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Notes on Noam Chomsky's speeches and interviews, with my own paraphrasing of main points. I'll add to this from time to time.
If you prefer to read rather than listen, extensive archives of his writings are available at The Noam Chomsky Website and The Anarchist Library.
It doesn't matter too much what order you consume Chomsky's work, because he's been so incredibly consistent over many decades.
General comment: The Q&A sessions following speeches are absolutely worth the time to listen. Even with frustratingly incoherent questions Chomsky produces detailed well-structured answers.
Noam Chomsky on Democracy, 1988
youtube – 8mins – Excerpted from an interview with Bill Moyers (transcript).
- Ratification is a very weak form of democracy.
- Capitalist democracy considers popular participation in politics to be a problem, the "crisis of democracy". "Manufacture of consent" reduces people to passive consumers of politics.
- Corporations have highly concentrated power over decision-making in economic life.
- We should not be forced to rent ourselves to the people who own the country, we should play a role in determining what those institutions do.
- Unless we move towards true democracy, human society probably won't survive.
- Likelihood of nuclear conflict, destruction of a fragile environment.
- Our global society is based on greed as the highest human value.
- We need a mode of social organisation that reflects values other than greed.
- Care and concern for others and the environment are part of human nature, suppressed in a system designed to maximise personal gain.
- Democracy could bring about expression of human needs and values that tend to be suppressed under institutions of private power and profit.
- Can only be done through engagement with others in solidarity, free association.
- Voluntary organisation, eliminating structures of hierarchy and domination, becoming the means by which we govern ourselves, control our lives.
Noam Chomsky – The Essentials
youtube | podcast – 2h39m
A compilation of excerpts from many recordings. The video description contains a detailed topic index.
A Critique of Madisonian Democracy, 1997
youtube | podcast – 1h35m – Speech at Tufts University.
America's democratic institutions were designed from the beginning to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."
- 3:31 Cold War deceitfully contrived security threats to subsidise high-tech industry.
- 5:07 Samuel Huntington: "We may have to sell intervention and other military action by creating the misimpression that it's the Soviet Union that we're fighting." Policies unchanged by the end of the Cold War, just continue under other pretexts.
- 6:24 No real Conservative tradition in the US.
- 9:01 Madison: "In England at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure, and agrarian law would soon take place." Government must be designed to ward off the unjustice that would come from a functioning democracy. "... to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority."
Interview Used in Documentary "Manufacturing Consent", 1990
youtube – 1h01m
- The Propaganda Model
Democracy and the Media, 1994
youtube | podcast – 2h35m – Speech at University of Maryland.
5:23 The more a government tortures its citizens, the more likely it is to receive US aid. e.g. Columbia, narcotics trafficking. Where US influence is least, progress towards democracy is greatest. The US sponsors democracy as long as it turns out the way we want, with US in control.
1:14:00 – Atomise and isolate people, suppress emotions of concern for others.
1:27:00 – East Timor.
Neoliberalism and the Global Order, 1997
youtube | podcast – 1h09m – Speech at Yale.
"Free markets" vs protectionism, state intervention and violence. Discipline and responsibility for the poor, but a powerful state for the rich and privileged. High-tech industry was created and is sustained by massive state intervention.
- 6:25 Terminology in the US is almost the opposite of traditional usage.
- 9:08 Minimizing the State. Concentration of control over communications, finance, food.
- 15:04 US violating free trade agreement, strangling Cuba.
- 16:20 US condemned by World Court for terrorism against Nicaragua.
- 18:59 Mexican ambassador re Cuba "40 million Mexicans would die laughing."
- 23:03 Telecommunications industry was created by State intervention. DARPA, Pentagon. Computers, internet, handed over to corporations. Satellites, fibre optics, semiconductors.
- 26:28 Working America is worse off in mid-90's than the late-70's.
- 30:09 McDonnell Douglas, Grumman, Hughes Aircraft as examples of "free market success". Cost and risk are socialised, profit is privatised.
- 32:46 Depression was overcome by WWII, State-controlled economy. Consensus after the war that without government stimulus economy would return to depression. High-tech industry cannot survive in unsubsidised free-market economy. Debated social spending vs military spending. Military spending is a direct gift to corporations, no democratising effect. Easy to sell – say "security" not "subsidy". 1948 beginning of the Cold War.
- 38:33 Computers – 100% public funding in 1950s. SAGE Air Defense System developed basic hardware and software for computers. Once viable, one leading figure left and founded Dell. Later, Star Wars (SDI) subsidised next-gen computers, lasers. Same story for R&D in aeronautical, machine tools, containers, biotech, energy.
- 41:49 Reagan admin doubled protections for US business.
- 44:58 Redistribution of income to the rich, structurally similar to third-world countries. Superfluous population is criminalised and jailed.
- 46:45 Business press: Spectacular profits.
- 50:37 "What to do with all that cash?" Meanwhile, poverty and child starvation. Reduce the capital gains tax to free up funds for investment.
- 52:45 In 1700s India was centre of industrial world. Europe developed, along with US and Japan free of European control. Taiwan and Korea developed under Japanese control. Britain de-industrialised and impoverished India, after learning steel tech from India. Violation of market principles a major factor.
- 57:37 Cotton made cheap and available in the US by extermination of the Indigenous population and by bringing in slaves. Britain refused to allow development in India and Egypt.
- 1:00:51 Britain and the US show the same patterns – Markets are great if we're going to win, otherwise call the game off. Market discipline is good for you, but I need the protection of the nanny state. Discipline and responsibility for the poor, but a powerful state for the rich and privileged.
- 1:03:44 Gingrich voted for protections for the rich, and his county receives highest federal subsidies, corporate welfare dependence. All 100 of the Fortune 100 benefitted from state policy, 20 were saved by state intervention.
- 1:07:05 Minimising the state maximises private power, which designs policy.
- 1:08:08 These issues should be discussed in the public arena, not something the public is deceived into supporting with rhetoric about the wisdom of the market, minimising the state, responsibility etc.
Government in the Future, 1970
youtube | podcast – 56m – Speech in NYC.
- Clasical Liberalism
- Libertarian Socialism / Left Marxism / Anarchism
- State Socialism
- State Capitalism
Anarchism – Peter Jay Interview, 1976
podcast – 50min
Necessary Illusions – Thought Control in Democratic Societies, 1988
youtube | podcast – 4h03m – 1988 Massey Lectures.
- Propaganda Model
Interview with Canadian Journalists, 1988
youtube – 57min – Recorded subsequent to the Massey Lectures.
Per a youtube comment: "For anyone seeking context for this, 1988 was the year Chomsky and Herman published their seminal work Manufacturing Consent, the central thesis of which is known as the Propaganda Model and it is now considered the most important and influential text on the subject of mass media pro-status quo propaganda. Any journalism course worth its salt teaches the Propaganda Model to its students as one of the fundamentals of media analysis."
Interviews with David Barsamian 2013-2016.
Part 1, 3h13m – podcast
Part 2, 3h46m – podcast
- NSA and Silicon Valley
The Chomsky Sessions, 2010
Z Communications interviews with Michael Albert.
Part 1 – Responsibilities of Intellectuals – youtube | podcast – 56min
Part 2 – Science, Religion and Human Nature – youtube | podcast – 1h07m
Part 3 – Education and Economics – youtube | podcast – 56min
Part 4 – The Political System – youtube | podcast – 47min
Part 5 – International Relations – youtube | podcast – 53min
Q&A – History, Anarchism and Society, 1997
podcast – 38min – Interview with media.
Q&A – Vancouver, 1996
Q&A with labor activists in Vancouver.
Part 1 – podcast – 27min
Part 2 – podcast – 26min
Part 3 – podcast – 33min
On Anarchism, 2013
youtube – 1h11m – Speech at MIT.