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Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy

a book by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

(our site's book review)

The Current System Cannot Possibly Cope with What Awaits Tomorrow

The Amazon blurb says In a compelling new set of interviews, Noam Chomsky identifies the “dry kindling” of discontent around the world that could soon catch fire.

In wide-ranging discussions with David Barsamian, his longtime interlocutor, Noam Chomsky asks us to consider “the world we are leaving to our grandchildren”: one imperiled by climate change and the growing potential for nuclear war. If the current system is incapable of dealing with these threats, he argues, it’s up to us to radically change it.

These twelve interviews examine the latest developments around the globe: the rise of ISIS, the reach of state surveillance, growing anger over economic inequality, conflicts in the Middle East, and the presidency of Donald Trump. In personal reflections on his Philadelphia childhood, Chomsky also describes his own intellectual journey and the development of his uncompromising stance as America’s premier dissident intellectual.

And Goodreads says Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy is an essential guide to geopolitics and how to fight back, from the world's leading public intellectual. From escalating climate change to the devastation in Syria, pandemic state surveillance to looming nuclear war, Noam Chomsky takes stock of the world today. Over the course of ten conversations with long-time collaborator David Barsamian, spanning 2013-2016, Chomsky argues in favor of radical changes to a system that cannot possibly cope with what awaits tomorrow.

Interwoven with personal reflections spanning from childhood to his eighth decade of life, Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy also marks out Chomsky's own intellectual journey, mapping his progress to revolutionary ideas and global prominence.

Most people know that Trump's Make America Great Again is Orwellian doublespeak for Make American Oligarchs Even Richer Again
Most people know that Trump's Make America Great Again is Orwellian doublespeak for Make American Oligarchs Even Richer Again


Chomsky tackles the Trump presidency—with its wrecking ball being wielded by the newly empowered Republican Party who love exploiting the fact the citizens as a whole have their heads up their butts
Chomsky tackles the Trump presidency—with its wrecking ball being wielded by the newly empowered Republican Party who love exploiting the fact the citizens as a whole have their heads up their butts

Trump's Presidency Is a Wrecking Ball Wielded by the Newly Empowered Republican Right-Wing Radicals

Aiming at low-hanging fruit, Chomsky tackles the Trump presidency—with its wrecking ball being wielded by the newly empowered Republican Party, the rise of ISIS, North Korea, and Bernie Sanders. Sanders is an interesting discussion of the idea of revolution in American politics. Trump's "Make America Great" slogan is laughable. Chomsky believes what made America great was not the mythical 1950s image that the right has today but the sense of community and helping. See Why Do We Need Communities? and Community.

The U.S. is bouyed always by a sense of Might Makes Right, although its actions keep demonstrating that Might Makes Stupid
The U.S. is bouyed always by a sense of Might Makes Right, although its actions keep demonstrating that Might Makes Stupid

The U.S. is sowing the seeds of hate in the poor both at home and around the world. But it seems not to care, bouyed always by a sense of Might Makes Right, although its actions keep demonstrating that Might Makes Stupid.

Perhaps the largest threat Chomsky sees is the threat of climate change and the war by Koch, Trump, and the oil industry to stop government precautions and regulations. When Trump's hotels are under water, will they be using diving equipment to get to their rooms? And how do you put a mint on a pillow when it keeps floating away?

"In a dozen interviews, the perennial provocateur discusses state surveillance, the Islamic State group, income inequality, fearmongering, the Middle East, voting, and the importance of organizing to effect change. 'If a technology is available,' he writes, 'a system of power is going to make use of it.' [and try to own it, control it, monetize it, and exploit it]" (Source: GLOBAL DISCONTENTS: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, KIRKUS REVIEW)

"Chomsky speaks with his characteristic matter-of-factness about pressing issues, including climate change, the Trump presidency, and democracy. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may have 'wrapped his proposals in spreadsheets so they would look wonkish to commentators,' but they amount, Chomsky says, to effectively ending the federal government." (Source: Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, Publishers Weekly)


Drones Were at First Used for Surveillance, but Later, They Were Used for Murder

Hellfire missile fired from Predator Drone: used in suspected terrorist assassination, and soon to be used by the FBI to deal with annoying suspects
Hellfire missile fired from Predator Drone: used in suspected terrorist assassination, and soon to be used by the FBI to deal with annoying suspects


Both Dubya and OBomb'em loved to murder anyone they didn't like the looks of—kind of like Ceasar doing thumbs-down on a fallen gradiator; the only question is: who made these bozos gods?
Both Dubya and OBomb'em loved to murder anyone they didn't like the looks of—kind of like Ceasar doing thumbs-down on a fallen gradiator; the only question is: who made these bozos gods?

"Just like with drones. Another recent admission, hardly a surprise, is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been using drones for surveillance. You use them against those you designate as enemies, and you very quickly adapt the same technology at home. And there’s more to come. For years, the military and the security system in general have been trying to develop fly-sized drones, which can get into your living room to see and record everything that’s happening. The robotics labs have gotten to the point where they’re about ready to deliver this technology. If you look abroad, drones were at first used for surveillance. Later, they were used for murder. And we can expect that domestically, too. If there is a suspect, maybe a person with the wrong idea, . . . maybe you can murder him with a drone. We can expect that.," says Chomsky. "But the whole idea of drone strikes is outrageous. It’s pure terrorism on a scale that Al Qaeda couldn’t dream of. Furthermore, this campaign is generating terrorists—and is known to be doing so. The highest-level officials and commentators have pointed out that these attacks are creating potential terrorists." (Source: Noam Chomsky: Global Discontents and the Rising Threats to Democracy, The American Empire Project)

The U.S. drone assassination program is nothing but a terrorist factory. Kill one terrorist, create 10 more—these are angry friends and relatives of the deceased who run off to join ISIS
The U.S. drone assassination program is nothing but a terrorist factory. Kill one terrorist, create 10 more—these are angry friends and relatives of the deceased who run off to join ISIS


Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!
Fly #353242252 reporting: Citizen #312,756,972 doesn't seem to be hiding a thing—my conclusion is that she's clean; but just to be sure I think I'll hang around a bit longer!

With regards to Edward Snowden's surveillance revelations, Chomsky says "The technology is available. You can use it for making money, and you can use it for controlling people’s attitudes and beliefs, directing them toward what you want them to do. So they do. . . . [the U.S. used in the Philippeans] the most advanced intelligence-gathering and surveillance techniques of the day—not our technology but what you had a century ago—to sow distrust, confusion, and antagonisms, standard devices of counterinsurgency. . . . The Woodrow Wilson administration used them in their Red Scare [a few years later]. That’s how it works."

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden

Security cameras, surveillance of your financial transactions, radio frequency spy chips hidden in consumer products, tracking of your Internet searches, and eavesdropping on your e-mail and phone calls. Without your knowledge or consent, every aspect of your life is observed and recorded. But who is watching the watchers?

By 2008, the idea of communications privacy in the United States had literally become a joke—our government watches your every move
By 2008, the idea of communications privacy in the United States had literally become a joke—our government watches your every move


Security cameras watch you everywhere—apparently not only Santa is checking whether you're naughty or nice
Security cameras watch you everywhere—apparently not only Santa is checking whether you're naughty or nice

Chomsky "I Really Didn’t Expect Very Much from Obama—It Was Pretty Clear That His Campaign Was Smoke and Mirrors"

"Obama extended enormously some of the more harmful and, in fact, criminal aspects of Bush’s programs. . . . But he extended other programs, like the drone program. Right away. And we should remember that this is an international terrorist campaign—the world’s leading international terrorist campaign." See The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama.

Obama promised no tricks, no smoke and mirrors—but it was a lie
Obama promised no tricks, no smoke and mirrors—but it was a lie. "I really didn’t expect very much from Obama. It was pretty clear that his campaign was smoke and mirrors. . . . about a quarter [of the U.S. citizens] think maybe he’s the Antichrist"—Noam Chomsky

In 2008, Barack Obama made a promise to have the “most transparent administration” of any U.S. president; it was the very cornerstone of his campaign. No secrets. No masks. No smoke and mirrors. No excuses. But over the next four years, President Obama’s administration would prove to be one of the most guarded and duplicitous of our time, with coverups, smearing reporters, jailing whistleblowers, dirty secrets. He turned out to be exactly the opposite of what he promised he'd be. Imagine that: a politician who lies! See Clean House: Exposing Our Government's Secrets and Lies.

Obama turned out to be exactly the opposite of what he promised he'd be. Imagine that: a politician who lies!
Obama turned out to be exactly the opposite of what he promised he'd be. Imagine that: a politician who lies!

The Washington Times reported that Obama increased the U.S. Debt to $20 trillion. Obama has doubled the U.S. debt load and set records every year for debt increases during his Presidency.

national debt

Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo

The government of the U.S. is deliberately undermining security, and creating a terrorist threat beyond any that exists. How can we not roll on the floor laughing when they say we have to have surveillance to promote security? See Shadow Government: How the Secret Global Elite Is Using Surveillance Against You and Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Something was terribly wrong and yet voting for someone else solved nothing—people voted for Obama because they were so sick of Bush's wars, but Obama lied to us all and expanded the war. Even the high court stabbed the citizens in the back, rubber-stamping rule of the U.S. by the corporatocracy with the Citizens United case. Both dead bodies and wrecked live bodies were returning from the immoral Bush/Obama wars, and veterans benefits were few and far between. Finally, Snowden told us about NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens and we learned privacy was a dim memory—all but dead. There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out.


There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out—the shadow government had pitched the ultimate curve ball which was impossible to hit
There was no joy in Mudville, folks—the U.S. citizens had struck out—the shadow government had pitched the ultimate curve ball which was impossible to hit

The Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations Were Ignored by Wall Street and by the Propaganda-Controlled Press

The citizens were now very angry, so they launched the Occupy Wall Street demonstration and were ignored by Wall Street and by shadow-government-controlled press as well. Those in charge didn't give a damn about the feelings of the exploited masses. But they also needed to ensure that the citizens didn't get any bright ideas about doing something about all this corruption of government and democracy. They did not want any of the sheep turning into wolves. So what did they do? They launched obscenely expanded U.S. intelligence operations, and they raised the levels of spying on innocent U.S. citizens by the NSA.


Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano

What changed after the heartfelt, sincere Occupy Wall Street protests where we were telling the powers-that-be that their transference of wealth from the 99% to the 1% was getting sickeningly unfair? Nothing. Who listened? Only others of us 99%ers. Not a single 1%er even bothered to glance in the protesters direction.

'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'

It turned out that even though the government has told us all the NSA spying was to protect us and prevent "terrorism," the citizens were getting suspicious—about everything. About 9/11 and how that led to a trumped-up War on Terror which then led to the oligarchs creating a national security state to "protect us," although the evidence shows the NSA hasn't protected anyone or caught any terrorist plots. But it has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution too. See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.

The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution
The NSA has oppressed various U.S. citizens and violated their rights, and in so doing it might as well have burned the Constitution

Elite Robbery of Non-Elites Continued under Trump, But Speeded Up

There is a term known as populism. It refers to the flood of dissatisfaction, anger, and contempt for institutions which has accompanied the neoliberal assault of the past generation. It is a phenomenon which led to stagnation for the majority concomitant with an immense concentration of wealth in the hands of a few elites. Trump promised to drain the swamp, but, once in office, he illustrated how fake his “populism” is by quickly ensuring that the worst elements of the elite establishment would be firmly established in power in this fetid, corrupt swamp.

The neoliberal assault which had been robbing the nonrich to stuff the money bins of the oligarchs continued under Trump without missing a beat, but it sped up mercilessly
The neoliberal assault which had been robbing the nonrich to stuff the money bins of the oligarchs continued under Trump without missing a beat, but it sped up mercilessly

The public gave the finger to Hillary, an obvious elitist representing the elites, by electing Trump, a narcissistic oligarch not known to represent anything but Donald Trump. The neoliberal assault which had been robbing the nonrich to stuff the money bins of the oligarchs continued under Trump without missing a beat, but it sped up mercilessly. He is not too polished at claiming to lower taxes on the nonrich while in reality lowering them on the rich, but Republicans decided to believe him while not a single Democrat did.


Trump Promised Swamp Draining, But Once in Office He Quickly Entrenched the Swamp's Elites Deeper into Their Corrupt Swamp

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but once in office he illustrated how fake his populism was by quickly entrenching the swamp's elites in their corrupt swamp
Trump promised to drain the swamp, but once in office he illustrated how fake his populism was by quickly entrenching the swamp's elites in their corrupt swamp

Chomsky Advises We Accept North Korea's Offer to Freeze Its Nuclear and Missile Programs

With the U.S. running all over the world attacking anything that moves, like a bull in a china shop, it is inevitable that North Korea will keep expanding its WMD deterrent so hell will truly break out if the U.S. attacks them. South Korea would pay a huge price since North Korea has huge stockpiles of nonnuclear weapons pointed at Seoul as well as nukes. They calculate that a U.S. attack would be nonnuclear, since China has threatened to aid their North Korean buddy if we attack them and no one wants to irradiate the region. Through assertive military exercises and statements, Beijing has warned repeatedly that it could defend North Korea if it is attacked by the United States. Chomsky advises we accept North Korea's offer to freeze its nuclear and missile programs. The proposal got rejected by Washington because it includes a quid pro quo: that the United States halts its threatening military exercises on North Korea’s borders, including simulated nuclear-bombing attacks by B-52s.

With the U.S. running all over the world attacking anything that moves, like a like a bull in a china shop, it is inevitable that North Korea will keep expanding its WMD deterrent so hell will truly break out if the U.S. attacks them
With the U.S. running all over the world attacking anything that moves, like a like a bull in a china shop, it is inevitable that North Korea will keep expanding its WMD deterrent so hell will truly break out if the U.S. attacks them


Trump calls Kim Jong-Un 'little rocket man' but the North Korean leader acts impulsive and unpredicable to keep all potential invaders afraid to act
Trump calls Kim Jong-Un 'little rocket man' but the North Korean leader acts impulsive and unpredicable to keep all potential invaders afraid to act

Chomsky Sees No Evidence of Conspiracies But Shadow Government Realities Are Not Necessarily "Conspiracies"—Let's Call Them "Realities"

Chomsky sees little evidence that there is a secret “deep state” conspiracy. We don't see any conspiracy as a necessary part of the Shadow Government structure, but there is no question that elites are running most important decisions behind the scenes, just like the Founders said they wanted them to do back when the nation was being founded. Remember that absense of evidence is not evidence of absense.

Who are the deep state runners isn't as important as the reality of our fake democracy being run as a puppet government by corporatocracy bigwigs of the neocon, elite, and oligarch type
Who are the deep state runners isn't as important as the reality of our fake democracy being run as a puppet government by corporatocracy bigwigs of the neocon, elite, and oligarch type


Conspiracy
Conspiracy

The shadow government, a.k.a. the deep state, a.k.a. the Corporate Security State, is without a doubt composed of some combination of neocons, elites, and oligarchs. The "who" isn't as important as the reality of our fake democracy being run as a puppet government by corporatocracy bigwigs of the neocon, elite, and oligarch type. Chomsky's books, such as Who Rules the World?, indicate that empire building elite neocons push the U.S. and its leaders into wars they cannot afford and that make no sense without factoring in the shadowy figures behind the curtains, since assuming our ELECTED leaders are coming up with all this imperialist bull-in-a-china-shop hegemonic craziness is silly. People want wealth and power, unelected neocon elite oligarchs more than most, and the wonderful Chomsky book Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power lays it out with brilliance and amazing clarity and completeness.

The actions of the U.S. are foolish and nonsensical without factoring in the shadowy figures behind the curtains
The actions of the U.S. are foolish and nonsensical without factoring in the shadowy figures behind the curtains

Other Shadow Government Perspectives

Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar
Various authors see the shadow government from various perspectives—like the blind men and the elephant, but the overall gist is creepily similar