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Noam Chomsky

April 27, 2019

Noam Chomsky is a retired professor from MIT, in the field of linguistics.  I had heard of him before, especially for his theory of language.  I also knew that he wrote political books.  I found out recently that he wrote dozens of them.  I decided to read one, to find out what it was all about.

I read Hegemony or Survival, written in 2003.  Then I moved on to Failed States, from 2006.  These seem to be his most recent books.  They missed some significant events in the US, notably the 2008 recession and the governments of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.  Still, the behavior of the US government seemed quite familiar.  Both books were quite similar.  I liked the way Chomsky always provides references and points out when other make a statement with no evidence.  The books make depressing reading when they reveal the extent of duplicity in the US government.  I was only revived by reading about the basic goodwill of the US population.

Both books describe the attitudes and actions of the US government.  Their actions are often covert, only coming to light long after they were carried out.  Still, they reveal unchanging attitudes.  The basic one is that the US can do no wrong.  They make exceptions for themselves in international agreements, or withdraw from them if they can’t force an exception.  They believe that achieving security means being in control of the world.  Countries that don’t surrender to US control are subject to regime change.  The US has the economic and military power to compel such a change.

They have a strategy that they follow with defiant countries.  It begins with harsh economic sanctions, denying the people food and medicine, with the expectation that they will blame their own government.  Next, the US supports an armed opposition group with money and weapons.  This is typically a right-wing group or the military.  The last step is for this group to overthrow the government, replacing it with a new government that favours the US.

At the same time, they launch a propaganda campaign.  You may hear the president, or somebody from the administration, telling you about a battle between good and evil, or a divine mission, or how they are bringing freedom and democracy to another country.  That’s the propaganda campaign.

Who is it in the US that’s doing all of this?  According to Chomsky, it seems not to matter if Republicans or Democrats are elected.  Either the politicians must share the same attitude, or the ones who do have that attitude must have great power over politicians.  Permanent employees of the administration may be at fault.  Some of them have a long history of promoting regime change in other countries.  They tell the politicians what to say and what to do.  At the same time, they revile politicians as ignorant opportunists.  They also revile they voters as plain ignorant.  Fortunately, voters are smarter than that.


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