Recorded at Johns Hopkins University this is another extraordinary Chomsky talk in which he blends his knowledge of history and philosophy and the development of modern propaganda. The problem faced by such democracies as the U.S. is to manage and control a population which had some degree of political freedom. The elite solution? Techniques of mass persuasion. Chomsky says, “The Leninist flavor of these ideas is unmistakable.” He adds, “The more free and democratic the society in which we live, the greater our share and privilege within it, the greater its power, the more significant is the task of understanding ourselves. The efforts to gain what is sometimes called understanding of otherness are an impressive achievement of modern thought. Understanding of selfness lags well behind, particularly within the circles of privilege to which most of us belong.”
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The MIT professor’s contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” He is Institute Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 92, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda & the Public Mind, How the World Works, Power Systems and Global Discontents with David Barsamian.