Aaron's Reviews > Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance

Hegemony or Survival by Noam Chomsky
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's review
Jun 19, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: politics

What to conclude about U.S. foreign policy from Chomsky's fierce, eye-opening critique?

Simply put, the policy is to dominate and control the world politically and economically by wielding an unmatched and ever-expanding military power to crush whomever it deems a threat whenever it wants.

Hence, the title: "hegemony" refers to the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy (accelerated by Bush II primarily by way of his doctrine of preemptive war in the aftermath of 9/11) while "survival" refers to the question of whether the human race - threatened by, among other things, the proliferation of nuclear weapons (encouraged by U.S. foreign policy) will, in fact, survive.

There are some who argue Chomsky's prose is dry. I disagree. It is spare, economical and extremely well-organized, attributes that allow nothing to get in the way of the overwhelming evidence he presents of the United States government's arrogance, lies and brutality on the world stage.

From the "preemptive war" doctrine and U.S. support of terror in the Middle East and Latin America to its plans for the militarization of space, Chomsky leaves no room for American leaders' lies (from Kennedy to Reagan to Bush I to Clinton to Bush II) to breathe.

The question, Chomsky seems to be asking, is whether the freedoms the U.S. does allow (to petition your government, to access high-level planning documents, to organize, to speak out, to vote, etc.) will be used by the public to reverse or blunt this hegemonic trajectory.

He finds hope in the possibility, citing certain historic and current popular movements.

I remember reading a little Chomsky back when I was a student at the University of Portland. And I'm glad now to reacquaint myself with his work. His intellect is quite amazing (I'm intrigued by his work in linguistics and his other books on politics, as well as his professorship at MIT, and I plan to further immerse myself in his thinking). He strikes me as a moral and admirable man. Certainly, "Hegemony or Survival" is, at its core, an argument on behalf of morality.

As I read "Hegemony or Survival," I couldn't resist pulling up some speeches by Chomsky posted on the Internet. Among his quotes, this is the one I love the most so far:

"Whenever you hear something said very confidently, the first thing that should come to mind is, wait a minute: Is that true?"

A lot of things are spoken with confidence in America (so, too, in other countries although America seems to have made an entire industry out of bullshit), by leaders in government and business, by people on TV, by parents, etc.

My question is, are enough of us making it a practice to ask the question Chomsky urges us to ask?

I'd like to think so. But I fear otherwise.
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03/13/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim This guy called Guswong's review of Chomsky's 9/11 book: "I am always worried bring this type of book across the boarder." (sic)
That cracked me up.

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