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A Must-Read in Trying Times: Chomsky's 'Requiem for the American Dream'

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Hopefully we'll make it out the other side of Trump's presidency, but it's by no means a sure thing. The risks are hard to overstate.

While many books attempt to explain how we got to this political moment (some successfully), Noam Chomsky's latest, Requiem for the American Dream, provides necessary historical context.

Zooming in on ten ways that government and corporate interests have kept the American people down, Chomsky offers a compelling history that explains today's economic and political landscape.

At 157 pages, it's a short, beautifully put-together book. Based on a 2015 documentary of the same name, the book was created and edited by the team behind the film (which is widely available, including on Netflix).

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Falling Apart

America is the richest country on earth, but it's falling apart.

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In a section about attacks on social programs like Medicare and public education, Chomsky describes the intentional hallowing out of vital American institutions.

"Infrastructure has collapsed, health care is a total wreck, the educational system is being torn to shreds, nothing works," writes Chomsky.

Instead much of the country's vast resources have been diverted to serving dominant corporate interests. "The welfare of the population is secondary, and often not cared for at all," writes Chomsky.

"And the population knows it. That's why you have this tremendous antagonism toward institutions -- all institutions. So, support of Congress is often in the single digits; the presidency is disliked; corporations are disliked; banks are hated -- it extends all over."

The collapse of the country's institutions has led to anger and disillusionment, a climate right for the rise of an ideologue.


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The Rise of an Ideologue

"For many years, I have been writing and speaking about the danger of the rise of an honest and charismatic ideologue in the United States," writes Chomsky, in a chapter titled "Marginalize the Population." "Someone who could exploit the fear and anger that has long been boiling in much of the society, and who could direct it away from the actual agents of malaise to vulnerable targets."

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Pete Tucker is an independent DC reporter.

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