I bought it for myself as a Christmas gift. I read it in a few days. I was so fascinated that someone could have such insight, such a good memory for history, economics, such a way of looking at events and facts from different angles than are normally presented. Much of what he said summed up (much more articulately of course) what had been going through my head over the past few formative years. Why doesn't everyone know about and read this guy I wondered. You find out pretty quickly after discovering Chomsky that he certainly has his share of detractors (read some of the reviews of recent works ie 9/11 for example!) So I occasionally read his detractors as well, and I must say they are seldom as convincing as he is, and he stands on a much higher moral ground than most (all?) of them, a voice of sanity in a wilderness of deception, propaganda and ideology. They seem to mostly repeat US government propaganda and try to call Chomsky an apologist for genocide, which is one of the biggest jokes I can imagine. Chomsky is merciless in his defense of real freedom, and in his denunciation of tyranny. A common thread in all he says and writes is that we (the west) must judge ourselves with the same (even higher he argues) standards as we judge our enemies, but that in no instance is this ever done by the intelligentsia community, becoming basically apologists for state atrocities and violence. This seems so obvious to me, yet there are several lunatics out there who criticise (even lambaste) him for suggesting that our crimes are anywhere near as significant as "theirs" (whoever the "them" of the month happens to be) He can write a meticulously well documented book on the effects of American intervention in Vietnam (ie many many corpses), and the some wacko criticises him for not talking about all of communist atrocities in the world even though that is not the topic of his book! His point is that communist atrocities are very well documented (occasionally fabricated even!) as they are the official enemy. He chooses to focus his attention on atrocties carried out by his own government, something he feels his words and actions may be able to influence.
Noam Chomsky is feared as he exposes the truth, and something I have learned since nearly 10 years ago when I first read this book (a good reference to have on hand to this day I might add), is that people are terrified of the truth. They would rather believe government propaganda and that governments are looking out for their best interests rather than the truths which Chomsky exposes in great detail in the piles of political books he has written. This series of interviews provides a good intro, and is easier to read than his heavily footnoted books, which can be admittedly difficult to slog through (though definitely worth it as well) and brings up points that are found in more detail in his books for the more interested, or people skeptical of his interviews (something he encourages by the way). Highly recommended to anyone who is a skeptic.
"Education is a form of indoctrination, therefore we typically find in any society that the educated classes are more indoctrinated. They're the ones who are subject to the constant flow of propaganda which is largely dictated to them because they're more important, so they have to be more controlled. Furthermore, the educated classes become the instruments of propaganda. Their function in the society is to promulgate and develop the ideological principles. As a result they inculcate them, if they don't they're usually weeded out and are no longer part of the privileged elite. It's not at all unusual to discover the basic principles of the ideological system in any society most deeply entrenched and least critically accepted by the educated classes."
"One of the things that's extremely nice about the United States is the degree of freedom that it has. It is a free society, much more so than any other, and that very freedom has led to problems. If you can't control people by force, you have to figure out other ways to control them. Corresponding to American freedom, which is unusual, are very highly sophisticated measures of ensuring that that freedom doesn't work. A whole array of devices have been developed to ensure that dissident opinion just isn't heard, although it isn't suppressed either, given American freedoms. "
"The framework of thought is consciously manipulated by an effective choice and reshaping of terminology so as to make it difficult to understand what's happening in the world. A very important function of ideological institutions-the media, the schools, and so on-is to prevent people from perceiving reality, because if they perceived it they might not like it and might act to change it. That would harm privileged people who control these things."
Sound interesting? That's only a part of Chomsky's opinions about THOUGHT CONTROL IN THE GOOD OLD U.S.A. There's much, much more where all that came from. And that's not even mentioning Chomsky's thoroughly damning, DOCUMENTED (often with declassified internal documents), criticisms of U.S. FOREIGN POLICY. Chomsky's criticisms and `conspiracy theories' are anything but `extreme,' and, though they can and should be disagreed with to a certain extent, they SIMPLY CANNOT BE IGNORED by any conscientious person or anyone interested in a plausible theory of the `big picture' of world events.
"Chronicles of Dissent" is a series of conversations between Chomsky and Radio host David Barsamian and provides an accessible though thoroughly wide-scoped overview of Chomsky's thought. And whether you're new to Chomsky or not, you should also buy "Chomsky for Beginners," it's a great capsulizing of Chomsky's major obsessions for easy reference.