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NOAM CHOMSKY is known throughout the world for his political and philosophical writings as well as for his groundbreaking linguistics work. He has taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955 and remains one of America's most uncompromising voices of dissent.
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.
As a brief and pithy introduction to Chomsky's anti-imperialistic thinking about media control, and as a charged denunciation of mass propaganda in the modern world (particularly US), this is a very fast-paced, slim, and intriguing read. But if you are looking for material that substantiates his claims with hard, quantitative evidence, you'd do better with a somewhat more detailed treatise from Chomsky, e.g., "Manufacturing Consent". This though is a somewhat embittered manifesto, spewing out bits on how administrations in the past from Wilson to Bush Senior have manipulated the public into war with unlikely, usually defenceless enemies. This edition sports a new speech "The Journalist from Mars," which lends a refreshingly dissident tenor to the chorus of patriotism. The 31 new pages are particularly relevant today as President Bush picks up where his father left off, once again calling a fear-ridden population to war. Media Control might sound like a flaming rant but it is a good, crisp lead-in into Chomsky's thinking -- likely to be misinterpreted unless you are also familiar with his work otherwise. But his ideas are a welcome second opinion at a time when we should be questioning more than ever whether the spurious memes of "War on Terror", "Shock and Awe" etc are really about terrorism or tyranny at all, or a nearly-successful PR agenda pandering to the big few. A highly engaging read.
Media Control is perhaps the best short introduction to Chomsky's thought on politics and propaganda around. Whereas books like 9-11 and "What Uncle Sam Really Wants" are choppy and prone to misunderstood interpretations by readers not already accustomed to Chomsky, Media Control is coherent, in depth and very easy and quick to read. The essay is from the time after the U.S. invasion of Iraq known as "Desert Storm" and traces the uses of propaganda and misinformation from that era back to the Wilson era and Walter Lippmann's theory of media control. Chomsky perhaps displays his dry wit in this short volume more than anywhere else, with his comparisson of the typical slogan "support our troops" to the absurd slogan "support the people in Iowa." What this makes clear, is the emptiness of the slogan. The question "do you support our troops?" cannot be answered with a "no" unless one is completely depraved. That question however masks the underlying question "do you support our policy?" which is something that elites in the govt. and media would prefer you not think about, because the answers would be more ambiguous and require real democratic discussion. The rulers and media heads would prefer to make those decisions for you, through what Lippmann dubbed "consent without consent". The mass media (now controlled largely by six major firms who all have holdings and enter into joint ventures with one another.Read more ›
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One of the most to-the-point books I've read in ages. This book can be read within 45 minutes and not only gives real-life examples of modern propaganda uses and successes, but also gives a brief history of its use in the United States. The details of Gulf War propaganda use reads prophetically... the same exact tactics used in the '91 Gulf War are being used today (2003). It's as if Chomsky sees the news reports before they're produced. The pattern of media control is made starkingly clear to the reader and is sure to upset you. Few books have generated such emotion in me, and for a book this short to have such an effect speaks volumes. Highly recommended!
Those interested in better understanding the many ways on which the electronic media manipulates public opinion would profit mightily from reading this rather short essay from Noam Chomsky concerning the myriad of methods used by what sociologist C. Wright Mills would have referred to as the power elite to shape and reduce the scope of what we know and how we see the world around us. In a wonderful quote from this essay lifted nearly verbatim from a public speech made to a recent Town Meeting for citizens interested in media coverage of foreign policy, Chomsky states that "propaganda is to a democracy what a bludgeon is to a totalitarian state". In this sense, he posits that the use of propaganda, and in particular what some pundits now refer to a political 'spin', is the single most useful device used by the power elite uses to keep the masses in line with their interests and world perspectives. As the many faithful peripatetic readers of Chomsky's essays would expect, he adopts an academic approach to the issue, tracing the history of the use of propaganda in this country from the erudite yet deceptively rabble-rousing pro-intervention speeches made by President Woodrow Wilson, the similarly back-staged endeavors of FDR to draw American support for the embattled British position prior to the attack at Pearl harbor, and even the stage-managed and public-relations intensive efforts to portray the intervention in Kuwait in 1991 as an effort to free a brave democratic people, when the kingdom was in fact a petty fiefdom that was ruled with arrogance and imperious disregard for public comment.Read more ›
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