- The elites’ contempt for “the lower class of these people” has taken various forms throughout the years. In recent times one expression of this contempt is the call for passivity and obedience (“moderation in democracy”) by liberal internationalists reacting to the dangerous democratizing effects of the popular movements of the 1960s.
- Longtime activist and academic Noam Chomsky gives a broad overview of the state of the rulers and resisters around the globe.
Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch / In These Times
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[In These Times Editor's Note: This piece, the first of two parts, is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books). The piece first appeared at TomDispatch.]
May 9, 2016 | When we ask “Who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.
States of course have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the “masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the “vile maxim” to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: “All for ourselves and nothing for other people”—a doctrine known otherwise as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the home country and the world.
Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator and activist. He is perhaps best known as a critic of all forms of social control and a relentless advocate for community-centered approaches to democracy and freedom. Over the last several decades, Chomsky has championed a wide range of dissident actions, organizations and social movements.
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