Chomsky Speech 25Jan2011 Univ Tenneessee

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University of Tennessee - Knoxville


Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky's Lecture at the University of Tennessee. January 25, 2011 in Alumni Memorial Building's Cox Auditorium. Brought to you by the University of Tennessee Issues Committee (6 part youtube video).

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For those who do not know Noam Avram Chomsky

=== from wikipedia ===

Chomsky is one of the best-known figures of the American left although he doesn't agree with the usage of the term. He has described himself as a "fellow traveller" to the anarchist tradition, and refers to himself as a libertarian socialist, a political philosophy he summarizes as challenging all forms of authority and attempting to eliminate them if they are unjustified for which the burden of proof is solely upon those who attempt to exert power. He identifies with the labor-oriented anarcho-syndicalist current of anarchism in particular cases, and is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He believes that libertarian socialist values exemplify the rational and morally consistent extension of original unreconstructed classical liberal and radical humanist ideas in an industrial context.

Chomsky has taken strong stands against censorship and for freedom of speech, even for views he personally condemns. He has stated that "with regard to freedom of speech there are basically two positions: you defend it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it and prefer Stalinist "fascist standards".

In response to US declarations of a "War on Terrorism" in 1981 and the redeclaration in 2001, Chomsky has argued that the major sources of international terrorism are the world's major powers, led by the United States. He uses a definition of terrorism from a US army manual, which defines it as "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature.

"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged."
— Noam Chomsky (around 1990)

Chomsky maintains that a nation is only democratic to the degree that government policy reflects informed public opinion. He notes that the US does have formal democratic structures, but they are dysfunctional. He argues that presidential elections are funded by concentrations of private power and orchestrated by the public relations industry, focusing discussion primarily on the qualities and the image of a candidate rather than on issues.

Chomsky has compared U.S. elections to elections in countries such as Spain, Bolivia, and Brazil, where he claims people are far better informed on important issues.

Chomsky is deeply critical of what he calls the "corporate state capitalism" that he believes is practiced by the United States and other western states.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chomsky explicitly condemned Soviet imperialism; for example in 1986 during a question/answer following a lecture he gave at Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua, when challenged by an audience member about how he could "talk about North American imperialism and Russian imperialism in the same breath," Chomsky responded: "One of the truths about the world is that there are two superpowers, one a huge power which happens to have its boot on your neck, another, a smaller power which happens to have its boot on other people's necks..I think that anyone in the Third World would be be making a grave error if they succumbed to illusions about these matters."

In practice Chomsky has tended to emphasize the philosophical tendency of anarchism to criticize all forms of illegitimate authority. He has been reticent about theorizing an anarchist society in detail, although he has outlined its likely value systems and institutional framework in broad terms. According to Chomsky, the variety of anarchism which he favors is

"... a kind of voluntary socialism, that is, as libertarian socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or communist anarchist, in the tradition of, say, Bakunin and Kropotkin and others. They had in mind a highly organized form of society, but a society that was organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally, they meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from those two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization which might be national or even international in scope. And these decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return, and in which, in fact, they live."

On the question of the government of political and economic institutions, Chomsky has consistently emphasized the importance of grassroots democratic forms. Accordingly current Anglo-American institutions of representative democracy "would be criticized by an anarchist of this school on two grounds. First of all because there is a monopoly of power centralized in the state, and secondly -- and critically -- because the representative democracy is limited to the political sphere and in no serious way encroaches on the economic sphere."

Another focus of Chomsky's political work has been an analysis of mainstream mass media (especially in the United States), which he accuses of maintaining constraints on dialogue so as to promote the interests of corporations and the government.