“The “corporatization of America” during the past century has been an attack on democracy—and on markets, part of the shift from something resembling “capitalism” to the highly administered markets of the modern state/corporate era. A current variant is called “minimizing the state,” that is, transferring decision-making power from the public arena to somewhere else: “to the people” in the rhetoric of power; to private tyrannies, in the real world.”—Noam Chomsky (via americandissident)
“As early as World War I, American historians offered themselves to President Woodrow Wilson to carry out a task they called “historical engineering,” by which they meant designing the facts of history so that they would serve state policy. In this instance, the U.S. government wanted to silence opposition to the war. This represents a version of Orwell’s 1984, even before Orwell was writing.”—Noam Chomsky (via fuckyeahchomsky)
“Today’s gap between North and South—the rich developed societies and the rest of the world—was largely created by the global conquest.
Scholarship and science are beginning to recognize a record that had been concealed by imperial arrogance. They are discovering that at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, and long before, the Western hemisphere was home to some of the world’s most advanced civilizations. In the poorest country of South America, archaeologists are coming to believe that eastern Bolivia was the site of a wealthy, sophisticated, and complex society of perhaps a million people. In their words, it was the site of “one of the largest, strangest, and most ecologically rich artificial environments on the face of the planet, with causeways and canals, spacious and formal towns and considerable wealth,” creating a landscape that was “one of humankind’s greatest works of art, a masterpiece.” In the Peruvian Andes, by 1491 the Inka had created the greatest empire in the world, greater in scale than the Chinese, Russian, Ottoman, or other empires, far greater than any European state, and with remarkable artistic, agricultural, and other achievements.”—Hopes and Prospects - Noam Chomsky
“It is reported that about 30% of the world’s population is unemployed. That’s worse than the Great Depression, but it’s now an international phenomenon. You have 30% of the world unemployed, a huge amount of work that needs to be done just rebuilding the society alone. The people who are unemployed want to do the work, but the system is such a catastrophic failure that it cannot bring together idle hands and work. This is all hailed as a great success, and it is a great success - for a very small sector of the population.”—Noam Chomsky
“How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me. I mean, there are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster’; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees. But then you take a look at what the corporation does, the effect of its legal structure, the vast inequalities in pay and conditions, and you see the reality is something far different.”—noam chomsky. (via pretentioushipstercats)
“Walter Lippmann … described what he called “the manufacture of consent” as “a revolution” in “the practice of democracy”… And he said this was useful and necessary because “the common interests” - the general concerns of all people - “elude” the public. The public just isn’t up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a “specialized class” … [Reinhold Niebuhr]’s view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer. But because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith. And this naive faith requires necessary illusion, and emotionally potent oversimplifications, which are provided by the myth-maker to keep the ordinary person on course. It’s not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. Rather, as this whole line of thinkers observes, it is the essence of democracy. The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn’t much matter because you’ve got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can’t control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard you have this problem — it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don’t have the humility to submit to a civil rule [Clement Walker, 1661], and therefore you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda, manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusion. Various ways of either marginalizing the public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion.”—
In Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992 It’s a movie
Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated - Japan’s attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example. Others are ignored, and we can often learn valuable lessons from them about what is likely to lie ahead. Right now, in fact.
At the moment, we are failing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s decision to launch the most destructive and murderous act of aggression of the post-World War II period: the invasion of South Vietnam, later all of Indochina, leaving millions dead and four countries devastated, with casualties still mounting from the long-term effects of drenching South Vietnam with some of the most lethal carcinogens known, undertaken to destroy ground cover and food crops.
“Corporations are totalitarian institutions. Board of directors at the top of managers give orders, everyone follows orders….. At the very bottom of command, if you are lucky you can rent yourself to it and get a job , and if you are sufficiently propagandized you may even buy some of the junk they produce and so on…”—Noam Chomsky
“Take the automation of production for an example. The same technology that is used to deskill workers and enslave them can be used to eliminate the stupid boring work that nobody wants to do. We already know where we could go from here in transforming capitalism without leading to centralised state control.”—Noam Chomsky
“Marketing is manipulation and deceit. It tries to turn people into something they aren’t — individuals focused solely on themselves, maximising their consumption of goods that they don’t need.”—Noam Chomsky
“And they do this in all sorts of ways: by selection of topics, by distribution of concerns, by emphasis and framing of issues, by filtering of information, by bounding of debate within certain limits. They determine, they select, they shape, they control, they restrict — in order to serve the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society.”—about media and propaganda - Noam Chomsky
“There has always been racism. But it developed as a leading principle of thought and perception in the context of colonialism. That’s understandable. When you have your boot on someone’s neck, you have to justify it. The justification has to be their depravity. It’s very striking to see this in the case of people who aren’t very different from one another. Take a look at the British conquest of Ireland, the earliest of the Western colonial conquests. It was described in the same terms as the conquest of Africa. The Irish were a different race. They weren’t human. They weren’t like us. We had to crush and destroy them. No. It has to do with conquest, with oppression. If you’re robbing somebody, oppressing them, dictating their lives, it’s a very rare person who can say: “Look, I’m a monster. I’m doing this for my own good.” Even Himmler didn’t say that. A standard technique of belief formation goes along with oppression, whether it’s throwing them in gas chambers or charging them too much at a corner store, or anything in between. The standard reaction is to say: ‘It’s their depravity. That’s why I’m doing it. Maybe I’m even doing them good.’ If it’s their depravity, there’s got to be something about them that makes them different from me. What’s different about them will be whatever you can find.”—Noam Chomsky
“My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century.”—Noam Chomsky
“The primary responsibility of government is “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority,” Madison declared. That has been the guiding principle of the democratic system from its origins until today.”—Consent without Consent - Noam Chomsky
“That people must submit is taken for granted pretty much across the spectrum. In a democracy, the governed have the right to consent, but nothing more than that. In the terminology of modern progressive thought, the population may be “spectators,” but not “participants,” apart from occasional choices among leaders representing authentic power. That is the political arena. The general population must be excluded entirely from the economic arena, where what happens in the society is largely determined. Here the public is to have no role, according to prevailing democratic theory.”—Noam Chomsky
My feeling is that student fees are instituted, basically as a technique of indoctrination and control. I don’t think there’s an economic basis for them. And it’s interesting that, you look at the timing — like when I went to college, I went to an Ivy League university, The University of Pennsylvania. Tuition was only $100 and you could easily get a scholarship.
Students today are over $1 trillion in debt. That’s more than credit card debt. A trillion dollars of debt? That’s a burden on people coming out of college. It’s got them trapped. It (tuition) is a technique of control, and it surely isn’t an economic necessity in the richest country in the world. All sorts of things started happening — the university architecture changed. Universities that were built, worldwide, in the post-’70s and on, are usually designed so that they don’t have meeting places, designed just to keep students separated and under control. Look at the ratio of administrators to faculty: it’s gone way up the last couple of decades … not for educational purposes, but for more techniques of control.
What you’re talking about, I think it should be opposed, because it’s a general form of indoctrination and control, which goes down to kindergarten. I mean, that’s what No Child Left Behind is about. It’s training for the Marine Corps. It’s a way to make sure that children aren’t free, independent or inquisitive, exploring.
“If you quietly accept and go along no matter what your feelings are, ultimately you internalize what you’re saying, because it’s too hard to believe one thing and say another. I can see it very strikingly in my own background. Go to any elite university and you are usually speaking to very disciplined people, people who have been selected for obedience. And that makes sense. If you’ve resisted the temptation to tell the teacher, “You’re an asshole,” which maybe he or she is, and if you don’t say, “That’s idiotic,” when you get a stupid assignment, you will gradually pass through the required filters. You will end up at a good college and eventually with a good job.”
“Still, in the universities or in any other institution, you can often find some dissidents hanging around in the woodwork—and they can survive in one fashion or another, particularly if they get community support. But if they become too disruptive or too obstreperous—or you know, too effective—they’re likely to be kicked out. The standard thing, though, is that they won’t make it within the institutions in the first place, particularly if they were that way when they were young—they’ll simply be weeded out somewhere along the line. So in most cases, the people who make it through the institutions and are able to remain in them have already internalized the right kinds of beliefs: it’s not a problem for them to be obedient, they already are obedient, that’s how they got there. And that’s pretty much how the ideological control system perpetuates itself in the schools—that’s the basic story of how it operates, I think.”—Noam Chomsky
“Because there is so much indoctrination that many people can’t even understand the word “profits.” If you try using the word “profits” around Harvard, for example, in the Kennedy School of Government, if you say “Clinton’s out there getting profits for rich Americans,” then people would be appalled — “Is he some kind of conspiracy theorist? Marxist? anti-American? or crazed radical?” Even elementary truisms like this, which to someone like Adam Smith, are so obvious he scarcely even bothered to talk about them, are completely beaten out of heads of educated people. In fact, I think it’s worse among the educated sectors than among the uneducated. I’ve talked to all sorts of people, and it would be harder to convince Harvard graduates that this deal with Exxon was for profits than it would be to convince guys on the street. They’d say “Yeah, obviously.” And the reason is, if you’ve been really well educated, meaning well indoctrinated, you can’t even think rational thoughts any longer. They can’t come to you, the words can’t come to you. So, I don’t think Elaine Sciolino is lying, it’s just that the conception of the state working to increase profits for wealthy Americans is inconceivable. You can’t think that thought. If it’s ever expressed, you have to designate it “unthinkable,” with scare words like “conspiracy theory.” And that’s the process of “good education.” People who don’t internalize those values are weeded out along the way. By the time you get to the top, you’ve internalized them.”—Noam Chomsky
“This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about “Mother With Child With Six Heads,” or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it’s important to reduce their capacity to think.”—Noam Chomsky
“It’s the primary function of the mass media in the United States to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector. What are those interests? The major decisions over what happens in the society — decisions over investment and production and distribution and so on — are in the hands of a relatively concentrated network of major corporations and conglomerates and investment firms. They are also the ones who staff the major executive positions in the government. They’re the ones who own the media and they’re the ones who have to be in a position to make the decisions. They have an overwhelmingly dominant role in the way life happens. You know, what’s done in the society. Within the economic system, by law and in principle, they dominate. The control over resources and the need to satisfy their interests imposes very sharp constraints on the political system and on the ideological system.”—Noam Chomsky
“Once its institutional structure is in place, capitalist democracy will function only if all subordinate their interests to the needs of those who control investment decisions, from the country club to the soup kitchen. It is only a matter of time before an independent working-class culture erodes, along with the institutions and organizations that sustain it, given the distribution of resources and power. And with popular organizations weakened or eliminated, isolated individuals are unable to participate in the political system in a meaningful way. It will, over time, become largely a symbolic pageant or, at most, a device whereby the public can select among competing elite groups and ratify their decisions, playing the role assigned them by progressive democratic theorists of the Walter Lippmann variety. That was a plausible assumption in the early postwar period and has proven largely accurate so far, despite many rifts, tensions and conflicts.”—Noam Chomsky
“The Grand Inquisitor explains that you have to create mysteries because otherwise the common people will be able to understand things. They have to be subordinated so you have to make things look mysterious and complicated. That`s the test of the intellectual. It`s also good for them: then you`re an important person, talking big words which nobody can understand. Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it`s all gibberish. But it`s very inflated, a lot of television cameras, a lot of posturing. They try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child. There`s nothing there. But these are the ways in which contemporary intellectuals, including those on the Left, create great careers for themselves, power for themselves, marginalize people, intimidate people and so on.”—Chomsky on Anarchism - Noam Chomsky
“One might ask why tobacco is legal and marijuana not. A possible answer is suggested by the nature of the crop. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, with little difficulty. It might not be easily marketable by major corporations. Tobacco is quite another story.”—Deterring Democracy - Noam Chomsky
robert putnam is a sociologist at harvard who’s quite mainstream. he found about a 50% decline since the 1960s in any form of interaction - visiting a neighbour, going to PTA meetings, joining a bowling league. one reason children watch so much tv is that parent-child interaction has dropped 40% or so from the 1960s to today - at least in part because both parents have to work fifty hours a week to put food on the table. there’s little day care and few support systems available, so what are you left with? tv baby-sitting.
but it’s a little thin to blame tv itself. it isn’t a force of nature - it’s the core of the marketing culture, and it’s designed to have certain effects. it’s not trying to empower you. you don’t find messages on tv about how to join a union and do something about the conditions of your life. over and over again, it rams into your head messages designed to destroy your mind and separate you from other people. that eventually has an effect.
what’s happening with tv is part of something much broader. elites always regard democracy as a major threat, something to be defended against. it’s been well understood for a long time that the best defense against democracy is to distract people. that’s why 19th-century businessmen sponsored evangelical religion, people talking in tongues, etc.