Chomsky Classics 3-Pack
At West Point
A rare opportunity to hear Chomsky talking to the cadets at West Point on “just war theory.” Chomsky takes down Michael Walzer who proclaims that Afghanistan and Serbia are examples of the “triumph of just war theory.” Also coming under critical scrutiny is Jean Bethke Elshtain, author of Just War Against Terror. Chomsky reviews the UN Charter, international law and treaties, noting the selective use of just war theory and the sheer vagueness of its advocates. Chomsky says, “There’s a big gap between assertion and argument, between surmise and evidence. So if you can tell me where just war theory entails that we ought to intervene, we can consider the question.” Features a lively Q&A. Recorded at the United States Military Academy.
The media like to present themselves as objective, balanced and free from any bias or agenda. Reality suggests something quite different. The media function as weapons of mass distraction. Much of what passes as news is, sometimes subtle, sometimes crude, propaganda. The media are large conglomerates that serve to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate state and corporate power. In democratic societies populations are not controlled by force. Rather, they are subject to more refined forms of ideological manipulation. Emotionally potent oversimplifications and necessary illusions are created and repeated endlessly. Embedded ideas, such as Washington's right to intervene anywhere in the world, go unexamined and unchallenged. Consent is manufactured. The public, reduced to being spectators, is marginalized.
Hypocrisy on the issue of terrorism is mind-boggling. Washington defines the discourse and the media echo the official line. When the U.S. or any of its clients engage in terrorism it is by definition not terrorism. However, terrorism carried out by individuals and small groups is terrorism. Maybe we should go to the classics to illustrate the point. In the "City of God," St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great. The Emperor angrily demanded of him, "How dare you molest the seas?" To which the pirate replied, "How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a small boat, I am called a pirate and a thief. You, with a great navy, molest the world and are called an emperor." St. Augustine thought the pirate's answer was "elegant and excellent."
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. His 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.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is 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 94, he is still active, writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.
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