Just found this on Larry Flynts site (ooh er mrs) i hope you like it.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Noam Chomsky is "the most often cited living author. Among intellectual luminaries of all eras, Chomsky placed eighth, just behind Plato and Sigmund Freud." And how many scholars have a following that includes U2's Bono, who describes the venerable activist as "a rebel without a pause, the Elvis of academia"? Members of rock bands Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam are notable fans as well, and R.E.M. once invited Chomsky to join the group on tour and speak before each concert. (He declined.) No wonder Rolling Stone calls Noam Chomsky "one of the most respected and influential intellectuals in the world." Now he's talking directly to HUSTLER readers.
The outspoken professor did most of his doctoral work at Harvard University and has taught at MIT since 1955. He first gained renown by revolutionizing the study of linguistics, but is more widely known for his tireless social activism, public speaking and political criticism. Chomsky has authored countless books, including What Uncle Sam Really Wants, 9-11 and his latest-Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.
But we say: What good is highbrow intellectual discussion if it doesn't trickle down to the people affected the most-hardworking Americans, on whose backs the whole system is supported. And it looks like Chomsky agrees. HUSTLER jumped at the chance to talk with this fearless straight-shooter about who's really controlling Washington, the truth about the Iraq war and how to take back our hard-won liberties.
HUSTLER: How have Americans changed since 9/11?
NOAM CHOMSKY: In a way, nothing new happened. Pretty much the same group of people came very close to blowing up the World Trade Center in 1993. So from the point of view of risk analysis, nothing really changed. That it came as a surprise is partly because the people who should've been paying attention weren't. The facts were there. To some extent it made the American people shelter under the umbrella of power. That's a natural reaction to a disaster, whether a hurricane or a terrorist attack. On the other hand, it had the effect of opening a lot of people's minds.
This is a very insular society. Everything is very much self-contained. People don't know much about the outside world.
Why do you think this country was attacked?
Among specialists on the region [the Middle East], terror specialists and intelligence agencies, there isn't much disagreement. The reasons were understood a long time ago. President Eisenhower and his staff discussed what Eisenhower called "The Campaign of Hatred Against the U.S. in the Arab World." His advisers, the National Security Council, published reports back in 1958 saying the reason is the perception that the U.S. supports brutal and authoritarian regimes and blocks democracy and development, and that we do so because we want to have control over their oil resources. This was basically accurate. Right after 9/11, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study of opinion in Muslim countries, of [people] who they called "Money Muslims"-you know, the kind of people they care about, like executives of multinational corporations, lawyers, professionals and so on. The study found that there's a tremendous hatred of the U.S. among these people who are closely integrated with American power and wealth. Their opinion is based on the same issues.
And they had more specific objections: U.S. support for Israel's takeover, and by then a 35-year military occupation, and the brutal treatment of Palestinians-that was a huge issue with them. Also, they were very upset about the sanctions in Iraq, as was everyone in the Arab world. The sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of people and devastated the civilian society. The sanctions strengthened Saddam Hussein, whom they all hated, and forced the population to rely on him for survival; so he couldn't be overthrown.
What has the War on Terror accomplished?
The invasion of Afghanistan was very unpopular in most of the world. In fact, for reasons that are understandable, people just saw the U.S. as blindly lashing out and taking revenge without even knowing whom they were attacking, which is true. Eight months after the bombing of Afghanistan, the FBI testified to Congress and said, "We really don't know whether anything in Afghanistan was involved in 9/11." They assumed it, but they didn't know. And they had turned down apparent offers, by the Taliban, to extradite Osama bin Laden. And that caused a lot of anger. But what really infuriated almost the entire world, and the Muslim world in particular, was the invasion of Iraq. The present people in Washington happen to be at an extreme end. There's an extreme in the use of violence to intimidate the world, which is why the U.S. has become the most feared and often-hated country in the world. It wasn't that way three or four years ago. But they have succeeded in achieving that.
They have also increased the threat of terror, and consciously-not because they want terror, but because it's just not a high priority. They knew perfectly well when they invaded Iraq that it was likely to increase the threat of terror. Their own intelligence agencies and every independent specialist told them that. Postwar estimates show that that's exactly what it did.
The National Intelligence Director publishes the top combined conclusions of the intelligence agencies. It just came out with its own projections for the next 15 years or so. One projection is that as a result of the invasion, Iraq will become a training ground for terrorists who will become professional terrorists and spread around the world to attack the U.S., among other countries. And it will become pretty much what Afghanistan was under the Taliban. That was the predicted result of the invasion, and it's the actual result. So they anticipated it, and it just didn't matter that much. It's much more important to control the world's oil and to intimidate people. That goes on in case after case. It's not hard to figure out.
How has 9/11 changed America's political agenda?
The current administration has used 9/11 as an excuse to pursue and escalate existing policy. I think it's quite obvious, and we now have extensive evidence about it. And not just with foreign policy, but also domestic policy. For example, most of the U.S. population is quite opposed to giving the President free authorization to enter into international economic agreements.
First of all, they don't like the agreements, and secondly, they don't want the President to have any Kremlin-style authority to do these things in secret and then have Congress automatically approve [them]. But right after 9/11, they managed to sneak it through. And it's the same with many other things: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, benefits cutbacks for the general population, the imposing of huge fiscal burdens on coming generations. All of these things are very unpopular.
What other domestic policy changes will affect the middle and working classes?
Take, for example, the recent change in bankruptcy laws. That sounds like something technical until you look at who gets hit. About 50% of the bankruptcies in the U.S. are poor people who can't pay huge medical bills. This legislation is a kick in the face to poor and working people, and very explicitly so.
Why, incidentally, do people have to pay huge medical bills? It's because we have by far the most inefficient medical system in the world. Costs are way beyond any other country. And health-care outcomes in the U.S. are at the low end of industrial countries. It's highly inefficient, and there's a ton of bureaucracy.
Insurance-company executives monitor what doctors do, wasting their time and yours on paperwork and so on. People in the higher income brackets-me, for example, a college professor-get terrific health care. On the other hand, much of the population can't even get medicines, let alone serious health care. It's a fiscal crisis, and it's going to be a tremendous burden to our children and grandchildren. But there's no effort to change it because it's working fine for the wealthy.
On the other hand, take Social Security. That's a very efficient program. Administrative costs are very low. Well, there's nothing in it for Wall Street and money managers. Social Security doesn't mean much to wealthy people. Again, someone in my income bracket, you know, not Bill Gates, but well enough off. I'm retired, and I get Social Security, but it's a small part of my pension fund. If it disappeared, wealthy people wouldn't care. On the other hand, for working people, the poor and their dependents and the disabled, it's a mainstay of their income. So, therefore, they have to destroy it. They have invented an almost totally fabricated fiscal crisis. The lying, deceitfulness is unbelievable. There's just no fiscal crisis in the near future. So the noncrisis has turned into a major crisis. They're saying we're going to hit an iceberg. And the real crisis, which any economist will tell you, is ignored. Why? It's because the noncrisis is about an institution critically important for most of the population, the poorer part. And the real crisis is working fine for the rich.
How do you explain this divide between public opinion and the country's two major political parties?
Public opinion is very well studied in the U.S. For instance, about 80% of the population regards the government guaranteeing health care to everybody as a crucial moral issue. Do you see any political parties suggesting that? No. In fact, if it's ever mentioned in the press, it's called politically impossible, or lacking political support.
Well, in a sense that's true. Big pharmaceutical corporations, the insurance industry, HMOs, Wall Street and the wealthy are all opposed. Therefore it is politically impossible. It doesn't matter what 80% of the population believes.
There were major studies of public opinion that appeared right before the election, last September, done by the most prestigious institutions in the world that monitor public opinion. What they revealed is unbelievable. I was amazed. They showed basically that both political parties are far to the right of the general population on a host of major issues.
For example, the U.S. alone refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty. But a large majority of the population is in favor of it. In fact, so enthusiastically in favor that literally a majority of Bush voters believe that he was in favor of it, because it's such an obvious thing to do. It goes on like that in case after case with use of force, international criminal courts, the U.N. and domestic spending.
The American political class, the two political parties and the media share a pretty narrow spectrum of opinion, which is quite divorced from the general population. That's easily demonstrable. They basically serve the interests of the wealthy and the powerful.
If there's such a powerful force of the population who disagree with current politics, why are we seeing virtually no resistance to these policy changes?
For one thing, the Democrats don't disagree that much. There's some opposition, but not much. And when there is any, they use the weapon of fear to intimidate them. For example, if you raise a question about eliminating taxes for the wealthy, immediately you're supporting terrorism, and it frightens people. They're masters at intimidating people, and they go for the jugular.
This particular administration happens to be a very extremist wing, so much so that many mainstream right-wingers from the Reagan days are opposed to a lot of what they're doing. Those in power saw this as an opportunity to pursue both the international and domestic policies they want. The domestic policies are just transparent. When I look at every single policy that's pushed through, virtually without exception, it just enriches the most wealthy and powerful sectors of the country and imposes a burden on everyone else.
What should we understand about the electoral process?
If you look at the last election, roughly 10% of the voters said they were voting on issues, agendas, platforms and ideas of the candidate. Most of the people are voting, if they're voting at all, on imagery. The electoral campaigns we know are run by the public relations industry. Both parties hand them over to the PR firms, who sell candidates the same way that they sell toothpaste and lifestyle drugs.
When you turn on the television and you watch an ad, you don't expect the ad to be giving you information. The ad is trying to deceive you. Is that a secret? They'll tell you it involves rational choices by informed consumers. But is that what business is spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year for on advertising? No. They're trying to project imagery, which will delude you into accepting this commodity rather than some equivalent one, or buying something you don't want or don't need.
When they sell candidates, it's the same thing. They don't give information about their policies. They try to project the imagery. And that's what people are supposed to vote on. Most people, when asked about what the candidates stand for, were wrong about it. Not because they're stupid, but because it's just almost impossible to figure out. It's a conscious process of trying to depoliticize the country, marginalize the population and make sure that the popular concerns about issues don't enter the political system. This serves the interest of the rich and the powerful.
Dissenters in this country are seemingly powerless lately. Government just rolls over any objection, and the media ignore it. What's the answer?
That's kind of like saying that the population of Communist Russia was powerless because the media and the government ignored them. Yes, that's what it means to live in an undemocratic society. But we can do something about it. There are plenty of opportunities. We have a tremendous amount of freedom now won by past struggles. We have a legacy of freedom and privilege that really is incomparable.
What's missing is not opportunity; it's will. That's a hopeful message. That means we can do things. It's going to take work. It's not going to happen by itself any more than it did in the past.
How do we fight back?
We can fight back any way we want. If the government had its will, it would impose a very restrictive and harsh legislation, but it hasn't been able to get away with it. They have been able to punish vulnerable parts of the population, like immigrants, which is outrageous. But most of what they've tried to do, the public just hasn't accepted. For example, take the government's effort to monitor libraries, which is completely outrageous in a free society. Libraries around the country, including the most conservative districts, flatly refuse to cooperate. Many of them just destroyed their records. And that's happened in case after case.
What specific act or habit should the average American adopt to take back power in this country?
Ask yourself how anything has ever been achieved in the past. How were women's rights achieved? How was slavery overcome? Everything they're trying to destroy, like Social Security benefits, were never given as gifts from above. People organizing together for education, activism and demonstrations achieved these things.
There's an endless array of possibilities available to us, and that's how things change. It doesn't happen in a day. There's no single action you could have done to eliminate slavery or to get women's rights, for example. It's a matter of consistent, hard effort, jointly with others, bringing other people in, finding appropriate actions. Over time, it makes a big difference.