This book is essentially a series of interviews or discussions during which Noam Chomsky’s is asked about various matters that were (and many still are) major concerns on the geopolitical world stage in 2006-7, and then transcribed into book format.
He covers the politics (including economies and military) of Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East; he talks about the Chinese and Indian economies and politics; the threats of nuclear weapons; the power of a certain lobby in the U.S.; the environmental crisis; medias and journalism; and even activism. And of course, the U.S., its foreign policy, and its internal political system. The book is just over 200 pages and is a very much worth the quick and easy read it is.
For those who are not yet initiated to Chomsky, you have a lot of catching up to do! (I do plan to write a post – or a series of posts – on Chomsky as a thinker and author at some point.) Chomsky is one of the world’s top and most influential thinkers: you simply have to know who he is.
Chomsky is a heavy-weight intellectual and academic, so some of his writing can be a bit dense (for instance, his early writings on linguistics). But he is also a writer of best-sellers and books that can be read by the masses; so don’t be intimidated.
Moreover, some of his books are actually nothing more than conversations and interviews, and those are always much more easy to read, and this book happens to be one of them. He covers a wide array of topics and none of them are analyzed in too much depth and sophistication, but just enough to learn something and make you look for me, if you so wish.
The topics are covered in 8 conversations as follows:
What We Say Goes
Lebanon and the Crisis in the Middle East
Latin America: Stirrings in the Servants’ Quarters
The United States Versus the Gospels
The Framework For Thinkable Thoughts
Invasions and Evasions
What We Can Do
You will find his style plain, his language simple, his thinking very lucid and pragmatic. You will also get to listen to someone who is, quite simply, a relentless researcher and an engaged academic (in other words, an “activist”), always seeming able to unearth documents that even those well-educated on the topic have completely missed.
It is at the same time refreshing and sad to read these books. They remove you a step or two away from the daily routine of trivialities and help you put in perspective your individual problems by contrasting them against what is happening on the world stage. They also stretch you between wanting to act, to do something, anything you can, to help, (and there is so much to do…) while at the same time reminding you that you are powerless, that if the sleeping, gullible, delusional majority – obsessed with sports, and entertainment, and shopping, and uncritically accepting of official lines and medias – does not wake up and do something, not much can ever slow down the crushing weight of the momentum of the manufacturing giants and the decision-makers of the powerful states.
You are reminded of just how much of what you are being fed is scripted propaganda; how useless 99% of the journalistic media is at doing their actual job; how our notions of the good guys and the bad guys are quite myopic; how the world is basically run by mafias that we know under different names; and how their interests couldn’t be further from those of their citizens and the rest of humanity…
so on all of those very happy notes, enjoy the book!