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  • C. S. Wyatt
    I was updating my site, after someone said I wasn t familiar with Chomsky, and came across my notes on a speech he delivered in 1988. I thoguth about this
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25 8:00 PM
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      I was updating my site, after someone said I wasn't familiar with
      Chomsky, and came across my notes on a speech he delivered in 1988. I
      thoguth about this because the Web site visitor said that if I
      understood Chomsky, I'd realize we do not have free will. That was
      news to me. Some people might be weak, but no free will? I think most
      healthy adults do have free will.

      Anyway, here is a short sample of my notes from 1988:


      I cite the transcript from Open Magazine, "The Spectacular
      Achievements of Propaganda." I photocopied the article, unfortunately
      missing the publication date. It followed Chomsky's 1988 appearance at
      UCLA and in Malibu, Calif., where he addressed the first Gulf War.

      NC: Let's begin with the first modern government propaganda operation.
      That was under the Woodrow Wilson Administration.

      Why select Wilson? First, propaganda operations are not unique to
      "modern" governments. Second, if the twentieth century is the marker,
      there were propaganda operations predating Wilson in other countries.
      Japan used government presses to explain why China was a threat. The
      U.K. used "propaganda" to explain why colonies needed Western
      (British) culture to save them from savage ways. The Armenian Genocide
      (1915) was the result of propaganda in Turkey. By selecting a
      President of the United States, Chomsky leads the reader to infer U.S.
      propaganda is somehow different, and possibly more vile.

      During his speech, Chomsky compared the Republicans to Hitler, which I
      find troubling. Why? Because, even at their worst, the Republicans
      aren't Fascists -- just all-too-willing to give away liberty for
      security. And to compare U.S. leaders to Hitler is to lose any chance
      of persuasading people to consider Chomsky's political ideas.

      Yes, Hitler was persuasive. But the core of his message was already
      believed by many. We often miss this point in history, but Hitler's
      Big Lie was already public misconception. To this day, there are
      people convinced of a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. Those
      people are not manipulated by the message, which they already believe,
      but they are organized by the messenger. In other words, people
      sharing beliefs can be united by "propaganda" more easily than they
      are convinced of a new belief. Hitler's Big Lie was not new, but his
      unification of believers was.

      (Sad, that such a belief is still widespread.)

      NC: The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their rage
      and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the
      Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call
      on them to change meaningless slogans like "Support our troops."
      You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly
      scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy
      them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think,
      which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think.

      This idea, that there is a "conspiracy" to entertain people away from
      serious issues, offends me.

      I have never met a reporter, a producer, an editor, a writer... no one
      in "the media" with such a notion of controlling the public. If
      anything, I have met men and women frustrated that "real news" does
      not sell. I have met writers wondering why informative works seem to
      draw the same vocal supporters, but not new readers. The reality is,
      most people either don't agree or don't believe the message is that
      important to their lives. When a Texas television station experimented
      with a half-hour of "serious" news, the ratings fell sharply. The
      media cannot be blamed for people using a remote control.

      Would Chomsky suggest we have an hour when only news is aired? When
      there are no choices that appeal to the prurient interests of humans?
      A television or radio hour without entertainment. Force the public to
      "learn" so they are no longer suckers for manipulation?

      I can purchase any of a thousand magazines at the local bookstores. I
      can read most anything I want on the Web. If I want to listen to NPR,
      KPFA, or another alternative radio station, I can do so. There is no
      lock preventing me from watching CSPAN or any of a dozen "news"
      channels on basic cable. Most Americans do have access to a radio for
      NPR and a television with the Public Broadcasting System, so the
      argument that the public cannot access these outlets is false. At
      $2.95 an issue (as of 2004), anyone can afford a copy of The Nation,
      if they want an alternative to Sports Illustrated or Vogue.

      The implication is that people are too lazy or stupid to realize there
      are alternatives to the nightly news. Chomsky and others would have us
      believe the public is too ignorant to understand there are a lot of
      sources for news and information. No, the public simply prefers to
      watch sitcoms and read the National Enquirer. Why that is, I cannot say.
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