideal. Incidentally, this was not coming from European radicalism. There were workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, a couple of miles from where we are. You could even read editorials in the New York Times saying this around that time. It took a long time to drive into people’s heads the idea that it is legitimate to rent yourself. Now that’s unfortunately pretty much accepted. So that’s internalizing oppression. Anyone who thinks it’s legitimate to be a wage laborer is internalizing oppression in a way which would have seemed intolerable to people in the mills 150 years ago.
I think there should be an open system, period. But it should be adapted to the needs and interests of the students. If somebody wants to become an engineer, let’s say, they’re going to have different educational opportunities than someone who wants to be become a philosopher.
I think education should be free. And there are a lot of ways of organizing it, but it should be geared to the ideal of helping each person, each student, achieve their goals in the best way.
“While methods differ sharply from more brutal to more free societies, the goals are in many ways similar: to ensure that the “great beast,” as Alexander Hamilton called the people, does not stray from its proper confines.”—Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (via malebetulia)
“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.”—Liberating the mind from orthodoxies - Noam Chomsky
“The Administration has now claimed the right to take people here, including American citizens, to place them in confinement indefinitely without access to families and lawyers, and to keep them there with no charges until the president decides that the war against terror, or whatever he wants to call it, is over. That’s unheard of. And it’s been to some extent accepted by the courts. And they’re, in fact, going beyond the new, what’s sometimes called PATRIOT 2 Act, which is so far not ratified. It’s inside the Justice Department, but it was leaked. By now there are a couple of articles by law professors and others about it in the press. It’s astonishing. They’re claiming the right to remove citizenship, the fundamental right, if the Attorney General infers—they don’t have to have any evidence—just infers that the person is involved somehow in actions that might be harmful to the United States. You have to go back to totalitarian states to find anything like this. An enemy combatant is one. The treatment of people—what’s going on in Guantanamo is a gross violation of the most elementary principles of international humanitarian law since World War II, that is, since these crimes were formally criminalized in reaction to the Nazis.”—Noam Chomsky (via spacebaw)
“An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing
of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it’s important to understand that it is the prevailing conception. In fact, it has long been, not just in operation, but even in theory. There’s a long history that goes back to the earliest modern democratic revolutions in seventeenth century England which largely expresses this point of view.”—Noam Chomsky
“The issue is whether we want to live in a free society or whether we want to live under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism, with the bewildered herd marginalized, directed elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring with awe the leader who saved them from destruction, while the educated masses goose-step on command and repeat the slogans they\re supposed to repeat and society deteriorates at home. We end up serving as a mercenary enforcer state, hoping that other are going to pay us to smash up the world.”—Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda - Noam Chomsky
Hey, I really like your blog but I don't like that you post a lot of quotes without sources. A lot of fake or misattributed quotes have been going around tumblr and I really don't like reblogging things if they can't be traced back to a source. Which is frustrating since so many of the quotes you post are awesome.
All the quotes are genuine, I guarantee. Mostly from his interview found here, http://chomsky.info/ and from his speeches on Youtube videos. I’ll start posting soon more quotes from his books.
I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions,” Chomsky said when asked about his goals. “Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself. There is plenty of information. You have got to learn how to judge, evaluate and compare it with other things. You have to take some things on trust or you can’t survive. But if there is something significant and important don’t take it on trust. As soon as you read anything that is anonymous you should immediately distrust it. If you read in the newspapers that Iran is defying the international community, ask who is the international community? India is opposed to sanctions. China is opposed to sanctions. Brazil is opposed to sanctions. The Non-Aligned Movement is vigorously opposed to sanctions and has been for years. Who is the international community? It is Washington and anyone who happens to agree with it. You can figure that out, but you have to do work. It is the same on issue after issue.
“I don’t bother writing about Fox News,” Chomsky said. “It is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for the educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”—Noam Chomsky
The hypocrisy of the Obama regime and its corporate masters towards agricultural policy is nothing short of breathtaking. For example, I myself like a bowl of oatmeal every morning. If you read the papers, well, there’s nothing about oatmeal in there. But read the business press - they are always good at this - they discuss cereal policy in some detail, and the record is quite interesting to consider. Take, for example, what are ludicrously called “Shreddies” - despite not actually being shredded when in the bowl, they are more a weave pattern of grains really. In any case, these “Shreddies” are said to be low in fat, a claim that is backed up by the Food and Drug Administration. You can check this for yourself, it happens to be true. But is there any reason to have a box of “Shreddies” when generic cereals like a big bag of oatmeal will suffice? Here the corporate culture has largely devastated the real choices available to people, but the potential for change is there, just below the surface.
- Noam Chomsky, “A Bowl of Lies”, AK Press, July, 2011.
First of all, don’t believe anything you hear from power systems. So if Obama or the boss or the newspapers or anyone else tells you they’re doing this, that, or the other thing, dismiss it or assume the opposite is true, which it often is. You have to rely on yourself and your associates—gifts don’t come from above; you’re going to win them, or you won’t have them, and you win by struggle, and that requires understanding and serious analysis of the options and the circumstances, and then you can do a lot. So take right now, for example, there is a right-wing populist uprising. It’s very common, even on the left, to just ridicule them, but that’s not the right reaction. If you look at those people and listen to them on talk radio, these are people with real grievances. I listen to talk radio a lot and it’s kind of interesting. If you can sort of suspend your knowledge of the world and just enter into the world of the people who are calling in, you can understand them. I’ve never seen a study, but my sense is that these are people who feel really aggrieved. These people think, “I’ve done everything right all my life, I’m a god-fearing Christian, I’m white, I’m male, I’ve worked hard, and I carry a gun. I do everything I’m supposed to do. And I’m getting shafted.” And in fact they are getting shafted. For 30 years their wages have stagnated or declined, the social conditions have worsened, the children are going crazy, there are no schools, there’s nothing, so somebody must be doing something to them, and they want to know who it is. Well Rush Limbaugh has answered – it’s the rich liberals who own the banks and run the government, and of course run the media, and they don’t care about you—they just want to give everything away to illegal immigrants and gays and communists and so on.
Well, you know, the reaction we should be having to them is not ridicule, but rather self-criticism. Why aren’t we organizing them? I mean, we are the ones that ought to be organizing them, not Rush Limbaugh. There are historical analogs, which are not exact, of course, but are close enough to be worrisome. This is a whiff of early Nazi Germany. Hitler was appealing to groups with similar grievances, and giving them crazy answers, but at least they were answers; these groups weren’t getting them anywhere else. It was the Jews and the Bolsheviks [that were the problem].
I mean, the liberal democrats aren’t going to tell the average American, “Yeah, you’re being shafted because of the policies that we’ve established over the years that we’re maintaining now.” That’s not going to be an answer. And they’re not getting answers from the left. So, there’s an internal coherence and logic to what they get from Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the rest of these guys. And they sound very convincing, they’re very self-confident, and they have an answer to everything—a crazy answer, but it’s an answer. And it’s our fault if that goes on. So one thing to be done is don’t ridicule these people, join them, and talk about their real grievances and give them a sensible answer, like, ”Take over your factories.”
“During his years in office, Reagan was not particularly popular. Gallup just published poll figures comparing him during office with other presidents. His average ratings during his years in office were below Kennedy, Johnson, Bush I, and Clinton; above Nixon, Ford, Carter. This is averages during their terms in office. By 1992 he was ranked just next to Nixon as the most unpopular living ex-president. Since then there has been an immense PR campaign to convert him into a revered and historic figure, if not semi-divine, and it’s doubtless had an effect”—Noam Chomsky
“The basic idea which runs right through modern history and modern liberalism is that the public has got to be marginalized. The general public are viewed as no more than ignorant and meddlesome outsiders, a bewildered herd.”—Noam Chomsky