Connexions Quotations

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Noam Chomsky Quotes



All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
- Noam Chomsky


Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.
- Noam Chomsky


As far as American business is concerned, Nicaragua could disappear and nobody would notice. The same is true of El Salvador. But both have been subjected to murderous assaults by the US, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and many billions of dollars. There’s a reason for that. The weaker and poorer a country is, the more dangerous it is as an example. If a tiny poor country like Grenada can succeed in bringing about a better life for its people, some other place that has more resources will ask, ‘why not us?’
- Noam Chomsky


“A brutal tyrant crosses the line from admirable friend to ‘villain’ and ‘scum’ when he commits the crime of independence. One common mistake is to go beyond robbing the poor – which is just fine – and to start interfering with the privileged, eliciting opposition from business leaders.”
- Noam Chomsky


Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.
- Noam Chomsky


Free trade is fine for economics departments and newspaper editorials, but nobody in the corporate world or the government takes the doctrines seriously. The parts of the U.S. economy that are able to compete internationally are primarily the state-subsidized ones: capital-intensive agriculture (agribusiness, as it’s called), high-tech industry, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, etc.
- Noam Chomsky


If it is plausible that ideology will in general serve as a mask for self-interest, then it is a natural presumption that intellectuals, in interpreting history or formulating policy, will tend to adopt an elitist position, condemning popular movements and mass participation in decision-making, and emphasizing rather the necessity for supervision by those who possess the knowledge and understanding that is required (so they claim) to manage society and control social change.
- Noam Chomsky


If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
- Noam Chomksy


If you want to privatize something and destroy it, a standard method is first to defund it, so it doesn’t work anymore, people get upset and accept privatization. This is happening in the schools. They are defunded, so they don’t work well. So people accept a form of privatization just to get out of the mess.
- Noam Chomsky


In this country too, policy is insulated from politics. People can have their opinions; they can even vote if they like. But the policy goes on its merry way, determined by other forces. What the public wants is called ‘politically unrealistic.’ Translated into English, that means the major centers of power and privilege are opposed to it.
- Noam Chomsky


It makes sense to keep a realistic grasp of the factors that limit and distort the media product, while at the same time recognizing the many opportunities the media offer to introduce new perspectives and understanding. Many fine journalists, commentators, and activists have shown how much can be achieved with dedication and commitment.
- Noam Chomsky


Remember, any state, any state, has a primary enemy: its own population.
- Noam Chomsky


There has been a striking change in the behavior of the intellectual class in recent years. The left intellectuals who 60 years ago would have been teaching in working class schools, writing books like ‘mathematics for the millions’ (which made mathematics intelligible to millions of people), participating in and speaking for popular organizations, etc., are now largely disengaged from such activities, and although quick to tell us that they are far more radical than thou, are not to be found, it seems, when there is such an obvious and growing need and even explicit request for the work they could do out there in the world of people with live problems and concerns.
- Noam Chomsky


There is no human institution that approaches totalitarianism as closely as a business corporation.
- Noam Chomsky


This is what’s called “increasing flexibility of the labor market.” Flexibility is a word like reform -- it’s supposed to be a good thing. Actually, flexibility means insecurity. It means you go to bed at night and don’t know if you’ll have a job in the morning. Any economist can explain that that’s a good thing for the economy – that is, for profit-making, not for the way people live.
- Noam Chomsky


The world’s two major propaganda systems did not agree on much, but they did agree on using the term socialism to refer to the immediate destruction of every element of socialism by the Bolsheviks. That’s not too surprising. The Bolsheviks called their system socialist so as to exploit the moral prestige of socialism. The West adopted the same usage for the opposite reason: to defame the feared libertarian ideals by associating them with the Bolshevik dungeon, to undermine the popular belief that there really might be progress towards a more just society with democratic control over its basic institutions and concern for human needs and rights. If socialism is the tyranny of Lenin and Stalin, then sane people will say: not for me. And if that’s the only alternative to corporate state capitalism, then many will submit to its authoritarian structures as the only reasonable choice.
- Noam Chomsky


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