Chomsky’s (Making the Future, 2012, etc.) latest collection of brief essays, written between 2011 and 2015, proves that he hasn’t lost his talent for screaming at Americans to wake up.
Essentially, the author examines what makes a real democracy, how it comes into being, and, more importantly, what subverts it. As we complain about big business running our country, Chomsky reminds us that, while framing our Constitution, James Madison followed Aristotle’s lead in worrying that the poor would use their votes to undermine property-owning aristocrats. Thus, today’s libertarians struggle to dismantle the aristocratic guardianship of the 1 percent; elsewhere, Chomsky notes how “crazy is the new norm among Tea Party members and a host of others beyond the mainstream.” In addition to concerns about the coming climate disaster, Chomsky also explores the United States’ rejection of multilateral agreements. As a world power, what we do and say is always legitimate “because we say so.” One of the more frightening essays deals with public education, showing how it discourages independent thought and trains our children to obedience while enslaving them to the enormous debt incurred to achieve that education. At the same time, the public-relations firms running our elections create uninformed voters who continue to make irrational choices. The author saves his sharpest barbs for Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. The world condemns settlements and demands a nuclear-free zone and human rights for the Palestinians, to no avail. As a Jew, only he can attack the state of Israel safely because anyone else would be accused of anti-Semitism. Most importantly, the author shows us the feelings of the rest of the world, those who see the greatest enemies of Middle East peace as Israel and the United States.
These writings will cause anger and outrage. However, though Chomsky raises our hackles, he doesn’t really tell us what to do.