(The Chomsky Reader)

By Chomsky, Noam | New Internationalist, March 1995 | Go to article overview

(The Chomsky Reader)


Chomsky, Noam, New Internationalist


NOAM Chomsky is a troublemaker. He is an irritant in the body politic. He is persistent, meticulous and diligent. His decades-long mission to put on the public record the misdeeds of the US and its client countries is nothing short of heroic. An anarchist, standing outside all affiliations and parties, he carries on the tradition of the famous 'muckraker' IF Stone, struggling to combat untruth and to disseminate information.

Chomsky, who is a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a dissident voice of the rampant capitalist world. He does not subscribe to the doctrine that the behaviour of the United States is essentially benign if occasionally bumbling. Chomsky's view is so at odds with the image that most US citizens have of themselves that he has some explaining to do. In his writing he has set out, in stark clarity, what he believes to be the imperatives of US foreign and domestic policy: the need to secure untrammelled access to raw materials in order to maintain the existing disposition of world wealth. Brute force in support of selfishness, to put it crudely.

It has long been one of Noam Chomsky's central tenets that parameters of knowledge and information are fixed so that the acceptable limits of debate are controlled. Consent is 'manufactured' and opinion massaged through control and manipulation of the media. Intellectuals, the 'cultural elite', are essential to this process. They internalize and disseminate the ideological message and patrol the borders of acceptable argument. Chomsky's genius is in refusing to accept such boundaries and attempting to enlarge the discussion beyond the ditches dug by authorities. For example, concerning the war in Vietnam, he says-truthfully-that the US invaded South Vietnam. Such a statement causes a double-take-surely the US was protecting South Vietnam from aggression? Chomsky patiently disentangles the rhetoric and disinformation from the actual occurrences, pointing out that invading states always claim to be disinterested liberators and that we have no difficulty recognizing aggression when not obscured by the cloud of obfuscation-as with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The control of information is the control of opinion is the control of society.

For more than 30 years Chomsky has been harrying the purveyors of official history. He produces at least one book a year as well as numerous essays, pamphlets and magazine articles. Increasingly his polemical books are knitting together, each becoming a square in a patchwork of a continuing critique of global iniquity. …

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