Masters of Mankind
Adam Smith is routinely trotted out by pundits to justify the current economic system. Yet the Smith that is represented bares little resemblance to reality. If he were around today he probably would be appalled at the way his name and ideas are being bandied about. All that stuff about the free market and entrepreneurial spirit are slogans to prevent people from understanding how the economy really works. Actual capitalism relies on significant government intervention and taxpayer subsidies. Who after all bailed out Wall Street banks and financial institutions? In sector after sector it is public money that paves the way for private profit. Take computers and the Internet. Where did they come from? Bill Gates working in a garage in Palo Alto? Hardly. They were products of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
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 95, he continues to inform and inspire people 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.