Friday, September 21, 2018

Matt Taibbi - An interview with Noam Chomsky

Thirty Years After Manufacturing Consent, How Mass Media Still Keeps Thought Inbounds

Noam Chomsky makes the point that free market libertarianism is private fascism. Libertarianism is the bosses party, as I call it, the party for the minority to rule without constraint over the majority. Some freedom and liberty, that is. 
Excerpts - 
Chomsky: Well, the first book we wrote had a very interesting history. It was called Counter-Revolutionary Violence. There was a small, but quite successful, publisher that was publishing this. It was largely doing materials for universities, small monographs and things. One of them was this one we wrote, called Counter-Revolutionary Violence. They published 20,000 copies, and started advertising. But it turned out the company was owned by Warner Brothers. And one of the executives in Warner Brothers saw the ads, and didn’t like it.
Taibbi: What didn’t he like about it?
Chomsky: When he saw the book he practically went through the ceiling. So he asked them to withdraw the book. And they didn’t want to do it. They said they would agree to publish a counter-volume if he wanted. No, he didn’t want that. Wanted it withdrawn. What he finally did was put the publisher out of business, and destroyed all of their stock.
Taibbi: Goodness.
Chomsky: Including our book, and everything else.
Taibbi: Just to get rid of your book?
Chomsky: Yeah. And I brought it to the attention of some of the main civil libertarians, people like [Village Voice columnist] Nat Hentoff, and so on. But they didn’t see any problems with American civil liberties. I can understand their point. It’s not state censorship.
Chomsky: You’re not supposed to notice that we have private governments that are much more powerful than the state. Anyway, that’s not part of the ideology.
Taibbi: That brings me to another question. One of the main themes of Manufacturing Consent was that it was hard for people to recognize propaganda as propaganda, because it was private and there was absence of direct state censorship.
Chomsky: It’s very much like the destruction of the press. It wasn’t state censorship, so it’s okay.
Incidentally, there’s an interesting book that just came out finally, says some of the obvious things about this, by a woman named Elizabeth Anderson. She’s a philosopher and an economist. It’s called Private Government or some name like that, but her point is that, which is a major point, yes, there is a government, but governments can be repressive. But most of our lives are under private government, which she says are indistinguishable from communist dictatorships.
Any business, for example. If you subject yourself to it, you become essentially a slave of the institution with no rights, give away your liberty, and so on.
The interesting part of her book, which is somewhat new, is she goes through the seventeenth and eighteenth century advocacy of free markets by Adam Smith, Tom Paine, you know, up to Abraham Lincoln, and points out that that was a left wing position.
Because they were advocating free markets, because they wanted to undermine state monopolies and mercantilism, and to allow people to become free, independent artisans not subject to any authority. And they regarded wage labor as equivalent to slavery. The only difference is that it’s temporary. You can get out of it.
And when the Industrial Revolution came along, everything changed. You could only survive by being subordinate to a major corporate structure, and wage labor became the norm.
Taibbi: During the 2016 election, I remember very vividly the experience of covering Trump and being behind the rope line with all the reporters and Trump pointing us out and making us villains. He’d basically say: “There are the elites, they’re stenographers for the bad guys.” And that was very effective I thought.
Chomsky: Yes, and it’s straight out of the fascist history. Go after the elites, even while you’re being supported by the major elites.
Taibbi: Right.
Chomsky: You ever read Thomas Ferguson? He’s a political economist, a very good one. His whole life he’s been working on things like the impact of things like campaign funding on electability. And he did a very careful study of 2016 election. What turned out was that, in the end, in the last couple of months when it became it was looking very clearly as if Clinton was going to win, the corporate sector really got pretty upset. And they start pouring money into funding not only for Trump, but heavily into the Senate and the House, because they wanted to make sure the Republicans controlled the House and the Senate.
And if you compare the increase in campaign funding with the shift in attitudes, it’s almost perfect. It pushed not only Trump, but also the whole Congress into Republican wins. Just as a reflection of campaign funding.
So the real elites knew where their bread was buttered.

1 comment:

Konrad said...


An article at Counterpunch explains the basics of MMT, saying that…

[1] There is no such thing as “taxpayer money” (at the federal level)

[2] Taxes do not pay for federal government spending. (Nor does debt. No revenue is needed.)

[3] Leftists who continue to talk as if “taxpayer dollars” must be collected to “pay for” government programs are undermining Medicare-for-all and every other progressive policy initiative.

The article is poorly written, but it’s better than nothing. It explains how leftists cut their own throats by repeating neoliberal lies that are fed to them from birth.