I just read an interesting interview with Noam Chomsky in the Le Monde Diplomatique paper version in French by Daniel Mermet. For the English translation, see Democracy’s invisible line. Actutally I like the French title a bit better: Le lavage de cerveaux en liberté.
I have learned quite a bit by putting my rusty thinking machine through Chomsky’s intellectual acrobatics. However here and on other occasions, I do not agree with him on a few issues.
It must be noted that there is one bridge to build in this apparently very connected world of ours and that is the one between public opinion and democracy. But you see, it is not that simple. A majority is not necessarily right, and democracy is not just the implementation of the will of a majority. Democracy is an evolving set of tools all used to serve human’s natural tendency to self-organize. If a majority is not a critical decision factor in democracy, what is?
The interplay of mutual and non-reciprocal masturbation of Media and Government is however an interesting phenomenon. Who is using whom, for what purpose, and who on earth is getting any satisfaction?
If as Chomsky claims “not only are citizens excluded from political power, they are also kept in a state of ignorance as to the true state of public opinion” what is it that is happening?
Now, all is good and well, and there is a lot of food for thought in much of what Chomsky has to say, however the following does not quite go along the lines of what I have been thinking:
“We are living here and now, not in some imaginary universe. And here and now there are tyrannical organisations – big corporations. They are the closest thing to a totalitarian institution. They are, to all intents and purposes, quite unaccountable to the general public or society as a whole. They behave like predators, preying on other smaller companies. People have only one means of defending themselves and that is the state. Nor is it a very effective shield because it is often closely linked to the predators. But there is a far from negligible difference. General Electric is accountable to no one, whereas the state must occasionally explain its actions to the public.”
I contend that governments and big corporations are hit by the same ills: the tyranny virus knows no distinction between the two. While it is the government that legitimizes the nature of the corporation, it is the corporation that finances the government as it is the one directly creating revenue – value – from its assets. There is a codependency between government and corporation that not many people – the critical thinking kind – are willing to look at. It ought to be looked at, and it ought to be looked at really hard, and the nature of its relationships examined. Questions of ethical basis need to be asked. Who is serving whom, and for what purpose?
Update: Here is an interesting bit by John Quiggin that highlights the Media vs Government issue.