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Failed States

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Noam Chomsky's new book, Failed States should be an instant classic. Like Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States it should be read by every American who wants to understand where we are and how we got here. The bar code on the back of the book suggests the book is about 'Current Events' but the book is about more than that...

If you want to speak truth to power, then you have to know what the truth is... and when it comes to current events, you can't know what the truth is if you can't put those events into their proper historical context.

Ignorance is fertile ground for lies. If you don't know what happened, then you really don't know what's happening either. In Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, Chomsky gives you the foundation you need to dispel the lies and open yourself to the reality of what's happening with the American Empire.

This is a scholarly work and, in all fairness, his impeccable dedication to making sure that every reference is properly documented, sometimes makes for complex sentence structure. But this complexity helps Chomsky's narrative accumulate authority with every turn of the page. I might be exaggerating but not by much when I say that almost every paragraph contains a quote from some authority to back up whatever point Chomsky wants to make. You can't help but be impressed at the breath, depth and command of his research.

But this is in character for Chomsky. If you have every heard Noam Chomsky speak, you can't help but be amazed at his phenomenal memory and his commitment to intellectual integrity. He doesn't make stuff up or try to convince you that others have said something they never intended or meant to say. He doesn't suffer fools or intellectual cheats either. When he catches commentators misinterpreting events or what others say about them, he doesn't let it pass. This is probably a major reason you don't often see him in mainstream media. He demolishes conventional propaganda by simply telling the truth and being able to back up his observations with appropriate logic, references and detail. I imagine he instills fear in liars and intellectual cheats.

There is nothing more powerful than one man who is willing to tell the truth. That's what Chomsky does in Failed States. As I understand it, a failed state is what you end up with when self-serving government and corporate elites use their power and influence to enrich the privileged few at the expense of the many. The leaders of failed states fear real democracy, openness, and the simple truth. And in their fear --experienced and expressed --they are incompetent and unable to promote what is human and decent. His description of a failed state looks a lot like where we are headed or what we have already become.


I predict that the picture Chomsky paints here will seep into the American consciousness and tilt the scales in the direction we need to go. It takes courage to face up to the fact that one's own beloved country can get so far off track. But on the other hand, when you finally face up to the truth --naked and raw --you come to the realization that through knowledge comes a certain inner strength and also a vision for how to do things better. And that translates into hope.

 

Mark A. Goldman is an author, financial planner and was a candidate for president of the United States in 2008 and 2012. His new book called "Starting Over" is available for download free as a pdf file at this address: (more...)
 

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