Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
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C H A P T E R   T H R E E

The Global System

From Z Magazine, July 1989.

1. Separation Anxieties

A political cartoon pictures a snowman with a helmet and a rifle, melting under a bright sun while an anxious George Bush holds an umbrella over him to deflect its rays. The snowman is labeled "Cold War," and the caption reads: "Not permanent? What'll We Dooo?"1 The dilemma is real.

As discussed in chapter 1, the Cold War has served important functions for state managers. When a government stimulus was needed for a faltering economy or to foster new and costly technologies, state managers could conjure up Russian hordes on the march to induce the public to expand the subsidy to advanced industry via the Pentagon. Forceful intervention and subversion to bar independent nationalism in the Third World could be justified in the same terms, and there were ancillary benefits in maintaining U.S. influence over its allies. Quite generally, the Evil Empire has been invoked when needed for domestic economic management and for controlling the world system. A replacement will not be easy to find.

These are serious concerns. Intervention carries material and moral costs that the population may not be willing to bear. With an obedient population and quite different cultural patterns, such economic powerhouses as Japan can conduct state-corporate economic planning on the assumption that people will follow orders. In a less disciplined society, it is necessary to manufacture consent. To a nontrivial extent, current U.S. economic problems derive from the relatively free and open character of the society, which precludes the more efficient fascist-style methods that are now hailed as a triumph of free enterprise and democracy. Thus, to cite typical cases, the New York Times proclaims that "as an economic mechanism, democracy demonstrably works," as illustrated in the "newly industrializing countries" (NICs) South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. And sociologist Dennis Wrong, writing in the democratic socialist journal Dissent, describes the "striking capitalist successes" of these four countries "under capitalist economies free from control by rickety authoritarian governments" as compared to the "economic failures of Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and, more recently Nicaragua," all attributable solely to Marxist-Leninist dogma; what is valid in the comparison is that the authoritarian governments were efficient, not "rickety," in organizing economic growth.2 Short of a real counterrevolution, reversing many social and political gains of the past and imposing novel repressive patterns, the United States cannot adopt these forms of authoritarian state-corporate rule.3

Faced with such problems, the traditional method of any state is to inspire fear. Dean Acheson warned early on that it would be necessary "to bludgeon the mass mind of `top government'" with the Communist threat in order to gain approval for the planned programs of rearmament and intervention. The Korean war, shortly after, provided "an excellent disrupt the Soviet peace offensive, assuming serious proportions and having a certain effect on public opinion," he explained further. In secret discussion of Truman's proposal for intervention in Greece and Turkey (the Truman Doctrine), Senator Walter George observed that Truman had "put this nation squarely on the line against certain ideologies," a stance that would not be easy to sell to the public. Senator Arthur Vandenberg added that "unless we dramatize this thing in every possible way," the public would never understand. It would be necessary to "scare hell out of the American people," he advised. The public was fed tales much like those used to bludgeon the mass mind of recalcitrant officials, in a style that was "clearer than truth," as Dean Acheson later said approvingly. As a new crusade was being launched in 1981, Harvard government professor and foreign policy adviser Samuel Huntington explained that: "You may have to sell [intervention or other military action] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union that you are fighting. That is what the United States has done ever since the Truman Doctrine." An important insight into the Cold War system, which applies to the second-ranked superpower as well. By the same logic, it follows that "Gorbachev's public relations can be as much a threat to American interests in Europe as were Brezhnev's tanks," Huntington warned eight years later.4

One persistent problem is that the enemy is hard to take seriously. It takes some talent to portray Greece, Guatemala, Laos, Nicaragua, or Grenada as a threat to our survival. This problem has typically been overcome by designating the intended victim as an agent of the Soviet Union, so that we attack in self-defense. The Soviet threat itself has also required some labors, ever since the first major call for postwar rearmament, and "roll back" and break-up of the Soviet Union, in NSC 68.

The basic problems are institutional, and will not fade away.

Go to the next segment.

1 Auth cartoon, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 28, 1989.

2 James Markham, New York Times Week in Review, lead story, Sept. 25, 1988; Dennis Wrong, Dissent, Spring 1989.

3 There is, by now, a virtual industry on "what makes Japan tick," varying in quality. Not without interest, despite racist undertones and illusions about the West, is Karel van Wolferen, The Enigma of Japanese Power (Knopf, 1989). On South Korea, see Alice Amsden, Asia's Next Giant.

4 Acheson, Present at the Creation (Norton, 1969), 374-5. William Borden, Pacific Alliance, 144. Lloyd Gardner, Diplomatic History, Winter 1989. Huntington, International Security, Summer 1981; National Interest, Fall 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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