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Manufacturing Dissent:

Noam Chomsky on Journalism

By Peter Cronau
January 1995

Noam Chomsky has described a world where an underlying consensus structures the news media to manage public opinion. However Chomsky says there is scope for individual journalists to resist these trends. Peter Cronau spoke with Chomsky during his recent visit to Australia.

He has been described as "the world's greatest dissident" and "arguably the most important intellectual alive today". Professor Noam Chomsky, the softly spoken Professor of Linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston USA, delivers an analysis of the media that makes many uncomfortable.

From his young days selling newspapers on his uncle's news-stand in New York, Chomsky has now become reportedly the world's most quoted intellectual.

As well as giving his scathing critique of Western foreign policy and media performance, Chomsky is of course also famous for his (then) revolutionary theories on the origins of language, that language is wired-in at birth.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Senator Gareth Evans, who has come in for stinging criticism from Chomsky for his obsequious attitude to Indonesia, is on the record as saying he thinks Chomsky "should confine himself to linguistics".

Chomsky's move to `dissident voice' occurred in 1964 during the Vietnam War, and since then he has written and spoken out about injustice and repression around the world. His many books include The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, American Power and the New Mandarins, For Reasons of State, Fateful Triangle: The US, Israel and Palestine, Towards a New Cold War, The Culture of Terrorism, Manufacturing Consent, Deterring Democracy, and Year 501: The Conquest Continues.

In January, Chomsky made his first visit to Australia. In eight days he addressed ten sell-out audiences on topics as varied as human rights and East Timor, democracy and the New World Order, the Middle East, the intellectual responsibility of writers, through to linguistics.

Chomsky views the media as an ideological system serving the powerful elites in society. He explains how governments get away with lying, how academics and intellectuals manufacture consent to the actions of government, and how the media confine debate to the conservative middle ground.

Chomsky argues the Western media have neglected their questioning role, instead repeatedly giving primary access to intellectuals who defend the role of Western governments. He sees the media's role as producing consensus amongst the public towards the ruling elites in government and business.

"The [media's] current mission is to ensure that any thought of controlling their destiny must be driven from the minds of the rascal multitude," he has written in, Year 501: The Conquest Continues. And, in Deterring Democracy, he writes: "The goal is to eliminate public meddling in policy formation".

Probably Chomsky's most known book in this country is Manufacturing Consent: the political economy of the mass media, which he wrote in 1988 with Edward Herman, a professor of finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Propaganda Model sketched out in this book describes the structures and influences that Chomsky believes produce systematic propaganda in the media.

"It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalise dissent, and allow government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public."

The model puts forward five filters on our news:

* The size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth and profit orientation of the dominant media outlets;

* Advertising as the primary source of income for most media;

* The reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and `experts' funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power;

* `Flak' - criticism by the powerful of negative media statements - used as a means of disciplining the media;

* Control mechanisms of `anticommunism', `muslim fundamentalism', and so on.

Chomsky (and Herman) don't try to suggest some conspiracy theory at work in setting the media agenda, but mainly a form of self-censorship at work.

"Most biased choices in the media arise from the preselection of right-thinking people, internalised preconceptions, and the adaptation of personnel to the constraints of ownership, organisation, market, and political power," they write in Manufacturing Consent.

While the propaganda model describes a global system that results in the ignoring or suppression of voices of dissent, Chomsky does not argue that it is an all-encompassing theory. Reportage asked whether the model allows scope for journalists wanting to remain independent and to avoid becoming a mouthpiece for the ruling elites.

"It's intended to pick out major factors that frame the way an institution functions," says Chomsky. "Now as any scientist knows you start a rational inquiry by trying to identify the major factors and then there's a whole set of secondary and tertiary factors that interfere. If you really look down into the details you'll find all sorts of other things going on. I'll mention one which is known to any serious investigative journalist, and a lot of them use it.

"There are periodic scandals - meaning some horrible thing that happened by accident escapes, that's called a scandal - and the media feeders have to pretend to be very irate: how can our democracy survive etcetera etcetera.

"It is well known among serious journalists that after a major scandal, like say Watergate or Iran-Contra or something, there is a period of a couple of months when the media tend to be more open. And then you can sneak in the stories that you've been storing up.

"So if you take a close look at the media you'll discover that the really smart reporters often are coming out with things in that window of opportunity that opens up in reaction to the scandal.

"On top of that there is just plenty of people with integrity and who are really working hard to stretch the limits, and sometimes they get things through."

Chomsky describes a good friend of his who is a leading television reporter for ABC News in the United States. The journalist, Charles Glass, is a specialist on the Middle East. Chomsky heard about a story he was working on when they shared a cross-Atlantic flight.

"He'd been working hard to find out something on the Iraqi biological warfare capacities. They were being denied in the United States, because Saddam Hussein was a big friend so it was denied that this was going on. This was a couple of months before the invasion of Kuwait."

Glass had discovered the information through some high level Iraqi leaks, and by examining material from French commercial satellites - something US spy satellites would have also discovered.. "He had put together a solid story and the American ABC was willing to allow him to run it.

"He got to New York and went on television and had his two minutes," says Chomsky.

"Then ABC News immediately shifted to their correspondent in Washington, some big shot who interviewed a Pentagon official, who said, no nothing of this sort was happening. Of course it was true but it wasn't the right story at the time.

"If you happened to be watching televison from the outside it would look like some reporter went off on a loose end, and dug up some nutty stuff, but serious people deny it.

"But if you were paying attention [you] would probably say that was true otherwise they wouldn't be bothered denying it that promptly. And besides it makes perfect sense anyway after the gassings and so on, and of course it was true.

"Well those are ways in which material leaks through thanks to the integrity of particular people."

So, Chomsky says, there are all sorts of complexities, but still the major factors of the Propaganda Model are demonstrated to be correct. "In fact the bulk of that book is documentation of the way it worked in particular and dramatic cases. As far as I know it is the best established thesis of the social sciences by a long shot, that factors like these determine the media product."

In Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky argues that the media establishes and defends the agenda of the dominant privileged groups in society. "The media serve this purpose in many ways: through selection of topics, distribution of concerns, framing of issues, filtering of information, emphasis and tone, and by keeping debate within the bounds of acceptable premises."

But Chomsky believes journalists can try to do things differently.

"There's plenty of opportunities to do very good work," says Chomsky. "Take say Brian Toohey, he gets things through. There's plenty of other people.

"There's going to be strains, and you'll be pressing against limits. If you go too far they'll turn you off; if you keep at it too much you may be thrown out. But within that framework there are plenty of things to do.

"Actually academic scholarship isn't all that different. If people start breaking out of the expected framework - if they are esoteric enough it may not matter - but if they are anywhere near issues of policy of power, they may find themselves in trouble.

"I know plenty of journalists who've been told look you're getting too emotional why don't you take off a bit of time and go to the metro desk and work on that sort of thing.

"The famous case in the United States, Ray Bonner, who was a freelance journalist, was working for the Times. They didn't have any journalist in El Salvador in the early 80s, and he's a good serious honest journalist - no special training, but afterall what's it take?

"He discovered a huge massacre, and the State Department denied it. Of course it's completely true - we know by now exactly it was true - and the Times pulled him out. They claimed that they pulled him out because he needed more experience.

"So they sent him off to the financial desk where he'd kind of really learn the trade of being a journalist. He's no fool and he just quit after a while."

Chomsky says there are many examples of journalists' efforts being stymied, particularly in reporting matters from the US's immediate region. "The first major massacre in El Salvador happened to be in May in 1980 under Carter. It was a crucial moment when the land reform was starting and the government wanted to make sure that everybody got the idea - there's going to be formal land reform but don't lift your head.

"So they carried out a huge massacre. It was actually a joint operation of the Salvadorans and the Honduran Armies."

Chomsky believes the action was co-ordinated by the United States. "It's called the Rio Sumpul massacre," he says. "One big massacre, and maybe 600 people, women and children, were slaughtered."

There were plenty of witnesses to the events, says Chomsky, including local people and priests. It received brief coverage in the international media. "A very good British journalist David Blundy, who's since died, he reported it in the Times," Chomsky says.

"In the United States, it still has not been mentioned. I mean I've written about it, but it has not been mentioned. That's the first big massacre co-ordinated action of the two armies that were anything but friendly which suggests something. And it is not mentioned.

"The UN Truth Commission report just released a study of it and it included it, and then it got like a line somewhere, but that's it. This happens all the time. Wrong story, totally wrong story."

There's some even more dramatic cases," says Chomsky. "In Cambodia, which people pretend that they are concerned about, US bombing started around `69. By 1971 about a third of the population were already refugees, according to US government sources, so who knows what happened.

"Doubtless tens of thousands of people were killed. By 1973 there were over a million refugees in Phnom Penh. Then the serious bombing started. The peak bombing was early `73 through late `73.

"There were plenty of reporters in Phnom Penh including the ones like Sydney Schanberg who's considered the conscience of the press, you know a big hero. He was the Times reporter there.

"I went through all of his reporting - it's in Manufacturing Consent. ... Sort of like [William] Shawcross and the Timorese."

In Chomsky's 1993 book Year 501, he describes Shawcross explaining that East Timor failed to get the extent of coverage as did Cambodia due to "a comparative lack of sources".

"What happened in the early half of the decade is virtually unknown. What happened in the latter half of the decade is the main focus of inquiry because you can blame it on someone else. The CIA which wouldn't be likely to underestimate it, estimates in its demographic study, 600,000 killed in the first half of the decade. So it's not small whatever it was.

"Try to find out something about it and the reason nothing is known is because the journalists refused to report it. They wouldn't talk to the refugees.

"Actually it is even more nuanced if you look at it closely. There was one atrocity which was reported. In fact if you saw the film, The Killing Fields, it starts off with an American atrocity - they bombed a village.

"And that one was reported for three solid days. Shocked Schanbergs went out there, why? They hit the wrong village. It was a mistake. You know they were aiming at some other village. So therefore you could report it within the framework: `you were allowed to make mistakes'.

"So yes, that was graphically reported, with the torn up bodies: `Isn't it awful we made a mistake'. How about the times we didn't make a mistake? You know that we don't report it.

"If you internalise these values you can make it in the media. If you don't like those values and you report one of the other ones, you'll get cut off somewhere along the line."

Some media theorists, such as Stuart Hall, refer more to the structures of news production such as the professional demands on journalists for impartiality, balance and objectivity as the cause of over-accessing to the media of those in powerful and privileged institutional positions. Fact and opinion become distinguished not by the journalist but by their `accredited sources'.

But Chomsky believes that those professional qualities in journalists need not necessarily lead to over-accessing of the social realities of the powerful. He thinks that it is possible for journalists to remain independent while working according to professional standards.

"Yes I do. Here I disagree with a lot of my friends. I think objectivity and impartiality are goals that one can try to achieve," says Chomsky."You're not going to achieve them. You know you always have too many biases and preconditions and so on. But you try to become aware of them.

"It's just like science. You can't do scientific work without preconceptions of what you expect to find and so on, but if you are rational at least you try to be conscious of them and hold them up to inquiry, willingly to give them up.

"But objectivity is a goal to which you can strive, knowing perfectly well that there's many factors that are going to prevent you from succeeding.

"Some of the best journalists I know of - I don't know them personally - are people that think they are either apolitical or politically pretty reactionary, but just very good at telling you what's there."

The alternative press is also at times guilty of partisan reporting, of blindly repeating statements. Chomsky says that such reporting can be "very distorted". "Some of the best reporting around is in journals like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times of London. They have professional reporting."

The reason that governments manipulate the media and lie to their publics is because of their fear of what the public may do with knowledge about what is really going on around them, argues Chomsky. He says that with East Timor, the US and Australian governments have tried to keep secret the truth of events there.

"They are afraid they can't keep their own public in check," he says.

"Take the United States which has played the decisive role. It's not playing the decisive role any more; it's backing off. It's not that they got to be nice people. There's just enough pressure. And the pressure is interesting, it's not from the left.

"So a lot of the strongest opponents of the US involvement here happen to very rightwing people who it's been brought to their attention. And they don't like it, but they're human beings.

"It's been brought to their attention not because they read it in the New York Times. It was brought to their attention by activists and the church, and public efforts, pressure groups etcetera."

Chomsky says there is no shortage of examples of this.

"The first major story, really good story in the US media on East Timor, the first accurate story, and to this day one of the best anywhere, happened to be in the Boston Globe [Chomsky's home-town paper].

The way it came about was this: The Boston Globe ran one of these standard State Department handouts, you know, full of lies and so on. And I wrote a letter to the editor of the Sunday section, and I told him this is all lies, you shouldn't publish that kind of stuff.

"He wrote me back and he called me, he didn't believe a word I said. And he said `well can you prove anything you said', and I said `sure I can do it, but why believe me. Why don't you get one of your reporters to look into it?'.

"So he did, and it was good that he picked a local reporter. He didn't pick an international correspondent. He picked some local guy who worked out of the police court - a guy whose instincts are those of a journalist, to tell the truth.

"The guy didn't have very much international experience, but he was just a very honest local reporter - there are plenty of people like that. He called me and asked me what I knew. I gave him what I knew and I told him contacts. But I told him not to pay too much attention to them. You know, just write. Why should he pay attention to me?

"He followed it up. He dug all kinds of stuff. He got this guy in the State Department who'd been kicked off the Indonesia Desk because he was protesting internally and then started leaking stuff to him, all kind of things. And he wrote a terrific story. It's the first real story that came out.

"Well that kind of thing can happen," says Chomsky. All of these are little pieces of something. Everytime that one of these things happens, it lays the basis for the next thing.

"The same is true with the New York Times I should say. I can trace out in precise detail how they got to the point of starting to report East Timor.

"These things add up. It gradually gets to the point where perceptions change, and expectations change and it's gotten to the point where the US is backing off. Now that's an indication of how little it can take."

But as an informed public begins to want to act on what they are now beginning to find out, won't the level of media manipulation merely increase?

"Sure, but they don't have to win," Chomsky says. "They don't have to win. They can lose, and in this one they are losing.

"It's kind of dramatic now in Australia. The US Congress finally just stopped the sale of small arms. Okay, Australia moves in. Well you know you can stop it here just as easily as you can there.

"In Britain there's the dramatic case. Britain realised that the US is backing off supplying the big arms, not rifles but jet planes. So they're delighted to move in and kill as many people as they can as long as you can make money from it.

"People like John Pilger are giving them a hard time. One of the reasons the government hates him - much to his credit - and tells all kind of lies about him, is because he's really giving them a hard time.

"He exposes what they are doing. People read it. When his documentary [Death of a Nation, a film on East Timor] came out, the BBC switchboards were just jammed for hours by people who were furious to know. They don't want their government to be doing this, and governments have to respond. Even totalitarian governments have to respond to that kind of thing, and certainly relatively democratic ones do.

"That leads to changes, and it also opens room for good journalists, serious journalists. Once you have a space you can push a little harder, and your editors won't stop you, and the owners won't stop you. And things just interact, so finally you get substantial changes, on domestic things too."

Chomsky's message for journalists is that there is a way of bringing information to the public that many would prefer to see kept secret. His message, in the face of his own theories of media dominance by the powerful elites, is given with a surprising optimism.


Go to the archive.



Media Control

Noam Chomsky
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, March 17, 1991
Excerpted from the Alternative Press Review, Fall 1993

...Let me begin by counter-posing two different conceptions of democracy. One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free....

An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it's important to understand that it is the prevailing conception....

Early History of Propaganda

...[The Wilson administration] established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission, which succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world.

That was a major achievement, and it led to a further achievement. Right at that time and after the war the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Scare, as it was called, which succeeded pretty much in destroying unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought. There was very strong support from the media, from the business establishment, which in fact organized, pushed much of this work, and it was in general a great success.

Among those who participated actively and enthusiastically were the progressive intellectuals, people of the John Dewey circle, who took great pride, as you can see from their own writings at the time, in having shown that what they called the "more intelligent members of the community," namely themselves, were able to drive a reluctant population into a war by terrifying them and eliciting jingoist fanaticism. The means that were used were extensive. For example, there was a good deal of fabrication of atrocities by the Huns, Belgian babies with their arms torn off, all sorts of awful things that you still read in history books. They were all invented by the British propaganda ministry, whose own committment at the time, as they put it in their secret deliberations, was "to control the thought of the world." But more crucially they wanted to control the thought of the more intelligent members of the community in the U.S., who would then disseminate the propaganda that they were concocting and convert the pacifist country to wartime hysteria. That worked. It worked very well. And it taught a lesson: State propaganda, when supported by the educated classes and when no deviation is permitted from it, can have a big effect. It was a lesson learned by Hitler and many others, and it has been pursued to this day.

Spectator Democracy

...Walter Lippman, who was the dean of American journalists, a major foreign and domestic policy critic and also a major theorist of liberal democracy...argued that what he called a "revolution in the art of democracy," could be used to "manufacture consent," that is, to bring about agreement on the part of the public for things that they didn't want by the new techniques of propaganda....

...He argued that in a properly-functioning democracy there are classes of citizens. There is first of all the class of citizens who have to take some active role in running general affairs. That's the specialized class. They are the people who analyze, execute, make decisions, and run things in the political, economic, and ideological systems. That's a small percentage of the population... Those others, who are out of the small group, the big majority of the population, they are what Lippman called "the bewildered herd." We have to protect ourselves from the trampling and rage of the bewildered herd...

...So we need something to tame the bewildered herd, and that something is this new revolution in the art of democracy: the "manufacture of consent." The media, the schools, and popular culture have to be divided. For the political class and the decision makers have to give them some tolerable sense of reality, although they also have to instill the proper beliefs. Just remember, there is an unstated premise here. The unstated premise -- and even the responsible men have to disguise this from themselves -- has to do with the question of how they get into the position where they have the authority to make decisions. The way they do that, of course, is by serving people with real power. The people with real power are the ones who own the society, which is a pretty narrow group. If the specialized class can come along and say, I can serve your interests, then they'll be part of the executive group. You've got to keep that quiet. That means they have to have instilled in them the beliefs and doctrines that will serve the interests of private power. Unless they can master that skill, they're not part of the specialized class. They have to be deeply indoctrinated in the values and interests of private power and the state-corporate nexus that represents it. If they can get through that, then they can be part of the specialized class. The rest of the bewildered herd just have to be basically distracted. Turn their attention to something else....

...In what is nowadays called a totalitarian state, then a military state, it's easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, and if they get out of line you smash them over the head. But as society has become more free and democratic, you lose that capacity. Therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear. Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state....

Public Relations

The U.S. pioneered the public relations industry. Its committment was to "control the public mind," as its leaders put it. They learned a lot from the successes of the Creel Commission and the success in creating the Red Scare and its aftermath. The public relations industry underwent a huge expansion at that time. It succeeded for some time in creating almost total subordination of the public to business rule through the 1920s....

Public relations is a huge industry. They're spending by now something on the order of a billion dollars a year. All along its committment was to controlling the public mind....

...The corporate executive and the guy who cleans the floor all have the same interests. We can all work together and work for Americanism in harmony, liking each other. That was essentially the message. A huge amount of effort was put into presenting it. This is, after all, the business community, so they control the media and have massive resources... Mobilizing community opinion in favor of vapid, empty concepts like Americanism. Who can be against that? Or, to bring it up to date, "Support our troops." Who can be against that? Or yellow ribbons. Who can be against that?... The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything. They mean as much as whether you support the people in Iowa. Of course, there was an issue. The issue was, Do you support our policy? But you don't want people to think about the issue. 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, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything, but its crucial value is that it diverts your attention....

That's all very effective. It runs right up to today. And of course it is carefully thought out. The people in the public relations industry aren't there for the fun of it. They're doing work. They're trying to instill the right values. In fact, they have a conception of what democracy ought to be: It ought to be a system in which the specialized class is trained to work in the service of the masters, the people who own the society. The rest of the population ought to be deprived of any form of organization, because organization just causes trouble. They ought to be sitting alone in front of the TV and having drilled into their heads the message, which says, the only value in life is to have more commodities or live like that rich middle class family you're watching and to have nice values like harmony and Americanism. That's all there is in life. You may think in your own head that there's got to be something more in life than this, but since you're watching the tube alone you assume, I must be crazy, because that's all that's going on over there....

So that's the ideal. Great efforts are made in trying to achieve that ideal. Obviously, there is a certain conception behind it. The conception of democracy is the one that I mentioned. The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their rage and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like "Support our troops." You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think. Therefore it's important to distract them and marginalize them.

Engineering Opinion

It is also necessary to whip up the population in support of foreign adventures. Usually the population is pacifist, just like they were during the First World War. The public sees no reason to get involved in foreign adventures, killing, and torture. So you have to whip them up. And to whip them up you have to frighten them....

To a certain extent then, that ideal was achieved, but never completely. There are institutions which it has as yet been impossible to destroy. The churches, for example, still exist. A large part of the dissident activity in the U.S. comes out of the churches, for the simple reason that they're there. So when you go to a European country and give a political talk, it may very likely be in the union hall. Here that won't happen, because unions first of all barely exist, and if they do exist they're not political organizations. But the churches do exist, and therefore you often give a talk in a church. Central American solidarity work mostly grew out of the churches, mainly because they exist.

The bewildered herd never gets properly tamed, so this is a constant battle. In the 1930s they arose again and were put down. In the 1960s there was another wave of dissidence. There was a name for that. It was called by the specialized class "the crisis of democracy." Democracy was regarded as entering into a crisis in the 1960s. The crisis was that large segments of the population were becoming organized and active and trying to participate in the political arena. Here we come back to these two conceptions of democracy. By the dictionary definition, that's an advance in democracy. By the prevailing conception that's a problem, a crisis that has to be overcome. The population has to be driven back to the apathy, obedience and passivity that is their proper state. We therefore have to do something to overcome the crisis. Efforts were made to achieve that. It hasn't worked. The crisis of democracy is still alive and well, fortunately, but not very effective in changing policy. But it is effective in changing opinion, contrary to what a lot of people believe. Great efforts were made after the 1960s to try to reverse and overcome this malady. It was called the "Vietnam Syndrome." The Vietnam Syndrome, a term that began to come up around 1970, has actually been defined on occasion. The Reaganite intellectual Norman Podhoretz defined it as "the sickly inhibitions against the use of military force." There were these sickly inhibitions against violence on the part of a large part of the public. People just didn't understand why we should go around torturing people and killing people and carpet bombing them. It's very dangerous for a population to be overcome by these sickly inhibitions, as Goebbels understood, because then there's a limit on foreign adventures. It's necessary, as the Washington Post put it the other day, rather proudly, to "instill in people respect for the martial virtues." That's important. If you want to have a violent society that uses force around the world to achieve the ends of its own domestic elite, it's necessary to have a proper appreciation of the martial virtues and none of these sickly inhibitions about using violence. So that's the Vietnam Syndrome. It's necessary to overcome that one.

Representation as Reality

It's also necessary to completely falsify history... There has been a huge effort since the Vietnam war to reconstruct the history of that. Too many people began to understand what was really going on. Including plenty of soldiers and a lot of young people who were involved with the peace movement and others. That was bad. It was necessary to rearrange those bad thoughts and to restore some form of sanity, namely, a recognition that whatever we do is noble and right. If we're bombing South Vietnam, that's because we're defending South Vietnam against somebody, namely the South Vietnamese, since nobody else was there. It's what the Kennedy intellectuals called "defense against internal aggression in South Vietnam." That was the phrase that Adlai Stevenson used. It was necessary to make that the official and well understood picture. That's worked pretty well. When you have total control over the media and the educational system and scholarship is conformist, you can get that across... The picture of the world that's presented to the public has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifice after edifice of lies. It's all been a marvelous success from this point of view in deterring the threat of democracy, achieved under conditions of freedom, which is extremely interesting. It's not like a totalitarian state, where it's done by force. These achievements are under conditions of freedom. If we want to understand our own society, we'll have to think about these facts. They are important facts, important for those who care about what kind of society they live in.

Dissident Culture

Despite all of this, the dissident culture survived. It's grown quite a lot since the 1960s. In the 1960s the dissident culture first of all was extremely slow in developing. There was no protest against the Indochina war until years after the U.S. had started bombing South Vietnam. When it did grow it was a very narrow dissident movement, mostly students and young people. By the 1970s that had changed considerably. Major popular movements had developed... In the 1980s there was an even greater expansion to the solidarity movements, which is something very new and important in the history of at least American, and maybe even world dissidence. These were movements that not only protested but actually involved themselves, often intimately, in the lives of suffering people elsewhere. They learned a great deal from it and had quite a civilizing effect on mainstream America. All of this has made a very large difference....

These are all signs of the civilizing effect, despite all the propaganda, despite all the efforts to control thought and manufacture consent. Nevertheless, people are acquiring an ability and a willingness to think things through. Skepticism about power has grown, and attitudes have changed on many, many issues. It's kind of slow, maybe even glacial, but perceptible and important. Whether it's fast enough to make a significant difference in what happens in the world is another question... Organization has its effects. It means that you discover that you're not alone. Others have the same thoughts that you do. You can reinforce your thoughts and learn more about what you think and believe. These are very informal movements, not like membership organizations, just a mood that involves interactions among people. It has a very noticeable effect. That's the danger of democracy: If organizations can develop, if people are no longer just glued to the tube, you may have all these funny thoughts arising in their heads, sickly inhibitions against the use of military force. That has to be overcome, but it hasn't been overcome.

Parade of Enemies

...There is a very characteristic development going on in the U.S. now. It's not the first country in the world that's done this. There are growing domestic social and economic problems, in fact, maybe catastrophes. Nobody in power has any intention of doing anything about them. If you look at the domestic programs of the administrations of the last ten years -- I include here the Democratic opposition -- there's really no serious proposal about what to do about the severe problems of health, education, homelessness, joblessness, crime, soaring criminal population, jails, deterioration in the inner cities -- the whole raft of problems. You all know about them and they're all getting worse... In such circumstances you've got to divert the bewildered herd, because if they start noticing this they may not like it, since they're the ones suffering from it. Just having them watch the Superbowl and the sitcoms may not be enough. You have to whip them up into fear of enemies. In the 1930s Hitler whipped them into fear of the Jews and Gypsies. You had to crush them to defend yourselves. We have our ways, too. Over the last ten years, every year or two, some major monster is constructed that we have to defend ourselves against. There used to be one that was always available: the Russians. But they're losing their attractiveness as an enemy, and it's getting harder and harder to use that one, so some new ones have to be conjured up... So it was international terrorists and narco-traffickers and crazed Arabs and Saddam Hussein, the new Hitler, is going to conquer the world. They've got to keep coming up, one after another. You frighten the population, terrorize them, intimidate them so that they're too afraid to travel and cower in fear. Then you have a magnificent victory over Grenada, Panama, or some other defenseless Third World army that you can pulverize before you ever bother to look at them -- which is just what happened. That gives relief. We were saved at the last minute. That's one of the ways in which you can keep the bewildered herd from paying attention to what's really going on around them, keep them diverted and controlled....

Selective Perception

...[In May of 1987,] the surviving members of the Human Rights Group of El Salvador -- the leaders had been killed -- were arrested and tortured, including Herbert Anaya, who was the director. They were sent to a prison -- La Esperanza (hope) Prison. While they were in prison they continued their human rights work. They were lawyers, they continued taking affidavits. There were 432 prisoners in that prison. They got signed affidavits from 430 of them in which they described, under oath, the torture that they had received: Electrical torture and other atrocities, including, in one case, torture by a North American U.S. major in uniform, who is described in some detail. This is an unusually explicit and comprehensive testimony, probably unique in its detail about what's going on in a torture chamber. This 160-page report of the prisoners' sworn testimony was sneaked out of prison, along with a videotape which was taken showing people testifying in prison about their torture. It was distributed by the Marin County Interfaith Task Force. The national press refused to cover it. The TV stations refused to run it. There was an article in the local Marin County Newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner, and I think that's all. No one else would touch it. This was a time when there were more than a few "light-headed and cold-blooded Western intellectuals" who were singing the praises of Jose Napoleon Duarte and of Ronald Reagan. Anaya was not the subject of any tributes. He didn't get on Human Rights Day. He wasn't appointed to anything. He was released in a prisoner exchange and then assassinated, apparently by the U.S.-backed security forces. Very little information about that ever appeared. The media never asked whether exposure of the atrocities -- instead of sitting on them and silencing them -- might have saved his life.

[...]

...In February, right in the middle of the bombing campaign, the government of Lebanon requested Israel to observe U.N. Security Resolution 425, which called on it to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from Lebanon. That resolution dates from March 1978. There have since been two subsequent resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon. Of course it doesn't observe them because the U.S. backs it in maintaining that occupation. Meanwhile southern Lebanon is terrorized. There are big torture-chambers with horrifying things going on. It's used as a base for attacking other parts of Lebanon. In the course of these thirteen years Lebanon was invaded, the city of Beirut was bombed, about 20,000 people were killed, about 80% of them civilians, hospitals were destroyed, and more terror, looting, and robbery was inflicted. All fine, the U.S. backed it. That's just one case. You didn't see anything in the media about it or any discussion about whether Israel and the U.S. should observe U.N. Security Council Resolution 425 or any of the other resolutions... That's just one case. There are much worse ones. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor knocked off about 200,000 people. They all look minor by that one. That was strongly backed by the U.S. and is still going on with major U.S. diplomatic and military support....

The Gulf War

That tells you how a well-functioning propaganda system works. People can believe that when we use force against Iraq and Kuwait it's because we really observe the principle that illegal occupation and human rights abuses should be met by force. They don't see what it would mean if those principles were applied to U.S. behavior. That's a success of propaganda of quite a spectacular type.

[...]

Let's take the question of the reasons for the war. Reasons were offered for the war. The reasons are: Aggressors cannot be rewarded and aggression must be reversed by the quick resort to violence. That was the reason for the war. There was basically no other reason advanced. Can that possibly be the reason for the war? Does the U.S. uphold those principles, that aggressors cannot be rewarded and that aggression must be reversed by a quick resort to violence?... Has the U.S. opposed its own aggression in Panama and insisted on bombing Washington to reverse it? When the South African occupation of Namibia was declared illegal in 1969, did the U.S. impose sanctions on food and medicine? Did it go to war? Did it bomb Capetown? No, it carried out twenty years of "quiet diplomacy." It wasn't very pretty during those twenty years. In the years of the Reagan-Bush administration alone, about a million-and-a-half people were killed by South Africa just in the surrounding countries. Forget what was happening in South Africa and Namibia. Somehow that didn't sear our sensitive souls. We continued with "quiet diplomacy" and ended up with ample reward for the aggressors. They were given the major port in Namibia and plenty of advantages that took into account their security concerns. Where is this principle that we uphold?... No reason was given for going to war. None. No reason was given for going to war that could not be refuted by a literate teenager in about two minutes. That again is the hallmark of a totalitarian culture. It ought to frighten us, that we are so deeply totalitarian that we can be driven to war without any reason being given for it and without anybody noticing it or caring. It's a very striking fact.

[...]

...The fact of the matter is, this [Iraq] was a Third World country with a peasant army. It is now being conceded that there was a ton of disinformation about the fortifications, the chemical weapons, etc. But did you find anybody who pointed it out? Virtually nobody. That's typical. Notice that this was done one year after exactly the same thing was done with Manuel Noriega. Manuel Noriega is a minor thug by comparison with George Bush's friend Saddam Hussein or George Bush's other friends in Beijing, or George Bush himself, for that matter. In comparison with them, Manuel Noriega is a pretty minor thug. Bad, but not a world class thug of the kind we like. He was turned into a creature larger than life. He was going to destroy us, leading the narco-traffickers. We had to quickly move in and smash him, killing a couple hundred or maybe thousand people, restoring to power the tiny, maybe eight percent white oligarchy, and putting U.S. military officers in control at every level of the political system. We had to do all those things because, after all, we had to save ourselves or we were going to be destroyed by this monster. One year later the same thing was done by Saddam Hussein. Did anybody point it out? Did anybody point out what had happened or why? You'll have to look pretty far for that.

Notice that this is not all that different from what the Creel Commission did in 1916--1917, when within six months it had turned a pacifistic population into raving hysterics who wanted to destroy everything German to save ourselves from Huns who were tearing the arms off Belgian babes. The techniques are maybe more sophisticated, with television and lots of money going into it, but it's pretty traditional. I think the issue, to come back to my original comment, is not simply disinformation and the Gulf crisis. The issue is much broader. It's whether we want to live in a free society or whether we want to live under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism, with the bewildered herd marginalized, directed elsewhere, terrified, screaming patriotic slogans, fearing for their lives and admiring with awe the leader who saved them from destruction while the educated masses goose-step on command, repeat the slogans they're supposed to repeat, the society deteriorates at home, we end up serving as a mercenary enforcer state, hoping that others are going to pay us to smash up the world. Those are the choices. That's the choice that you have to face. The answer to those questions is very much in the hands of people exactly like you and me.


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Some Truths and Myths About
Free Market Rhetoric

Noam Chomsky
Lies of Our Times

Letter from Lexington January 7, 1994

Dear LOOT,

Hardly a day passes without acclaim for the exciting new idea of the New World Order: free market capitalism that will liberate the energies of active and creative people, for the benefit of all. Euphoria peaked as Clinton savored his NAFTA triumph at the Asia-Pacific summit in Seattle, where he expounded his "grand vision for Asia," bringing leaders together "to preach the gospel of open markets and to secure America's foothold in the world's fastest growing economic community." This "may be the biggest rethinking of American policy toward Asia" since World War II, David Sanger observed. Clinton outlined the "new vision" before a "cheering throng... inside a giant airplane hangar at the Boeing Company," "a model for companies across America" with its "booming Asian business" -- and its plans for "multimillion-dollar job-creating investments outside the United States on a scale that would terrify NAFTA's opponents."1

Unmentioned is another fact: Boeing is also the model for radical state intervention to shield private profit from market discipline. It would not be America's leading exporter, nor probably even exist, were it not for a huge public subsidy funneled through the Pentagon and NASA, institutions in large part designed to serve that function for high tech industry generally. Clinton's gospel, then, is that the taxpayer should provide massive welfare payments to investors and their agents, safely protected within their totalitarian institutions from interference by public or workforce, pursuing profit and market share as they choose, by "job-creating investments" abroad if that suits their interests.

"China alone now buys one of every six of [Boeing's] planes," Sanger continued. And lofty rhetoric aside, Clinton's one achievement at the summit was to open the door to more exports to China, expected to be "the magic elixir that can cure many of the ills of the American economy" (Apple). Clinton arranged for sales of supercomputers and nuclear power generators; the manufacturers (Cray, GE) are also leading beneficiaries of the state-subsidized private profit system, and the items sold can be used for nuclear weapons and missiles, Pentagon officials and other experts observed. A problem, perhaps, because of a ban on such exports imposed last August "after American intelligence agencies produced conclusive proof" that China was engaged in missile proliferation, while also continuing "nuclear cooperation" with Iran, probably weapons production. But the problem was only superficial: Secretary of State Warren Christopher informed China that Washington would "interpret an American law governing the export of high technology to China to allow the export of two of the seven sophisticated American-made satellites banned by sanctions imposed on China in August, senior Administration officials said," adding that "there was no linkage" between the supercomputer and nuclear generator sales and the issue of proliferation.2

These decisions illustrate the "very different notion of national security" to which Clinton "is drawn...with the Communist threat having receded," reported by Thomas Friedman in an adjacent column: "promoting free trade and stemming missile proliferation."

There was also "no linkage" to human rights, another slight problem, if only because of Clinton's impassioned campaign rhetoric denouncing his predecessor for ignoring China's horrendous record in order to enhance corporate profits (called "jobs," in PC parlance). Just as Clinton's new export initiative was announced with much fanfare, a fire killed 81 workers in a factory with doors and windows locked "to keep people inside the factory during working hours," a spokesman said.3 Appended to Friedman's lead story "Clinton Preaches Open Markets at Summit" the next day was a brief notice of "deadly accidents involving fire and poisonous gas" that had killed 100 workers "in booming Guandong Province," widely hailed as a free market model.

Though there was "no linkage" to human rights issues or proliferation, it would be unfair to suggest that the New Democrats have no qualms about China's bad behavior. "Clinton administration officials are considering imposing trade sanctions against China," The Wall Street Journal reported a month later. The reason is China's "resolve to withstand U.S. pressure" to cut its textile exports. "Washington is angry over what it claims are more than $2 billion of Chinese-made textiles and apparel shipped illegally to the U.S. each year through third countries."4

December 31 was the deadline for Chinese submission to U.S. protectionist demands, and also "for China to meet promises made to the U.S. in 1992 to open up its market." After China failed to live up to these paired obligations, "the Clinton administration is set to slash China's textile quotas by as much as a third while also lifting a ban on the sale of two communication satellites to Beijing," the Journal reports further, describing this as the "good-cop, bad-cop style": the "bad-cop" will punish China for its brazen defiance of U.S. barriers to free trade, and the "good-cop" will sell them satellites (despite the ban) to show that the U.S. is "ready to reward China if it makes demonstrable progress" -- also, incidentally, rewarding GM's Hughes Aircraft unit, which is looking forward to $1 billion in future business5

Careful students of free trade gospel will have no difficulty seeing how all this hangs together.

The punishment was duly administered, Thomas Friedman reported in the lead story the next day. U.S. trade representative Mickey Kantor announced harsher quotas that should cost China over $1 billion, "to insure that China abides by its commitments to follow fair, nondiscriminatory trade practices" and to show the Administration's determination "to stand up for U.S. jobs" as demanded by the textile manufacturers' lobby, noted for its single-minded dedication to "jobs."6

Protectionist measures had been greatly enhanced under Reagan, who, in his impassioned pursuit of free trade, had "granted more import relief to U.S. industry than any of his predecessors in more than half a century," Secretary of Treasury James Baker proudly informed the business community. Not enough for the New Democrats, however. As Clintonites announced their National Export Strategy, which is to surpass the "less coordinated efforts" of Reagan and Bush to undermine free trade, including new GATT-violating measures, Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen explained: "I'm tired of a level playing field. We should tilt the playing field for U.S. businesses."7

The contours of the inspiring new gospel come into still sharper focus.

Though market discipline is not for us, the lesser breeds are to adhere rigorously to its strictures. The promise and problems are illustrated by three December 22 stories.

In the Christian Science Monitor, Sheila Tefft reported from Beijing under the heading "Growing Labor Unrest Roils Foreign Businesses in China." "Industrial tragedies and labor disputes are stirring tensions between Chinese workers and their foreign bosses," she reports, giving two examples: the November fire that killed 81 women trapped "behind barred windows and blocked doorways," and another a few weeks later that killed 60 workers in a Taiwanese-owned textile mill. More than 11,000 Chinese workers were killed in industrial accidents in the first eight months of 1993, double the 1992 rate, the Labor Ministry reported. "Chinese officials and analysts say the accidents stem from abysmal working conditions, which, combined with long hours, inadequate pay, and even physical beatings, are stirring unprecedented labor unrest among China's booming foreign joint ventures." "The tensions reveal the great gap between competitive foreign capitalists lured by cheap Chinese labor and workers weaned on socialist job security and the safety net of cradle-to-grave benefits." Their minds poisoned by socialist indoctrination, workers fail to comprehend that after their rescue by the Free World, they are to be "beaten for producing poor quality goods, fired for dozing on the job during long work hours" and other such misdeeds, and locked into their factories to be burned to death.

In a New York Times report from Shanghai, Patrick Tyler ruminates on the problem from a different perspective. The city "is racing to recapture the glory of capitalism that flourished here 60 years ago" when it "reached the zenith of power and allure," before it "crumbled under the scorn and persecution of Communism." In those glory days, "expatriate merchants imported European architecture and society, living in mansions behind high walls in the concession areas they were granted" by China's rulers -- the "grants" assisted now and then by foreign guns. "The masses of Chinese outside these walls suffered the instability of warlord rule, gang rivalry and political struggle between the underground Communist movement and the corrupt Nationalist Government" -- though they remained untouched, it seems, by "Western imperialism" (cited in horror quotes, if at all). "Old Shanghai had opium dens, cabarets imitating Europe's best, pink gin, cigars," and for "the masses of Chinese," indescribable misery and torment. The city then sank into its "long decline" with Japan's conquest and the Communist takeover, which "drained the city of its foreign population and investment" and "deflated what capitalist spirit remained." While the spirit is now reviving, it is not certain that the grandeur of yore can be regained: "Whether Shanghai can rival its position of old is a much contested question," Tyler observes.

Progress in that direction is reported by Joseph Kahn in the Wall Street Journal. He describes government projects to "usher out hundreds of thousands" of people from Shanghai to "satellite cities created by diktat to make way for office buildings, hotels and luxury apartments," so that Shanghai will "become a city for the rich and the powerful people," an expelled shopkeeper complains. The representative for a foreign developer disagrees: "The people are very happy to move out," he says, much like those who enjoy "urban renewal" in advanced capitalist countries. Shanghai may never quite recapture the "glory of capitalism," but perhaps it can at least come to look more like New York and Chicago.

There are additional signs of progress on that front. "Murder, robbery and other violent crimes are sharply on the rise in China," the official press reported, up 17.5% in 1993.8

Russia has moved more rapidly towards the "glory of capitalism." Under Western-prescribed "shock therapy," the population starves with "poverty now visible in Russia in ways that it never was before," while more Mercedes 600 SEL's are sold at $130,000 each than in New York, Celestine Bohlen reports. Purchasers are the new rich (many of them the old Nomenklatura), who are working for foreign companies or selling off Russia's resources. Others belong to the criminal syndicates springing up as "crime and business have become interwoven in Russia to an alarming degree." "Crime has risen dramatically...as the controls of the totalitarian state have fallen away and before the certainties of a law-abiding society have emerged to take their place," though "Moscow is still lagging behind American levels of murder and violence," with only about half the murder rate of New York, where capitalist democracy implanted "the certainties of a law-abiding society" long ago. "Russian society has begun to break down into social layers, with people at the top who are extraordinarily rich and people at the bottom who are poor," Bohlen adds; oddly, just the pattern that prevails where Western guidance has proceeded without interruption, and increasingly, in the rich industrial societies themselves.9

Could there be some lessons here?

The great hope in the East is Poland, where the free fall of the economy since 1989 finally bottomed out. It resembles other Third World success stories, not only in the divide between great wealth and mass misery and in providing supercheap labor to allow Western investors to drive down wages and social services at home, but down to fine detail. Poland's foreign expert was Harvard's Jeffrey Sachs, now plying his wares in Russia. He earned his fame by helping to orchestrate an economic miracle in Bolivia, a macroeconomic success and human disaster; Bolivians suffer the social reality, the West applauds the statistics and the opportunities for enrichment, unconcerned that the statistical successes are based in large measure on sharply increased production of illegal drugs, which may have become the major export earner. Sachs then moved on to Poland, which now provides Western Europe with its highest-quality illegal drugs, including 20% of the amphetamines confiscated in 1991, up from 6% in the late 1980s. Poland may also be the biggest transshipment point for narcotics from Central America, Afghanistan, and the Southeast Asian golden triangle, though "drug trafficking has also increased sharply throughout the region," Raymond Bonner reports. Costa Rica's Ambassador to Poland was arrested at the Warsaw airport with almost $1 million worth of pure heroin, and "a staggering 1.2 tons of cocaine was seized in St. Petersburg," from Colombia, where cartels are hiring Polish couriers to smuggle cocaine to the West. The former Soviet regions of Central Asia are expected to become major drug producers down the road.10

This standard pattern under Western tutelage, perhaps the most persuasive example of maximization of utility and efficient use of resources under free market conditions, should gain more respect than it does.

Meanwhile market discipline retains its traditional dual aspect: rigid for the victims, quite different for the victors. GM purchased an auto plant near Warsaw, but "on the under-the-table condition that the Polish government provide it with 30 percent tariff protection," Alice Amsden observes. Similarly, "VW is capitalizing on low labor costs" to build cars in the Czech Republic for export to the West, but "the tortuous journey towards free markets" includes "a very attractive deal" in which VW was able to reap the profits and "to leave the Government with the debts and with enduring problems like how to clean up pollution," while "stiff tariffs" guarantee the profits of the foreign investors. Daimler-Benz recently worked out a similar "attractive deal" with Alabama, on the Third World model, The Wall Street Journal noted.11

The former Soviet domains still fall short of Western standards for Third World dependencies, however. Some of the distance yet to be travelled was revealed in a Canadian Broadcasting Company investigation, The Body Parts Business, "a gruesome litany of depredation," reporting murder of children and the poor to extract organs, "eyeballs being removed from living skulls by medical pirates armed only with coffee spoons," and other such entrepreneurial achievements.12 Such practices, long reported in Latin America and perhaps now spreading to Russia, have recently been acknowledged by one of the most prized U.S. creations, the government of El Salvador, where the procurator for the defense of children reported that the "big trade in children in El Salvador" involves not only kidnapping for export, but also their use "for pornographic videos, for organ transplants, for adoption and for prostitution."13

The dead hand of socialist values is impeding progress beyond countries like China that are now reforming. At the Pan-American games in Puerto Rico, extraordinary efforts were made to lure Cuban athletes, but though "ardently courted," almost all "spurned the pleas to jump ship" despite "the desperate Cuban economy and the potential for million-dollar major-league contracts."14 Under the heading "Defects in the System?," referring to the fact that some Cubans did succumb to the courting, Steve Fainaru reports in more detail on the ardent efforts and their general failure. Boxer Felix Savon was offered a $20 million contract, but refused, saying that "money is not the essential thing for a human being." "Savon is crazy," one of the defectors said: "He's been reading too much Communist propaganda." The most painful tragedy was the failure of any baseball players to defect, though scouts from every major league team were dangling huge contracts in front of their eyes. "There's so much wasted talent over there," a scout for the Dodgers complained: "It really makes me mad when I think about how these guys could be making millions" instead of returning to the country that they say they love: "But there's nothing we can do. [Castro] is the one who has the last word," his mystic presence forcing the athletes to return to the "economic despair" at home.15

Applebome reviews the "struggle for daily survival in Cuba" while maintaining a stony silence on the U.S. role, the norm for respectable commentary. Thus, reviewing a book on Castro, Mark Uhlig scornfully derides the "failing regime" of the "the Ego That Devoured Cuba," the villain who "has no one else to blame for its deepening crisis," surely not terror and economic warfare from Washington and Miami, which merit not a word in this typical display of moral cowardice.16 Fainaru departed from good taste, at least mentioning the embargo.

The "deepening crisis" for which Castro bears sole responsibility is driving many women to prostitution, as in the days before the capitalist spirit was deflated. But whether Havana "can rival its position of old" under the "glory of capitalism" is also "a much contested question," now that women have been "schooled in that socialist certainty that she must bow to no one."17 As the gospel reaches Cuba, that malady too may pass.

For a deeper understanding of the gospel we should lift our eyes to the higher reaches of thought. Some help is offered in an address to a January 1993 conference of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences by the distinguished philosopher, anthropologist, and historian Ernest Gellner.18 He explains that "humankind in general is dominated by three types of motivations: honor, interest, and salvation." Honor was displaced by interest after the scientific revolution and economic growth under capitalism; perhaps that explains the "craziness" of backward Cubans, still in the primitive grip of honor. The third option is "salvationism" -- in its modern form, "secular salvationism (read: Marxism)": "the idea of running an industrial society through the establishment of righteousness on earth," the goal to which Stalin dedicated his every waking moment. That option was repudiated in 1989, signalling the end of Marxism, which inevitably leads to totalitarianism, just as "modern industrial totalitarianism must be Marxist." What remains is "a kind of International of Consumerist Unbelievers," who understand that public policies to change the near-perfect social arrangements geared to private profit and accumulation would lead straight to the Gulag.

At last all is clear.

Sincerely,

Noam Chomsky


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Footnotes

1 R.W. Apple, Thomas Friedman, Sanger NYT, Nov. 21, 1993.

2 Elaine Sciolino, NYT, Nov. 19.

3 Reuters, NYT, Nov. 19.

4 Lawrence Zuckerman and Asra Nomani, WSJ, Dec. 30, 1993.

5 Zuckerman, WSJ, Jan. 4; Bob Davis and Robert Greenberger, WSJ, Jan. 6, 1994.

6 NYT, Jan. 7.

7 Keith Bradsher, NYT, Sept. 28; Michael Frisby, WSJ, Sept. 29, 30) -- as "we" have been doing for 2 centuries.

8 AP, Boston Globe, Dec. 29.

9 NYT, July 31, Aug. 16, Nov. 13, 1993.

10 Rensselaer Lee and Scott Macdonald, Foreign Policy, Spring 1993; Bonner, NYT, Dec. 30, 1993.

11 Amsden, American Prospect, Spring 1993; Richard Stevenson, "In a Czech Plant, VW Shows How to Succeed in the East," NYT, June 22, 1993; Helene Cooper and Glenn Ruffenbach, WSJ, Sept. 30, 1993.

12 John Haslett Cuff, Globe & Mail (Toronto), Nov. 20, 1993.

13 Hugh O'Shaughnessy, Observer (London), Sept. 26, 1993.

14 Peter Applebome, "Passing Up Big Money and Plea to Leave Cuba," NYT, Dec. 3, 1993.

15 BG, Dec. 5, 1993.

16 Uhlig, NYT Book Review, Sept. 19, 1993.

17 Tom Mashberg, BG, Jan. 25 1993.

18 Laura Reed and Carl Kaysen, eds., Emerging Norms of Justified Intervention, Cambridge 1993.


The preceeding letter was published in Lies of Our Times (LOOT), February 1994.

According to its publishers, Lies of Our Times is "a magazine of media criticism. "Our Times" are the times we live in but they are also the words of the New York Times, the most cited news medium in the United States, our paper of record. Our "Lies" are more than just literal falsehoods; they encompass subjects that have been ignored, hypocrisies, misleading emphases, and hidden premises - all of the biases which systematically shape reporting."