Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hope & Change

- Reading Chomsky again?
- Yes.
- What's the fascination?
- I think he's right and also not right. Right about politicians using techniques of persuasion to get people's support. Right that politicians are hypocrites, that they successfully convince they are one thing, and show in their actions they are another.
- Where is he wrong then?
- Wrong in thinking that this is enough.
- Why isn't it?
- He collects opinion polls showing the people don't support the actual policies, and also don't support most of the politicians. The people both believe and don't believe in the politicians they elect.
- How do you explain that? That they think the politicians are good guys and the institutions lead them astray?
- Chomsky has said some presidents appear to be nice guys, and that institutional pressures seem to be involved.
- Do you agree?
- I'm more interested in the people's response to the politicians. If people are both persuaded and not persuaded, what good is the phenomenally good job Chomsky is doing using the statements of politicians against themselves to prove they are liars?
- You mean people don't seem to care that politicians are lying to them?
- That is exactly what I mean.
- They don't care because they don't think they can do anything about the lying.
- Chomsky argues they don't have confidence because they don't know that the majority think the same way as they do, and in that knowledge of majority is power to change.
- If we elect a new government chances are it will be like the old. The institutional pressures have to be dealt with.
- And people don't know how to do it.
- What does Chomsky say?
- He believes another way is possible, but doesn't like to go into details, present pressing problems have to be dealt with first.
- And you think that without seeing a way out people will continue to do nothing, no matter how clear they see they are being lied to and tricked?
- It looks that way. You know, I'm interested in Chomsky's position on Israel. He describes Israel as a puppet of the U.S., a military machine serving the same money interests.
- Do you disagree?
- No. But I think also the victims of Israel's imperialism, unlike the victims of American imperialism, are practising their own power machine, and have been since the beginning of the wars.
- What does Chomsky say?
- He's a one principle man.
- Surprising.
- It is. In the case of American politics, I think we have to look at other things than the power of money, and the successful use of propaganda. The people know they are being lied to and don't do anything about it.
- But that is because, as Chomsky says, they don't know they have the power that comes from thinking the same.
- Well, I like Chomsky's way of arguing, turning words against words. It is sure. Looking at history isn't. It seems to me at least that people can know the government is against them and they are in agreement and still not know what to do about it.
- Chomsky lets others, movement organizers take on that job.
- Still, something is wrong here.
- What?
- I guess it is the "nice guy" thesis. The politicians are just like us. They're in a good position, and like we would do, they take advantage of their good fortune. 
But then, what about these institutional pressures that produce this mass lying and mass murder? We have on one side nice guy politicians who make murderous wars, and on the other side the people who appear to be willingly deceived about what is happening. What do you think?
- It's human nature.
- I don't know about you, but it doesn't inspire me with hope for change.
- And that is why you focus on trying to understand human nature.
- Chomsky doesn't go beyond the golden rule, do as you'd like to be done by.
- And the governmental industrial financial complex breaks that rule.
- And so do the people.
- Where does it leave us? If you are right that our country isn't the only one playing this game, and we can't expect the people to get outraged at their politicians for being as hypocritical as they are themselves.
- We need to know ourselves better. Chomsky isn't helping here. On one side, his golden rule, us and them should be doing the same thing in the same circumstances. On the other side, his institutional pressures that pit the rich against the poor. Us and them again. Conflict between groups.
- Rather than conflict within the individual. "Know yourself". That's what you're going to say. Without better self knowledge we won't solve our political problems.*
- Let's hope you know yourself as well as you know me.

Further Reading:
The Tools To Remake Our Lives
Noam Chomsky & Mental Things

* "Our love of what is beautiful does not lead to extravagance; our love of the things of the mind does not make us soft. We regard wealth as something to be properly used, rather than as something to boast about." Pericles' Funeral Oration, Thucydides (c.470-c400BC)