Home | About | Donate

Masters of Mankind: American Power and the Challenges of 2016


Masters of Mankind: American Power and the Challenges of 2016

Noam Chomsky

[This piece, the first of two parts, is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books). Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday morning.]


Brilliant as he is, is "Who Rules the World?" the right question?

Who Rules Me? is the only question that I find pertinent.


But you are no one without your immediate surroundings.


But are we not our surroundings? Mercury across the Sun?


Then you should write a book titled "Who rules the WiseOwl."


Regardless of what transpires with this country's global aspirations, we, the “dirty and nasty people”, will have little to say about it. Where are the candidates from either major party that would dare to propose reining in American global militarism, let alone reverse it? Bernie Sanders? Possibly a more moderate militarist, but still very much a militarist and a believer in America, the world power. The class war has never been much of a war, anyway; it's been more of an occasional disturbance to the status quo by those "dirty and nasty people" that needed quelling.


The tragic (a known catastrophe without action taken to prevent it) aspect of our collective situation is, to me, the inherent blindness of predation institutionalized as if 'productive' and without consequence.

The admonition that 'those who make peaceful (re)evolution impossible, render violent revolution inevitable', is perhaps well applied not along the 'class' divisions typically described, but within the institutions themselves. The latter having been rendered a psedo-class dissociated virtually entirely from the very premises of 'economics/oikos'.

That the image of the earth from space is used with this excerpt from Dr. Chomsky's new book, is to me an indicator of the extent to which the dominant power paradigm has yet to assimilate the fact that its construct is fatally flawed relative to living paradigm from which it has poisonously morphed. The 'resources' required to do so a prcise measure of the poison.

The natural web of life, so quaintly described as being subject to 'the butterfly effect' reflects what could be called an eternal process of generation and adaptation within an electrobiochemical/magnetic cosmos. If anyone can better describe our context - please do so.
Evolution generates new adaptive adjustments that manifest on the material plane. The true nature of 'conservative' might be said to be recognition of these countless 'platforms' from which evolutionary novelty continues. Existence of this process of countless instances is never even recognized by the dominant powers, much less understood. That the latter assume efficacy of 'playing god' from such a positioning reflects a tragic ignorance of the absolutely essential interelational dynamics of scale and consequences of failing to recognize and respect it.

To describe human beings as tool utilizing creatures all too often exhibits the lacunas noted above. The patterns of the dominant powers of usurpation, taking, lying, destroying etc. as if 'natural' also reflects not a fabric of life, but a shredded, foul, incompetent juggernaut. Notable about this is that anything benign and aligned with continuity and supportive of resilience and sustainability has throughout history been maintained by countering the institutionalized dynamics with the natural genius (spirit) inherent in that alignment. Also notable is that the juggernaut is not the source of sustainable evolving adaptation, but precisely the opposite.

Human use of language, subjected to the Guttenberg framing of mass printing and now electronic media, aside from the capacity to learn and understand the true meaning of love, is perhaps the most unique of human characteristics at present. Like any instrument language, thought and media can be used for good or evil. There are times when it seems that linguistic conceptual discernment, born of direct personal experience, is being made the primal sacrifice. As a linguist, it would seem that Dr. Chomsky has long known this in some way given the dedication to reviewing the documentation that reveals the massive holes, ever more constant, in the true fabric of history.

An irony in this is that the lacunas in the shredding of that fabric of history circle back to the prime motivator (that cannot achieve anything even resembling coherence of "policy") of the juggernaut: practices of predatory "capital". Is it any wonder that the financial 'class' increasingly values negation/lacuna/secrecy/voids/destruction as it intensifies its downward death spiral?

Why is collaboration allowed only for malfeasance while collaboration in the form of profitable, local cooperatives is condemned as 'commie'? Why is subsidy funneled only into failing corporate juggernauts? Because language and media have been shredding the fabric of history and truth telling since the 16th century on which the "industrial revolution" colonization robbed, murdered and twisted humanity of absolutely essential diversity and genius. Hopefully we will effectively resist, survive and out-evolve the 5 centuries of squalid monoculture and restore the vigor, genius, spirit and beauty of the planet inextricable from a cosmos calling for full scale precautionary principle.


Talk about trivializing an article bearing this level of scholarship.

And you say you were a teacher?


Your comment is interesting and touches on many significant truths, yet it does not look at life through the Yin-Yang prism.

This prism--that of two Divine counterparts intended to act as partners to the ongoing streams of life (along with wisely stewarding all living systems) has instead been distorted so that the masculine has subsumed (when not controlling, dominating, attacking, destroying, exploiting) the feminine.

The result is a disproportionate emphasis on aggression and living models based on ownership, domination, and control.

Why do you suppose that a gigantic company like Monsanto thinks it can design nature better than the Great Mother has?

And look at the results. Dead soils. Tremendous increases in heart disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Depression, etc. Added to a spell-binding loss of species and a great many formerly verdant regions turned into poisoned "sacrifice zones."

Why do you suppose there's an interest in cloning?

These measures obliterate the feminine component as Woman or as Mother Nature. They are the means through which those who only see the masculine side of God the father (and by extension, the manifest world) make the feminine irrelevant. Or so they'd hope.

The Peoples of South America term this Feminine aspect Pacha Mama... and most Indigenous Americans likewise recognize the MOTHER force of nature.

In contrast, patriarchal religions teach ONLY homage to god, the father; and it's this father who morphs into men of power--as in corporate CEOS and military leaders--who go about destroying the living world while using terms like development, industrialization, modernity, etc.

These protocols do to nature what the armies of U.S. & NATO have done to the Middle East. In both instances, the battery and violence are given benign names.

There can be no life without the DANCE between Divine Partners.

Instead of expunging the feminine, it must be respected as co-creative force.


Frankly, not everything is about class. Who the f 'k cares anymore about class when discussing geopolitics and major powers conflicts? Talking about class presupposes that class solidarity will magically solve the world's problems except that there is no class solidarity except perhaps among the elites believe it or not. In any case, nations have unique class structures and they are not amenable to international class solidarity. So fine it is an intellectual exercise and an economic philosophy perspective to discuss class like Marx and an endless number of economic philosophers do but then national aims are determined not by class but by national interests.

The neocon destabilization of the Middle East is not even mentioned though USA national aims are. Note that Chinese aims in the Pacific are not discussed in terms of class nor is the clash of NATO and Putin's autocratic nationalism. No class just geopolitical national interests.

Meanwhile, American power is being weakened by internal class warfare between an undemocratic corporate elite which nevertheless relies on a consumer society public and the interests of that public. The very old problem of fabulously wealthy elites and their disdain for the lower ( non wealthy ) classes. In short you have to feed the peasants even if you don't really want to. The conservative agenda that sees wealth accumulate at the top but little benefit accrues to the bottom has cannibalized the power base of the USA so that USA military power is relatively unchallenged and yet as Chomsky correctly notes, it is unable to be utilized safely, China is well prepared to dominate the future economically and likely permanently until India is able to integrate its tribalism into a cohesive whole and can compete. A blunt instrument of great power but not a scalpel.

China's neo Silk Road is high speed rail across Asia which should have been American companies of 30 to 40 years ago investing in the world capitalist economy instead. That window of opportunity has closed since neocon destabilization borrowed from China to fight a war (while giving two trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy class) which gave China the surplus foreign currency to modernize (as well as reengineer technology) and also saw American corporations destroying the manufacturing base of their own country. That resulted in building China's dominant and by now unassailable economic manufacturing and export position. The result is that China will dominate the future economically while Amercian wealth and preeminence was simply plundered by the elites and the nation thrust into decline.

Except tHat It is all about class right? The hell it is. They oligarchs don't care about the little people but since when was that new?

Meanwhile the new Chinese economic model is very similar to the state assisted capitalism of the post WW2 corporate America. However under Bush/Cheney American corporations openly stopped being pro America but Chinese corporations remained pro Chinese. The future China will wield immense economic power. They conquer without needing to wage war because the west wanted to parade with pomp and military gravitas but increasingly finds itself circumscribed by limitations that end up bringing things close to brinkmanship. We don't have the ability to compete economically like we once had so we resort to military posturing which we have no intention of pursuing. Do we prod Russia with NATO's goad? Or do we offer economic alternatives to Chinese economic dominance? Well we can't offer them alternatives because the west's economic power has been pared away by oligarchic self interest. The days when the USA's corporations and the wealthy were paying tax dollars that were used to strengthen the USA and to extend the dominance of corporations around the world are over. To allow the oligarchate to form, Bush/Cheney plundered the internal wealth for the benefit of oligarchy which was successful but the use of the military dominance was not successful. It has left the USA economically weak and wounded but overburdened with a massive military it really has no use for. The Chinese state capitalism is patriotic indeed and is obviously successful. Ours was the same once. We took a piece through taxing profits and reinvested it in America and now the Chinese are doing the same more or less. They apparently have the advantage of it being their turn because we gave up our turn. The pursuit of wealth at any cost was not patriotism but only the Chinese understood that.

The Chinese Dragon breathes fire now that it has been awakened. It learned from history and is repeating it. The west is being colonized by the east this time around.


Thank you for qualitatively identifying the substance of what has been voided in the fabric of life as actually lived by human beings.

It is frequently said that we 'have' the inherent strength necessary to rebalance the distortions. Perhaps it should be said that we 'are' the vehicle for the balance and a return to study of and truly living what has been called yin yang is the nutrient - always available and simply calling for a loving and honest turning of attention - keeping in mind and cherishing seven generations hence.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Chomsky for all his insight can't help repeating the BIG LIE that JFK began the war in Vietnam.His murder and the reversal of his memorandum to REMOVE troops that was immediately reversed by LBJ was the beginning of the war and escalation. Chomsky never admits that a young JFK was besieged with MIC hawks who tried to push him into invasions in Cuba and elsewhere. The disingenuous Chomsky would try to convince us that had JFK not been murdered by the CIA that history would be the same . HORSEMANURE Noam, Kennedy spoke of changes that if made impossible would lead to revolutions, such as Vietnam, Cuba, Congo and elsewhere. Fess up Noam , you have a personal animus toward JFK that you evidence whenever Vietnam is mentioned.There was a reason why Jack and Bobby and Martin were murdered. PEACE doesn't pay. Manning and Snowden are more examples of truth tellers who are persecuted for exposing the evil MIC/CIA cabal. "The Devil's Chessboard "by David Talbot is a bold exposure of this evil duo.


The whole of your commentary is a wall to wall demonstration of class = power. Just who do you believe makes decisions about 'national interests'. In some cases the decisions wouldn't vary much for whoever makes them. Reactions against the menacing behavior by NATO towards Russia. What decision makers anywhere would accept the kind of threats NATO is making. The planning for the future of the US, going back to this country's genesis, was for it to be the new Roman Empire. There was no democratic vote on that. Power behaves that way. When hasn't it. But the 'national interest' rarely includes the public's voice. Not only in foreign matters but domestic ones. Very much so in domestic ones. When a mantra like “...what's good for General Motors is good for America” can unabashedly be proclaimed in a 'democracy', that is called class power. People don't revolt about 'national interests' but they do revolt about the effects of class and it's assault on the population.


So tell me then, who is voting for Trump? Who voted for Reagan or Bush/Cheney? Who fills the seats at Tea Party rallies? The problem with class analysis is that it is applicable for academic thesis and erudite tomes but who then is voting for Trump? Or even for Hillary? Where is the class analysis where people supposedly vote by class or whatever? When I said national interest it wasn't only that ruling elites decided policy and the public wasn't involved because they were. I just happen to think that class analysis is an academic exercise much like using statistics to guess a horse race. It is all very logical but it doesn't pick the winner.

So people revolt based on class do they? That is the theory. 1917? The big one. The really big one based on class! The one which devolved into Leninism and then Stalinism. Oh wait ...the tradition is to pretend Stalinism didn't happen right? So it is the revolution was pure but Stalin was an aberration? Mao then, another biggie but then they turned class upside down didn't they and oppressed from the other direction ...didn't they? Class oppressing class and the same class at that too. The little red class book.

But hey you were saying America was based on being a new Roman Empire? Is that so? So would this be based on conquests of indigenous or is that everybody who does that. Remember Tibet btw. See many Siberian indigenous around anymore? Tasmanians? Many indigenous in Argentina? Nope. Wiped them out. Class or custom? Who did the killing? In fact who does it now in the Amazon? People looking to homestead a piece of land are poor. So what class is the class mentioned in books? The ones who revolt? See many revolts lately? Name a modern revolution? You know a class based one?

My question about who votes for Trump is mostly rhetorical although it happens to be true nonetheless. Who cheers when he says build a wall? Rich people? I doubt it. So let me rephrase >>>

Which class votes for Trump?


Who controls the media that promoted Trump? Who controlled the GOP and promoted its generational fanaticism to kill anything to do with New Deal policies. And who's phobias Trump is taking advantage of. But more importantly for this exchange, who the hell controls you drinking. You are smashed out of your brains. And any body can see that. Why don't you sober up for a day or so then try to put together some coherent thoughts. You've got a booze induced hair up you ass and the only one who will listen to you is yourself.


Mostly the comfortable suburban "small business" class in my area. Big house in the outer suburbs, a big pickup truck, a boat on a trailer, his-and-hers (and the kiddies too) ATV's, etc... At least those are the only places I see that yellow Gadsden flag flying, or any Trump yard signs.


Sorry but I don't imbibe anything actually. An excess jelly donut maybe but nevertheless...you show yourself to be an incompetent debater. You couldn't refute my points so instead resorted to insults and name calling. How embarrassing really. I feel sorry for you.


Quote this >>>


Chomsky does not rely on 'insight'. Why don't you 'fess up' that you're having a snit that Chomsky hasn't given his blessings to Talbot's claims that you and the other cultists feel he should. What Chomsky's been saying for decades he stated is based on information, including declassified documents, that you haven't shown to be any more invalid than Talbot's sources. Many people in the anti-war movement from the latter half of the 1960's into the 1970's were understandably hard on Johnson and Nixon. But there were those who weren't falling for the 'Camelot' narratives that were being sold. I say this empirically having come back from Vietnam in mid 1967 so there was a natural interest in what was going on. This was almost two decades before I was introduced to Chomsky's work.

Jack Kennedy's brother Bobby did have an epiphany change by the mid 1960's. Perhaps Jack Kennedy might have as well but he would have had to live with the earlier decisions. I'll tell you one thing. For all the heat he had put on himself, Ted Kennedy was a real fighter for the people for decades in the Senate. Not unlike Bernie Sanders he fought in the trenches, issue after issue, legislation after legislation. Jack Kenndy came up as a Cold War Warrior. By the way, don't use lines like that begin with “... a young JFK...”. He wasn't a youngster. If you ever get to see a video on the Kenndey/Nixon debates, you'll see that Kennedy out-hawked Nixon. And I do remember those debates.

It was a quarter of a century since I had been out of the service that I found out the US was not in South Vietnam to defend it from the North but to support the regime that the US installed in South Vietnam. That regime had a serious enemy. The people of South Vietnam who didn't want a puppet government forced on them. Our government was at war with the people of South Vietnam. That's where the Viet Cong came from. The US didn't merely supply 'advisors' to S.Vietnam as the free press so obediently told us. This country bombed, with explosives, with napalm, with agent orange to defoliate. Attacks through the years with squadrons of B52s could turn a neighborhood into what a series of F5 tornados would do here. And this to a rural country that made the Pennsylvania Dutch look high tech by comparison.

This was started by Kennedy. I didn't learn that from David Talbot, or PBS, or from Bill Moyers, who for a period was a press secretary to Lyndon Johnson. That virtual national secret was revealed to people by Noam Chomsky and very few others. You hear the libertarian 'freedom fighters' rant that Chomsky is more concerned about getting a $15 dollar minimum wage for people than who killed Jack Kennedy. They act as if the 'shadow government' wasn't know in the 1960s or 1970s. Yet during that time local radio show hosts where I lived were talking openly about people like John Foster Dulles and what a piece of vile he was. Can't say propaganda doesn't work, in all its forms.