All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
If you are the type of person that tries to think critically and wants to know the facts regarding any issue then it seems like the two of us have a lot in common. As I have gotten older I have come to enjoy talking to people who have the increasingly rare ability to put their egos aside and simply discuss facts. Seemingly, this should be a fairly simple thing to accomplish however, give it a try and you will find that the last thing most people really want to discuss are facts. Everything we are bombarded with day in and day out are opinions from “experts” that start off their critique weak and end even weaker. Nothing is sourced and even less is explained. The disgust and arrogance that the mainstream media and the political machine must have for the average person locked into this system must be enormous. Why else would they treat us with such contempt? Again, buried under these mounds of misinformation and allegation we often succumb to the almost inescapable feeling of helplessness and lacking. Our emotions take over and inevitably we begin to shut down and instead of taking in fresh new concepts and thinking critically we allow the wave of malaise and numbness induced by continuous daily injections of media opiates and consumer sedatives to perform their function. Watch this, Read this, Buy this, Buy This, Buy This. We are drugged down and switched off by a system purposefully designed to nullify and sideline us in life.
Enter Noam Chomsky and his laser like direction of logical thought and actual long last facts.
This book is incredibly timely and incredibly thorough, reserving safe haven for no-one and exploring the challenges and problems facing us in today’s rapidly evolving/devolving world.
Hopes and Prospects is essentially a collection of essays that Chomsky has adapted and/or expanded to discuss the current situation. As the title might suggest, Chomsky is intent on providing a dividing line between the “hope” offered by traditional politicians like Barack Obama and George W. Bush and the actual “prospects” for that process of hope. With copious examples from U.S. and Western foreign policy, the author proves once again that there’s a lot of space between stated intentions and realized facts.
The book begins with three essays taken from a series of lectures in Chile in 2006. The essays have been “updated to 2010 and considerably expanded” to include a great deal of new information and perspective. Chomsky thoroughly outlines how American foreign policy interacts with and obstructs Latin American policy, for instance, and inserts examples from history to back his points clearly and with the matter of fact-ness he exudes so profusely.
“The strong do as they wish, while the poor suffer as they must.”
This seems to be the world we are living in, this sort of Amazon jungle in which it is OK if we do it but not if they do it. But Chomsky says it doesn’t have to be this way. This is a book woven through with hope and awe at all the people who slip beyond imperial control and establish real democracy. Chomsky’s strongest model – and the world’s – is Bolivia’s experiment with radical democracy. After 30 years of having neoliberalism forced on them by the West, including the cost of water pushed beyond their grasp, the Bolivian people elected the first indigenous leader since the European conquests. Since then, it has had the fastest fall in poverty and the most rapid growth in Latin America. Informed and concerned people should read this book.
In his cool blizzard of facts and sources, the hot air of Chomsky’s critics seems to melt away. To pluck one example, the leftist-turned-neocon supporter Nick Cohen has accused Chomsky of being soft on jihadism (as well as of “not being bothered” by “the crimes of Adolf Hitler”). Yet Chomsky points out that an analysis of official data for the government-supported RAND corporation found that the invasion of Iraq caused a “seven-fold increase in jihadism.” If you really hate jihadism, you have to figure out what reduces it, rather than engage in bluster. Chomsky supported the path that produces fewer jihadis, while Cohen supports the path that produces more.
As always Chomsky lays down the FACTS smoothly and clearly. He dispels the idea that these are simply the opinions of a self hating holocaust denier but in reality are the cold, hard facts being put forth by a patriot that is attempting to hold his nation up to a much higher standard than the people destroying it in office.
If you find yourself drowning in the black ocean of 24/7 pop culture based media then get this book. It is much-needed ray of refreshing and informative light that cuts through the heavy shadows eclipsing reason and gives anyone who is interested some intellectual weapons to defend themselves.
Are you looking for answers? Being a real patriot and really loving your country means being well informed. Changes are coming, in fact they are happening as we speak. Arm yourself with knowledge and protect yourself, your family and the country you love. Read “Hopes and Prospects”.