Noam Chomsky, fully Avram Noam Chomsky

Chomsky, fully Avram Noam Chomsky

American Linguist, Philosopher, Cognitive Scientist, Historian and Activist, Professor at MIT

Author Quotes

The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power: Principle #1 – Reduce Democracy Principles #2 – Share Ideology Principles #3 – Redesign the Economy Principle #4 – Shift the Burden (tax rates) Principles #5 – Attack Solidarity Principles #6 – Run the Regulators Principle #7 – Engineer Elections Principle #8 – Keep the Rabble in Line Principle #9 – Manufacture Consent Principles #10 – Marginalize the Population

The people who were honored in the Bible were the false prophets. It was the ones we call the prophets who were jailed and driven into the desert.

Did we pick the right country? Do we have a right to be there? The short answer is: no. US and UK soldiers are dying to make the world a more dangerous place. [on Afganistan]

The economic policy across Europe seems to be of austerity in recession – that’s crazy. Governments need to give support to growth out of the budget shortfalls.

By privatising schools you make sure things are fine for the rich, while everyone else looks after themselves.

If names change and the regime does not, then there may be greater transparency and less brutality but the same socio-economic and political systems will continue. [on changing regimes in the middle east]

The West cannot tolerate Democracy in the Middle East because the public opinion in middle eastern countries would then enter public policy there, bringing people to power who the West do not want in power. Turkey’s prime minister supported recent uprisings and he is now the most disliked leader in the international community

I didn’t do any research at all on Adam Smith. I just read him. There’s no research. Just read it. He’s pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised. People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.

Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that -- it's astonishing. These numbers aren't duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You'd have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population.

For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of 'brainwashing under freedom' to which we are subjected and which all too often we sere as willing or unwitting instruments.

When I was in high school... I asked myself at one point: "Why do i care if my high school's team wins the football game? I don't know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me... why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense." But the point is, it does make sense: It's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports.

Sports - that's another example of the indoctrination system. For one thing, because it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance, that keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives, that might give them some idea of doing something about. And it's striking to see the intelligence that is used by ordinary people in sports. Listen to radio stations where people call in, often with the most exotic information!

Then there are other media, too, their role is quite different: it's diversion... The purpose of those media is just to dull people's brains; to get them to watch national football... or get involved in astrology or fundamentalist stuff, just get them away, get them away from things that matter. And for that it's important to reduce their capacity to think.

The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter what people think because you've got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard you have this problem - it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule, and therefore you have to control what people think.

It means you have to develop an independent mind, and work on it. Now that's extremely hard to do alone. The beauty of our system is that is isolates everybody. Each person is sitting alone in front of the tube, you know. It's very hard to have ideas or thoughts under those circumstances. You can't fight the world alone. Some people can but it's pretty rare. The way to do it is with organization. So of course if there's to be intellectual self defence, it will have to be in the context of political and other organization.

There's maybe twenty percent of the population that is relatively educated, more or less articulate, that play some kind of role in decision making. They're supposed to participate in social life either as managers, or cultural managers, like say, teachers, writers and so on. They're supposed to vote. They're supposed to play some role in the way economic, political and cultural life goes on. Now their consent is crucial. It's one group that has to be deeply indoctrinated. Then there's maybe eighty percent of the population whose main function is to follow orders and not to think.

The way things change is because lots of people are working all the time. They're working in their communities, at their workplace, or wherever they happen to be, and they are building up the basis for popular movements which are going to make changes. That's the way everything has ever happened in history, whether it was the end of slavery or the democratic revolution, anything you want, you name it, that's the way it worked. You get a very false picture of this from the history books. In the history books there's a couple of leaders

What seems to me a - in a sense - very terrifying aspect of our society, and of other societies, is the equanimity and the detachment with which sane, reasonable, sensible people can observe such events. I think that's more terrifying than the occasional Hitler or LeMay or other that crops up. These people would not be able to operate were it not for this apathy and equanimity. And therefore I think that it's in some sense the sane and reasonable and tolerant people who share a very serious burden of guilt, which they very easily throw on the shoulders of others who seem more extreme or more violent.

There seems to be no substance to the view that human language is simply a more complex instance of something to be found elsewhere in the animal world. This poses a problem for the biologist, since, if true, it is an example of true ‘emergence’- the appearance of a qualitatively different phenomenon at a specific stage of complexity of organization. In fact, the process by which the human mind achieved its present state of complexity and its particular form of innate organization are a total mystery…It is perfectly safe to attribute this development to ‘natural selection’, so long as we realize that there is no substance to this assertion, that it amounts to nothing more than a belief that there is some naturalistic explanation for these phenomena.

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.

Why does everyone take for granted that we don't learn to grow arms, but rather, are designed to grow arms? Similarly, we should conclude that in the case of the development of moral systems; there's a biological endowment which in effect requires us to develop a system of moral judgment and a theory of justice, if you like, that in fact has detailed applicability over an enormous range.

There isn't much point arguing about the word "libertarian." It would make about as much sense to argue with an unreconstructed Stalinist about the word "democracy" -- recall that they called what they'd constructed "peoples' democracies." The weird offshoot of ultra-right individualist anarchism that is called "libertarian" here happens to amount to advocacy of perhaps the worst kind of imaginable tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny. If they want to call that "libertarian," fine; after all, Stalin called his system "democratic." But why bother arguing about it?

With regard to freedom of speech there are basically two positions: you defend it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it and prefer Stalinist/fascist standards.

We're supposed to worship Adam Smith but you're not supposed to read him. That's too dangerous. He's a dangerous radical.

U.S. domestic drug policy does not carry out its stated goals, and policymakers are well aware of that. If it isn't about reducing substance abuse, what is it about? It is reasonably clear, both from current actions and the historical record, that substances tend to be criminalized when they are associated with the so-called dangerous classes, that the criminalization of certain substances is a technique of social control.

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American Linguist, Philosopher, Cognitive Scientist, Historian and Activist, Professor at MIT