Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

September 7, 2008

Dan Rather Channels Manufacturing Consent

Filed under: media — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:56 am

Dan Rather, who was often on the receiving end of many of Chomsky’s attacks on the media, is speaking like he has been converted.  What is the world coming to?  Although, is there ever going to be a point in time where the mainstream media acknowledges that there is a bias and it is anything but “liberal”?

August 11, 2008

Noam Chomsky: On Globalization

Filed under: capitalism, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:31 am

In the above video, Chomsky gives a brief outline of “globalization.”  What qualifies as a “good” or “bad” economic outcome can deeply depend on perspective.  At the heart of the issue is ideology.  Do we want a world based on global capitalization or civic globalization?

Krugman laid out the old saw there were three types of economists: liberal economists, conservative economists, and professional conservative economists.  As such, economic news is frequently colored with establishment perspectives, i.e. what is good for the current rulers of the society.  The view laid out is that what is good for the rulers is good for the rest of us by proxy.  Lavish the rulers with riches so that they can shower us with their benevolent generosity in return.  That is not democracy, but rather plutocracy.  I’ll also leave the obvious parallels to Christian dogma as an exercise for the reader.

The big lies of a capitalist economy is that the rising tide lifts all ships and that capitalism and freedom are inexorably linked.  China provides a perfect counter-example, it combines the latest authoritarian measures with a potent mix of global capitalism.

In the end, there is a pretext that capitalism is based on tacit consent.  However, frequently the most profitable enterprises are based, not on any for of informed consent, tacit or explicit, but rather exploitation of the desperate.  Disaster, as it turns out, is the ultimate capitalist enterprise.  Welcome to the era of manufactured disaster.

July 22, 2008

Chomsky on Anarcho-syndicalism

Filed under: history, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:17 am

Youtube has an interview with Noam Chomsky pertaining to government.  Chomsky is an anarcho-syndicalist, or the libertarian left.

(Parts 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)

If the words don’t make sense, it proves the effectiveness of filters in our society.  For example, Leon Frank Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot President McKinley.  Although, calling Czolgosz an anarchist is a little bit of a stretch.  It isn’t like one has to take a test or get a degree from an accredited institution.  In fact, the primary schism in the two branches of socialism, communism/Marxism on one-side and anarcho-syndicalism on the other, is the use of violence in bringing about social revolution.  Anarcho-syndicalism, in the Proudhon tradition, believes social revolution can take place peacefully.  Social revolution is a matter of raising consciousness of the populace to a new way of living.  Communism, in the Marxist tradition, advocated the violent overthrow of the existing regime.  When in power, the new regime would have the power to dictatorially carry out social reforms.

The underlying point is that there is a great diversity of thought about the organization of society that is far to the left of the Democratic party.  It is common, in the United States at least, to label this “liberal.”  It is hard to determine what “liberal” means besides a label that the right uses to adorn some political opponent as a target of scorn.

There is a fundamental difference between a thing, and what that thing is called.  I hope what this alphabet soup of “isms” convinces the reader of, more than anything else, is to know the idea and not just the label.  As Friedrich Engels once wrote:

These gentlemen think that when they have changed the names of things they have changed the things themselves.  This is how these profound thinkers mock at the whole world.

July 9, 2008

Chomsky on Pozner/Donahue

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 7:52 am

YouTube has a program of Pozner/Donahue on CNBC from the early 90′. Noam Chomsky is their guest.

(Parts 2,3,4,5,6)

I’m still floored by the Chomsky’s consistency.

I often wonder what the point of demonizing Cambodia was.  Did the press hop on the massacres so enthusiastically because it furthered the narrative of domino theory?  Was East Timor conveniently ignored because it doesn’t fit into any necessary illusion, any prevailing myth about the United States.

As we stand on the cusp of enshrining a two-tiered system of justice by freeing telecoms from civil liability for past lawbreaking, there can be little doubt that the United States of today is run for and by corporations.  Chomsky correctly indentifies that center of power all the way back in the early 90’s.  If there is anything both political parties can agree upon, it is corporate corruption is not worthy of investigation.  The crime of Nixon was to spy on his political enemies, not the little people.

April 20, 2008

4/20: Chomsky on Marijuana

Filed under: culture, history, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 9:30 am

In honor of 4/20, Chomsky explores the history of marijuana criminalization.

In recent news, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) recently introduced a bill to help decriminalize marijuana.

March 16, 2008

Remarks on Religion by Noam Chomsky

Filed under: culture, religion — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 10:48 am

Well, I’m a little more than half-way through “90 Minutes of Heaven.” With some luck, I should be able to finish it tomorrow, although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write up a post about it by then. There is quite a bit I would like to say.

Chomsky has some remarks on religion to hold one over. I consider myself in more or less the same boat. I particularly agree with Chomsky’s sentiment: “I think irrational belief is a dangerous phenomenon, and I try to consciously avoid irrational belief.”

As a preface, like Chomsky, I do recognize that religion does do some good. The problem I have with it is how it masks the bad. I believe the only way that we are going to make it, as a species, is on a basis of liberty and recognition of individual human dignity. Humility and introspection are keys to recognizing past failures and correcting behaviors. I recognize that religious believers encompass a diverse group of people, but what I often find is a false modesty and a deliberate lack of introspection. If one feels the don’t fall into this group then fine, my criticism doesn’t apply. However, I find such an attitude permeates Piper’s book, and worse yet, he seems unaware of the issue.

For example, let’s take the issue of the seat belt. It is safe to say, if Don Piper hadn’t been wearing his seat belt, he would have died. He admits so himself on page 55 claiming that it was a miracle he was wearing one. Therefore, if it hadn’t been for Ralph Nader, I think it is safe to say Don Piper would not be alive today. The reason the Ford Escort held up to a head-on collision with a semi as well as it did was because of the crash-testing and safety devices Nader advocated. Yes, there were countless people who contributed to saving Don Piper’s life, the doctors who treated him, the engineers who designed the car, the people who built the bridge, among countless others. However, Ralph Nader raised the consciousness of automobile safety, which led to the distinct set of circumstances that helped save Piper’s life. This did not just happen. It was a result of hard work. Nader made great personal sacrifices in this regard and was actively targeted to be personally discredited. It therefore seems superficial to irrationally thank all these imaginary factors without recognizing a few that actually made a tangible difference.

However, Piper seems unable to because his intellectually lazy explanation stops with his decision to put on the seat belt that day, and he believes that was because of God. This is why religion and honest introspection appear to be so antithetical to me. If not in theory, but in practice. I want people to break through this God barrier, look deeper than the superficial explanation and try to gain a deeper understanding of the world that surrounds us. Thus, I’m not trying to attack God or religion, I’m attacking the thinking. In this sense, God is just the word used to defend stubborn ignorance. Religion is just the crutch people use to justify their disinterested and superficial understanding of the world.

February 8, 2008

Chomsky on the Political Spectrum

Filed under: capitalism, culture, history, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 11:59 am

Noam Chomsky gives a speech on the political spectrum and realities of modern industrial society.  It is important to note that the War on Terror is the new Cold War.  The goal is to continue to spread Western imperialism.  Islamic fundamentalists do pose a threat, however the threat they present is exaggerated and largely serves as a pretense much like supposed Russian involvement in Vietnam.  It is therefore not surprising that intelligence is kept secret, dissent is intimidated and suppressed, torture is used, and the information turns out to be largely inaccurate.

Torture is used as a coercive mechanism to uncover new plots from the suspected terrorists themselves.  Of course, there is a good chance the plot was bogus. The truth is largely irrelevant because all that is important is a convincing pretext, and torture is capable of providing such an endless supply.

(parts 2,3,4,5,6)

I agree with Chomsky’s argument that some conclusions of Marxist thought flow directly from classical liberal principles applied to the realities of modern industrial society.  Movement conservatives, who claim direct lineage for classical liberal thought, are connected at most superficially.  Movement conservatives pick and choose certain conclusions they wish to draw, deny any relevant changes to circumstances that might invalidate the conclusions, and certainly do not hold the principles of the enlightenment at their base.

Chomsky’s strength as an intellectual and a critic continues to be shown by how logical extrapolations from speeches decades earlier continue to resonate and provide context today.

January 17, 2008

Chomsky’s Version of the “Shock Doctrine”

Filed under: capitalism, economy, politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:53 am

Noam Chomsky gives a speech at a City Life/Vida Urbana event where he gives a remarkably similar narrative to that of Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.”

and parts 2,3,4 and 5.

Here is a link to Dean Baker’s book “The Conservative Nanny State” that Chomsky mentions. One can read the whole book online.

As Chomsky elucidates in his speech, the economic system is setup in a particular way, namely to transfer wealth upwards. The mechanisms and policies that achieve this effect are considered natural, efficient, immutable, when in fact they are anything but. However, any course of action that has the opposite effect, namely to transfer wealth downwards, are considered distortions, interference, inefficient and stifling to innovation.

One fundamental goal is to remove economic decisions from democratic governments which might be influenced by the vast majority of the population into the hands of an elite “virtual senate.” The governments would exist, however it would not have actual sovereignty. An economic elite could cause havoc via forced interdependence, one tool in their toolbox is currency flight.

For American political discourse, Kucinich gets it right. We cannot talk about illegal immigration in America without first discussing NAFTA. NAFTA caused a collapse in the Mexican farm economy, fueling the need for immigrants to come to the North to work for American agribusiness and other unskilled labor fields.

Dean Baker shows there is a flip-side to the system we have and it can be changed.

January 8, 2008

Noam Chomsky’s Message

Filed under: culture, politics — Tags: — codesmithy @ 10:51 am

Above is a short excerpt from “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media.”  A good example of someone that occupies the specialized class is the recently added New York Times Op-Ed columnist William Kristol.  As Adam Curtis’ “The Power of Nightmares” shows, Neo-Conservative thought flows directly Leo Strauss.  The idea of necessary illusions is parallel to the Straussian notion of “noble lies.”  Powerful myths that are perpetuated in the society in order to achieve transcendental ends.  It is also the case that the system that these myths maintain leads directly to ecocide and the potential extinction of the human race.

It should be noted that a democracy, by itself, is not sufficient to avoid disaster.  As Chomsky outlines, the democracy must concern itself with community interests and preservation.  What will it take for the culture and government to shift in that direction?  A leader?

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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