Friday, September 2, 2011

Remaking History, American Style

I have been reading an interesting article by Noam Chomsky entitled "The Remaking of History," which begins as follows: "American imperialism has suffered a stunning defeat in Indochina. But the same forces are engaged in another war against a much less resilient enemy, the American people. Here, the prospects for success are much greater. The background is ideological, not military...." [p. 141, The Essential Chomsky]

Also, in this essay it becomes clearer why Chomsky is labelled by many a "radical." It is pretty simple, viz., it is because Chomsky looks at things politically. That is, he asks the question when examining the behavior of the United States, "Who benefits?" meaning which parts of society benefit. As he points out, most Americans don't like this. That is, they don't like to think of the United States as Aristotle would have, viz., as a "regime" or as an arrangement of power and institutions that benefit some at the expense of others. For example, we like to think that presidents govern with the intention of benefiting "the people," and not just a part or parts of the people.

How do we avoid such analyses? By using categories like "stupidity" or "savagery." As Chomsky points out, these are not political categories or that they are "politically neutral categories." And, as a result, we think that the cure for our ills is to elect a new elite, a different elite, a "more humane" elite or a more intelligent elite. And, of course, this doesn't work because the United States is a "regime" like any other political order and, as such, it favors some and disfavors others. Until we accept this and choose those who favor the many rather than the few, our ills will continue. Such is life in "wild West" - and anywhere else for that matter.

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