Wednesday, June 21, 2006
In what is perhaps his billionth book Noam Chomsky again assails doctrinal structures in the US media and explodes our self-righteous propaganda myths. His approach is typically devestating: he finds examples of hypocrisy on behalf of the US and its Western minions and exposes them; he dissects the narrow spectrum of acceptable discourse and demonstrates how corporations and powerful political interests manipulate history and images in a cynical game to delude the public into thinking they have a 'choice'; he finds new ways to take institutionalized 'truths' and re-cast them factually through 'paired examples' and detailed analysis of the most arcane reports and government documents, pointing out that much of what is accepted as 'fact' in our political discourse is actually Orwellian doublespeak.
Chomsky's primary argument here is that the US has become a 'failed state'--a state with collapsing democratic institutions; an apathetic, increasingly harried and undereducated public; leaders beholden to the wealthiest sectors of the citizenry; and a brutal foreign policy completely at odds with international or US law. There are the usual chords: East Timor, Nicauragua, Haiti, Walter Lippman, the PR industry, Israeli and US obstruction of the Middle Eastern "Peace Process"; but here we get Chomsky riffing on Gulf War 2, Katrina, the contempt for democracy of the US elite class, the most recent propaganda assaults on the New Deal, and other new material. I love the fact that he calls Negroponte and Sharon 'terrorists.' There's no mincing of words, there's no anguish about tarnishing those typically thought to be good guys by definition because they're American or a close ally.
Chomsky rules. Those who think he's a wacko or a conspiratorial nut or a traitor are unable to refute him, ever. Intellectuals who publicly challenge Chomsky always resort to straw man or ad hominem attacks or red herrings because his attention to detail, his analytical skills, and his depth and breadth of research are uncanny. Failed States proves it yet again, and despite its catalog of horrors, the book ends on an optimistic note.