Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

December 12, 2007

Noam Chomsky: Two Kinds Of Democracy

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 11:08 am

In yet another segment of showing Noam Chomsky is mostly right about everything, Noam Chomsky lays out two different kinds of democracy.

Here are parts 2 and 3.

The themes Chomsky talks about are prevalent in Adam Curtis’ documentary “The Century of the Self,” which I talked about previously (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).

So when Glenn Greenwald complains about the fact free declarations of our pundit class, know that it is actually nothing new.  It is the engineering of consent and has actually been going on for years.  What is new is for people to point it out and for those people to have an audience.  This is one aspect of a new era ushered in by the Internet.

The Ron Paul phenomenon is also significant because it shows the power of the Internet for people to organize, participate in democracy and be active in the political process.  It also represents a largely unintended consequence of a technological shift.  The establishment of like-minded communities dedicated to political action is a potential repercussion that goes way beyond one candidate and a 2008 election.

The underlying point is this, Chomsky correctly points out that role of pundit class is to tell people how they should feel about any particular topic.  Glenn Greenwald pointing out the mismatch between the pundits and what the actual polls say is nothing new.  Pundits have been able to shift public opinion on matters in the past because 1) no one in the pundit class brought up the contradiction and 2) the lack of social and political organization in society to disseminate news of the contradiction or act on it.  Without the social and political infrastructure people felt isolated, so it was easy enough to distract them to other topics.  Before, this was an easy enough trick to pull off.  One simply declares that no one cares about Iraq anymore and then ignore all evidence to the contrary.  Eventually, after a number of other sensational stories come along and with time, public opinion will focus to the new topic pundits are interested in discussing.  The Internet has changed the landscape for this power of the pundits significantly.  However, the most important aspect is to force political action based on the information.  The Ron Paul phenomenon and other grassroots organizations are proving the ability to turn this new information landscape into demonstrable political action.  The people who hold power fear this and it is partly why both parties will be quick to condemn grassroots organizations, but not pundits like Rush Limbaugh, even when they are guilty of similar offenses.

The Internet does hold the potential to completely revolutionize American democracy.  It is the shift of one kind of democracy to the other.  The question is whether people can act quickly enough to establish a foothold before the powerful come up with a way to tear it down.  The one advantage is that the intellectual elite who serve the powerful are sufficiently indoctrinated that they are generally slow to recognize exactly what is going on.  One thing that they will be aware of, is that they won’t like it which I am sure is exactly how Joe Klein felt when his behavior was exposed.

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