Sunday, December 19, 2004

Good Chomsky Article...

A friend on an internet forum I frequent posted a link to a long article by Noam Chomsky entitled Imperial Presidency. I haven't had a chance to read the entire thing yet, but the portions I have are pretty interesting. It also contains Chomsky's trademark optimism, almost as if in direct response to the pessimism of my previous post here. For example:
At the outset I mentioned the notable successes of popular struggles in the past decades, very clear if we think about it a little, but rarely discussed, for reasons that are not hard to discern. Both recent history and public attitudes suggest some pretty straightforward and quite conservative strategies for short-term activism on the part of those who don’t want to wait for China to save us from “ultimate doom.” We enjoy great privilege and freedom, remarkable by comparative and historical standards. That legacy was not granted from above: it was won by dedicated struggle, which does not reduce to pushing a lever every few years. We can of course abandon that legacy, and take the easy way of pessimism: everything is hopeless, so I’ll quit. Or we can make use of that legacy to work to create – in part re-create – the basis for a functioning democratic culture, in which the public plays some role in determining policies, not only in the political arena from which it is largely excluded, but also in the crucial economic arena, from which it is excluded in principle.

These are hardly radical ideas. They were articulated clearly, for example, by the leading twentieth century social philosopher in the US, John Dewey, who pointed out that until “industrial feudalism” is replaced by “industrial democracy,” politics will remain “the shadow cast by big business over society.” Dewey was as “American as apple pie,” in the familiar phrase. He was in fact drawing from a long tradition of thought and action that had developed independently in working class culture from the origins of the industrial revolution -- right where I live, near Boston. Such ideas remain just below the surface, and can become a living part of our societies, cultures, and institutions. But like other victories for justice and freedom over the centuries, that will not happen by itself. One of the clearest lessons of history, including recent history, is that rights are not granted; they are won. The rest is up to us. [emphasis added]
Hmm. Curious that he should mention Dewey--another guy who was thought to have won, based on early returns. (But I jest. I know next to nothing about that election and certainly have no cause to speculate that it was any more of a fraud than the typical American election.)


Post a Comment

<< Home