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“It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions - you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.”
Noam Chomsky
“Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”
Noam Chomsky
“Most problems of teaching are not problems of growth but helping cultivate growth. As far as I know, and this is only from personal experience in teaching, I think about ninety percent of the problem in teaching, or maybe ninety-eight percent, is just to help the students get interested. Or what it usually amounts to is to not prevent them from being interested. Typically they come in interested, and the process of education is a way of driving that defect out of their minds. But if children['s] ... normal interest is maintained or even aroused, they can do all kinds of things in ways we don't understand.”
Noam Chomsky
“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”
Noam Chomsky
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
Noam Chomsky
“Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.

Now, it's long been understood very well that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist with whatever suffering and injustice it entails as long as it's possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited: that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage-can. At this stage of history, either one of two things is possible: either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community-interests, guided by values of solidarity and sympathy and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole and, by now, that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena. The question, in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.”
Noam Chomsky
“If you quietly accept and go along no matter what your feelings are, ultimately you internalize what you're saying, because it's too hard to believe one thing and say another. I can see it very strikingly in my own background. Go to any elite university and you are usually speaking to very disciplined people, people who have been selected for obedience. And that makes sense. If you've resisted the temptation to tell the teacher, "You're an asshole," which maybe he or she is, and if you don't say, "That's idiotic," when you get a stupid assignment, you will gradually pass through the required filters. You will end up at a good college and eventually with a good job.”
Noam Chomsky
“It's only terrorism if they do it to us. When we do much worse to them, it's not terrorism.”
Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda
“Our ignorance can be divided into problems and mysteries. When we face a problem, we may not know its solution, but we have insight, increasing knowledge, and an inkling of what we are looking for. When we face a mystery, however, we can only stare in wonder and bewilderment, not knowing what an explanation would even look like.”
Noam Chomsky
“In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued - they may be essential to survival.”
Noam Chomsky
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world. The choice is yours.”
Noam Chomsky
“If it's wrong when they do it, it's wrong when we do it.”
Noam Chomsky
“The death penalty can be tolerated only by extreme statist reactionaries who demand a state that is so powerful that it has the right to kill.”
Noam Chomsky
“If you look at history, even recent history, you see that there is indeed progress. . . . Over time, the cycle is clearly, generally upwards. And it doesn't happen by laws of nature. And it doesn't happen by social laws. . . . It happens as a result of hard work by dedicated people who are willing to look at problems honestly, to look at them without illusions, and to go to work chipping away at them, with no guarantee of success — in fact, with a need for a rather high tolerance for failure along the way, and plenty of disappointments.”
Noam Chomsky
“The key element of social control is the strategy of distraction that is to divert public attention from important issues and changes decided by political and economic elites, through the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.”
Noam Chomsky
“When I was in high school I asked myself at one point: "Why do I care if my high school's team wins the football game? I don't know anybody on the team, they have nothing to do with me... why am I here and applaud? It does not make any sense." But the point is, it does make sense: It's a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority and group cohesion behind leadership elements. In fact it's training in irrational jingoism. That's also a feature of competitive sports.”
Noam Chomsky
“If anybody thinks they should listen to me because I'm a professor at MIT, that's nonsense. You should decide whether something makes sense by its content, not by the letters after the name of the person who says it.”
Noam Chomsky
“The beauty of our system is that it isolates everybody. Each person is sitting alone in front of the tube, you know. It's very hard to have ideas or thoughts under those circumstances. You can't fight the world alone.”
Noam Chomsky
“The number of people killed by the sanctions in Iraq is greater than the total number of people killed by all weapons of mass destruction in all of history.”
Noam Chomsky
“We still name our military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.”
Noam Chomsky, Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations with Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian
“If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”
Noam Chomsky
“People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”
Noam Chomsky
“Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.”
Chomsky, Noam
“In my own professional work I have touched on a variety of different fields. I’ve done work in mathematical linguistics, for example, without any professional credentials in mathematics; in this subject I am completely self-taught, and not very well taught. But I’ve often been invited by universities to speak on mathematical linguistics at mathematics seminars and colloquia. No one has ever asked me whether I have the appropriate credentials to speak on these subjects; the mathematicians couldn’t care less. What they want to know is what I have to say. No one has ever objected to my right to speak, asking whether I have a doctor’s degree in mathematics, or whether I have taken advanced courses in the subject. That would never have entered their minds. They want to know whether I am right or wrong, whether the subject is interesting or not, whether better approaches are possible… the discussion dealt with the subject, not with my right to discuss it.
But on the other hand, in discussion or debate concerning social issues or American foreign policy…. The issue is constantly raised, often with considerable venom. I’ve repeatedly been challenged on grounds of credentials, or asked, what special training do I have that entitles you to speak on these matters. The assumption is that people like me, who are outsiders from a professional viewpoint, are not entitled to speak on such things.
Compare mathematics and the political sciences… it’s quite striking. In mathematics, in physics, people are concerned with what you say, not with your certification. But in order to speak about social reality, you must have the proper credentials, particularly if you depart from the accepted framework of thinking. Generally speaking, it seems fair to say that the richer the intellectual substance of a field, the less there is a concern for credentials, and the greater is the concern for content.”
Noam Chomsky
“Hamas is regularly described as 'Iranian-backed Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.' One will be hard put to find something like 'democratically elected Hamas, which has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus'—blocked for over 30 years by the US and Israel. All true, but not a useful contribution to the Party Line, hence dispensable.”
Noam Chomsky, Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians
“Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.”
Noam Chomsky
“The very design of neoliberal principles is a direct attack on democracy.”
Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects
“No honest journalist should be willing to describe himself or herself as 'embedded.' To say, 'I'm an embedded journalist' is to say, 'I'm a government Propagandist.”
Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on the Post-9/11 World
“The kind of work that should be the main part of life is the kind of work you would want to do if you weren't being paid for it. It's work that comes out of your own internal needs, interests and concerns.”
Noam Chomsky
“We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders.”
Noam Chomsky, 9-11

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