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Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky Paperback – February 1, 2002
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The chapters, each covering discrete sessions with Chomsky, arrive in a question-and-answer format that at times becomes delightfully contentious. Chomsky holds forth on such disparate topics as American third-party politics, the stifling of true dissent, the illusion of a muscular media, heavy-handed American imperialism (from Southeast Asia to Mexico), a dysfunctional and self-destructing United States political left, the gilding of the Kennedy and Carter administrations, and the impotent state of labor unions.
The relatively accessibility of Understanding Power is a welcome balance to Chomsky's often formidable scholarly writings. This is a book best taken in doses: a sort of bedside reader. --H. O'Billovitch
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Chomsky shares his views across a multitude of topics, and most of his views are backed up in the footnotes, which makes for compelling truth.
Some of the interesting themes include American foreign and domestic policy, the propaganda system, function of schools,third world governance and fraud of modern economics.
It's nearly impossible to summarize all of Chomsky's insights in the book but one thing has been consistent - his brutal, no nonsense, honesty. One of the quotes that gives you the gist of it:
"According to a study by O.E.C.D. about a half of a trillion dollar of drug money gets laundered internationally every year - more than half of it through American banks. How many bankers are in jail? None. But if a black kid gets caught with a joint, he goes to jail."
This book is certainly not for the faint of hearted, but it's a much needed wake up call.
"The 'masters of mankind,' as [Adam Smith] called them, will do what they can to in order to follow the 'vile maxim': 'all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else.'" The entire book is really an expurgation of this thesis. Of course, this is nothing new in history, but as we see in the book, the interconnectedness of the world and the unprecedented levels of inequity and abuse are ripping civilization apart.
Every year, an American president presents a rosy State of the Nation address. With well-documented facts, Chomsky paints a starkly different picture: society is crashing, and, in the 11th hour, it's up to the people to wake up and take collective action before it's too late.
The power elite and their indoctrinated minions will predictably not like most of what is being said. But NC clearly did not become a PhD on the faculty of MIT by saying stupid things. He is a genius at being able to state his case in simple terms so that the layman can understand the fundamentals. It’s not “fancy”; it just plain correct.
The relationship of language, propaganda, and the art of omission of inconvenient facts is discussed quite a lot parenthetically but is developed in much more detail. (That is in fact NCs formal qualification He needs no “qualifications” however to state his educated opinion.) Those topics are developed in more detail in other writings by NC.
The perceived roles of owners, investors, speculators, the (USA) government, the military, unions, and various other “classes” of workers are explored and described in great detail and with incite and clarity. And the relationship of the USA to the rest of the world is also made quite explicitly; although not in a very complimentary manner.
This perspective was a revelation to this reader and one which can be used to place events and actions into a context which is not the standard “party line”.
Top international reviews
Something that for me is particularly compelling is the way in which this book seems to connect so much of the fragmented impressions and conceptions in my own mind. It really makes you question the influences, for example the media, which have reached you and the way in which they may have worked to indoctrinate and control you. This is really hugely important! Again,why have I not come across this kind of information before? Yes indeed, why is itself an interesting question. This has to be a must read for everyone!