Here we are! This is the much anticipated summary of the 3rd chapter, of Dr Noam Chomsky’s, “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky”.
On discussing things with the patron of this particular project, I came to the conclusion I spent too much time talking about the large amount there was to cover.
As such, allow me to say, this article is not comprehensive. I simply cannot cover everything in the chapter in a thousand words. The only way to get a full understanding of what’s discussed, is to read the chapter yourself. I’ll leave things there.
That said, let’s dive in.
As with the previous chapter, this one is basically the result of what amounts to transcription of a discussion between Dr Chomsky, and an audience.
The dialog begins in earnest with a question. If I were to sum it up, it would be, “Why the arms race?”
Keep in mind that the time frame in which the converstations in this text take place to this point, is from the end of the eighties to the early part of the nineties.
There’re two things about that period.
The first is, the world was still dealing with the aftermath of the Second World War, in pretty major ways.
The second would be, that there were two groups of powers in most folk’s way of thinking. I’m somewhat of a mind Dr Chomsky, would at least disagree on the relative robustness of the two power bases in question. Those two would be the United States and its allies, and the USSR, and those generaly allied to that entity.
In Dr Chomsky’s estimation, the Marshall Plan was essentially a failure.
In the process of trying to find a means to bolster various economies among other things, Chomsky seems to believe the arms race, was decided upon as one means to accomplish those ends.
He seems to maintain, that the military industrial complex, was essentially being used as a sort of research arm to government, and private industry—which he counts, as being in control of government in most ways.
He asserts that the taxpayers then, essentially funded the resultant research and development.
Though he doesn’t directly state as much, I would assume he accounts companies with military contracts, to develop certain equipment and technologies, were a part of that process.
In his view, the government and big business, were essentially using the military and those working in its behalf, to make, and keep, the U.S. economy, strong.
Because of Dr Chomsky’s perspective, he concludes that without radical changes in the country’s power structure, it would be more or less impossible, to have any major reductions in taxation.
In Chomsky’s view, much of the U.S. budget, was (and I think he might say, still is) centered on the pentagon. Put simply, he basically indicates he sees the majority of the American governmental spending, to be for the benefit of the Department of Defense.
It seems to be his position that without dismantling the military, there’s no way to work to substantially reduce taxes.
He goes on to say, that he believes democratization is the only real way to make that happen.
From this set of interactions, we move to discussions of the idea that the reason for United States interest in Lybia, was to throw folks off, where things occurring in Nicaragua, were concerned.
He pretty directly states, that the actions occurring there were, in his way of thinking, half-baked. The implication being, the activities in Lybia, were anything but precise or surgical in nature.
This, he says, is because the things happening there, were counted to be counterinsurgency operations. As such, it was assumed, as he sees things, they didn’t have to be particularly effective.
The conversation shifts from here, to a discussion of the United Nations, and the relationship of the various players (though most specifically, the United States), to that body.
In the early days of the U.N., Dr Chomsky contends, that America basically told folks how to act, and they went along with what was mandated.
Over the course of time, he believes that changed, and that most of the other involved nations, were largely in disagreement with the U.S., on what should happen in various situations encountered, and dealt with, by that body.
The final position of our country, per his perspective can be summed up, in just a couple of responses.
The first was to claim the fact that, when the vast majority of nation states, held positions opposing us, it was referred to, by both the U.S. government, and news media, as “The tyranny of the majority.” His contention is that others would consider this to be translated, “democracy.”
The next, was to more or less ignore the edicts and strictures of that body entirely
In the Security Council, he argues (almost certainly correctly) that the majority of vetoes (which only required a single permanent member’s vote to enact), were cemented by America.
Following this, the converstation moves in another direction.
The basic idea being that the press in the United States has a primary function of keeping people from understanding, as opposed to helping them to do so.
Next up, is a discussion of why news articles against racism and the attempts to dismantle South African Aparthied, were being allowed in the media.
As expected, Chomsky states this is because both are in the best interests of business. He indicates that industry isn’t inherently racist, and that there needed to be a change in the model being used for labor, in both the U.S., and South Africa in any case.
It’s a this point that I find myself running up on space constraints. As such, allow me to condense as best I’m able.
There’s a discussion what’s happening in Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Next, comes a back and forth on what heroes and “antiheroes” look like.
After this is a discussion on spectator sports, in which it’s more or less stated that they’re a mechanism to give folks things to do on a sort of pseudo-intellectual level, and to keep them from considering current events, and activism.
This is followed by a discussion of Western European activism, and its effectiveness, as well as a dialog concerning why Canada finds themselves where they currently do.
Finally, we move on to a consideration of dispelling illusions, in which Dr Chomsky talks about methods by which one may accomplish that.
As I’ve said, this is a high level view of the chapter in question. If you really want to grasp all that’s said, it’s pretty much incumbent on you to read it.
I hope you’ve found this summarization useful. I’m hoping the next one will be a bit easier to do, but based on the fact that so far, all chapters center around discussions, where the topic is rather fluid, I’m not holding my breath.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.