Review: Occupy: Reflections on Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity

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Noam Chomsky

5.0 out of 5 stars Explosive Opening, Less Satisfying Conclusion, January 5, 2014

The book explodes on page one: no bankers arrested — none, zip, nada, rein — 7,762 Occupiers arrested from the first 80 in NYC on 24 September 2001 to the two arrested in SF on 15 June 2013. Talk about GRIFTOPIA — the police work for the thieves and arrest the owners!

There are a number of key insights within this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wishes to pulse the state of the union — Chomsky, who eulogizes Howard Zinn throughout, brackets our current situation with two trenchant observations early on:

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Jan 5

Journal: Get America Working–A Conversation Part II

Original Post with William Drayton, Alexandere Carpenter, and Robert Steele:  Journal: Get America Working–A Conversation

Part II–Alexander Carpenter (AC), the Founding Fathers, and Modern Seers

Journal: Get America Working-A Conversation

If you do nothing else, please consider reviewing the many contributions by Tom Atlee via the first line in Part IV: Related Recommended Reading,

Atlee at Phi Beta Iota

AC: And add this from Charles Hugh Smith to the list:

Charles Hugh Smith America’s Job-Creation Machinery Is Hollowed Out

Dave Cohen on Job Prospects in the Bubble Economy, looking for a technological driver:

And this for those still trying to believe in the “enlightenment model,” some lowest-common-denominator and somewhat overstated evolutionary psychology:

Ian Charles, Conscious Robots: How We Make a Decision

And add this about computer gaming:

How Videogames Are Changing the Economy

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Jan 3

Journal: Chomsky on Mid-Term Elections

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Richard Wright

I have rather mixed opinions of Chomsky, but think he is on the mark in this OpEd.

The US Elections: Outrage, Misguided

truthout

17 November 2010

Noam Chomsky

The U.S. midterm elections register a level of anger, fear and disillusionment in the country like nothing I can recall in my lifetime. Since the Democrats are in power, they bear the brunt of the revulsion over our current socioeconomic and political situation.

More than half the “mainstream Americans” in a Rasmussen poll last month said they view the Tea Party movement favorably – a reflection of the spirit of disenchantment.

Noam Chomsky

The grievances are legitimate. For more than 30 years, real incomes for the majority of the population have stagnated or declined while work hours and insecurity have increased, along with debt. Wealth has accumulated, but in very few pockets, leading to unprecedented inequality.

These consequences mainly spring from the financialization of the economy since the 1970s and the corresponding hollowing-out of domestic production. Spurring the process is the deregulation mania favored by Wall Street and supported by economists mesmerized by efficient-market myths.

Read full article…

Phi Beta Iota: Emphasis added above.  The chapter on “Legitimate Grievances” in ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (EIN, 2008) comes in two parts–domestic grievances warranting state nullification of federal abuse, and state consideration of secession if the legitimate Constitutionally-derived Republic cannot be restored; and global grievances occasioned by a century of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism working in unison to loot the commonwealths of all nations–our elite corrupted the other elites, and between them they have come very close to destroying what should be a prosperous world at peace.

Structured Reading on Reality:

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

See Also by Chomsky:

Journal: Up to 90 percent of US paper money [in large cities] contains traces of cocaine

Review: What We Say Goes

Review: Interventions

Review: Failed States–The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (American Empire Project)

Review: Imperial Ambitions–Conversations on the Post-9/11 World (American Empire Project)

Review: Hegemony or Survival–America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project)

Review: The Umbrella of U.S. Power–The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of U.S. Policy

Review: Profit Over People–Neoliberalism & Global Order

Review: 9-11

Review: Acts of Aggression

Review: Manufacturing Consent–The Political Economy of the Mass Media

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Nov 17

Journal: Up to 90 percent of US paper money [in large cities] contains traces of cocaine

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Traces of cocaine exist in up to 90 percent of banknotes in many large US cities, a new study reports. Credit: The American Chemical Society

Traces of cocaine exist in up to 90 percent of banknotes in many large US cities, a new study reports. Credit: The American Chemical Society

Reports are glossing over the fact that this pertains to notes from large cities, not all across America, but it is none-the-less an interesting signal of “contamination.”  Noam Chomsky would say this is another indicator that the USA is moving toward “failed state” status.

We draw two different conclusions: 1) that Canada is as much if not more of a threat to the USA because of its extraordinarily ineffective policing of its borders and its illegal alien and underground criminal populations, both Arab and Asian; and 2) the cross-contamination of bills is probably as much an indicator of increasing sophistication of money-laundering by gangs, to include increasing use of halawa and other “off-banking” means of international transfer.

Click on the photo to read the original story.

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Aug 17

Review: What We Say Goes

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5.0 out of 5 stars Dick Cheney Pulls Noam Chomsky to the Center (Relatively Speaking)
October 18, 2007
Noam Chomsky
Edit of 15 Jun 09 to correct factual error in original review (nuclear deal with Iran under Gerald Ford, not Ronald Reagan, in 1974).

Chomsky is actually starting to win over the balanced middle with his common sense. I have long respected him, but it took Dick Cheney and his merry band of nakedly amoral and obliviously delusional henchmen to really bring home to America how much his straight talk and logical thinking can help us.

There is virtually no repetition from past works. This series of interviews took place in 2006 and early 2007, and I found a great deal here worth noting.

* In 70 New York Times editorials on Iraq, not once did they mention international law or the United Nations Charter. He uses this and several other examples to show how pallid, how myopic, how unprofessional our mainstream media has become.

* A wonderful section talks about how civil *obedience* of immoral and illegal orders is our biggest challenge in this era, and I agree. The “failure of generalship” in the Pentagon resulted from a well-meaning but profoundly misdirected confusion of loyalty to the civilian chain of command, however lunatic, with the integrity that each of our senior swore to the Constitution and to We the People in their Oath of Office.

* His knowledge of Lebanon, a country I have come to love as representative of all that is good in the Middle East, is most helpful. His many remarks, all documented, make it clear that Israel has been abducting people for decades, and that the Lebanese have quite properly come to equate US “freedom” with the “kiss of death.” I am especially impressed with his discussion of Hezbollah as having legitimacy based on providing social services to those ignored by past governments, and as having a significant strategic value to Iran as a flank on Israel. His observations on how the US consistently refuses to recognize honest elections that do not go as the policymakers (not the US public) wish, are valid.

* He reminds us that the US made an enormous strategic mistake in using Saudi Arabian extremist Islam as a counterpoint to Nasser’s natural Arab nationalism. As Robert Baer puts it, we see no evil and slept with the devil like a common whore lusting for oil.

* His comments on China and the Shi’ites who sit on most of the reserves (including Saudi reserves in one corner of that country, are provocative. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the USA needs to cede the oil to China and execute a Manhattan Project to leverage solar power from space, tidal power, air power, and–for storage–hydrogen power made with renewable resources.

* Chomsky’s comments on Chavez track with my own understanding. Chavez is a serious and well-off revolutionary who is sharing energy with his Latin American brethren, and leading the independence of Latin America from the overbearing and often hypocritical and predatory US government and US multinational corporations.

* He offers compelling thoughts on how India is sacrificing hundreds of thousands of poor rural people who now commit suicide or migrate to cities after losing their lands, for the sake of the high technology investments. I wonder why India is not doing more to teach the poor “one cell call at a time.”

* His observations on US electoral fraud are brilliant. He points out that the fact that elections are stolen is much less important than the fact that the entire electoral process in the US is fraudulent, without substance, only posturing and platitudes.

* He discusses how the US public is completely divorced from the policy choices of the dual tyranny of the US (political) government and the US corporate sector.

* At every turn Chomsky offers common sense observations, for instance, Pakistan, not Iran, is vastly more likely to leak nuclear capabilities to jihadists. In passing, he points out that it was the US that gave the Shah of Iran an entire MIT nuclear program and substantive assistance that is now being harvested by Iran, in 1975. Kissinger, Cheney,Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz as well as Gerald Ford are mentioned by name.

* He observes that Israeli influence is vastly larger than the lobbying effort, because the entire US intellectual network has “bought into” the Israeli myths and lies. The American fascists (see American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America), the Christian fundamentalists, are actually anti-Semitic, but support Israel because of their belief in the apocalypse.

* The Internet is having a pernicious effect on dialog and debate and compromise, because it creates little cul-de-sacs for lunatics of like mind to find and reinforce one another, divorced from larger realities.

* Avian flu (and our lack of preparation for it) is vastly more dangerous than a nuclear event. (See my review of the DVD Pandemic).

* Missile “defense” is actually code for allowing a first strike by the US on Russia or China, as a means to moderating their counter-strike. This is the first time I have heard it put this way, and I agree. All Americans should oppose “missile defense.”

* State secrecy is about keeping our own citizens ignorant of the crimes being done “in our name” not about keeping secrets from the enemies we a re covertly screwing over time and again.

* Darfur is being dumbed down, at the same time that the *millions* being genocided in the Congo are being ignored.

* He ends on two good notes. Like Thomas Jefferson (A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry”) he says that “educating the American people is the main thing to be done,” and love of the people is fundamental.

Great book, completely fresh and absolutely worth reading for the mainstream that might have in the past written Chomsky off as a perennial leftist, which he is not. Chomsky is what we must all seek to be: an educated engaged citizen.

See also:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
Bush’s Brain
Why We Fight

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Oct 18

Review: Interventions

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InterventionsGems of Tough Love, Hope & Inspiration

June 15, 2007

Noam Chomsky

Other speakers have pointed out, as the book’s foreword does as well, that most of Chomsky’s Op Eds are widely published overseas but not in the US. I completely agree with the general view among intelligent people that the mainstream print and broadcast media, including NPR which now works for Otto Reich, Karl Rove’s best post-Nazi pal, are worthless. As Joe Trippi says, “the revolution will not be televised,” nor will it be discovered by any “news hole” reporter whose column inches are subordinate to advertising and info-mercials from the powers that be. I recall with anger that $100,000 full page ads, cash offered up front, were REFUSED by the NYT, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post. Shame!

As I usually do with Chomsky’s works, I start with the last item, and then go back to the beginning. The heart of this book in my view is two-fold:

1) American intellectuals on both left and right, are timid, ignorant, lazy, and generally a pitiful mess. They have all fallen prey to ideological fantasy or agnostic oblivion. Absent Chomsky, Sy Hersh, and a few others (not counting authors like Francis Moore Lappe and others in the transpartisan mode), our media–broadcast, print, and web–is completely lacking and totally distorted in its failure to be a responsible fourth estate.

2) We the People have the power to change all this. Interestingly (at least to me), as Chompsky’s book arrived via UPS I was reading the introduction by Lawrence Goodwyn to “The Populist Movement: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America” (Oxford, 1979). Both Chomsky and Goodwyn see clearly that there is a corporate dominance of “the national interest” that is completely at variance, 180 degrees contrary to “the public interest.” This may well be the single most significant political concept we must communicate to every American eligible to vote in 2008.

Chomsky makes much–and in my mind very properly so–of how the people and the varied organizations subordinate to the banks, corporations, and puppet government (both federal and state) have been “domesticated” to believe that the existing system is “as good as it gets” and that nothing can come of a popular revolt. However, and here I draw on Goodwyn, it is clear that the people can reach a breaking points, a point beyond which their suffering cannot be explained by “hard times” or “genetic sloth” or any of the other propaganda terms used to try to keep the 90% that do all the work still for their screwing by CEOs and Wall Street and the Federal Reserve.

Reading Chomsky is like a bracing splash of cold water. Early on in the book, an item dated 1 November 2002 (the dates for each Op-Ed are always present and much appreciated), he offers a modest proposal: that if the US insists on toppling Hussein, that it simply commission Iran to do so, and offer all the support it previously offered to Iraq against Iran. What an insane idea, he points out at the end, only to pointedly suggest that the only idea MORE insane is for the US to go it alone and lightly.

This morning I was re-reading Adda Bozeman’s introduction to her brilliant work, “Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft,” and recalling how in 1992 (the same year that I tried to get the USG to take open sources of information seriously) she was very pointedly stating that the heart of strategic intelligence lay in understanding the cultural and religious values of others. Not something CIA has a clue about, especially today when 4 out of 5 “analysts” (more like junior butts in seats) have less than five years experience.

Chomsky is gifted at speaking truth to power, and it is significant that more and more people are reading what he writes–just as more and more people are reading my non-fiction reviews–the American public is now “engaged” and emergent from its slumber. Sadly, when other try to replicate his truth-telling, citing chapter and verse from “Sorrows of Empire,” or “War is a Racket” or “The Fifty Year Would,” or “Why the Rest Hate the West,” we get slammed down. Just yesterday I was told that a superb monograph on Intelligence & Information Operations (I2O) would be published officially, but only if I took out all the “conspiracy theory” quotes. The first one, on page 3, quoted General Smedley Butler, the most decorated Marine of his era, saying he did not like being an enforcer for corporations. So much for speaking the truth in Pentagon circles (where I usually get fairly free rein, to their credit).

Chomsky’s other oft-repeated theme, but with all new words in all new Op-Eds tailored to the post 9/11 era, is that it is America that is the global terrorist, America that is the evil-doer. Let me be among those who stand with Chomsky. I declare, as the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction; as a former Marine Corps infantry officer, clandestine spy for the CIA, founder of the Marine Corps Intelligence Command, and devoted citizen and father with roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Chomsky is correct. We are losing the global war of belief systems because we refuse to recognize our grotesque migration from a free people to an evil empire in which the people have no say over what is being done “in their name.” Sun Tzu knew that only those who know BOTH themselves, AND their enemy, will be victories. We know NEITHER ourselves nor our enemies, most of them of our own making. There are reasons for this, but the most important reason lies with our own failing as a public willing to demand the public interest in lieu of special interests.

No one need fear Chomsky, who loves America as much as I do. We need to fear only our inertia as disciplining those who have committed high crimes and misdemeanors, relying on our apathy. The list is long.

War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Eagle’s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq
Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception : How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Bush’s BrainWhy We Fight

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Jun 15

Review: Failed States–The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (American Empire Project) (Hardcover)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Preventive Wars Don’t Work; Democracy Deficit in USA,

May 2, 2006
Noam Chomsky
Within the 900+ non-fiction books about information, intelligence, emerging threats, and national security that I have reviewed for Amazon, I count many of Noam Chomsky’s books. As with others, there is some repetition here, and he could have done a better job of reviewing the function and purpose of the state before labeling the U.S. a failed state. I will say, before my concluding comment, that all of my reading bears out Chomsky’s inherent correctness.

Among the points that earned a note on my flyleaf:

* US began with the genocide of the Indians, moved on to slavery, and now condones genocide across Africa and elsewhere.

* Quotes CIA Bin Laden analyst with appreciation in noting that all the US has to do to stop the problems in the Middle East is wean itself from dictators and cheap oil, remove its forces from the Muslim lands, and stop predatory capitalism. Hmmmm. There just might be a moral point in there someplace!

* Chomsky asserts that history documents that preventive wars usually bring about the outcomes they ostensibly seek to stop, and does very very well in detailing how the US invasion allowed hundreds of missile and weapons sites to be looted, moving many of the components of weapons of mass destruction into unfriendly insurgent hands–precisely what we allegedly sought to prevent.

* The author recounts the varied facts that have emerged on how the US specifically sought regime change, the British (at least those with integrity like the Foreign Minister who quit) refused to go along with that, so Blair and Bush together concocted pretexts.

* Chomsky confirms in this book what I have seen myself, which is that the only part of the US Government that is “at war” is the U.S. Army and select portions of the U.S. Air Force. The rest of the government is NOT at war, and simply pursuing business as usual. Our war on terrorism is ineffective in the sense of capturing specific terrorists, and counter-productive in the sense of producing tens of thousands more–as Chomsky recounts in the book citing RAND and other studies, 85% of the “foreign fighters” in Iraq were mobilized and radicalized by the US invasion of Iraq.

* Chomsky is provocatively on target when he anticipates the emergence of a Shiite regional power based on Iran that includes the Shiite controlled regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia–and in the latter, that happens to include the most productive oil fields–in short, the extremist Republicans’ worst nightmare.

* Chomsky harps, no doubt with reason, on the long record that the US has in sponsoring crimes against humanity including regime changes that are against democracy (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Haiti, the list goes on) and in favor of dictators who will protect US private investment as the expense of the public interest in their own countries.

* Chomsky focuses a portion of the book on the crimes by Israel against the Palestinians, although he does not appear to balance this by noting how ill-treated the Palestinians have been by all the Arab nations. He emphatically and deliberately identifies Bush with Hitler in that the two share a strain of “demonic messiaism” and rely on “the big lie” that (if repeated often enough) will fool the people. Goebbels would be proud of his kin in the White House, Karl Rove.

* Chomsky concludes the book by discussing the “democratic deficit” in the USA, and while he is very much on point, he wanders somewhat. For a better appreciation of why we allowed the extreme right to take over and ruin the country, I recommend Jacob Hacker’s OFF CENTER: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy as well as other books on my democracy list. As a moderate Republican, I can certify that the Republican party today is run by thieves, lunatics, extremists, and — in the case of John McCain — born again Bushophiles.

This book is, like, most of his books, a very long Op-Ed but with good footnotes. We need to move toward more analysis and toward finding solutions. Inspired by Chomsky and others, I am in the process of developing a monograph that takes the top ten threats to global and national security identified by the High-Level threat panel of the United Nations (with LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft as the US representative), and showing that 80% of the information we need to understand and address those threats is open source information (OSIF), not secret information, on which we spend $60 billion a year. At the same time, we are spending $500 billion a year on a heavy-metal military and missile defense, when in fact inter-state conflict is only one of the ten threats, or 10%. We are not, as a nation, trained, equipped, nor organized to do poverty, infectious disease, environmental collapse, civil war, terrorism, or translational crime. America is in effect, two Americas: a nation of sheep living for their next six pack, and a very small exclusive group of perhaps 10,000 really rich people dominating Wall Street, the energy companies, and a handful of other major corporate networks. They are busy looting the Republic on the false assumption that they will be able to retire to gated enclaves. They simply do not understand that within twenty years there will be no place for them or their heirs to hide, and this will all come back to haunt them.

I would also say that I am more optimistic than Chomsky. Collective Intelligence and a Citizens Party (as a second home party, non-rival) are emergent, and technologies are coming out that will help eliminate poverty and infectious disease while stabilizing the environment and population. What we lack right now is moral strategic leadership. It is my hope that Bush-Cheney have radicalized enough of the world so that we might thank them in 2008 for making possible the return of balanced centrist coalition leadership.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America’s Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It

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May 2

Review: Imperial Ambitions–Conversations on the Post-9/11 World (American Empire Project) (Paperback)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Call to arms for We the People (Intellectual Self-Defense),

October 23, 2005
Noam Chomsky
There are always gems to be found in anything that Chomsky offers (I agree with the Boston Globe’s assessment of him as “America’s most useful citizen”) but one can always be warned when the offering is interviews, double-spaced, over time.

In this instance, the Introduction is actually useful and I agree with David Barsamian when he describes Chomsky as an extraordinary distiller and interpreter of information, who represents all that intellectuals *should* be.

One aspect of the book that is new to Chomsky’s writing is his clear and distinct appreciation for the freedom’s that we enjoy in America. While we are all subject to the arbitrary declaration by the government that we are an “enemy combatant” with no rights, on balance Chomsky goes out of his way in this series of interviews to articulate his love for America and his appreciation of the privileges that attend one who is both a citizen and a tenured (now retired) professor.

As a long-time reader of Chomsky, I found some delight in his recollection of the beginnings of propaganda (in England, with the stated intent “to direct the thought of most of the world”) and I learned for the first time that Chomsky credits Walter Lippman with the phrase “manufacturing consent” that Chomsky used as the title of his most famous co-authored work.

Chomsky offers some fascinating geopolitical insights with his suggestion that the Trans-Siberian Railway might be extended to run down through North Korean into South Korea, and his views that ASEAN plus 3 (China, Korea, Japan) might rise to super-power status. I am especially taken with his view that China might be the power that saves America from itself, orchestrating a balance of power and sanity arrangement from that side of the world.

Chomsky returns to a familiar theme in this book, that of war crimes and the US being a very guilty party, but for the first time, I see Chomsky forgiving of the soldiers on the front lines, and even of their general officers, and placing all of the blame on the civilians that direct the military from the White House and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This is new. I fully expect Americans to be brought up on war crime charges in the next ten years, and I expect the American public to support this when the evidence is presented in graphic terms.

Chomsky also returns to his theme of the US harboring terrorists and hence not being able to claim the high ground against other nations. I was impressed by how the Cubans gathered evidence on the Florida-based assassins and violators of US law, and how elegantly the Cubans presented this evidence to the FBI. I was dismayed but not surprised to find the FBI arresting the Cuban infiltrators rather than the assasins–this is the same FBI that has convicted fewer than five actual terrorists, each with an average jail sentence of 14 days, from thousands of arrests. So much for intelligent effective federal investigations.

The book concludes with a fascinating discussion of “intellectual self-defense” that is a call to arms for every intelligent American (we need to be concerned–that may only be about one fifth of us).

This is something of a quickie book, not at all as substantive as Chomsky’s usual works, but with many gems never-the-less. Certainly worth buying and reading.

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Oct 23

Review: Hegemony or Survival–America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Apex of Moral Critical Thinking,

November 14, 2003
Noam Chomsky
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to restate importance of this work and add links.

UPDATED to comment on Hugo Chavez at UN.

Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, together with the leaders of Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia, among others, brought reality to America with the United Nations presentations. It is noteworthy that not a single member of the General Assembly disagreed with their harsh assessments of the Bush-Cheney regime. I reviewed this book before it was made popular by Chavez, and I will say just two things: 1) order it now, it is worth the wait; and 2) Bush-Cheney may not be interested in reality, but reality is assuredly interested in us. It’s time the public realized that Chomsky, not Bush, is the real deal.

Yes, Chomsky tends to be repetitive and to rehash old stuff, so take away one-star. However, and I say this as the #1 Amazon reviewer of non-fiction about national security, to suggest that Chomsky is ever anything less than four stars is to betray one’s ignorance and bias. He adds new material in this book, and perhaps even more importantly, he delivers this book at a time when America is faced with what may well be its sixth most important turning point in history (after independence, the civil war, two world wars, and the cold war). How America behaves in the 2004 election is going to determine whether the Republic deteriorates into a quasi-totalitarian and bunkered society with a lost middle class and a gated elite, or whether we restore the world’s faith in American goodness, moral capitalism, and inclusive democracy.

Chomsky brilliantly brings forth a theme first articulated in recent times by Jonathan Schell (The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People) by pointing out that the *only* “superpower” capable of containing the neo-conservative, neo-totalitarian, neo-Nazi militarism and unilateralism of the current Bush Administration is “the planet’s public.”

Chomsky updates his work with both excellent and well-balanced footnotes and an orderly itemization of the arrogance, militarism, contempt for international law, arbitrary aggression, and–Bible thumpers take note–proven track record for supporting dictators, Israeli genocide against Palestinians, and US troop participation in–directly as well as indirectly–what will inevitably be judged by history to be a continuing pattern of war crimes.

Chomsky, past master of the topic of “manufacturing consent” now turns his attention to the manner in which the Bush Administration is attempting to establish “new norms” that, if permitted to stand, will reverse 50 years of human progress in seeking the legitimization of governance, respect for human rights, and collective decision-making and security.

He is especially strong on documenting the manner in which US aid grows in direct relation to the degree to which the recipient country is guilty of genocidal atrocities, with Colombia and Turkey being prime examples. The case can be made, and Chomsky makes it, that the US arms industry, and US policies on the selling and granting of arms world-wide, are in fact a direct US commitment to repression, genocide, and terrorism sponsored by one big state: the US. He is most interesting when he discusses the new US approach to repression, the privatization of actions against the underclasses of the world.

Morality plays big with Chomsky, who brings new ideas in with his discussion of moral asymmetry and the lack of moral integrity in US decision-making. Sadly, the US public is too busy trying to survive the abuses of the Bush-Cheney regime, and do not realize the crass immorality of all that is being done “in their name.”

Chomsky reminds us that George Bush the Second pardoned a known international terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, because of his ties to the extremist Cuban-American community that his brother Jeb Bush is so dependent upon for support.

Over the course of the middle of the book Chomsky addresses the competing models for national development, with Cuba prominent as an alternative model that the US has sought to destroy, as the US worked very hard to destroy Catholic “liberation theology” because of its temerity in believing that the poor should be protected against repressive governments and their American corporate paymasters. Chomsky is correct, I believe, when he states and documents that the US model of capitalism has pathologically high rates of inequality and poverty (even CNN has noticed–as I waited for an airplane in Salt Lake City, a bastion of common sense, the lead story was the collapse of the US middle class).

Chomsky moves from his discussion of exceptions to US capitalism to a discussion of the importance of regional differentiation, and this is of course in direct competition with the US view that the world should be a homogenized generic variation of the US culture, with one big difference: 80% of the benefits for the US, while the rest of the world shares the left-overs.

Chomsky agrees with Dr. Col Max Manwaring and other mainstream strategists (see my review of The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century when he identifies the legitimacy of governments, and the sanctity of human and civil rights, as the two litmus tests for determining if balance and fairness exist in a society. By this measure, the US is now failing.

The book begins to conclude with a semantic discussion of terrorism, what is terror, who sponsors terror, and here Chomsky draws on both his linguistic and historical background to make the case that the US is the primary sponsor of terrorism in the world (something both the Indonesian and Malaysian leadership would tend to agree with), and he notes that the US, in a bi-partisan manner among the elite, has consistently been hypocritical about terrorism. Nelson Mandela, and his resistance party, were labeled terrorists by the US for many years.

Are we in a passing nightmare, or the beginning of a renaissance? The jury is still out. I personally believe that John McCain would have been a vastly superior president that this lightweight bully that we have now, with his out-of-control neo-conservatives, none of whom ever served in uniform and some of whom–as with Dick Cheney–were active draft dodgers. However, I also believe that both John McCain, and Dick Gephardt if he were to be elected, are too close to the “business as usual” crowd of beltway politicians capitalized by beltway bandits. In other words, Howard Dean would not have been possible without the excesses of George Bush Junior. God does indeed work in mysterious ways, and I pray that the American public will both read Chomsky, and understand that they represent the only super-power that can restore legitimacy, sanity, comity, and prosperity to the American Republic. Down with the carpetbaggers–El Pueblo Avansa–EPA!.

Recent books supporting the moral intelligence of Noam Chomsky:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart

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Nov 14

Review: Manufacturing Consent–The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars 25 Years Ahead of the Crowd–Vital Reading Today,

August 22, 2003
Edward S. Herman
Edit of 22 Dec 07 to add links.

It is quite significant, in my view, that today as I write this Al Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right is #2 at Amazon, and Sheldon Rapton and John Stauber, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraqis #114 at Amazon. Not only are the people awakening to the truth, which is that they have been had through a combination of inattention and manipulation, but these two books and several others in this genre are validating what Chomsky was telling us all in the past 25 years.

The ability to set the agenda and determine what is talked about and how it is talked about is at the root of hidden power in the pseudo-democratic society. Chomsky was decades ahead of his time in studying both the power of language and the power of controlling the media message. Today, as we recall that so-called mainstream news media *refused* fully-funded anti-war advertisements that challenged the White House lies (62 of which have been documented with full sourcing in various blogs, notably Stephen Perry’s Bush at War blog), we must come to grips with the fact that America is at risk.

Thomas Jefferson said “A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry” and Supreme Court Justice Branstein said “The greatest threat to liberty is an inert public.” Today we lack the first and have the second, but as Amazon rankings show, the people, they are awakening. It is through reading, and following the links, and informed discussion, that the people can come together, using new tools for peer-to-peer information sharing and MeetUp’s, and take back the power.

Chomsky had it right. It took 25 years for all of us to realize he had it right. I rise in praise of this great man.

Other links that validate his ethics and intellect:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism: How the Financial System Underminded Social Ideals, Damaged Trust in the Markets, Robbed Investors of Trillions – and What to Do About It
Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart
Al On America

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Aug 22