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Year 501: The Conquest Continues [Paperback]

Noam Chomsky
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

16 Feb 1993
'The great work of subjugation and conquest' has changed little over the years. Analyzing Haiti, Latin America, Cuba, Indonesia, and even pockets of the Third World developing in the United States, Noam Chomsky draws parallels between the genocide of colonial times and the murder and exploitation associated with modern-day imperialism.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; First Edition edition (16 Feb 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860916804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860916802
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Year 501 is another awesome achievement by Noam Chomsky. It is a devastating array of information about the U.S. role in the world, placed in the long historical perspective of the 500 years that followed the voyages of Columbus. The result is a wonderful single-volume education in history and world politics." - Howard Zinn "This book portrays the world born five centuries ago: An immense supermarket where value is determined by price tags. What is the price of an intellectual? Chomsky's fierce talent proves once more that human beings are not condemned to become commodities." - Eduardo Galeano

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is a world renowned linguist and one of America's foremost social critics. He is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and the author of numerous books for Pluto Press. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let the light pour in 9 April 2012
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Peers under the shrouds of mythological deceit and slowly unwraps the goods and what emerges under the glit and the tack is not very pretty. There is some polemic, in particular the peculiarities of European warfare in the 16th and 15th Centuries being based on a compressed version of genocide.

Needs to reflect back upon; Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Mongols, Han, Persian Empire Conquest of Armenia and Georgia, Ottoman subjugation of Slavic lands, slavery of the Moors and the East African Slave Trade to regain a perspective.

Apart from this, the book is a thorough devastating brick by brick taking apart of the cathedral built around capitalism, its doctrines of human rights, free trade, racial superiority, genocide, torture, plunder, victimisation, anhilation and cultural wars against indigenous cultures, enacted with a greater perspective than an x ray machine.

The words and the argument builds in layers derived from a perusal of history that highlights where the dead bodies have laid and left a mouldering in the greatest subterfuge enacted since Treblinka and Sobirbor were erased and the equivalent of a childrens theme park built on the remnants.

This book is unrelenting as it takes apart Adam Smith, highlighting his sense of unease with the capitalist project form inception. Includes the will to power enacted by Americas executive, its anhilation of opponents, its destruction of any states that appear rogue, non aligned or not onboard. The building of the Soviet Empire into a menace that created a crutch for more military spending, the outsourcing of work to colonies and then repatriating the capital. The belittlement of unions and any organised labour to create flexible workforces all ripe to be exploited.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating indictment of Western capitalism 15 Oct 2002
By Chris - Published on
This is a book by Chomsky that is probably even more scholarly than usual. At least in the way it is written. Chomsky wrote this book on the 500th anniversary in 1992 of the beginnings of the invasion of much of the world of what Adam Smith refered to, in a rather narrow context as "the savage injustice of the Europeans ("revealing himself to be an early practicioner of the crime of 'political correctness,'"Chomsky comments sardonically)". Chomsky begins his survey by analyzing the policies of the major European powers and the United States as they grew to dominate the world. Such policies., he explains, are not the free market doctrines stressed by right wing talk radio hosts, University of Chicago professors and other such bores and frauds but by massive state subsides, huge tarrifs to block foreign competitors, extreme violence and colonial occupation.

Places like India and Bengal (Bangladesh) which were highly advanced industrial societies by the mid-1700's but all of the industries which were superior to their counterparts in Britain were deliberately undermined or simply forced out of existence by the British colonisers. India and Bangladesh became extremely poor, feudal agricultural countries supplying Britain with raw materials and as a captive market for British goods. The latter is a familiar pattern outlined by Chomsky in this book. The West, since World war II, dominated by the U.S., has always sought any way it could to block advanced economic development in the third world. The exceptions to this that Chomsky points to are Japan and its former colonies in Asia who violated all the laws of the free market to create very dynamic, if, of course, very far from perfect economies. The British, noted Chomsky, started to adopt "free trade" as policy as the United States would do later under similar circumstances, around 1846 when they had no competitors in their field but this changed around 1930 when they, along with the Americans, French and Dutch erected high tarrif walls around Japanese exports to their colonies in Asia with which they could not compete, a major factor in staring Japan's wars of conquest.
He examines the U.S. role in the slaugter of half a million people in Indonesia in 1965 as the independent nationalist Sukarno was overthrown and "a staggering mass slaughter of communists and pro-communits." The U.S. media, rejoyced at the massacre of landless peasants and the destruction of the only mass-based political party the communist PKI. General Suharto took power initiating ongoing plunder and exploitaion of Indonesia's resources by Western corporations while engaging in mass murder in the U.S. backed occupation of East Timor and elsewhere. He examines the media reaction to this slaugter and the reaction back in 1990 when this great event was brought up again by Kathy Kadane.
He examines the showcases of capitalism in the third world like Brazil, whose liberal capitalist president Goulart was overthrown in 1964 with U.S. aid by a group of Neo-nazi generals who compiled over the next few decades a truly horrific human rights record but who were praised for producing an "economic miracle" as the population sunk into quite horrific levels of malnourishment and disease and land became ever more concentrated in fewer hands and millions of street children arose in the big cities. And Nicaragua where the massive terrorism, celebrated by the media liberals that Chomsky quotes, brought to force upon the Nicaraguan people a defeat of the Sandanistas in "democratic election" in 1990 (the 1984 election won by the Sandinstas dissapearing into the memory hole). This has predictably resulted in a terrible rise in starvation and disease and drug running and street children and on.
He continues with an in-depth examination of the woes of Haiti and the American and Western efforts to ravage it since 1804, and particularly since 1915 when the U.S. invaded and reestablished virtual slavery, with a U.S. imposed constitution ratified with five percent of the voting public participainting under the U.S. marine bayonets, reversing the ban on foreign ownership of land.
He compares the podering of the unique evil of Japan in being unable to fully face up to their past crimes and the comparable ignoring of things like the hundreds of thousand of tortured victims of U.S. chemical warfare in South Vietname, which occasionally elicits a comment in the science pages of the newspapers about how we are missing a great opportunity to study the effects of dioxin on a control population
34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Myth-shattering - ESPECIALLY on economics. 27 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Don't believe the critics for a second without reading for yourself. As alway, Chomsky states what is unthinkable in standard circles: that the free market is first of all a lie and second of all a disaster for world economies. A lie, because it is hypocritically championed by the US and Europe, who do not practice a 'free market' at all, except when it serves their interests; and a disaster, based on unending research on the real consequences of opening up Third world economies to foreign investment - leading to a near inevitable decline in wages, rise in unemployment, end of free speech, control by foreign interests, and brutal, usually murderous suppression of the vast majority of the population by the "friends of democracy".
Yes, this sounds like a paranoid left-wing conspiracy theory, especially given that the unending stream of facts presented by Chomsky are almost entirely omitted from mainstream discourse, even in such 'left-leaning' forums as the NY Times and the New Republic. Combine that with Chomsky's biting irony, and it is easy to go up in arms against him as a fringe figure with a "breathtaking ignorance of economics" - or at least the orthodox version of economic theory that so selectively pays attention to the most glaring of facts. It is easy to dismiss as "politics more commonly found on bumper stickers". But these reactions are beyond unfair for such comprehensively researched work - and they tell more about the readers and about the pervasiveness of common myths than about Chomsky's positions, which are always irreproachably humane, no matter how critics may try to claim the contrary, utterly without foundation.
Reading Chomsky will either send up walls of defensiveness in you, or else make you see the world in a different way - more accurately. There are no arguments presented in Year 501 that are not virtually common knowledge to the majority of the planet - everywhere but in the privileged sectors of the First world, where people have a gift for selective blindness. But this is essential reading all the same. I give 4 stars instead of 5 because, like other books by Chomsky, Year 501 could be more accessible than it is. Try one of the interview books for an easier read.
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was reading this on Pearl Harbour Day and... 10 Dec 2004
By Timothy Horrigan - Published on
I happened to be reading this on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks; on the same day my local paper carried a Mallard Fillmore strip which tried to mock the liberal media by having a stereotypical liberal media commentator intoning, "Today the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor. Let's examine how we brought this on ourselves." Amongst many other topics, Chomsky actually does show how we brought Pearl Harbor on ourselves. The "Pacific War" as he calls it was not just an unprovoked act of aggression. The Japanese imperialists, even though (as Chomsky points out) they were every bit as brutal as their white rivals, had an arguably legitimate political goal: that is, they wanted Asia to be ruled by Asians rather than by Europeans.

As others have noted, this is a pwerful, angry and wide-ranging book. As you can see just from the title: "Year 501" refers to the 501st anniversary of Columbus's first voyage, but Chomsky's story ranges all over the globe abd all over history.

If you're like me, you know Chomsky's political works primarily from his extensive collaborations with David Barsamian, which are based on speeches and radio interviews. Chomsky voice is much more fiery when, as he is here, he speaks without Barsamian as a moderator.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Work by a Master Scholar 13 Nov 2003
By Drew Hunkins - Published on
Chomsky's Year 501 is another engrossing work from this erudite and learned treasure and scholar. A good place to start is the concluding chapter as it presents an incredible analysis with an astonishing array of facts and figures relating to the domestic American scene and the conditions that have befallen the average U.S. worker. He brings the same studious approach to this area of inquiry as he's done for the last forty years regarding the international arena and linguistics. Along with Michael Parenti's Democracy For the Few, it's simply some of the best work available on this pressing topic. Deindustrialization, increasing underemployment, rising poverty, the increasing gap between the super rich and middle class, and the business community's relentless assault on unions - Chomsky touches on all these issues. He summarizes these developments by writing that the United States is showing the characteristics of a Third World country by becoming a two-tiered society. That the child poverty rate in New York city is approaching forty percent is just one example of the many nuggets of information a reader can garner from Year 501.

Of course the majority of the book covers an incredible amount of ground pertaining to international politics and economics with particular emphasis on Latin America. As always these passages shine with insight and brilliance while being backed up with rigorous documentation and research. Colonization to neo-imperialism are broached along with the two rip off machines known as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Since he's always refused to punk out to mainstream corporate opinion Chomsky's a somewhat cruel reminder to the orthodox pundits and intellectuals of what intellectual responsibility is truly about. The New Yorker recently ran a hit piece against him; this of course demonstrates that he's still pontificating and writing truths the black-tie cocktail party set refuse to countenance. Year 501 follows in the tradition of a long line of Chomsky books that make the establishmentarians a bit uncomfortable.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read for anyone who has a hard time understanding why 21 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
america wants to be the "Global Policeman". What are we trying to police? Many of his conclusions are really no-brainers for anyone who understands that capitalism and democracy are not the same thing, and that when the two collide (and they have collided often in poor countries where resouces are sucked out by transnational corperations) the U$A always suports the side that pays- evan at the cost of really unspeakable crime against humanity. The devil is in the details and chomskys books are like windows thruogh which you'll stare that devil in the face. Many people cann't bare to look and many others don't want you to.
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