Who is Noam Chomsky?

What is he all about?

Three different people mentioned the name of Noam Chomsky
this past few days and asked me what I thought of him. I had
never heard of him.  I promised to look at what he had to say
but didn't get around to it.  Then last night 5/4/99, I dreamed
that I was making a web page about Noam Chomsky with a
flowered background, but not just about him, there were links
to pages about what individuals had to say also in response.

So, herein, I present Noam Chomsky!

It is the responsibility of
intellectuals to speak the
truth and to expose lies.'

"The time has come for a
call to action to people of
conscience. We are past
the point where silence is
passive consent — when
a crime reaches these
proportions, silence is

— Noam Chomsky,
"A Call to Action in
Sanctions and the U.S.
War against the People
of Iraq in 1999"



"For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be
no more urgent task than to come to understand the
mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These
are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies,
much less so in the system of 'brainwashing under
freedom' to which we are subjected and which
all too often we sere as willing or unwitting


The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism -- excerpts from the 1979 book by Chomsky and Edward S. Herman from Third World Traveler

'If the Nuremberg laws were
applied today, then every
Post-War American president
would have to be hanged.'"

The war on (certain) drugs - Noam Chomsky in What Uncle Sam Really Wants

"Colorless green ideas
sleep furiously"

Excerpts on anarchism* -- 1992 TV interview excerpts from ANARCHY.ORG

Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future - 1995

"In this possibly terminal phase of human existence,
democracy and freedom are more than just ideals
to be valued--they may be essential to survival."

Whose World Order?: Conflicting Visions -- long transcript of a September 22, 1998 talk and Q&A

Whose World Order - 1998 - Conflicting Visions

"There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to
overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones:
honest search for understanding, education, organization,
action that raises the cost of state violence for its
perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change
-and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the
temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and
only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter

FRONTLINE - India's National Magazine From the publishers of THE HINDU - Vol. 16 :: No. 01 :: Jan. 02 - 15, 1999
'This action is a call for a lawless world in which the powerful will rule"

Who Runs America?* -- April 1999

Despite the end of the cold war, US military spending is increas-
ing. Proving it "had very little to do with the Soviet Union,"
argues Noam Chomsky, and more with protecting the
interests of US corporations.


SchNEWS Interview - December 2002 interview on Iraq

Is Chomsky 'anti-American'? - brief December 2002 interview

Noam Chomsky Analyzes the Bushies - December 2002 interview on Iraq

"It's Extremely Easy to Frighten People" - October 2002

U.S. intervention from Afghanistan to Iraq - September 2002 interview

Albert Interviews Chomsky on Iraq - August 2002

Cauca: Their Fate Lies in Our Hands - July 2002

Dimitriadis Epaminondas Interview - July 2002

Deterring Democracy in Italy - May 2002

Chomsky v. Bennett - May 2002 exchange with author Bill Bennett

Hot Type - April 2002

Croatian Feral Tribune Interview - April 2002

Anarchism, Activism, and Power - March 2002

In Depth Discussion On Israel/Palestine - April 2002

Middle East goals - April 2002 interview from Australia's Lateline

Interview with the Ashville Global Report - March 2002

Hard Talk - February 2002

Interviewing Chomsky in Pakistan - February 2002

DRCNet Interview - February 2002

The Campaign of Hatred Against Us - January 2002

The World Social Forum in Porto Alegre - compilation of January 2002 interviews

Stephen R. Shalom Interviews Noam Chomsky about Afghanistan - January 2002

The Salon Interview - January 2002

Extending U.S. Dominance By Any Means Possible - January 2002

Hoodbhoy interviews Chomsky - November 2001 TV interview from Pakistan

In First Person - November 2001

Face to Face - November 2001 exchange with students

Afghan War Unjustified - November 2001

The United States is a Leading Terrorist State - November 2001

Barsamian interviews Noam Chomsky - November 2001

The Fifth Freedom, part 1, part 2 - November 2001 interview from Guerrilla News Network

Fussed About Cuba - excerpts from various interviews

Doing the Sensible Thing - October 2001 radio interview

Effects of U.S. policy in the Middle East - October 2001 email interview

Chatting with Chomsky - October 2001 chatroom exchange

A fortnight after... - September 2001

Six questions - September 2001 email interview on the terrorist attacks

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the aftermath ... Five composite interviews: Interview #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 -- excerpts from various September 2001 interviews from ZNet

Terrorist Attacks on America - September 2001

Liberating the Mind from Orthodoxies - May 2001

Behind the Headlines on Colombia - May/June 2001

Rogue states draw the usual line - May 2001

Power and Powerlessness - April 2001

Israel, the US & Palestine - March 2001 interview with Socialist Worker

Specter of an "ugly future" - December 2000

Some media issues - an incomplete November 2000 interview

Iran: Things you'll never hear - June 2000

Institutional violence -- undated interview

Globalising resistance to corporate power -- May 2000 interview with Socialist Worker

A student interviews Chomsky - March 2000

The shadow economy -- March 2000

The Meaning of Seattle -- February 2000 interview with David Barsamian from The Nation

Reluctant Icon: Noam Chomsky on Life, Liberty and Linguistics -- undated interview, circa 1999

Catastrophe in Timor -- September 1999 interview with CBC News Online

East Timor on the Brink -- September 1999 interview from ZNet's Timor resource page

The kibbutzim -- brief August 1999 exchange from ZNet Daily Zine

NATO -- several April 1999 interviews from ZNet's NATO Bombing resource page

The credibility of NATO -- April 1999 radio interview

Kosovo -- Spring 1999

Who Runs America? -- April 1999

Stop U.S. Intervention -- brief April 1999 interview on NATO bombings

On Freedom of Press and Culture -- March 1999

Debt, drugs and democracy -- March 1999

"I'm from Neptune" -- February 1999 radio interview excerpts from The Progressive

T-Bone Slim was on to something... -- January 1999 radio interview

Mass Media, Globalization, and the Public Mind - October 1998 radio interview with Radio Ouverture, Canada (a different version of next item below)

Entrevue avec Noam Chomsky ˆ Radio Ouverture -- October 1998 radio interview

Human nature -- August 1998 interview from Red Pepper

MAI -- May 1998 interview on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment from the Boulder Weekly

Corporate Watch interviews Chomsky -- April 1998 interview from Corporate Watch

The War on Drugs -- April 1998 interview from High Times

Iraq -- March 1998

Eleven questions on Iraq -- February 1998 interview from Mid-East Realities

Israel in a Global Context - June 1997 interview excerpts

History is Not Over -- April 1997 interview from Chomsky, et. al.

Radical Democracy -- March 1997 interview with The Capital Times

Netizen Interviews Chomsky -- February 1997

Colombia, the United States, Drugs, Terror, and Social Control - Fall 1996 from the Colombia Support Network

Jornal da Tarde interviews Chomsky -- October 1996 email interview with Jornal da Tarde

AIDS -- Sept/Oct 1996 interview with Continuum

Brown interviews Chomsky -- February 1996 interview with Jerry Brown

Military spending -- February 1996 interview with America's Defense Monitor

Israel: the standard colonial pattern -- Fall 1995

Looking for the Magic Answer? -- Excerpts from an October 1995 interview

Globalization and Resistance -- Summer 1995

Robert McNamara -- Excerpts from a May 1995 interview

Media criticism -- March 1995 radio interview

Education is Ignorance -- Excerpts from a January 1995 interview

Violence and Youth: A Broader Perspective -- Fall 1994 interview

The Golden Age Is in Us -- 1994 interview on science and politics with Alexander Cockburn

Interview with Noam Chomsky -- 1993 interview with David Cogswell

NPR interviews Chomsky -- Transcript of 1993 National Public Radio story re: the 1992 motion picture documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media

America's Public Enemy #1 -- 1993 interview with the London Student

Say cheese? Say Chomsky! -- 1993

Sixties radical -- Late 1992

Excerpts from Manufacturing Consent -- Edited discussion of propaganda drawn from the transcript of the 1992 motion picture documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media

Pilger interviews Chomsky -- 1992 interview with John Pilger

Excerpts on anarchism -- 1992 TV interview excerpts from ANARCHY.ORG

Columbus Day -- October 1989 and March 1992

Media: Bewildering the herd -- September 1990

PBS interviews Chomsky on Gulf crisis -- September 1990

Facing reality -- December 1989

Meaningful democracy -- 1988 interview

Of Prussians and Traders -- November 1988

A candid view of Israel and the occupied territories -- May 1988

Chomsky's early political influences -- Autobiographical excerpts from a 1987 interview

"What the World is Really Like": Who Knows It -- and Why -- Excerpts from a 1987 interview on propaganda

The propaganda system -- 1986 interview

Israel, the Holocaust, and Anti-Semitism -- 1986 interview

The Lessons of the Vietnam War -- 1982 interview

The treachery of the intelligentsia: A French travesty -- October 1981

The ideological confrontation of our time -- February 1980

On human rights and ideology -- October 1979

An interview on psychology -- Excerpts from a mid-1970s interview

The price of oil -- March 1977 interview, with notes

34 Holes in Chomsky's Yard, Some Very Cheery-Looking Ice Cream Vendors, and the Relevance of Anarcho-syndicalism -- 1976 TV interview

Triumphs of Democracy -- January 1976 interview excerpts

Anarchism - long 1974 interview on anarchism and other topics

The universities and the corporations -- May 1973

The new radicalism -- Spring 1971



Propaganda, American-style

by Noam Chomsky

Pointing to the massive amounts of propaganda spewed by government and institutions around the world, observers have called our era the age of Orwell. But the fact is that Orwell was a latecomer on the scene. As early as World War I, American historians offered themselves to President Woodrow Wilson to carry out a task they called "historical engineering," by which they meant designing the facts of history so that they would serve state policy. In this instance, the U.S. government wanted to silence opposition to the war. This represents a version of Orwell's 1984, even before Orwell was writing.

In 1921, the famous American journalist Walter Lippmann said that the art of democracy requires what he called the "manufacture of consent." This phrase is an Orwellian euphemism for thought control. The idea is that in a state such as the U.S. where the government can't control the people by force, it had better control what they think.. The Soviet Union is at the opposite end of the spectrum from us in its domestic freedoms. It's essentially a country run by the bludgeon. It's very easy to determine what propaganda is in the USSR: what the state produces is propaganda.

That's the kind of thing that Orwell described in 1984 (not a very good book in my opinion). 1984 is so popular because it's trivial and it attacks our enemies. If Orwell had dealt with a different problem-- ourselves--his book wouldn't have been so popular. In fact, it probably wouldn't have been published.

In totalitarian societies where there's a Ministry of Truth, propaganda doesn't really try to control your thoughts. It just gives you the party line. It says, "Here's the official doctrine; don't disobey and you won't get in trouble. What you think is not of great importance to anyone. If you get out of line we'll do something to you because we have force." Democratic societies can't work like that, because the state is much more limited in its capacity to control behavior by force. Since the voice of the people is allowed to speak out, those in power better control what that voice says--in other words, control what people think. One of the ways to do this is to create political debate that appears to embrace many opinions, but actually stays within very narrow margins. You have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions--and that those assumptions are the basis of the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, the debate is permissible.

The Vietnam War is a classic example of America's propaganda system. In the mainstream media--the New York Times, CBS, and so on-- there was a lively debate about the war. It was between people called "doves" and people called "hawks." The hawks said, "If we keep at it we can win." The doves said, "Even if we keep at it, it would probably be too costly for use, and besides, maybe we're killing too many people." Both sides agreed on one thing. We had a right to carry out aggression against South Vietnam. Doves and hawks alike refused to admit that aggression was taking place. They both called our military presence in Southeast Asia the defense of South Vietnam, substituting "defense" for "aggression" in the standard Orwellian manner. In reality, we were attacking South Vietnam just as surely as the Soviets later attacked Afghanistan.

Consider the following facts. In 1962 the U.S. Air Force began direct attacks against the rural population of South Vietnam with heavy bombing and defoliation . It was part of a program intended to drive millions of people into detention camps where, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, they would be "protected" from the guerrillas they were supporting--the "Viet Cong," the southern branch of the former anti-French resistance (the Vietminh). This is what our government calls aggression or invasion when conducted by some official enemy. The Saigon government had no legitimacy and little popular support, and its leadership was regularly overthrown in U.S.-backed coups when it was feared they might arrange a settlement with the Viet Cong. Some 70,000 "Viet Cong" had already been killed in the U.S.-directed terror campaign before the outright U.S. invasion took place in 1972.

Like the Soviets in Afghanistan, we tried to establish a government in Saigon to invite us in. We had to overthrow regime after regime in that effort. Finally we simply invaded outright. That is plain, simple aggression. But anyone in the U.S. who thought that our policies in Vietnam were wrong in principle was not admitted to the discussion about the war. The debate was essentially over tactics.

Even at the peak of opposition to the U.S. war, only a minuscule portion of the intellectuals opposed the war out of principle--on the grounds that aggression is wrong. Most intellectuals came to oppose it well after leading business circles did--on the "pragmatic" grounds that the costs were too high.

Strikingly omitted from the debate was the view that the U.S. could have won, but that it would have been wrong to allow such military aggression to succeed. This was the position of the authentic peace movement but it was seldom heard in the mainstream media. If you pick up a book on American history and look at the Vietnam War, there is no such event as the American attack on South Vietnam. For the past 22 years, I have searched in vain for even a single reference in mainstream journalism or scholarship to an "American invasion of South Vietnam" or American "aggression" in South Vietnam. In America's doctrinal system, there is no such event. It's out of history, down Orwell's memory hole.

If the U.S. were a totalitarian state, the Ministry of Truth would simply have said, "It's right for us to go into Vietnam. Don't argue with it." People would have recognized that as the propaganda system, and they would have gone on thinking whatever they wanted. They would have plainly seen that we were attacking Vietnam, just as we can see the Soviets are attacking Afghanistan.

People are much freer in the U.S., they are allowed to express themselves. That's why it's necessary for those in power to control everyone's thought, to try and make it appear as if the only issues in matters such as U.S. intervention in Vietnam are tactical: Can we get away with it? There is no discussion of right or wrong.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. propaganda system did its job partially but not entirely. Among educated people it worked very well. Studies show that among the more educated parts of the population, the government's propaganda about the war is now accepted unquestioningly. One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda. Another is that they have jobs in management, media, and academia and therefore work in some capacity as agents of the propaganda system--and they believe what the system expects them to believe. By and large, they're part of the privileged elite, and share the interests and perceptions of those in power.

On the other hand, the government had problems in controlling the opinions of the general population. According to some of the latest polls, over 70 percent of Americans still thought the war was, to quote the Gallup Poll, "fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake." Due to the widespread opposition to the Vietnam War, the propaganda system lost its grip on the beliefs of many Americans. They grew skeptical about what they were told. In this case there's even a name for the erosion of belief. It's called the "Vietnam Syndrome," a grave disease in the eyes of America's elites because people understand too much.

Let me gives on more example of the powerful propaganda system at work in the U.S.--the congressional vote on contra aid in March 1986. For three months prior to the vote, the administration was heating up the political atmosphere, trying to reverse the congressional restrictions on aid to the terrorist army that's attacking Nicaragua. I was interested in how the media was going to respond to the administration campaign for the contras. So I studied two national newspapers, the Washington Post and the New York Times. In January, February, and March, I went through every one of their editorials, opinion pieces, and the columns written by their own columnists. There were 85 pieces. Of these, all were anti-Sandinista. On that issue, no discussion was tolerable.

There are two striking facts about the Sandinista government, as compared with our allies in Central America--Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. One is that the Sandinista government doesn't slaughter its population. That's a well-recognized fact. Second, Nicaragua is the only one of those countries in which the government has tried to direct social services to the poor. This too, is not a matter of debate; it is conceded on all sides to be true.

On the other hand, our allies in Guatemala and El Salvador are among the world's worst terrorist states. So far in the 1980s, they have slaughtered over 150,000 of their own citizens, with U.S. support. These nations do little for their populations except torture, terrorize, and kill them. Honduras is a little different. In Honduras, there's a government of the rich that robs the poor. It doesn't kill on the scale of El Salvador or Guatemala, but a large part of the population is starving to death.

So in examining the 85 editorials, I also looked for these two facts about Nicaragua. The fact that the Sandinistas are radically different from our Central American allies in that they don't slaughter their population was not mentioned once. That they have carried out social reforms for the poor was referred to in two phrases, both buried. Two phrases in 85 columns on one crucial issue, zero phrases in 85 columns on another.

That's really remarkable control over thought on a highly debated issue. After that I went through the editorials on El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1980 to the present; it's essentially the same story. Nicaragua, a country under attack by the regional superpower, did on October 15, 1985, what we did in Hawaii during World War II: instituted a state of siege. There was a huge uproar in the mainstream American press--editorials, denunciations, claims that the Sandinistas are totalitarian Stalinist monsters, and so on.

Two days after that, on October 17, El Salvador renewed its state of siege. Instituted in March 1980 and renewed monthly afterwards, El Salvador's state of siege was far more harsh than Nicaragua's. It blocked freedom of movement and virtually all civil rights. It was the framework within which the U.S.-trained and -organized army has carried out torture and slaughter.

The New York Times considered the Nicaraguan state of siege a great atrocity. The Salvadoran state of siege, far harsher in its methods and it application, was never mentioned in 160 New York Times editorials on Nicaragua and El Salvador, up to now [mid-1986, the time of this interview].

We are often told the country is a budding democracy, so it can't possibly be having a state of siege. According to news reports on El Salvador, Duarte is heading a moderate centrist government under attack by terrorists of the left and of the right. This is complete nonsense. Every human rights investigation, even the U.S. government in private, concedes that terrorism is being carried out by the Salvadoran government itself. The death squads are the security forces. Duarte is simply a front for terrorists. But that is seldom said publicly. All this falls under Walter Lippmann's notion of "the manufacture of consent." Democracy permits the voice of the people to be heard, and it is the task of the intellectual to ensure that this voice endorses what leaders perceive to be the right course. Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism. The techniques have been honed to a high art in the U.S. and elsewhere, far beyond anything that Orwell dreamed of. The device of feigned dissent (as practiced by the Vietnam- era "doves," who criticized the war on the grounds of effectiveness and not principle) is one of the more subtle means, though simple lying and suppressing fact and other crude techniques are also highly effective.

For those who stubbornly seek freedom around the world, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the propaganda system to which we are subjected and in which all too often we serve as unwilling or unwitting instruments.

[This is an expanded version of an article excerpted from Propaganda Review (Winter 1987-88). Subscriptions: $20/yr. (4 issues) from Media Alliance, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, San Francisco, CA 94123. This article was drawn from an interview conducted by David Barsamian of KGNU-Radio in Boulder, Colorado (cassettes available for sale; write David Barsamian, 1415 Dellwood, Boulder, CO 80302), and an essay from Chomsky's book Radical Priorities, edited by C.P. Otero (1984). Black Rose Books, 3981 Boulevard St. Laurent, Montral H2W 1Y5, Quebec, Canada.] Source: Free World






Answering Chomsky's Challenges


Online Books

South End, Common Courage, Hill and Wang, Odonian, Black Rose

Year 501 The Conquest Continues

Excerpts from
Powers and Prospects

Rethinking Camelot

Deterring Democracy

Necessary Illusions

Powers and Prospects : Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order
Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1996
Acts of Agression

by Noam Chomsky, Edward W. Said, Ramsey Clark

Rethinking Camelot : Jfk, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture
Chomsky Paperback Published 1993
Deterring Democracy

Paperback Reissue edition (April 1992)

Necessary Illusions : Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Noam Chomsky
Paperback Published 1989

Keeping the
Rabble In Line

Uncle Sam


Secrets, Lies
& Democracy

Excerpts from
Chronicles of Dissent

Keeping the Rabble in Line : Interviews With David Barsamian

Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian Paperback Published 1994

What Uncle Sam Really Wants (The Real Story Series)
Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1992
The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many (Real Story Series)

Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian Paperback Published 1993

Secrets, Lies, and Democracy (Real Story Series)

Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian Paperback Published 1994

Chronicles of Dissent

Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian Paperback Published 1992

The Chomsky Reader

Noam Chomsky, James Peck (Editor)
Paperback Published 1987

The Chomsky Trilogy : Secrets,
Lies and Democracy
the Prosperous Few and
the Restless Many/What Uncle Sam Really Wants
(The Real Story)

Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1995

Chomsky's Politics

Milan Rai Paperback Published 1995


Class Warfare : Interviews With David Barsamian

Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian Paperback Published 1996


The Cold
War & the University Toward an Intelectual History
of the Postwar Years

Noam Chomsky,
et al Paperback Published 1998

 The Culture of Terrorism
Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1989
Letters from Lexington : Reflections on

Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1993
ing Consent : The Political Economy of the Mass Media

Edward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1988

Media Control : The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (The Open Media Pamphlet Series , No 1)

Noam Chomsky Paperback Published 1997


John C. Maher Richard Appignanesi Judy Groves

April 1997



Paul Gordon
October 1996

Noam Chomsky:
A Life of Dissent

Robert F. Barsky
August 1998

Partners in Hate

Werner Cohn
June 1995

The Essential Chomsky: The Political Wrtiings of Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky,
Mark Pavlick (Editor) Paperback Published:

January 1999

The Noam Chomsky

Daniel Brooks,
Guillermo Verdecchia Paperback Published:

March 1992

Noam Chomsky:
On Power, Knowledge and Human Nature

Peter Wilkin Hardcover Published: July 1997

On Noam Chomsky: Critical Essays

Gilbert Harman (Editor) Paperback Published: November 1990

The Chomsky Update: Linguistics and Politics

Raphael Salkie Paperback Published: January 1990

Noam Chomsky: Consensus and Controversy

Sohan Modgil (Editor),Celia Modgil (Editor) Hardcover Published:

January 1987

Noam Chomsky: Critical Assessments

Carlos PeregrGin Otero Hardcover Published: January 1994

Free Market Fantasies

Audio CD Cd edition (June 1996)

Clinton Vision:Old Wine,New Bottles

Audio CD Cd Audio edition (January 1999)

Class War: The Attack on Working People

Audio CD (March 1996)

Class Warfare : Interviews With David Barsamian

by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

Paperback Published 1996

The Common Good : (Real Stories Series)

by Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian, Arthur Naiman

Paperback Published 1998

World Order: Old and New

Noam Chomsky Paperback (November 1996)

The Clinton Vision : Old Wine, New Bottles

by Noam Chomsky

Hardcover Cd edition (November 1994)