by Mickey Z.
September 15, 2003
Listening to "The Emerging Framework of World Power," the latest Noam Chomsky CD released by AK Press (http://www.akpress,org), anyone familiar with Chomsky's work can't help but be struck with a sense of deja vu. The lecture may have been recorded post-9/11 but much of the context offered (Middle East crisis, U.S. intervention in Central America, etc.) is familiar territory to any seasoned dissident. This however, is not a criticism. Rather, it's an acknowledgement of a useful jumping-off point for discussing the intrinsic value of such CDs. To comprehend and appreciate that value involves the recognition of two crucial points.
The first requires that same seasoned dissident to adopt a beginner's mind. For me, this recalls the time Anarchy magazine called Chomsky's analysis "pedestrian." Of course it's pedestrian to the average Anarchy reader but what about the newcomer? Try to remember the first time you read something that blew your mind...that feeling of revelation that changed the way you think forever. Why deny that experience to those who've never even heard of Noam Chomsky or AK Press or Anarchy magazine? We're only talking about the vast majority of humans on the planet. This is not to say we blindly agree with everything someone like Chomsky says but instead, we recognize his value as a resource and do our best to share that value. Stop looking down your subversive nose and playing the "who's more radical?" game. Chomsky's not just preaching to the converted. "The Emerging Framework of World Power" may offer little new to you but for most people, it's a desperately needed intellectual earthquake.
On the second point, I'd like to recall something the late Pakistani dissident, Eqbal Ahmad, said about Chomsky in the book, "Confronting Empire": "He has never wavered. He has never fallen into the trap of saying, 'Clinton will do better.' Or 'Nixon was bad but Carter at least had a human rights presidency.' There is a consistency of substance, of posture, of outlook in his work. Consistency, of course, means repetition. Over the last twenty years, Chomsky has repeated himself a lot...the truth has to be repeated. It doesn't become stale just because it has been told once."
Truth or not, repetition is precisely how Corporate America does it...the same messages pounded into our brains until we submit. Such indoctrination is not easily challenged and it often requires the same brand of replication to do so. Going back to our seasoned dissident, this reiteration has the added value of refreshing one's memory of the kind of facts needed to back up your critiques.
"The Emerging Framework of World Power" is just one of many radical CDs distributed by organizations like AK Press. It just might be a beneficial move for a seasoned dissident like you to check it out as a refresher course and then pass it on to someone who, say, actually believes Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks or still uses the phrase "liberal media."
Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com). He can be reached at: email@example.com.
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