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7 comments, In Series: Chomsky interviews and transcripts

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The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

Noam Chomsky; On Hopeful News, Billionaires and Psychopaths

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Headlined to H1 2/12/14

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I don't think I need to say who Noam Chomsky is. 


Here are my interview notes. This was a great interview. Make sure to listen to it. I'm working to get the full transcript ASAP and will be turning it into several articles. 

Raw Interview Notes-- mostly my questions, not meant to be read as an article-- 

Where do you see hope in the world? Where do you see people making things happen?


Cuban nationalist hero Jose Marti

How are they doing it? What does  it take?

resistance to the neoliberal assault

How about taking from Billionaires?

Taking from the Rich 

What Is the Common Good?

The basic problem that Madison foresaw in "framing a system which we wish to last for ages" was to ensure that the actual rulers will be the wealthy minority so as "to secure the rights of property against. the danger from an equality & universality of suffrage, vesting compleat power over property in hands without a share in it."

Long before Madison, Artistotle, in his "Politics," recognized the same problem with democracy.

Reviewing a variety of political systems, Aristotle concluded that this system was the best - or perhaps the least bad - form of government. But he recognized a flaw: The great mass of the poor could use their voting power to take the property of the rich, which would be unfair.

Chomsky: "wealth inequality is based on decisions-- decisions that are not graven in stone"

Psychopathy/Sociopaths, narcissists and Libertarians

"If you care about other people, that's now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That's not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don't care whether other people's kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that's called "libertarian" for some wild reason. I mean, it's actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public."

"There's a huge propaganda effort to turn people into psychopaths who don't care about anyone but themselves."

There have been enormous efforts to drive these psychopathic attitudes into people's heads. Libertarian-- a lot of is based on the same principles-- that's pathological.

There's an  interesting book that just came out-- the sociopathic society by Charles Derber. 

Our healthcare system really is an international scandal. 

Rob: It sounds like you are saying that the Republican party or right wingers are psychopaths

Chomsky: not-necessarily" It's the leadership, the decision makers" you can call them psychopathic-- it's the institutions that are psychopathic.

Rob: Institutions?

Chomsky: Corporations are required".

government insurance policy= too big to fail

companies don't consider externalities or systemic risks.

IMF did a study that found that the entire profits for big banks come from government subsidies. 

Arab Spring, Power and Small

interviewed by Michael Bröning JPG Journal , November 18, 2013

There never should have been hopes for a linear trajectory. The Arab Spring was a development of historic importance, threatening many powerful interests. Power does not say "thank you for dismantling us," then walking quietly away.

Activist groups get repressed. Power systems don't pat them on the head.

Rob: I wonder if you have thoughts on power from small-- I've recently read Schumacher's Small is Beautiful".

Chomsky: it's concentration of power....

Dr. Chomsky limited his interview to just over 30 minutes. Here are some unasked questions I prepared I would have liked to  have asked

Change from within the system:

source: i nterview with Michael S. Wilson

 "Bakunin in the 19th century, pointed out that it's quite possible to build the institutions of a future society within the present one. And he was thinking about far more autocratic societies than ours. And that's being done. So for example, worker- and community- controlled enterprises are germs of a future society within the present one. And those not only can be developed, but are being developed. There's some important work on this by Gar Alperovitz who's involved in the enterprise systems around the Cleveland area which are worker and community controlled."

On Democrats

. .In the past, the U.S. has sometimes been described sardonically -- but not inaccurately -- as a one-party state: the business party, with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. 

That is no longer true. The U.S. is still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction: moderate Republicans, now called New Democrats (as the U.S. Congressional coalition styles itself).

Libertarianism and Anarchy:

source:i nterview with Michael S. Wilson

 libertarianism, in my view, in the current world, is just a call for some of the worst kinds of tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny. Anarchism is quite different from that. It calls for an elimination to tyranny, all kinds of tyranny. Including the kind of tyranny that's internal to private power concentrations. So why should we prefer it? Well I think because freedom is better than subordination. It's better to be free than to be a slave. Its' better to be able to make your own decisions than to have someone else make decisions and force you to observe them. I mean, I don't think you really need an argument for that. It seems like ... transparent.

Class War:

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Chris Steele, Excerpt from Occupy (Second edition), Zucotti Park Press Salon , December 1, 2013

The enormous benefits given to the very wealthy, the privileges for the very wealthy here, are way beyond those of other comparable societies and are part of the ongoing class war. Take a look at CEO salaries. CEOs are no more productive or brilliant here than they are in Europe, but the pay, bonuses, and enormous power they get here are out of sight. They're probably a drain on the economy, and they become even more powerful when they are able to gain control of policy decisions.

That's why we have a sequester over the deficit and not over jobs, which is what really matters to the population. But it doesn't matter to the banks, so the heck with it. It also illustrates the consider- able shredding of the whole system of democracy. So, by now, they rank people by income level or wages roughly the same: The bottom 70 percent or so are virtually disenfranchised; they have almost no influence on policy, and as you move up the scale you get more influence. At the very top, you basically run the show.

White workers-- democrats have given up on them to the Republicans-- 

Tea Party

Indigenous peoples vs Civilized

 In societies that have large indigenous populations, like, for example, Ecuador, an oil producer, people are trying to get support for keeping the oil in the ground. They want funding so as to keep the oil where it ought to be. We, however, have to get everything out of the ground, including tar sands, then burn it, which makes things as bad as possible as quickly as possible. So you have this odd situation where the educated, "advanced" civilized people are trying to cut everyone's throats as quickly as possible and the indigenous, less educated, poorer populations are trying to prevent the disaster. If somebody was watching this from Mars, they'd think this species was insane.

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From notes, not podcast: "Ecuador, an oil producer... by Marta Steele on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:47:31 AM
... by David Gradin on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 at 11:50:15 AM
Great interview with Chomsky.  Especially the... by Deena Stryker on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 at 3:50:50 PM
I'm very pleased with the comments from Chomsky on... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 at 4:56:53 PM
For those of you for whom Chomsky is an icon I urg... by Michael David Morrissey on Thursday, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:35:28 AM
Enlightened description of the situation. Very lit... by Peter Palms on Monday, Feb 24, 2014 at 11:16:23 AM
It would seem logical to conclude that the best op... by Peter Palms on Monday, Feb 24, 2014 at 11:21:49 AM