Noam Chomsky Quotes
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.
I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.
Rational discussion is useful only when there is a significant base of shared assumptions.
Our only real hope for democracy is that we get the money out of politics entirely and establish a system of publicly funded elections.
Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.
If you want to achieve something, you build the basis for it.
The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society.
The intellectual tradition is one of servility to power, and if I didn’t betray it I’d be ashamed of myself.
Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.
The more you can increase fear of drugs, crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all of the people.
Pakistan is not a unified country.
Up until the First World War, when people turned anti-German, Germany had been described by American political scientists as the model of democracy.
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
My proposal happens to be very mainstream.
There is massive propaganda for everyone to consume. Consumption is good for profits and consumption is good for the political establishment.
Nationalism has a way of oppressing others.
My family was mostly unemployed working class.
A war with Pakistan would be an utter disaster.
The Occupy movement is – it was a big surprise.
The money in politics is a cash cow for the media.
The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history.
If you don’t like what someone has to say, argue with them.
If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion.
The threat and use of violence is stimulating nuclear proliferation along with jihadi terrorism.
Meteorologists are pretty faces reading scripts telling you whether it’s going to rain tomorrow.
If there was an observer on Mars, they would probably be amazed that we have survived this long.
On October 15, 1965, an estimated 70,000 people took part in large-scale anti-war demonstrations.
States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions.
Public opinion can be influential, the media can be influential.
There’s a tremendous gap between public opinion and public policy.
I don’t have any oratory skills. But I would not use them if I had.
The events of October 1962 are widely hailed as Kennedy’s finest hour.
Debt is a social and ideological construct, not a simple economic fact.
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.
Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
Wanton killing of innocent civilians is terrorism, not a war against terrorism.
In America, the professor talks to the mechanic. They are in the same category.
Markets have built in inefficiencies, serious inefficiencies which are well known.
Part of the population of Laos lives in urban centers, Vientiane being the largest.
You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.
I do think that Magna Carta and international law are worth paying some attention to.
How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me.
You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption.
Stability is when the U.K. and U.S. invade a country and impose the regime of their choice.
Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.
American imperialism is often traced to the takeover of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii in 1898.
Growing up in the place I did I never was aware of any other option but to question everything.
With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order.
The rise of capitalist practice and morality brought with it a radical revision of how the commons are treated, and also of how they are conceived.
The Iranian government is undoubtedly a severe danger to its own population, but not beyond that.
If you’re teaching today what you were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead or you are.
Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without charge, under torture, which is what solitary confinement is.
You go back to the 17th century, the commercial and industrial centers of the world were China and India.
As soon as questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise, human science is at a loss.
WikiLeaks is a service to the population. Assange should get an award for – presidential medal of honor.
Markets are lethal, if only because of ignoring externalities, the impacts of their transactions on the environment.
I have known people who are working class or craftsmen, who happen to be more intellectual than professors.
When a politician uses the word ‘folks,’ we should brace ourselves for the deceit, or worse, that is coming.
People who criticize power in the Jewish community are regarded the way Ahab treated Elijah: You’re a traitor.
Free speech has been used by the Supreme Court to give immense power to the wealthiest members of our society.
Since the civil war in Laos was resumed in earnest in 1963, American participation has been veiled in secrecy.
I’ve been interested in Japan since the 1930s, when I read about Japan’s vicious crimes in Manchuria and China.
In the academic world, most of the work that is done is clerical. A lot of the work done by professors is routine.
It is easy to dismiss the world as ‘irrelevant,’ or consumed by ‘paranoid anti-Americanism,’ but perhaps not wise.
Sooner or later, jihadist-style terror and WMD are going to come together and the consequences could be horrendous.
I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system.
After my first year of college, each course I took in every field was so boring that I didn’t even go to the classes.
The 1950s and 1960s had been a period of enormous growth, the highest in American history, maybe in economic history.
Anywhere in Latin America there is a potential threat of the pathology of caudillismo and it has to be guarded against.
If you look back at the history of the twentieth century, Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia several times.
Significant anniversaries are solemnly commemorated – Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, for example.
Now financial liberalization is just a catastrophe waiting to happen, and there are very well understood reasons for that.
When secular figures are turned into divinities, they way they are in Peian Yang or Stanford University – that I don’t like.
Governments are not representative. They have their own power, serving segments of the population that are dominant and rich.
History shows that, more often than not, loss of sovereignty leads to liberalisation imposed in the interests of the powerful.
There were plenty of other hominids, but they disappeared, probably because humans exterminated them, but nobody knows for sure.
I don’t know if I officially proofread my father’s book, but I read it. I did get some conception of grammar in general from that.
Everyone knows that when you look at a television ad, you do not expect to get information. You expect to see delusion and imagery.
Cuba has become a symbol of courageous resistance to attack. Since 1959, Cuba has been under attack from the hemispheric superpower.
Turkey must find its place if, of course, it can heal its internal sores, and none is more malignant than the perennial Kurdish issue.
Humans have certain properties and characteristics which are intrinsic to them, just as every other organism does. That’s human nature.
The western mantra is that Israel seeks negotiations without preconditions, while the Palestinians refuse. The opposite is more accurate.
There are two problems for our species’ survival – nuclear war and environmental catastrophe – and we’re hurtling towards them. Knowingly.
If you are giving a graduate course you don’t try to impress the students with oratory, you try to challenge them, get them to question you.
When Britain and the U.S. invaded Iraq, it was with the reasonable expectation that it was going to increase the threat of terror, as it has.
I don’t think that experience is a very useful or convincing attribute for a sensible foreign policy. Henry Kissinger had a lot of experience.
Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.
Iran has little capacity to deploy force. Its strategic doctrines are defensive, designed to deter invasion long enough for diplomacy to set it.
There are massive efforts on the part of the internet’s corporate owners to try to direct it to become a technique of marginalisation and control.
State formation has been a brutal project, with many hideous consequences. But the results exist, and their pernicious aspects should be overcome.
Some international law specialists compare the invasion of Iraq to the ‘crimes against the peace’ for which Nazi leaders were indicted at Nuremberg.
If you destroyed half the pharmaceutical production in the United States, we’d think it’s a pretty serious problem. In fact, we’d probably go to war.
In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued – they may be essential to survival.
In many respects, the United States is a great country. Freedom of speech is protected more than in any other country. It is also a very free society.
It is a virtual reflex for governments to plead security concerns when they undertake any controversial action, often as a pretext for something else.
Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever.
No matter what engineering field you’re in, you learn the same basic science and mathematics. And then maybe you learn a little bit about how to apply it.
It cannot be too often stressed that Israel had no credible pretext for its 2008-9 attack on Gaza, with full U.S. support and illegally using U.S. weapons.
The murder of Lumumba, in which the U.S. was involved, in the Congo destroyed Africa’s major hope for development. Congo is now total horror story, for years.
Latin America has much richer resources. You’d expect it to be far more advanced than East Asia, but it had the disadvantage of being under imperialist wings.
After the first International Days of Protest in October, 1965, Senator Mansfield criticized the ‘sense of utter irresponsibility’ shown by the demonstrators.
Civil disobedience’s main goal typically is to try to arouse and inspire others to join and do something. Well, sometimes that is a good tactic, sometimes not.
Radical Islamist extremists surely hope that an attack on Iraq will kill many people and destroy much of the country, providing recruits for terrorist actions.
In November 2004, U.S. occupation forces launched their second major attack on the city of Falluja. The press reported major war crimes instantly, with approval.
The ‘anti-globalisation movement’ is the most significant proponent of globalisation – but in the interests of people, not concentrations of state-private power.
There’s plenty to criticize about the mass media, but they are the source of regular information about a wide range of topics. You can’t duplicate that on blogs.
Judge Afiuni has suffered enough. She has been subject to acts of violence and humiliations to undermine her human dignity. I am convinced that she must be set free.
Unlike Iran, Israel refuses to allow inspections at all, refuses to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has hundreds of nuclear weapons, has advanced delivery systems.
Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.
I do not think psychoanalysis has a scientific basis. If we can’t explain why a cockroach decides to turn left, how can we explain why a human being decides to do something?
Romania, which had the worst dictator in Eastern Europe, Ceausescu, he was a darling of the West. The United States and Britain loved him. He was supported until the last minute.
The process of shaping opinion, attitudes, and perceptions was termed the ‘engineering of consent’ by one of the founders of the modern public relations industry, Edward Bernays.
There is still much debate about whether torture has been effective in eliciting information – the assumption being, apparently, that if it is effective, then it may be justified.
Haitian rice farmers are quite efficient, but they can’t compete with U.S. agribusiness that relies on a huge government subsidy, thanks to Ronald Reagan’s free market enthusiasms.
In November 2007, the White House issued a Declaration of Principles demanding that U.S. forces must remain indefinitely in Iraq and committing Iraq to privilege American investors.
A financial institution has the task of taking risks, and if it’s a well run institution – say, Goldman Sachs – it tries to cover the potential losses to itself, but only to itself.
There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.
The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control – ‘indoctrination,’ we might say – exercised through the mass media.
Every time there has been an effort by the Haitian people to overcome the misery and poverty that comes from 200 years of bitter attacks, really bitter, the U.S. steps in and blocks it.
The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor led to many very good things. If you follow the trail, it led to kicking Europeans out of Asia – that saved tens of millions of lives in India alone.
For 500 years, since European explorers came, Latin American countries had been separated from one another. They had very limited relations. Integration is a prerequisite for independence.
In 1949, China declared independence – an event known in Western discourse as ‘the loss of China’ in the U.S. – with bitter recriminations and conflict over who was responsible for that loss.
In much of the world, there is a sense of an ultra-powerful CIA manipulating everything that happens, such as running the Arab Spring, running the Pakistani Taliban, etc. That is just nonsense.
The level of destruction and terror and violence carried out by the powerful states far exceeds anything that can imaginably can be done by groups that are called terrorists and subnational groups.
If a child from an Amazonian hunter-gatherer tribe comes to Boston, is raised in Boston, that child will be indistinguishable in language capacities from my children growing up here, and vice versa.
The principle that human nature, in its psychological aspects, is nothing more than a product of history and given social relations removes all barriers to coercion and manipulation by the powerful.
It is true that classical libertarian thought is opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence of deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty, diversity, and free association.
All through Latin America, there’s sharp condemnation of the criminal atrocities of Sept. 11. But it’s qualified by the observation that although these are horrible atrocities, they are not unfamiliar.
Social Security is based on a principle. It’s based on the principle that you care about other people. You care whether the widow across town, a disabled widow, is going to be able to have food to eat.
The major advances in speed of communication and ability to interact took place more than a century ago. The shift from sailing ships to telegraph was far more radical than that from telephone to email!
France had a policy, initiated by General de Gaulle, of trying to turn Europe into what was then called a ‘third force,’ independent of the two superpowers, so Europe should pursue an independent course.
The social and physical construction of suburban America really was quite complex. It was a very elaborate system, and clearly a massive social engineering project that has changed U.S. society enormously.
Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.
One of the most interesting reactions to come out of 1968 was in the first publication of the Trilateral Commission, which believed there was a ‘crisis of democracy’ from too much participation of the masses.
Some of the most moving experiences I’ve had are just in black churches in the South, during the Civil Rights Movement, where people were getting beaten, killed, really struggling for the most elementary rights.
A large majority of Americans believe that the U.N., not the U.S., should take the lead in working with Iraqis to transfer authentic sovereignty as well as in economic reconstruction and maintaining civic order.
All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
John Lewis Gaddis is not only the favorite historian of the Reagan administration, but he’s regarded as the dean of Cold War scholarship, the leading figure in the American Cold War scholarship, a professor at Yale.
Presented with the claims of nineteenth-century racist anthropology, a rational person will ask two sorts of questions: ‘What is the scientific status of the claims?’ ‘What social or ideological needs do they serve?’
Anarchism means all sort of things to different people, but the traditional anarchists’ movements assumed that there’d be a highly organized society, just one organized from below with direct participation and so on.
The Washington leadership has put aside non-proliferation programmes and devoted its energies and resources to driving the country to war by extraordinary deceit, then trying to manage the catastrophe it created in Iraq.
In November 2008, the day of the presidential election, Israeli military forces invaded Gaza and killed half a dozen Hamas militants. Well, that was followed by a missile exchange for a couple of weeks in both directions.
If you are working 50 hours a week in a factory, you don’t have time to read 10 newspapers a day and go back to declassified government archives. But such people may have far-reaching insights into the way the world works.
As a Zionist youth leader in the 1940s, I was among those who called for a binational state in Mandatory Palestine. When a Jewish state was declared, I felt that it should have the rights of other states – no more, no less.
I stated that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are ‘among the most unspeakable crimes in history.’ I took no position on just where they stand on the scale of horrors relative to Auschwitz, the bombing of Chungking, Lidice, and so on.
I remember at the age of five travelling on a trolley car with my mother past a group of women on a picket line at a textile plant, seeing them being viciously beaten by security people. So that kind of thing stayed with me.
Chemistry, until my childhood, not that long ago, was regarded as a calculating device. Because you couldn’t reduce to physics. So it’s just some way of calculating the result of experiments. The Bohr atom was treated that way.
There are major efforts being made to dismantle Social Security, the public schools, the post office – anything that benefits the population has to be dismantled. Efforts against the U.S. Postal Service are particularly surreal.
In February 2004, the two traditional torturers of Haiti – France and the United States – combined to back a military coup and send President Aristide off to Africa. The U.S. denies him permission to return to the entire region.
The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism – mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets.
It is pretty ironic that the so-called ‘least advanced’ people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.
U.S. Government propaganda tries to give the impression that aerial bombardment achieves near-surgical accuracy, so that military targets can be destroyed with minimal effect on civilians. Technical documents give a different picture.
I don’t join the New Atheists. So, for example, I wouldn’t have the arrogance to lecture some mother who hopes to see her dying child in Heaven – that’s none of my business, ultimately. I won’t lecture her on the philosophy of science.
The polls show that concern over inequality among the general public rose pretty sharply after the Occupy movement started, very probably as a consequence. And there are other policy issues that came to the fore, which are significant.
Even in the 1950s, President Eisenhower was concerned about what he called a campaign of hatred of the U.S. in the Arab world, because of the perception on the Arab street that it supported harsh and oppressive regimes to take their oil.
It’s perfectly obvious that there is some genetic factor that distinguishes humans from other animals and that it is language-specific. The theory of that genetic component, whatever it turns out to be, is what is called universal grammar.
If you’re in favour of any policy – reform, revolution, stability, regression, whatever – if you’re at least minimally moral, it’s because you think it’s somehow good for people. And good for people means conforming to their fundamental nature.
In 1993, Israel and North Korea were moving towards an agreement in which North Korea would stop sending any missiles or military technology to the Middle East and Israel would recognize that country. President Clinton intervened and blocked it.
The target of preventive war must have several characteristics. It must be virtually defenceless; it must be important enough to be worth the trouble; it must be possible to portray it as the ultimate evil and an imminent threat to our survival.
By curious accident of history and geography, the world’s major energy resources are located pretty much in Shiite regions. They’re a minority in the Middle East, but they happen to be where the oil is, right around the northern part of the Gulf.
From the 1970s, there has been a significant change in the U.S. economy, as planners, private and state, shifted it toward financialization and the offshoring of production, driven in part by the declining rate of profit in domestic manufacturing.
After the ignominious collapse of the Copenhagen global climate change summit in 2009, Bolivia organised a People’s Summit with 35,000 participants from 140 countries – not just representatives of governments, but also civil society and activists.
The Oslo Accords in 1993 determined that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a single territorial entity which cannot be divided. Immediately, the United States and Israel set about separating the two and making sure that they would not be united.
A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production, and the wage-slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer.
My own feeling is that one should refuse to participate in any activity that implements American aggression – thus tax refusal, draft refusal, avoidance of work that can be used by the agencies of militarism and repression, all seem to me essential.
As Bromberger observed, rules are understood to be elements of the computational systems that determine the sound and meaning of the infinite array of expressions of a language; the information so derived is accessed by other systems in language use.
In September 1993, President Clinton presided over a handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn – the climax of a ‘day of awe,’ as the press described it.
A very large majority of the U.S. population is in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and has been for a long time with some fluctuations. And even part of the business world is in favor of it, too. But the government won’t allow it.
Dr. Karel Culik is an outstanding applied mathematician, a specialist in algebra, logic, computer sciences and mathematical linguistics. In 1965, he visited the linguistics research program at MIT, and we have worked together on several projects since.
Anyone can be a moral individual, concerned with human rights and problems; but only a college professor, a trained expert, can solve technical problems by ‘sophisticated’ methods. Ergo, it is only problems of the latter sort that are important or real.
In a democracy, in a functioning democracy, what would be happening is that popular organizations, unions, political groupings, others would be developing their programs, putting them forth, insisting that their representatives implement those programs.
If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does, he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees.
The former colonies, in Latin America in particular, have a better chance than ever before to overcome centuries of subjugation, violence and foreign intervention, which they have so far survived as dependencies with islands of luxury in a sea of misery.
When I was a college student and I got interested in linguistics the concern among students was, this is a lot of fun, but after we have done a structural analysis of every language in the world what’s left? It was assumed there were basically no puzzles.
In Kosovo, the U.S. has chosen a course of action that escalates atrocities and violence. It is also a course of action that strikes a blow against the regime of international order, but which offers the weak at least some protection from predatory states.
There’s a War Crimes Act in the United States passed by a Republican Congress in 1996, which says that grave breaches of the Geneva Convention are subject to the death penalty. And that doesn’t mean the soldier that committed them – that means the commanders.
The good news from the U.S. military survey of focus groups is that Iraqis do accept the Nuremberg principles. They understand that sectarian violence and the other postwar horrors are contained within the supreme international crime committed by the invaders.
Spaniards were condemned for appeasing terrorism by voting for withdrawing troops from Iraq in the absence of U.N. authorization – that is, for taking a stand rather like that of 70 percent of Americans, who called for the U.N. to take the leading role in Iraq.
Everyone who is critical of Israeli policy is deluged by crazed messages intended to flood their email system or, more insidiously, passwords are accessed and messages sent out under their name! I’m sure it’s illegal. It’s also an effort to undermine free speech.
Everyone who is critical of Israeli policy is deluged by crazed messages intended to flood their email system or, more insidiously, passwords are accessed and messages sent out under their name! I’m sure it’s illegal. It’s also an effort to undermine free speech.
A tremendous amount of the entrepreneurial initiative, if you want to call it that, comes from the dynamic state sector on which most of the economy relies to socialize costs and risks and privatize eventual profit. And that’s achieved by, if you like, advertising.
In the early days of the military Arpanet, my daughter was studying in Nicaragua. Because the U.S. was essentially at war with them, contact was difficult. I managed to use MIT’s Arpanet connection, and she found one, so we could communicate thanks to the Pentagon!
If you’re working 50 hours a week to try to maintain family income, and your children have the kinds of aspirations that come from being flooded with television from age one, and associations have declined, people end up hopeless, even though they have every option.
In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.
The crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere, particularly Lebanon, are so shocking that the only emotionally valid reaction is rage and a call for extreme actions. But that does not help the victims. And, in fact, it’s likely to harm them.
In the literal sense, there has been no relevant evolution since the trek from Africa. But there has been substantial progress towards higher standards of rights, justice and freedom – along with all too many illustrations of how remote is the goal of a decent society.
The old-fashioned idea is that responsibility falls upon those who borrow and lend. Money was not borrowed by campesinos, assembly plant workers, or slum-dwellers. The mass of the population gained little from borrowing, indeed often suffered grievously from its effects.
September 11 shocked many Americans into an awareness that they had better pay much closer attention to what the U.S. government does in the world and how it is perceived. Many issues have been opened for discussion that were not on the agenda before. That’s all to the good.
Some may remember, if you have good memories, that there used to be a concept in Anglo-American law called a presumption of innocence, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now that’s so deep in history that there’s no point even bringing it up, but it did once exist.
NATO was constructed on the – with the reason, whether one believes it or not, that it was going to defend Western Europe from Russian assault. Once the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union was beginning to collapse, that reason was gone. So, first question: why does NATO exist?
One of the problems of organizing in the North, in the rich countries, is that people tend to think – even the activists – that instant gratification is required. You constantly hear: ‘Look I went to a demonstration, and we didn’t stop the war so what’s the use of doing it again?’
If workers are more insecure, that’s very ‘healthy’ for the society, because if workers are insecure, they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health.
In 1963, the U.N. Security Council declared a voluntary arms embargo on South Africa. That was extended to a mandatory embargo in 1977. And that was followed by economic sanctions and other measures – sometimes officials, countries, cities, towns – some organized by popular movements.
Thanh Hoa itself is a rich agricultural province. Rice fields, a pattern of many shades of green, stretch far into the distance along the road, which also winds through foothills and the fringes of heavy jungle where tigers are said to roam. The vegetation, wild or cultivated, is lush.
In the late Fifties and early Sixties, opposition to state terror and aggression and torture and so on was zero. That was a horrible time: the massive Kennedy terror operation against Cuba, the first attacks on Vietnam in 1962, the imposition of national security states in South America.
In Egypt, on the eve of Tahrir Square, there was a major poll which found that overwhelmingly – 80-90%, numbers like that – Egyptians regarded the main threats they face as the U.S. and Israel. They don’t like Iran – Arabs generally don’t like Iran – but they didn’t consider it a threat.
The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say, physics – greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else.
Britain kept its position as the dominant world power well into the 20th century despite steady decline. By the end of World War II, dominance had shifted decisively into the hands of the upstart across the sea, the United States, by far the most powerful and wealthy society in world history.
When you look at a corporation, just like when you look at a slave owner, you want to distinguish between the institution and the individual. So slavery, for example, or other forms of tyranny, are inherently monstrous. The individuals participating in them may be the nicest guys you can imagine.
Even the most cynical can hardly be surprised by the antics of Nixon and his accomplices as they are gradually revealed. It matters little, at this point, where the exact truth lies in the maze of perjury, evasion, and of contempt for the normal – hardly inspiring – standards of political conduct.
I did used to have nightmares about the idea that when I die, there is a spark of consciousness which basically creates the world. ‘Is the world going to disappear if this spark of consciousness disappears? And how do I know it won’t? How do I know there’s anything there except what I’m conscious of?’
In the late 19th century there was a major union organization, Knights of Labor, and also a radical populist movement based on farmers. It’s hard to believe, but it was based in Texas, and it was quite radical. They wanted their own banks, their own cooperatives, their own control over sales and commerce.
Reparations – not just aid – should be provided by those responsible for devastating Iraqi civilian society by cruel sanctions and military actions, and – together with other criminal states – for supporting Saddam Hussein through his worst atrocities and beyond. That is the minimum that honesty requires.
I would feel no hesitation in saying that it is the responsibility of a decent human being to give assistance to a child who is being attacked by a rabid dog, but I would not intend this to imply that in all imaginable circumstances one must, necessarily, act in accordance with this general responsibility.
In the United States, one of the main topics of academic political science is the study of attitudes and policy and their correlation. The study of attitudes is reasonably easy in the United States: heavily-polled society, pretty serious and accurate polls, and policy you can see, and you can compare them.
In the case of Yugoslavia v. NATO, one of the charges was genocide. The U.S. appealed to the court, saying that, by law, the United States is immune to the charge of genocide, self-immunized, and the court accepted that, so the case proceeded against the other NATO powers, but not against the United States.
International affairs is very much run like the mafia. The godfather does not accept disobedience, even from a small storekeeper who doesn’t pay his protection money. You have to have obedience; otherwise, the idea can spread that you don’t have to listen to the orders, and it can spread to important places.
The Occupy movement did create spontaneously communities that taught people something: you can be in a supportive community of mutual aid and cooperation and develop your own health system and library and have open space for democratic discussion and participation. Communities like that are really important.
Nicaragua dealt with the problem of terrorism in exactly the right way. It followed international law and treaty obligations. It collected evidence, brought the evidence to the highest existing tribunal, the International Court of Justice, and received a verdict – which, of course, the U.S. dismissed with contempt.
China is a great manufacturing center, but it’s actually mostly an assembly plant. So it assembles parts and components, high technology that comes from the surrounding industrial – more advanced industrial centers – Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States, Europe – and it basically assembles them.
Nineteen sixty-eight was one exciting moment in a much larger movement. It spawned a whole range of movements. There wouldn’t have been an international global solidarity movement, for instance, without the events of 1968. It was enormous, in terms of human rights, ethnic rights, a concern for the environment, too.
Why should Iran have a deterrent strategy? Well, it’s surrounded by hostile enemies. Both of its borders have been under occupation by a hostile superpower, the United States, which is constantly violating the U.N. charter by leaving open what they call the saying, ‘all options are open’ – meaning the threat of war.
From the U.S. point of view, negotiations are, in effect, a way for Israel to continue its policies of systematically taking over whatever it wants in the West Bank, maintaining the brutal siege on Gaza, separating Gaza from the West Bank and, of course, occupying the Syrian Golan heights, all with full U.S. support.
Immediately after 11 September, the U.S. closed down the Somali charitable network Al-Barakaat on grounds that it was financing terror. This achievement was hailed one of the great successes of the ‘war on terror.’ In contrast, Washington’s withdrawal of its charges as without merit a year later aroused little notice.
Two days after the Boston marathon bombings, there was a drone strike in Yemen attacking a peaceful village, which killed a target who could very easily have been apprehended. But, of course, it is just easier to terrorise people. The drones are a terrorist weapon; they not only kill targets but also terrorise other people.
As far as U.S. intelligence knows, Iran is developing nuclear capacities, but they don’t know if they are trying to develop nuclear weapons or not. Chances are they’re developing what’s called ‘nuclear capability,’ which many states have. That is the ability to have nuclear weapons if they decide to do it. That’s not a crime.
Qatar-based ‘Al-Jazeera,’ the most important news channel in the Arab world, was harshly criticized by high U.S. officials for having ’emphasized civilian casualties’ during the destruction of Falluja. The problem of independent media was later resolved when the channel was kicked out of Iraq in preparation for free elections.
By very conservative estimates, Turkish repression of Kurds in the 1990s falls in the category of Kosovo. It peaked in the early 1990s; one index is the flight of more than a million Kurds from the countryside to the unofficial Kurdish capital, Diyarbakir, from 1990 to 1994, as the Turkish army was devastating the countryside.
Reviewing the record of American intervention in Indochina in the Pentagon Papers, one cannot fail to be struck by the continuity of basic assumptions from one administration to the next. Never has there been the slightest deviation from the principle that a noncommunist regime must be imposed and defended, regardless of popular sentiment.
In the late 1990s, some of the worst terrorist atrocities in the world were what the Turkish government itself called state terror, namely massive atrocities, 80 percent of the arms coming from the United States, millions of refugees, tens of thousands of people killed, hideous repression, that’s international terror, and we can go on and on.
Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt, it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy.
That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.
Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.
I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.
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