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Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

Now, for the first time, Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel have assembled the best of Chomsky's talks on the politics of power. With an eye to political activism and the media's role in popular struggle, as well as US foreign and domestic policy, Chomsky reinterprets the events of the past three decades, from foreign policy during the Vietnam War to the decline of welfare under the Clinton administration.

Highlighting America's myriad of social inequalities and political issues while offering timely advice for much needed change, Understanding Power is definitive Chomsky. Added to basket. The Prince. Niccolo Machiavelli. The Conquest of Bread. That's a big change, and it's had its effects.

There were no Bs in Central America in the s. And that's a reflection of a serious rise in domestic dissidence and activism in the United States over the past twenty-five years. The Reagan administration was forced into clandestine tactics rather than direct aggression of the sort that Kennedy was able to use in Vietnam, largely in order to pacify the domestic population. As soon as Reagan indicated that he might try to turn to direct military intervention in Central America, there was a convulsion in the country, ranging from a massive flow of letters, to demonstrations, to church groups getting involved; people started coming out of the woodwork all over the place.

And the administration immediately backed off. Also, the Reagan military budget had to level off by It did spurt, pretty much along the lines of Carter administration projections, but then it leveled off at about what it would have been if Carter had stayed in.

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

Well, why did that happen? Partly it happened because of fiscal problems arising after four years of catastrophic Reaganite deficit spending, but partly it was just because there was a lot of domestic dissidence. And by now that dissidence is kind of irrepressible, actually. The fact that it doesn't have a center, and doesn't have a source, and doesn't have an organizational structure, that has both strengths and weaknesses.

And it's possible to maintain the illusion that there's no activism going on, because there's nothing dramatically visible, like huge demonstrations or something; occasionally there are, but not most of the time. And there's very little in the way of inter-communication, so all sorts of organizing can be happening in parallel, but it doesn't feed into itself and move on from there.

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Those are all weaknesses. So looking over a long stretch, I don't think it's true that things have gotten more passive, more quiescent, more indoctrinated and so on. In fact, if anything, it's the opposite.

Noam Chomsky - The Psychology of Power

But it's sort of neither more nor less, really, it's just different. And you can see it in all kinds of ways. Or take the media: there have been slight changes, there's more openness. It's easier for dissidents to get access to the media today than it was twenty years ago. It's not easy , like it's 0. And in fact, by now there are even people inside the institutions who came out of the culture and experiences of the Sixties, and have worked their way into the media, universities, publishing firms, the political system to some extent.

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That's had an effect as well. Or take something like the human rights policies of the Carter administration.

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And they've been maintained through the s as well: the Reagan administration had to adapt to them somewhat too. And they've had an effect. Well, where did those programs come from? Their proposals worked their way through a couple of Congressional offices, and finally found their way into Congressional legislation.

Now, in Understanding Power, Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel have assembled the best of Chomsky's recent talks on the past, present, and future of the politics of power. In a series of enlightening and wide-ranging discussions, all published here for the first time, Chomsky radically reinterprets the events of the past three decades, covering topics from foreign policy during Vietnam to the decline of welfare under the Clinton administration. And as he elucidates the connection between America's imperialistic foreign policy and the decline of domestic social services, Chomsky also discerns the necessary steps to take toward social change.

With an eye to political activism and the media's role in popular struggle, as well as U.