The sane rationality of Noam Chomsky’s words and tone of voice offers a tonic to anyone
who still has hopes for American idealism. Listening to him this morning on Democracy Now!, which broadcast a talk he gave recently in Santa Fe, N.M., I jotted
down some notes.
Chomsky, right, spoke about imperialism, Iraq, terrorism, pre-emptive war, the U.S.
press, war crimes, nuclear missiles, American military “ownership” of space, and the paradoxical
U.S. view of democracy in “old” and “new” Europe. All his comments made eminent sense and
led up to final remarks that struck me as the most significant in terms of U.S. democracy. (His
talk begins about two minutes into the audio/video clip.)
Chomsky pointed out that our “Dear Leader” and his entire regime has a supreme faith in PR
as “an instrument of deceit.” This is illustrated by many things, most recently by his push to
dismantle the Social Security system through privatization. As Chomsky said, the claim that the
Social Security is facing an imminent crisis is “an exercise in fraud that is truly awesome,” not
unlike the original justification for invading Iraq.
“The con game about Social Security is a striking, stunning example really, of the power of
public relations as an instrument of deceit,” he said. It shows our Dear Leader’s “sheer audacity
and contempt for the population.” More important, “the commitment to deceive is pursued with
real fanaticism” by the current regime in all aspects of governance, from domestic rule to
economic and foreign policy. In fact, U.S. administrations have pursued this commitment for
decades, evidenced by secret conniving that at one point avoided global nuclear war only by
The sole difference now in the commitment to deceive is the degree of fanaticism, which has
been taken to the extreme and which increases “the likelihood of terminal nuclear war,
environmental catastrophe and an enhanced threat of terrorism.” Worst of all, with its supreme
“faith in the powers of deceit” and in “the enormous power of public relations” — witness the use
of advertising to spread propaganda — the “state corporate system threatens the viability of
Chomsky spoke on Jan. 26 at a forum sponsored by the Lannan Foundation to celebrate the
25th anniversary of the International Relations Center. You can hear more of what he said at the
forum about Iraq and the Middle East in conversation with Tariq Ali, a historical novelist and
political scholar of Islam. Chomsky’s website links to the texts of
25 talks he’s given elsewhere over the years.