- Series: City Lights Open Media
- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: City Lights Publishers (September 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0872866572
- ISBN-13: 978-0872866577
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Because We Say So (City Lights Open Media) Paperback – September 1, 2015
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This book is a collection of those newspaper columns that have been written and published in overseas during the past 3-4 years. Interestingly enough, Chomsky is able to sell his columns outside of the US without difficulty. There are also a few edited versions of speeches he has given at various places over the past few years.
Chomsky is not afraid to tackle issues that create controversy. He has a particular interest in the Israel-Palestine situation and the atomic research being done by Iran, as well as America's positions on issues in the Middle East. His conclusions of some of the material are startling, but really shouldn't be when you begin to think about what he says.
I highly recommend this book for people who think for themselves and a sick of swallowing the standard Washington spin machine edicts, as well as the standard lines put out by the Republicrats.
He makes a great case against the corporatization and hypocrisy of the Western governments of the world today and the neoliberal economic policies which drive them. In Can Civilization Survive Capitalism? March 4, 2013 he correctly notes that “the current political economic system is a form of plutocracy, diverging sharply from democracy, if by that concept we mean political arrangements in which policy is significantly influenced by the public will.” And that “it seems to me unlikely that civilization can survive “really existing capitalism” and the sharply attenuated democracy that goes along with it.” Keeping in mind the most critical immediate problem that civilization faces: “environmental catastrophe” and identifying that indigenous peoples “are well in the lead in seeking to preserve the planet.” Identifying Ecuador as “seeking aid from rich countries to keep its substantial oil reserves underground.” He also rightly perceives economic inequality and “free trade” as the underlying cause of some of the greatest atrocities in today’s world. Noting in Prerogatives of Power February 4, 2014 “under the umbrella of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Latin American countries poverty is severe” in those countries that have long been under US domination, like Guatemala and Honduras and even relatively wealthy Mexico. He quotes from José Marti that “the further they draw away from the United States, the freer and more prosperous the [Latin] American people will be. Singling out Dow Chemical [backed by the American government] in these atrocities as the government of Vietnam had addressed in a letter to the International Olympic Committee “expressing the “profound concerns of the government and people of Vietnam about the decision of the IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic movement.”” Dow Chemical provided “Agent Orange” used by the United States to destroy the crops and forest of South Vietnam affecting millions of Vietnamese and US soldiers to this day, quoting international affairs scholar James Peck; ““In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us” whoever “us” is.” Chomsky correctly identifies the most important issues facing our species in the world today: “environmental disaster and nuclear war.” Putting it bluntly, he remarks “in the moral calculus of today’s capitalism, a bigger bonus tomorrow outweighs the fate of one’s grandchildren.” Cultures and societies of the world play a key role in the book as Chomsky is an ardent defender of the disenfranchised, impoverished and excluded people and societies oppressed by class, race, gender and other ideologies and social structural relations. The dominant cultures expressed by Western governments, the United States and its allies often take on the role of the oppressor, often oppressing the very “freedom” that define democracies. Identifying what many see as the flaw of democracy: “The great mass of the poor could use their voting power to take the property of the rich, which would be unfair” which [James] Madison’s solution was to “reduce democracy.”
The book provides a view that is so “well-written, so thoroughly researched, that’s impossible to withstand, even if one tried to.” In a way, it is one-sided, as it provides Chomsky’s single narrative views, but he also provides overwhelming, researchable documentation, facts and views expressed by others that cannot be ignored. As Glenn Greenwald states; “There is no living political writer who is more radically changed how more people think in more parts of the world about political [and social] issues.”
If there is any weaknesses of the book, it is that “Chomsky is fiercely critical of fashionable conservative and liberal attempts to divorce intellectual activities from politics and is quite frank in his notion that education both in and out of institutional schooling should be involved in the practice of freedom and not just the pursuit of truth.” Few of these essays are published in the op-ed pages of American papers and his earlier commentaries collection, INTERVENTIONS has been banned by US military censors, so one would have to look for these essays and commentaries.
I having been exposed to some of his essays and political commentaries was very interested in reading this book. “One of Chomsky’s most insistent themes focuses on how state power functions in various forms as a mode of terrorism inflicting violence, misery and hardship, often as a function of class warfare and American global imperialism, and how people are often complicit with such acts of barbarism.” All the commentaries included in this book are written with courage, thoughtfulness, rigor and compassion that is lacking in the world news that reaches the American audience. He brings a clarity and focus on “the unpeople” who have been written out of the discourse, from the Israel and the Middle East, Africa and Asia to the Americas. He provides a particularly poignant view that is also recognized by many of us in the First Nations, indigenous and aboriginal people of the earth regarding global warming and environmental disaster: “To gain perspective on what’s happening in the world, it’s sometimes useful to adopt the stance of intelligent extraterrestrial observers viewing the strange doings on earth. They would be watching in wonder as the richest and most powerful country in world history now leads the lemmings cheerfully off the cliff.”