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Noam Chomsky

May 24, 2011

The Effect of Holocaust: “Well, I was born in 1928, so I was an early teenager. It’s kind of surprising, but in the American Jewish community, even the deeply Jewish committed parts of it, I mean, we were virtually an immigrant ghetto. I mean, it was not really grasped for quite a while. And in the Yishuv, which now Israel in the Jewish community in Palestine, awareness of it was quite delayed, and even in a sense, suppressed. I mean, by the late — by the mid-1940s, you had to know, 1943, 1944, but the war itself was such an overwhelming obsession, you know, that it really wasn’t very clear until pretty far along how the world was going to turn out. I mean, I later learned even in high level circles, so for example, the Council on Foreign Relations and the State Department had planning studies going on from 1939 to 1945, planning for the post-war world. The plans were really interesting. They spell out in close detail what later happened, which is not surprising. It’s pretty much the same people, but they assumed, they took for granted that the United States would emerge from the war as a — for the first time a major global power, dominant global power, hadn’t been before. And that Britain would be sort of marginalized. The basic plan was that the U.S. would take over what they called a “grand area” that would include the entire Western Hemisphere, to which the U.S. had laid claim but it could never do much about it, except in the neighboring region. So they take over the whole Western Hemisphere, the Far East and the former British Empire at a minimum. That was the region that was held to be necessary for satisfying the needs of U.S. corporations, the U.S. economy, U.S. control, strategic resources, and so on, and what they called security.

But they also assumed that there would be a German world. This was the non-German world. At a minimum, the Western Hemisphere, the Far East and the former British Empire, maximum everything, but they assumed it would be a German world in Eurasia, which would be the other force in the world. And that, well, until about 1943 or so, that was a prevailing conception. By 1942, it was pretty clear the Japanese would be defeated, so the U.S. would take over the Far East and would keep everyone else out. So the Allies, Britain, France, weren’t even allowed into the postwar discussions about the peace treaty for Japan and how to organize the Far East and so on. But Eurasia was not so clear. It really wasn’t until the huge tank battles in mid-1944 where the Russians smashed up most of what remained of the major German armies. It wasn’t clear until about then that the Germans were going to be defeated. That’s about the time that the U.S. and Britain landed in Normandy, really the tail end of the European battle. And just, you know, from a child’s point of view, it certainly was not obvious. I mean, of course, I didn’t know any of this stuff at the time. You just see what was happening, and the Holocaust was definitely in the background, you could see a terrible horror story was going on, but the real dimensions didn’t sink in.” (The Life and Times of Noam Chomsky)

9/11 While he is keen to remind you that he has always described 9/11 as an atrocity, he adds that it pales next to the West’s ‘deep-seated culture of terrorism’. The US, to him, is the ultimate rogue nation. He even goes so far as to call it genocidal. ‘We should recognise that in much of the world the United States is regarded as a leading terrorist state, with good reason,’ he says. Most controversially, he has argued that every post-war American president would have been hanged for war crimes under the Nuremberg Laws.

Though he has had dozens of books published, and though he has a sizeable platform in the print and broadcast media, he still likes to play the martyr, the wounded outsider, the victim of witch-hunts. Surely, I say, it is a credit to the very American way of life he so often criticises that he is still seen as being part of the liberal establishment. He is still, after all, a professor at one of the leading science universities in the world. Even in the Bush era, which was the most restrictive since McCarthy, he was still allowed to say whatever he wanted. ‘I think that freedom is a lot to do with my association with MIT,’ he says. ‘It may have been funded by the Pentagon in the Fifties and Sixties, yet it was also the centre of the resistance movement. It had autonomy.’ (Noam Chomsky interview).

The Cost of Public Education: Chomsky, drew applause, and laughter, particularly when he said “a public university is supposed to be free.” Chomsky defended that view, arguing that efforts to impose more of the cost of education on individuals, along with campaigns promoting the “privatized society,” reflected the efforts of corporate elites to dominate society in a way that made people feel insecure and, therefore, more passive and amenable to manipulation. “The business world is basically totalitarian,” he said. Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society, Chomsky suggested. “When you trap people in a system of debt . they can’t afford the time to think.” Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy (Chomsky talks fear in western society).

Avram Noam Chomsky ( /ˈnoʊm ˈtʃɒmski/; born December 7, 1928), known simply as Noam Chomsky, is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and social activist. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics,[5][6][7] and a major figure of analytic philosophy.[2] Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident and an anarchist,[8] referring to himself as a libertarian socialist. Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books and has received worldwide attention for his views. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992. He is also the eighth most cited source of all time, and is considered the “most cited living author”. He is also considered a prominent cultural figure, while his status as a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy has made him controversial (Wikepedia).

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