Conventional wisdom is a term one often hears. It is the generally accepted belief, opinion, or judgment, about a particular matter. In the U.S., the ruling political class and the media are major propagators of conventional wisdom. For example, when it comes to international law the U.S. exempts itself while holding its enemies to account. Or bombing and invading another country. Washington reserves that right for itself and its allies. It’s just a given. There is one set of rules for the master and his close friends and another for everybody else. All of these notions are presupposed and embedded. They are so deeply rooted that they don’t even come up for discussion. Whoever breaks from the norm risks ostracism and ridicule. But often it is thinkers outside the box who rock the casbah and make a positive difference. Interview by David Barsamian.
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.