It’s always a good time to watch an interview with Noam. Check out his surprisingly moving answer to the question “What Is Love?”
A speech from 1994 as valid today as it was 18 years ago.
Yesterday I spent some time transcribing the podcast interview I did with Noam Chomsky way back in 2005 for the book I’m working on. If you haven’t heard that episode, I highly recommend having a listen, even through the audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. I hadn’t listened to the full thing myself in many years and it blew me away. It’s as relevant now as it was back then (if not more so).
Anyway, here’s just one of the profound snippets from the show. I suggested to Noam that people often find it hard, after a lifetime of corporate and nationalist propaganda, to accept his view of the world. I asked him what people can do to realign their worldview. Here’s a segment of his answer:
Look into the facts. This isn’t quantum physics, the evidence is easily available if you want to look at it.
Actually one of the hardest things to do, whether in personal life or in thinking about international affairs, is just to look into the mirror. We all know this in personal life. It’s much more convenient to have illusions about yourself than to look into the mirror and see yourself honestly. Anyone who doesn’t know that is just lying to themselves. We all know it. We create an image and picture of ourselves which fits our need to believe that what we are doing is basically benign and helpful and forthcoming and sympathetic and sometimes it’s true but often it isn’t and when it isn’t we typically finds ways of explaining it away.
But if we are honest we will look into the mirror and see what the truth is and do something about it. And the same is true when you look at international affairs.
Now there’s a difference in this case. When it’s a matter of just yourself, when it’s just a matter of how you deal with it, when you try to look honestly at your own society, its history and actions and so on, you’re facing a massive deluge of propaganda and indoctrination that is trying to create a delusionary picture. So power systems are naturally conspiratorial, naturally they are going to dedicate enormous efforts to try to get the population to view the exercise of power and hierarchy and authority as if its benign and full of benign intentions. I don’t know an exception to that in history. If you read the pronouncements of even the worst monsters, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Hirohito, they are all full of the most eloquent rhetoric about their noble intentions and how they are sacrificing themselves for the benefit of the people and so on and so forth, and yes major institutions are developed to try to promulgate those ideas and in fact its true that in the countries most people believe them. So for example in Nazi Germany, until it began suffering serious military defeats, Hitler was very popular, maybe the most popular leader in German history and his conception of the nobility of their engagement in the world and domestically, that was widely accepted. Same in fascist Japan, same in Stalinist Russia. That happens and it also happens in more free societies. Furthermore, there is nothing novel about it. Centuries ago, David Hume had an important work on political philosophy called “Foundations of The Theory of Government”. His first principle of the foundation of government he pointed out that power is actually in any society, he said, power is in the hands of those who are governed. They don’t know it, but power is actually in their hands. And therefore to maintain authority it is necessary to impose consent, it is necessary to compel the general population to consent to the authority of the masters. And he said that’s true in every society, from the most free to the most despotic. And that’s basically correct. And anyone with any degree of authority knows it, whether it’s in a family or school or corporation or government or World Bank, you know that, you have to compel consent somehow and to do that we now have massive institutions, huge institutions, media, educational systems, huge public relations industries, which are, to a large extent, devoted to this. If you want to discover the truth about your own society, its history and workings and so on, you do have to overcome barriers, barriers which are erected to prevent such understanding, but it’s not very difficult, again, it’s not quantum physics.
I’m about 20% of the way into my new writing project “You Are Blind” – a look at how propaganda works in a corporatocracy – and it’s going very well.
Meanwhile, OpEdNews has this excellent new article by Noam Chomsky.
He starts by quoting international affairs scholar James Peck who states:
“In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us” — whoever “us” is.
Chomsky then presents a few recent examples of how the western media loves to focus on atrocities by “the bad guys”, such as Syria, while ignoring (or justifying) similar or worse atrocities committed by “our side”. Or they highlight China’s treatment of dissidents like Chen Guangcheng while ignoring 0r justifying American treatment of dissidents like Bradley Manning.
It’s all part of what I’m writing about in my book. We are programmed from birth by our governments, corporate media, corporate PR departments, the education system (co-financed by the government and the wealthy elite) and religions to believe that a certain set of truths are self-evident – and that this programming is so pervasive that we don’t even notice it.
The propaganda model is a theory advanced by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky that alleges systemic biases in the mass media and seeks to explain them in terms of structural economic causes.
The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, the propaganda model views the private media as businesses selling a product — readers and audiences (rather than news) — to other businesses (advertisers) and relying primarily on government and corporate information and propaganda. The theory postulates five general classes of “filters” that determine the type of news that is presented in news media: Ownership of the medium, the medium’s Funding, Sourcing of the news, Flak, and Anti-communist ideology.
The first three (ownership, funding, and sourcing) are generally regarded by the authors as being the most important. Although the model was based mainly on the characterization of United States media, Chomsky and Herman believe the theory is equally applicable to any country that shares the basic economic structure and organizing principles the model postulates as the cause of media biases. After the Soviet Union disintegrated, Chomsky said terrorism and Islam would be the new filter replacing communism.
According to Jeremy Scahill, the Obama administration (and President Obama directly) is running a campaign against whistleblowers and journalists (see article at RT.com).
Now it has been divulged that Obama even appealed with the president of Yemen to ensure that one of their own journalists would stay behind bars for telling the truth. Journalist Jeremy Scahill tells RT that Yemeni reporter Abdulelah Haider Shaye was instrumental in exposing the falsities of a covert war in Yemen. In December 2009, Scahill says the press reported that a Yemeni strike had killed 34 members of al-Qaeda. When Shaye went to investigate though, he soon learned through spending time on the ground that the US was actually directly involved in the attack — an attack which took the lives of civilians. Shaye was eventually put on trial for exposing the truth behind the event and allegedly the court introduced false evidence, which in the end yielded a conviction that potentially carried a death sentence. But since the entire case against the journalist was fabricated by his government, the journalist got off with a relatively mild sentence of just five years. Under pressure, Yemeni President Saleh intended to pardon Shaye. This is when he got a call from President Obama himself, personally requesting that Saleh switch his stance on pardoning the reporter.
Is this the Obama people thought they were voting for in 2008? Chomsky says Americans should vote for Obama again in 2012 because he is “the lesser of two evils”. Perhaps. But it’s also important that they understand who they are voting for. Look behind the Hollywood-written speeches and shiny images and pay attention to what his administration actually *does*, not what it says.
More recent Chomksy video. This one has him speaking about the continued imperialist policies of the USA under the Obama administration and the fate of the people in Gaza.
Brilliant analysis by Noam, as always. We’re lucky to have him.
In this video, he describes why the USA and France should be paying REPARATIONS to Haiti, not handing out AID.
We just got back from the first Brisbane meetup around #nocleanfeed. It was a pretty huge turnout, I’d guess 100 people. Well done to @nicholasperkins and everyone else involved in pulling it together.
I gave a short talk, mostly trying to convey the idea that this isn’t a campaign that we will win by trying to be RIGHT. This isn’t about FACTS. This is a propaganda war about ideology, the ideology of the Christian Right, a group that Conroy, Rudd, Abbott and Fielding are all card-carrying members of. And you can’t fight a propaganda war by trying to be RIGHT. The only way to fight a propaganda war is to counter it with your own propaganda and by knowing how propaganda campaigns actually work. There’s no use taking a knife to a gun fight.
As a long-time student of people like Chomsky and Pilger, I have some understanding about how modern propaganda works. I quote tonight from 20th century French philosopher and Christian theologian (not often you’ll catch me using a Christian theologian to make a positive point) Jacques Ellul who explained that modern propaganda isn’t telling lies, it’s about telling half truths, limited truths and truths out of context. That’s what Conroy et al are master of. They don’t lie when they talk about the feed, they just limit their use of the truth.
So we need to fight a propaganda war. Fortunately, we are all very-savvy little new media / social media types, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do, as long as know what kind of fight we’re getting into.
The one idea that I didn’t have time to get across tonight was that I don’t think we can win this if we just focus on the mandatory filter. It’s too thorny an issue and too easy for Conroy to deflect criticism . I believe we need to make this a battle against the ALP. I believe we need to focus on weakening their credibility in the upcoming election by getting in their faces on a range of issue where they have either under-performed, such as the environment, indigenous welfare, immigration, etc, or where they have just flat-out turned out to be as bad or worse than Howard (the internet filter, bailing out the banks, failing to rein in corporate executive salaries, etc).
We need a campaign that attacks the ALP’s credibility and performance across the board. We need put pressure on then across multiple fronts, not just on the filter. It’s pretty clear that the mainstream media will give them an easy ride in the upcoming election. So it’ll be up to social media to put the heat on them.