Having completed the reading of the 1st chapter of Noam Chomsky’s, “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky,” and considered what was said, I believe I’m now in a position to create a review of what was put forth.
This article is an attempt to do just that.
Dr Chomsky seems, to begin with, to be interested in talking about how government works in the United States. In the process of so doing, he takes the time to run down what he sees as a history that brings us more or less to the current day.
Getting into the details of this, would take as long as it took Dr Chomsky to do. As such, allow me to condense what it appears he was saying.
In Dr Chomsky’s view, for a reasonably long time (one might argue a very long period), it’s been the habit of government in the United States, much the same as it appears has been true around the World, to operate essentially on behalf of what he seems to count “the elite.”
In his view of the world, the only thing that’s tended to make those in leadership positions act in ways that’re consistent with the will of the common man, has been various forms of activism.
Some of these were outside the system. Other acts were inside it.
As examples of external acts intended to attempt to change the way things operate, Dr Chomsky uses various protests by people inside the United States. Though I don’t recall whether he uses them or not, one may assume the protests that took place around the Vietnam War, are an example of this kind of activity.
In terms of behaviors internal to the system, Chomsky uses as a case in point, younger aids, interns and similar folks working for representatives in the political class, who would be prone to voice opinions and take actions that are in contradiction to the ones that would be normal or standard to the people for whom they’re working.
I have to wonder—though I don’t think he says as much—whether he also believes that some of the folks in question may have used their experience in such positions and their credentials as people working for existing entities in the political class, to ultimately launch their own careers as representatives of one kind or another, further embedding them into the system, such that they could more readily and easily enact change in line with the desires of the average American citizen, in Chomsky’s view.
Regardless that, it appears Dr Chomsky is a firm believer in the idea that the viewpoints and ideals that can be discussed in the political realm, are largely restricted to those that will be helpful to maintain the status quo.
Put another way, Chomsky seems to believe the system is set up in such a way that only those modes of operation which will help people in what I think he would consider the “true ruling class” to maintain their positions without opposition, are typically allowed to be considered meritorious.
By way of example, it appears he believes a great deal of American foreign policy is driven by two major aims (there may be others, but it seems he doesn’t typically count them to be primary), in contradiction to the standard messaging that bringing freedom and democracy to the rest of the world is its true intent. The two in which he seems to believe are:
- As a way to make money through the “military industrial complex” via the selling of arms and training of individuals, as well as the “interference of” the United States or its surrogates in other countries
- As a way to ensure the governments of other countries are of types that will make business relations with them easier than some of the forms it appears the people of the countries in question would prefer to have.
As an additional point, because Chomsky believes activists in the country, have reduced the ability of the ruling class to directly interfere in the governance of foreign lands, he seems to also count it true, that methods to get around that perceived reality are being employed.
In his mind, it seems one such way, is for the U. S. to support or otherwise prop up countries like Israel and South Korea, expecting a “payback” of action on their part, in countries in which they would have no reason to have any involvement, were it not for their relationship with America.
Dr Chomsky seems to further believe that the media in our nation, is little more (at least for the most part, and particularly where the national media is concerned) than a “propaganda arm” not per se of the political class, but of the elite class that controls American governmental entities.
Part of his case is made on the reasonable recognition that most national media entities are either large corporate structures in their own right, or are owned by larger bodies.
All in all, it can be argued that the first chapter of Dr Chomsky’s book is basically intended to state that the leadership components of the United States cannot be said to directly represent desires of the average American, and that the media acts in complicity, by supporting narratives consistent with the desires of individuals acting as puppet masters for the folks who are supposed to be representing the people of this country.
It is my intent to attempt to keep as close to Dr Chomsky’s stated assertions in this piece as I’m able. Any commentary on what I believe he’s saying, will come in a following article or subsequent pieces. As such, I’ll say only that I believe—though he oversimplifies a bit in my view—there’s more than a little truth found in what he purports to make known in this chapter.
It’s my hope that he will expound upon what he thinks the average Joe supports in terms of governmental form. I suspect it will be a system that looks a great deal like Socialism, but that’s strictly a guess at this point; though it’s partially based on statements made by Dr Chomsky in this chapter.
So summing up, the first chapter of “Understanding Power” is essentially Chomsky laying out his view of how the American government is managed (primarily as an arm of elitists), and how the media is—for the most part—a propaganda machine that likewise, represents the views of that upper crust.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.