Government: What’s Up?
It’s a wonder Noam Chomsky hasn’t gotten kicked out of the United States yet.
His work, particularly the tedious-but-damning-and-awing read that is Hegemony or Survival, is nothing short of “treason” against the state. No, he’s not inciting a riot, but he basically reveals that the U.S. government is a bully, a terrorist and a greedy, selfish machine whose last prorogative is democracy. This was my first reaction, anyways, reading the book, which delves into how America tries to spread it’s “empire,” but once I gave it a second thought I realized that most of what Chomsky writes is out there for public knowledge. His book is no Wikileaks, he is no Julian Assange: his revelations seem damning because most Americans don’t realize them for what they are.
So why doesn’t every American read his book?
That was my second question, and the answer explains why the American government has gotten away with what it has: people don’t read. They don’t read, they don’t study, they don’t question and protest their government as much as people in other countries do. Those that do read books like Chomsky’s are either a) the elite who are doing the wrongdoings, b) students who no one will take seriously and who usually have to give up the fight in order to survive (a.k.a. settle down and make money, not sit in protest) or c) book critics who half of America pays no mind unless they’re reviewing something cliche and trendy (ahem, Fifty Shades of Gray and The Hunger Games). This thus explains how a book that could easily change the world is nevertheless relegated to the category of dusty, dull….and intelligent.
Personally, I have found Hegemony or Survival-published in 2003 during the G.W. Bush years, and thus slightly antiquated-to be a terrifying book, sort of like a real-life version of 1984 or Brave New World, describing a government which pretends to be one thing, all moralistic and do-gooder and democratic, when in reality it is paranoid of it’s citizens and squashes democracy every time it rears its head. “Recognition that controlof opinion is the foundation of government,” Chomsky writes, “is far for more important in the more free societies, where obeidence cannot be maintained by the lash” “Thought control,” or propaganda, he insists, naturally “originated in the most free socieites.” (p. 7)It’s disgusting how public officals can put such a spin on grotesque acts, how they can so bald-facedly lie to the population to keep themselves rich and powerful. They manipulate words to make people believe that “we’re the good guys, that WE are just–but, “it’s always going to be someone’s just cause. WE think WE are right, and so does the enemy.
Since reading the book-my first Chomsky-my perception of the American government has forever been altered, and not in a good way. Perhaps no government ever has good intentions-the purpose is ‘population control,’ or as Walter Lippman put it, “The public must be put in it’s place” (p. 6)-which is shockingly feudal, not democratic. A small concentration of the population holds power. Why can’t we be a true, transparant democracy? I don’t believe that ALL the ins-and-outs of government need to be public (for various security reasons) but I do think, for examble, that citizens should know that their taxes go to fund terrorist activities toward other countries or evil dictators.
The revelation that the American government actively funds countires where populations are crushed and dictatorious leaders run rampant (with our blessing)-such as Romania in the time of Ceausecu, Indonesia’s Sukharto, Noriega of Panama, hell even Col. Ghaddafi-is disappointing. I realize that international relations is a tricky balance, and that unless one wants to go the way of World War I by staying true to alliances simply because they’re alliances, that sometimes one has to change their team colours, I still can’t believe that the government funds world governments that only seek to crush their people. It’s high-time that the U.S. government stops trying to act all saintly by insisting that it’s out to save democracy and promote better lives for everyone. According to Chomsky, we provoked the Russian war with Afghanistan at the expense of the Afghan people, and because the country was so devastated we ended up having to fight the terrorists there who had had nothing better to do (or look forward to) then listen to Islamic radicalism and plot terrorist acts (p. 111).
It is so ironic that our government started a “War on Terror” in Iraq and the Middle East which absolutely succeeded in nothing apart from killing Saddam Hussein (oh wait, didn’t we support him and fournish him with millions of dollars in aid?) when we ourselves act like terrorists. The forerays in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1980s, inwhich actual democratic, public-supported leaders were disposed for American-approved elites, are disgusting displays of bullying. Chomsky reports of criminal acts of the FBI against Cuba in the 1970s, ranging from destroying boats and oil rigs to even blowing up a Cuban airliner and it’s 73 passengers (p.85). I’m sorry, but how does blowing up an airliner constitute as moral, just, and a blow for democracy unless that airliner is heading to ram into a building full of people?
By all means, a government must do whatever is necessary to protect it’s citizens-that dangerous, “uneducated” public-but, I must insist, there must be a line drawn. That line is very fine, and I don’t believe any government yet has come to manage it with finesse. Ignoring international law, bending the rule’s to one’s own will and jeopardizing the safety of millions (which is essentially what JFK did in the Cuban Missile Crisis) in the name of power is wrong, and sounds a bit….dictatorial, don’t you think? America can get away with not complying with Security Council resolutions and rejecting them, but if another government tries to do the same (as Saddam’s Iraq did), then it’s an outrage and a crime (p. 30).
But who cares?
The Bush administration went against the rest of the world’s wishes and bombed Iraq. Did they care what the United Nations thought? Not a bit. The government under which 350+ million people live goes around trampling human rights in the name of human rights, but those 350+ million people couldn’t give a damn. Chomsky reveals that Colombia had the worst human rights record in our side of the world, and yet received the most military aid, “a corelation that would be of no slight concern if it were known outside of scholarship and dissident circles.” Did any ordinary, non-academic or openly-dissident Americans read this book??
The truly sad part about all of this is not that the American government actually does these horrible acts and then proceeds to cover them up, but that the elite in power don’t seem to realize how their actions affect how America is viewed by the rest of the world. Of course, the powerful and the best will always have enemies, but I think it would be wise not to increase them in number, nor to walk around like a braggart. Political analyst Samuel Huntington is quoted saying that most countries believe the U.S.A. to be their “greatest external threat,” which is pretty sad when one considers how much our foreign policy is spent giving billions of dollars to foreign governments and aid. Apparently, even the money that is put to good use-not for funding murderous governments, ahem-is not enough to make up for the rest of our bloody acts.
Chomsky corroborates this idea by quoting a Mr. Robert Jervis, president of the American Political Science Association. Does the American government, like the cruel popular girl in high school who walks around knowingly biting the heads off her plebian classmates, not care that it’s wrecking havoc? Does being number one mean having to bring down democracy-the so-called essence of our nation-elsewhere in the world? Do we want to remain “in the eyes of much of the world, in fact, the prime rogue state today is the USA” (p. 37)?
1. Chomsky, Noam. Hegemony or Survival. (2003)