Saturday, December 23, 2006

Failed States - Chomsky

I highly recommend reading Chomsky's Failed States. For those of you uninitiated into the Chomsky realm, he is incisive and prolific, with his numerous works indicating both breadth and depth. Have a Wiki read.

A book like Failed States or Hegemony or Survival educates while punching you in the gut, and become quite an eye-opener to those who have little experience with politics and power, so it behooves you to give it a try (as everyone's lives are affected by such things).

I could have excerpted the whole book, but didn't want to type that much, so here are just a few passages:

"Among the most elementary of moral truisms is the principle of universality: we must apply to ourselves the same standards we do to others, if not more stringent ones. It is a remarkable comment on Western intellectual culture that this principle is so often ignored and, if occasionally mentioned, condemned as outrageous." (p.3)

"It is no easy task to gain some understanding of human affairs. In some respects, the task is harder than in the natural sciences. Mother Nature doesn’t provide the answers on a silver platter, but at least she does not go out of her way to set up barriers to understanding. In human affairs, such barriers are the norm. It is necessary to dismantle the structures of deception erected by doctrinal systems, which adopt a range of devices that flow very naturally from the ways in which power is concentrated." (p.103)

"As usual in recent years, the 2004 electoral campaigns were run by the public relations industry, which in its regular vocation sells toothpaste, lifestyle drugs, automobiles, and other commodities. Its guiding principle is deceit. The task of advertising is to undermine the free markets we are taught to admire: mythical entities in which informed consumers make rational choices." (p.220)

"The World Bank and others stimulate borrowing by the rich and powerful in the poor countries, the risky loans yield high returns, and when the system crashes, structural adjustment programs transfer the costs to the poor, who never borrowed the money in the first place and gained little from it, and to the taxpayers of the North." (p.244)


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