Thursday, March 20, 2008

dd-intro-s03

Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Introduction Segment 3/3
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This conception, while rarely put so bluntly, is widely held in one or another form, and captures an essential element of the Administration reaction to the Gulf crisis. It implies that the U.S. should continue to take on the grim task of imposing order and stability (meaning, proper respect for the masters) with the acquiescence and support of the other industrial powers along with riches funnelled to the U.S. via the dependent oil-producing monarchies.

Parallel domestic developments add another dimension to the picture. Studies by the U.S. Labor Department and others predict serious shortages of skilled labor (everything from scientists and managers to technicians and typists) as the educational system deteriorates, part of the collapse of infrastructure accelerated by Reaganite social and economic policies. The tendency may be mitigated by modification of immigration laws to encourage a brain drain, but that is not likely to prove adequate. The predicted result is that the cost of skilled labor will rise and transnational corporations will transfer research, product development and design, marketing, and other such operations elsewhere. For the growing underclass, opportunities will still be available as Hessians. It takes little imagination to picture the consequences if such expectations -- not inevitable, but also not unrealistic -- are indeed realized.7

All of these questions arise, in various ways, in the essays that follow.

The successes of the popular movements of Eastern and Central Europe are a historic achievement in the unending struggle for freedom and democracy throughout the world. Throughout history, such successes have elicited efforts to institute order and docility and thus to contain and deter the threat to privilege. The modalities range from large-scale violence to more subtle devices of control, particularly in more democratic societies. These include the structuring of values and operative choices,8 and measures to control thought and opinion -- what we call "propaganda" in the case of enemy states.

The concept of thought control in democratic societies -- or, for that matter, the structuring of options in a democratic society by hierarchic and coercive private institutions -- seems contradictory on its face. A society is democratic to the extent that its citizens play a meaningful role in managing public affairs. If their thought is controlled, or their options narrowly restricted, then evidently they are not playing a meaningful role: only the controllers, and those they serve, are doing so. The rest is a sham, formal motions without meaning. So, a contradiction. Nevertheless, there has been a major current of intellectual opinion to the contrary, holding that thought control is essential precisely in societies that are more free and democratic, even when institutional means effectively restrict the options available in practice. Such ideas and their implementation are perhaps more advanced in the United States than anywhere else, a reflection of the fact that it is in important respects the most free society in the world.

The interplay of freedom and control is a second theme of the essays that follow, addressed from several perspectives.

The opening and concluding chapters contain some general observations on the themes just sketched. Chapters 2 through 7 survey the range of prospects and problems facing the U.S. leadership, and active and engaged segments of the public, under the partially new conditions now taking shape. The remaining essays consider the operative concept of democracy, and the attitude towards popular movements and independence, as revealed in concrete situations and background thinking; examples are drawn primarily from Central America and early post-war Europe, but could easily be extended to other regions, the policies being quite general, with stable institutional roots.

I have discussed these topics in a number of books, to which I would like to refer as general background where specific details and documentation are not provided below.9 The material here is based in part on articles in Zeta (Z) Magazine from 1988, generally excerpted from longer unpublished manuscripts; or from talks through the same period, some appearing in a different form in conference proceedings. These have been edited and revised to reduce overlap, with considerable new material added. The primary source of each chapter, where there is one, is indicated with an asterisk.


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7 AP, reporting a study of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Sept. 9, 1990.

8 For a lucid and penetrating discussion of these modalities within capitalist democracy, see Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, On Democracy (Penguin, 1982).

9 Among them, those cited in note 1. Also, Political Economy of Human Rights (with Edward S. Herman, 2 volumes) (South End, 1979), Fateful Triangle (South End, 1983), Pirates and Emperors (Claremont, Black Rose, 1986), Culture of Terrorism (South End, 1987), Manufacturing Consent (with E.S. Herman) (Pantheon, 1988), Necessary Illusions (South End, 1989). KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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