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What do you think? I think he has not seen change.gov and change.org yet, as they undermine his (otherwise useful) argument. But you have to read (or listen to) the entire thing – it is long and below are a few short snippets:

Noam Chomsky: “What Next? The Elections, the Economy, and the World”:

…..And I agree with it. It was a historic election. To have a black family in the white house is a momentous achievement. In fact, it’s historic in a broader sense. The two Democratic candidates were an African-American and a woman. Both remarkable achievements. We go back say 40 years, it would have been unthinkable. So something’s happened to the country in 40 years. And what’s happened to the country- which is we’re not supposed to mention- is that there was extensive and very constructive activism in the 1960s, which had an aftermath. So the feminist movement, mostly developed in the 70s–the solidarity movements of the 80’s and on till today. And the activism did civilize the country. The country’s a lot more civilized than it was 40 years ago and the historic achievements illustrate it. That’s also a lesson for what’s next.

————snip————-

So 80% of the population say that the country’s going in the wrong direction. About 80% say the government doesn’t work to the benefit of the people, it works for the few and the special interests. A startling 94% complain that the government doesn’t pay any attention to the public will, and on like that. Under conditions like that, you would expect a landslide to a opposition almost whoever they are. And there wasn’t one.

So one might ask why wasn’t there a landslide?

————snip————-

So, every year, the advertising industry gives a prize to, you know, to the best marketing campaign of the year. This year, Obama won the prize. Beat out Apple company. The best marketing campaign of 2008. Which is correct, it is essentially what happened. Now that’s quite different from what happens in a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or Haiti, except for the fact that it was [not] crushed. And in the South, it’s not all that uncommon. Notice that each of these cases, there’s a much more extraordinary display of democracy in action than what we’ve seen-important as it was here. And so the rhetoric, especially in Europe, is correct if we maintain our own narrow racist perspective and say yeah, what happened was in the South didn’t happen or doesn’t matter. The only matters is what we do and by our standards, it was extraordinary miracle, but not by the standards of functioning democracy. In fact, there’s a distinction in democratic theory, which does separate say the United States from Bolivia or Haiti.

————snip————-

So at the liberal end the progressive end, the leading public intellectual of the 20th century was Walter Lippman. A Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy progressive. And a lot of his work was on a democratic theory and he was pretty frank about it. If you took a position not all that different from James Madison’s. He said that in a democracy, the population has a function. Its function is to be spectators, not participants. He didn’t call it the population. He called it the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. The ignorant and meddlesome outsiders have a function and namely to watch what’s going on. And to push a lever every once in a while and then go home. But, the participants are us, us privileged, smart guys. Well that’s one conception of democracy. And you know essentially we’ve seen an episode of it.

————snip————-

They don’t put it the way I’m going to, but if you read the press, it does come out. So take our local newspaper at the liberal end of the spectrum, “Boston Globe,” you probably saw right after the election, a front page story, the lead front page story was on how Obama developed this wonderful grassroots army but he doesn’t have any debts. Which supposed to be a good thing. So he’s free to do what he likes. Because he has no debts, the normal democratic constituency, labor, women, minorities and so on, they didn’t bring him into office. So he owes them nothing

————snip————-

And notice incidentally on the side that the institutions that run the elections, public relations industry, advertisers, they have a role–their major role is commercial advertising. I mean, selling a candidate is kind of a side rule. In commercial advertising as everybody knows, everybody who has ever looked at a television program, the advertising is not intended to provide information about the product, all right? I don’t have to go on about that. It’s obvious. The point of the advertising is to delude people with the imagery and, you know, tales of a football player, sexy actress, who you know, drives to the moon in a car or something like that. But, that’s certainly not to inform people. In fact, it’s to keep people uninformed.

The goal of advertising is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. Those of you who suffered through an economics course know that markets are supposed to be based on informed consumers making rational choices. But industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to undermine markets and to ensure, you know, to get uninformed consumers making irrational choices.

And when they turn to selling a candidate they do the same thing. They want uninformed consumers, you know, uninformed voters to make irrational choices based on the success of illusion, slander, and effective body language or whatever else is supposed to be significant. So you undermine democracy pretty much the same way you undermine markets. Well, that’s the nature of an election when it’s run by the business world, and you’d expect it to be like that. There should be no surprise there. And it should also turn out the elected candidate didn’t have any debts. So you can follow Brand Obama can be whatever they decide it to be, not what the population decides that it should be, as in the south, let’s say. I’m going to say on the side, this may be an actual instance of a familiar and unusually vacuous slogan about the clash of civilization. Maybe there really is one, but not the kind that’s usually touted.

Comments

  1. #1 Art
    November 27, 2008

    “I think he has not seen change.gov and change.org yet, as they undermine his (otherwise useful) argument.”

    That largely depends on what happens to the information, ideas and opinions offered up by average citizens. Many, most in my estimation, companies and service providers have some sort of way for average people to voice their opinions, make complaint and offer up suggestions. All of them I have asked about are essentially a communications dead end. They are designed as a way of allowing people the illusion of being listened to. A way for them to let off steam. A way of allowing people to think that the company listens to them and values their opinions.

    I asked one of my power companies secretary what happens to the comments. After a bit of PR boilerplate, ‘We value your input and carefully consider all suggestions’, she confided that the comment area of the bill and the suggestion box was never looked at and everything was summarily tossed in the trash.

    She suggested that if I wanted to make a suggestion or comment that would be heard I direct my comments to the city commissioners who sit on the board of utility regulation. They decide on rates and regulations. Any comments that were directed through their office would receive attention and a well considered reply.

    I have great hopes for the Obama administration and I think that change.org may be all it is made out to be. But until Obama is in office and it is clear how these inputs are handled, carefully considered and a dialog established or discarded wholesale unless offered up by an insider, it remains to be seen if the common citizen really has any real input.

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