Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Noam Chomsky Slams America's Selfish Ayn Randian Elites

From AlterNet:

In an interview broadcast on Al Jazeera English, Noam Chomsky argues that people who have the most privilege owe the most to society. "The more privilege you have the more responsibility you have," says Chomsky, "It's elementary."  

Asked why the opposite seems to be true in America, where many wealthy people refuse to give up their time or money to help those in need, Chomsky replies that the lack of public responsibility among many elites makes sense; after all, if you've devoted your life to enriching yourself and wealth is what you value the most, you don't care as much about other people. But it goes beyond that, argues Chomsky. "It's also institutional. In its more pathological form, it's Ayn Rand ideology: 'I just don't care about anyone else. I'm only interested in benefiting myself. That's good and noble." 

More here.

It is important to note that I don't dig Chomsky because he's a hippie guru or something to that effect, which is a thought I've heard used to dismiss both him and people who quote him.  And I don't read Chomsky because he "hates America," which is also something I've heard used to dismiss him.  Actually, I've never seen anything even coming close to America-hating in his writing.  Far from it, the sense I get is that Chomsky criticizes the US because he is an American, that he feels it is his civic responsibility to do so, making him a true patriot, a man willing to tell the awful truth to people who don't want to hear it, although I'm sure he would reject the term "patriot" as being extraordinarily problematic, which it is.  But whatever.  When all is said and done, I read Chomsky because his is the only narrative about power in the world that makes any sense at all--indeed, I didn't understand Israel/Palestine until I started reading Chomsky, but his work is highly illuminating across the board.

What's most important about Noam Chomsky isn't so much the content, which is, in fact, important, but his approach to thinking about power relationships.  When you read Chomsky, you start to get a handle on political rhetoric, and the difference between what the establishment, which is comprised of the media, government, demagogues, and corporate PR people, says, and what it actually does.  For instance, when America goes to war, it's always fighting for "freedom."  Always.  There is no war in which we take part where we're not fighting for "freedom."  And "freedom" is why we invaded Iraq.  Of course, at this point, any idiot knows that it was about oil and neocons, which is exactly what Chomsky was saying at the time, even while all the Very Serious People continued to bloviate about "freedom."  Good times.

At any rate, go check out the interview; it's a good one, and relatively short, clocking in at only twenty five minutes.  And he covers a lot more than just the harsh and cruel economic ideology guiding the GOP's political moves these days.  He also has some very harsh words about Obama.  Good stuff.