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Noam Chomsky Turns 90: How a U.S. Anarchist Has More Than Survived

Noam Chomsky Turns 90: How a U.S. Anarchist Has More Than Survived

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“The person who claims the legitimacy of the authority always bears the burden of justifying it. And if they can’t justify it, it’s illegitimate and should be dismantled. To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand anarchism as being much more than that.”

—Noam Chomsky

On December 7, 2018, Noam Chomsky turns 90 years old. In a 2013 Reader’s Digest poll of “The 100 Most Trusted People in America” (topped by Hollywood celebrities), Noam Chomsky, a self-described anarchist, ranked #20 (behind #19 Michelle Obama but in front of #24 Jimmy Carter). Given that anti-authoritarians throughout U.S. history have been routinely shunned, financially punished, psychopathologized, criminalized, and assassinated, Chomsky’s surviving and thriving are remarkable.

In the early 1960s, when few Americans were criticizing the U.S. government’s war in Vietnam, Chomsky was among the first to challenge and resist it. He risked prison time and the loss of an academic career in linguistics in which he had become highly esteemed for his groundbreaking contributions. For more than a half century, Chomsky has used his platform to challenge all illegitimate authorities, including the U.S. government and oppressive regimes around the world. He has voiced a consistent contempt for elite rule—for its atrocities as well as for its subversion of working-class autonomy.

While Chomsky abhors any hero worship—especially of himself—he does value what can be learned from human experiments in living. In this spirit, examining Chomsky’s life has value for anti-authoritarians seeking an understanding of how to survive.

Chomsky knows full well that luck has been a major factor in his beating the odds, but even great luck is not enough for a U.S. anarchist to survive and have a profound impact. Chomsky also possesses extraordinary intelligence, Spinoza-like rationality, and great wisdom about survival.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mutiny, Class, Authority and Respect

Mutiny, Class, Authority and Respect

Humiliation and fear of a catastrophic decline in status foment mutiny and rebellion.

I recently finished The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, a painstakingly researched history of the mutiny, but with a focus on how the story was shaped by influential families after the fact to save the life of one mutineer, Peter Heywood, and salvage the reputation of the leader, Fletcher Christian, via a carefully orchestrated character assassination of Captain Bligh.

The author, Caroline Alexander, summarized the ambiguous incitement of mutiny by Christian thusly: “What caused the mutiny on the Bounty? The seductions of Tahiti, Bligh’s harsh tongue – perhaps. But more compellingly, a night of drinking and a proud man’s pride, a low moment on one grey dawn, a momentary and fatal slip in a gentleman’s code of discipline – and then the rush of consequences to be lived out for a lifetime.” (p. 407).

The full tale is a fascinating reflection of the dynamics of class, authority and respect, and thus to some degree humiliation and fear of loss of status. Though the mutiny illustrates the particulars of British society and naval culture in the 18th century (the mutiny occurred in 1789), it also offers lessons to us in the 21st century.

Until recent scholarship suggested otherwise, William Bligh has been remembered as a cruel tyrant whose excesses triggered a righteous mutiny. The truth is Bligh went to great pains to minimize punishment on board his ship, and was hoping to avoid any severe punishments over the 3 year year voyage. He also went the extra mile in keeping the ship clean and well-provisioned, foregoing the profit most captains made by procuring the lowest quality provisions for the crew and pocketing the difference.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Twilight of Authority

The Twilight of Authority

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the need for a rhetorical education—that is, an education that doesn’t presume to lay down the law about what’s true and what’s false, but instead teaches each individual how to understand and assess claims about truth and falsehood. That’s a concept many people find challenging these days. We live in the last phases in an era of abstraction, and the notion of truth in most people’s minds these days follows suit:  when people talk about truth, they generally mean some set of generalizations dunned into their heads that are supposedly always true in the abstract, even though they may not work all the time (or at all) in the irreducibly grubby and complex world we actually inhabit.

Think about the things that the people around you consider to be truths. (I’d ask you to think about the things that you consider to be truths, but as that guy from Nazareth noted, it’s usually a lot easier to spot the mote in your brother’s eye than the beam in your own.)  Unless you run with an unusually philosophically literate crowd, most of these supposed truths can be expressed neatly in sentences of the form “all X are Y”: “all white people are racists,” “all people on welfare are lazy,” and so on. That’s the kind of abstract generalization I’m talking about.

People get very defensive about their favorite abstract generalizations. If you question the logic behind them, you can expect to be told that you’re ignorant, and quite probably that you’re evil as well.  For that matter, if you encounter realities that don’t fit the generalization and have the bad taste to mention that in public, you can expect to be told that the plural of anecdote isn’t data. Now this may be so in an abstract sense, but the plural of anecdote is also one of the very few ways you can find out that the abstract generalizations you’ve constructed out of your data are hopelessly out of touch with the real world.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

The Aristocratic Illusion

The Aristocratic Illusion

They’re not as smart as they think they are.

If you draw your sustenance from the government—as an employee, contractor, or beneficiary of redistributed funds—the money you receive comes from someone who had no choice whether or not you got paid. Except for those jobs the government mandates, private sector workers’ compensation comes from employers who have freely chosen to pay it. The jobs they perform are worth more to their employers than what they’re paid, or the jobs wouldn’t exist.

Here’s a new definition of aristocrat: a person legally entitled to take money from other people without their consent. This definition focuses on what aristocrats do and have done throughout the centuries, regardless of their labels.

If you’re an aristocrat, the thought that you’re living on somebody else’s dime may cause psychological stress. All sorts of rationales have been concocted to justify this privileged position. The most straightforward is the protection racket. In exchange for their subjects’ money, aristocrats protect them from external invasion and preserve domestic order. It’s not a voluntary trade—the subjects can’t say no—but at least both sides get something from it.

However, “protection racket” doesn’t have quite the moral gloss aristocrats crave. Deities may not have been an aristocratic invention, but they jumped on the concept of divine favor to justify their position. It makes it harder to oppose the rulers if authority is bestowed by the gods or the government is a theocracy. Ultimately, regardless of rationale, the ideology always come down to: The aristocracy is superior to those they rule. The aristocrats have no trouble believing it; they have to psychologically justify their positions to themselves. The trick is to get the subjects to buy in.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The US Has Devolved into a Police State

The US Has Devolved into a Police State

Yesterday I posted at this URL — https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/01/09/democracy-america-oxymoron/ — a news report and two vidos of a white female school teacher being removed and brutalized by a black police officer from a public meeting of school teachers with the school board while the school teacher was engaged according to the rules in normal conversation with a school board member.

The school board is comprised of both genders and both races. (Yes, I know that today we have more than two genders and there are more than two races.) Obviously, the school teacher was removed at the order of the school board or some member of it.

The school teacher is surprised to be interrupted in her conversation with a school board member by a policeman. She attempts to continue the conversation and is ordered to leave the room by the black cop. She complies with the black cop’s illegal order. As she leaves the room, the black cop knocks her down, handcuffs her, calls backup, and sends her to jail.

This is an accurate picture of America today. The woman did nothing, broke no law, no school board rule, no meeting rule, complied with the black cop and was still brutalized and arrested. The black cop as he brutalized her kept saying “stop resisting.” It is perfectly clear from the video that there is no resistance only assault by the black cop in what is clearly a criminal action against a member of the public by the police.

Will the black cop get away with it. Of course.

What was it all about.

The meeting was about the school board’s approval of a raise in salary for a school board member equal to the annual pay of school teachers, while the teachers themselves received not one cent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Don’t Be Surprised by Authoritarianism

Don’t Be Surprised by Authoritarianism

Kids are conditioned from birth to submit to authority.

Most kids are conditioned almost from day one to obey arbitrary authority. No one attempts to explain or justify the source of the parent or teacher’s authority; no consent is sought, and no choice is offered.

Schools demand complete conformity to schedules and activities, controlling everything from when and how long you get to think about what, to when you can eat and go to the bathroom. The authority is entirely arbitrary. The main fallback when kids question is, “because I said so”.

The real wonder is just how rebellious and free humans still are after so many years of control and conditioning.

Kids are also conditioned to believe that, absent this imposed control, they would destroy themselves. They’d be dumb, self-destructive, and socially disastrous if they weren’t controlled in every facet by whatever adult has appointed themselves an authority. Nevermind how stupid, shallow, cruel, or petty that adult may be.Eventually, kids begin to believe it. They assume the world cannot function unless they blindly follow orders. They assume they would hurt themselves and others if they were free. They cannot see beyond the frightful comfort of conformity.

After nearly every citizen spends the first two decades of their life conditioned to obey authority without question, something odd happens. People act surprised when those same citizens follow political strong men and seek legislative solutions for every problem.

The real wonder is just how rebellious and free humans still are after so many years of control and conditioning.

Is Obedience to Authority the Explanation?

StanleyMilgram

QUESTION: Marty, your point is well taken that we instinctively seek a guru be it in forecasting or politics. We have to understand we are doing that in order to escape responsibility and are really followers. Do you have any idea why we do that so instinctively?

BH

ANSWER: No. Perhaps it stems from the same concept that, as they say, if God did not exist, man would create him. Being a guru implies that you know everything about everything. It seems that the general expectation of a guru, appears to be defined as having some special access to some inner source of all-seeing, all-knowing, wisdom that, if mere mortals could only get close to, then all would be well. This does seems to have infected both analysts and politicians. Even in politics, society applies the same guru stupidity. Once a politician says one thing, they cannot possibly change positions. They will search someone’s statements 30 years ago to argue that was he real view. The press imposes this standard or never reversing a thought. It is curious.

Yet, it is strangely evident that we all change our opinions with time, for as time passes we gain experience and that is the foundation of knowledge. Perhaps we just do not want to think. Religion is an overpowering factor that often stops people from critical thinking and applying logic. If all religions assert that killing is a sin, then why is it OK if you are working for government as a policeman or a soldier as long as some higher-up orders you to do kill someone? The Germans put on trial after World War II said they were just following orders. Perhaps this is really just the “Obedience to Authority” as discovered by Stanley Milgram, whoi was inspired by those Germans saying they were just following orders.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Greatest Danger in the World Today

The Greatest Danger in the World Today

May 01, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – I am on a journey through Vietnam with a group of American Vietnam War veterans who now live in Vietnam and work to address some of the profound human problems still caused by a war that ended 40 years ago. Known as VFP Hoa Binh Chapter 160, these men work to help people still being maimed by the estimated one and a half billion pounds of bombs (“ordnance”) dropped by the United States on Vietnam during the war that did not explode at the time they were released (7 million tons, or 14 billion pounds of bombs were dropped on Vietnam and an estimated 10% of them failed to detonate). In addition these American veterans work to help some of the approximately 1 million people (a Red Cross of Vietnam estimate) people born with genetic defects or otherwise disabled or in poor health due to exposure to the 20 million gallons of toxic herbicides sprayed on South Vietnam’s tropical rainforests food and crops. The primary herbicide used was Agent Orange, which contains the known carcinogen dioxin. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denies that dioxin is a mutagen (causing mutant genes), the rate of birth defects in Vietnam as quadrupled since the war.

We visited a number of the victims of unexploded ordnance and toxic herbicides, which brings home the human dimensions of suffering, misery and death that are the inevitable legacy of war.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

War—–The Birth And Health Of The State

War—–The Birth And Health Of The State

In my essay “The Herd Mind,” I explained how “War is the health of the State,” according to Randolph Bourne: in particular, how war causes a country to regress from a diverse civilization to a uniform herd locked in fight-or-flight mode, and easily driven by the government.

 

As I mentioned in my talk “How the Fed Feeds War,” this propensity is not lost on those in government, which explains why so many of them are so wont to start and expand wars. War is a pressure point on the body politic which the government strikes to disable resistance and obtain submission. By repeatedly striking that nerve, and thereby inducing war fever and triggering fight-or-flight, a government continually renews its subject population’s sense of alarm and dependence, its pliability and support.

 

Thus it has ever been, for as I propounded in my essay, “ War is the Birth of the State,” government owes its very origin to this effect. As Herbert Spencer wrote:

“…Government is begotten of [martial] aggression. (…)

…at first recognized but temporarily during leadership in war, the authority of a chief is permanently established by continuity of war; and grows strong where successful war ends in subjection of neighbouring tribes.”

This is the tribe transforming from a community of families into a ravaging horde and a stampeding herd under the direction of its chief as herdsman.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

Noam Chomsky: “The Idea Of A Media Which Does Not Repeat US Propaganda Is Intolerable To American Leaders”

Noam Chomsky: “The Idea Of A Media Which Does Not Repeat US Propaganda Is Intolerable To American Leaders”

Few individuals polarize the public with their opinions, statements and mere presence, like Noam Chomsky. The 86 year old linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate, has strong opinions (and in some cases, entire schools of thought) on everything from philosophy, to sociology, to linguistics, but he is perhaps best known in recent years for his political activism which has led to death threats due to his staunch and far-reaching criticism of US foreign policy (allegedly the Anti-Defamation League “spied on” Chomsky’s appearances).

His broader outlook is a peculiar version of libertarianism (he describes himself as an anacrho-syndicalist), in which he asserts that authority is inherently illegitimate, and that the burden of proof is on those in authority. If this burden can’t be met, the authority in question should be dismantled. Authority for its own sake is inherently unjustified. He contends that there is little moral difference between chattel slavery and renting one’s self to an owner or “wage slavery.” He holds that workers should own and control their workplace.

He is has also repeatedly stated his opposition to ruling elites, among them institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and GATT.

In other words, the present, in which ruling elites (whether the BIS and “Troika) and ubiquitous US intervention in every possible foreign affair (courtesy of a State Department which, as it has now been revealed, had until recently worked on behalf of the highest foreign bidder) determine the fate of the entire world, should provide Chomsky with endless material for contemplation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Publicly Tells Citizens to “Act More Like Sheep”

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Publicly Tells Citizens to “Act More Like Sheep”

Hong Kong’s unpopular chief executive has infuriated pro-democracy campaigners by using a Chinese New Year message to urge the former colony’s citizens to act more “like sheep”. 

“In the coming year, I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character and pull together in an accommodating manner to work for Hong Kong’s future.”

In case his message had been missed, Mr Leung noted that the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac had 12 individual “character types”. “Sheep are widely seen to be mild and gentle animals living peacefully in groups,” he said.

– From the Telegraph article: Hong Kong leader tells people to act like ‘sheep’

This is simply a spectacular admission from a clueless authoritarian. No wonder things are so volatile in Hong Kong with this clown in charge. Rather than quieting the mood, CY Leung’s comments are more likely to infuriate the island’s youth and strength their resolve. Not smart.

From the Telegraph:

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Overreliance on the Pseudo-Science of Economics

Overreliance on the Pseudo-Science of Economics

Every year a Nobel Prize in Economics is awarded when in fact there is no “Nobel Prize in Economics.” There is only a “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.” That prize, which was invented by the Swedish central bank nearly 75 years after Alfred Nobel’s death, is an annoyance to the recipients of the five actual Nobel Prizes, those scholars from excluded scientific disciplines such as astronomy, and a living descendant of the donor, Peter Nobel, who has denounced it as a “PR coup by economists.”

Data based on responses to the General Social Survey, 2006 and 2010.

This raises the question: Have we given economists too much authority based on mistaken views about their scientific reputation among established scientists and the public?

When asked about the degree to which various academic fields can be considered “scientific,” the American public is decidedly more mixed toward economics, ranking it well below established scientific fields such as physics or biology, and even below sociology.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

HEAD IN THE SAND, ASS IN THE SKY

HEAD IN THE SAND, ASS IN THE SKY

There are far too many people that refuse to question or investigate the world around them with a clear, logical and rational mind. They don’t want to know. Most of them are gripped by fear of knowing the truth. They would prefer to listen to what their authorities tell them, no matter how absurd it is, rather than question or expose the deceptions that are presented to them as facts. Wouldn’t you want to know if someone is lying to you?

Take, for example, the collapse of the World Trade Center, on Sept. 11, 2001. To this day, many people refuse to look at the piles of evidence pointing to the truth. They believe whatever the mass media and the government tell them. Such people are seriously programmed to believe whatever the authorities tell them without question. Many have been sufficiently programmed to become angry whenever the subject is brought up, and ridicule those that try to expose the deception. People have become so deeply programmed, that they can’t even acknowledge the chemtrails that hover above their heads daily. That is serious denial. Don’t you think that something is seriously wrong with this picture?

Plato - Clean

You would think that if the government, the politicians, the banks and the corporations are not only corrupt, but are also robbing the people blind and poisoning them with chemically tainted food, fluoride and vaccines; well, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Don’t you want to know why or what they are spraying over our heads? What kind of person would rather pretend that it’s not happening? This is major denial. It is completely devoid of any rationality. What they are ignoring has the power to crush them, yet somehow they believe that if they just pretend that everything is fine, then there’s nothing to worry about.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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