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Chomsky Review Chapter 3 – Religion and Politics

Chomsky Review – Chapter 3 – The Daily Summation from YouTube

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.

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Chomsky Review Chapter 2 – Religion and Politics

One of the more difficult things about book reviews—even if you’re only reviewing some section of the writing in question—is the fact that the person penning the tome, may well choose to write or speak about a good many things in a given portion of the work being reviewed.

The second chapter of Dr Noam Chomsky’s, “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky” is an excellent example of this.

The chapter in question is chock full of a wide variety of subjects.

It starts out discussing the idea that language (Dr Chomsky’s professed specialty) is essentially broken up into two component parts. The first of these, is the normal meaning or words. The second, is the definitions that apply to political usage.

Dr Chomsky uses the idea of “containment” where applied specifically to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as one idea that helps to make his case. Later, he expands its use to Communism in general

It’s his contention, the way the word is used, would justify even the more ruthless, evil nations on the planet being able to apply it in similar manners to talk about how they act and speak.

By way of example Chomsky indicates that Nazi Germany could’ve easily adopted the term in similar fashions, to talk about how it dealt with its neighbors, and the Jews.

Getting too far into detail on this, would result in me writing a pretty large section of text, and would keep me from covering even the small amount of the chapter in question in my allotted space.

From there, he moves on to other examples of containment in the use in which he discusses it. An example would be the French attempting to maintain control of Indochina.

Next we jump to the idea behind the term “peace process.” Dr Chomsky comes to the conclusion the expression means something along the lines of “doing what the U. S. wants you to do,” and that, if America opposes such a process (examples cited are, what happened in Central America and the Middle East around the time the discussion was occurring), it’s not considered a “peace process” by the mainstream media here.

From here, he jumps to the intended concepts behind the words, “moderate” and “radical.” He makes the statement that the same sort of thing applies to moderate as a term, as peace process. The idea being that if you do as you’re expected to do (by the United States), you’ll be termed a moderate, no matter how horrible your human rights record.

For radical, one may apply an opposing definition. Radicals are those who don’t do what America expects, per Dr Chomsky.

Chomsky uses Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and even Iraq as examples of entities counted moderate or moving toward moderation in the United States Press.

At this point, the discussion moves to poverty in the United States. The beginning of that discussion is more or less a qualitative comparison of the period of the Great Depression, to more recent times (the eighties seem to be the main focus). Dr Chomsky states that in his view, the period around the Depression was more hopeful than in the more modern time frame.

Though he seems somewhat uncertain what causes this to be true, he contends that there seem to have been a number factors.

As an example, he talks about the idea that the American economy has largely moved from manufacturing, to technology.

It’s his belief (if I understand correctly), that because the former situation allowed immigrants to find jobs with relative ease, they were more able to assimilate into American society.

The move towards technology, with an outsourcing of factory related jobs to third-world countries has, in his perspective, made it so folks moving from the agricultural sector in the country, and those coming from Latin America, have had a much harder time finding work.

Thus, there is, in his way of looking things, less hope for such folks.

He also entertains the idea that the rapid distribution of drugs into slums and other impoverished communities, may have been an intentional act. The reason for this, he assumes, could be that it made it less probable that activists would be able to bring others together, since they were likely badly affected by the substances in question.

From here, he and is “audience” move through a whirlwind of other ideas. They discuss religious fanaticism. Including the idea that American presidents, must embrace religion (and I think we can safely assume he generally means Christianity) in order to project an image that will make them electable.

The final thing I want to touch on in this article—though there are more I could consider and document—is the idea that world affairs are shifting, partly because of changes in the economies of various countries around the world, and to some degree because of perceived need to mitigate issues surrounding what he would term “environmental soundness.”

The point of the second, being arguments made towards the belief that we’re due to suffer some sort of environmental catastrophe if we don’t take rapid action.

From there, Dr Chomsky talks about the idea that America and other countries, are attempting to continue to build up existing empires. He asserts that the reason this is the case, is that the United States and other empire constructors, benefit in terms of business relationships, if they keep other nations from becoming independent of their control.

Yet again, where I’ve done more than scratch the surface in this little essay, I haven’t done the entirety of that discussed in the chapter justice in my work here, either.

This is at least partially because up to this point, the “chapters” of this text, have actually been essentially the recording of events at which Dr Chomsky has spoken (I assume as the main speaker). The subject at such events—at least where his are concerned—appears to be more than a little fluid.

So, the second chapter of Dr Noam Chomsky’s tome, “Understanding Power, The Indispensable Chomsky” is somewhat a mixed bag. One of my concerns when undertaking the commission to discuss and summarize this work, was made real in this chapter. To wit, trying to cover far too much in far too little space.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Chomsky Review Chapter 1 – Religion and Politics

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.