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Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

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In his first major book on the subject of income inequality, Noam Chomsky skewers the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism and casts a clear, cold, patient eye on the economic facts of life. What are the ten principles of concentration of wealth and power at work in America today? They're simple enough: reduce democracy, shape ideology, redesign the economy, shift the burden onto the poor and middle classes, attack the solidarity of the people, let special interests run the regulators, engineer election results, use fear and the power of the state to keep the rabble in line, manufacture consent, marginalize the population. In Requiem for the American Dream , Chomsky devotes a chapter to each of these ten principles, and adds readings from some of the core texts that have influenced his thinking to bolster his argument.

To create Requiem for the American Dream , Chomsky and his editors, the filmmakers Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott, spent countless hours together over the course of five years, from 2011 to 2016. After the release of the film version, Chomsky and the editors returned to the many hours of tape and transcript and created a document that included three times as much text as was used in the film. The book that has resulted is nonetheless arguably the most succinct and tightly woven of Chomsky's long career, a beautiful vessel--including old-fashioned ligatures in the typeface--in which to carry Chomsky's bold and uncompromising vision, his perspective on the economic reality and its impact on our political and moral well-being as a nation.

"During the Great Depression, which I'm old enough to remember, it was bad–much worse subjectively than today. But there was a sense that we'll get out of this somehow, an expectation that things were going to get better . . ." —from  Requiem for the American Dream

192 pages, Paperback

First published March 28, 2017

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About the author

Noam Chomsky

988 books14.3k followers
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, in which he challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of behavior and language dominant in the 1950s. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has affected the philosophy of language and mind. He is also credited with the establishment of the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power. Beginning with his critique of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Chomsky has become more widely known for his media criticism and political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980–1992 time period, and was the eighth-most cited scholar in any time period.

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Profile Image for Genevieve.
52 reviews10 followers
August 22, 2017
Essential reading for anyone preferring to be an informed member of the electorate, a participant in democracy rather than a spectator of extravaganza and or an uninformed consumer making irrational choices (by design) that lead to a trapping by debt. A sober but necessary accounting of the way things are now and the uber wealthy powers that be ("masters of mankind") linked to key events and (deliberate) trends that made our current landscape a reality. This, along with important history to remind us of the validity of and high stakes for a much bigger expectation/demand by the public and of the organizing successes of the Labor movement + our very real power when we are (informed) mobilized and committed, makes for an accessible, effective primer to cultivating activism as a way of life (rather than a temporary reaction to a single candidate or President).

I appreciate particularly how this knowledge pierces sharply any remaining illusions sold to me (us) of what a "proper" life ought to include (mass commodities) by elucidating in detail the larger motivations, which include anesthetizing an otherwise powerful majority of We-the-People. We who, void of the spectacle + advertising vying through every medium every minute of the day for our energy and attention (so as to exhaust them) and our $$ (so as to trap us by debt), inherently know what truly matters: taking care of each other and our planet.
I personally see no greater reason for prioritizing and or recommitting to a life of participatory democracy, a truly meaningful life.

From the book, here is a quote + Audible clip from the chapter called Principle No. 9, Manufacturing Consent:
"One of the first major, modern studies of the nature of government was by David Hume, a great philosopher and political philosopher, as well. He wrote on what he called, 'The Foundations of the Theory of Government', and one thing he pointed out was that in every state no matter what type, whether it's futile, militaristic, whatever it was, power is in the hands of the governed. They can, if they get together, take power. As long as they can be made to feel that they don't have power, then the powerful can rule. But if they come to understand that they DO have power, then repressive and authoritarian governments alike will collapse."
Audible clip: http://a.co/caybSqK

"What matters is the countless small deeds of unknown people who lay the basis for the significant events that enter history. They're the ones who've done things in the past. They're the ones who'll have to do it in the future."
- Howard Zinn (longtime friend of Chomsky)

Here is an interview with Noam Chomsky by Ralph Nader featuring a shorter version of this book for those who may be interested:
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,975 followers
November 23, 2020
When it comes to sussing out the state of our world and all the factors that contribute to where we've wound up, I'm not a slouch. I've read hundreds of books and have followed so much news and have discovered, again and again, that Noam Chomsky *Knows His Shit*.

Just from the standpoint that he has also been one of those intellectuals with a fantastic memory, unimpeachable logic, and a burning heart, I should mention that he should be read just because he cares.

The title of this book is pretty inflammatory, no? But my advice is this: read it for the information within. I've read a lot of books that back up each of these concise points in vast detail.

So why should anyone read THIS particular book, though?

Because it's diamond-sharp, doesn't waste a single second of time getting to the point, and it IS based on facts. It should come as no surprise that almost everyone is getting disenfranchised while the rich and powerful are getting more rich and powerful by the second. If you want to get that breakdown in a very short period of time, you would do much worse than to consider this a brilliant primer.

Get your foot in the door.

It's not like the world is getting better. Don't fall for PR or pyrrhic victories. The causes of our problems are still here. We need to understand the problems before we can cure them, and no amount of palliative care is worth the time.
Profile Image for Amr Mohamed.
843 reviews375 followers
October 23, 2018
يقول تشومسكي: أنا مسن كفاية لأتذكر فترة الكساد الكبير فى أمريكا وكان أغلب عائلتي عمال وعاطلين عن العمل الوضع كان سيئاً عن الأن ولكن كان يوجد أمل وتوقعات بأن الأمور سوف تتحسن ولا يوجد مثل هذا الأمل اليوم
التفاوت الطبقي اليوم وصل حداً لا سابق له فى تاريخ أمريكا ومصدر هذا التفاوت يأتي من تمركز الثروة فى يد أقل من واحد فى المئة من عدد السكان وهذا التفاوت وعدم المساواة خلق تبعيات سلبية جدا على المجتمع ككل وتأثير على الديمقراطية

كان فى الماضي الحلم الأمريكي تولد فقيرا ، تعمل جاهداً ، تصبح غنياً ، كان من الممكن ان العامل أن يحصل على وظيفة جيدة ، منزل وسيارة يوصل أولاده للمدرسة ...كل هذا قد انهار

المبادئ العشرة لتركيز المال والثروة

تركيز الثروة يؤدي الى تركيز السلطة وبصفة خاصة عندما ترتفع تكلفة الانتخابات ، مما يجبر الأحزاب السياسية والمرشحين بمد أيديهم للمؤسسات الكبري ورجال الثروة فتقوم السلطة التشريعية بالمقابل باعتماد تشريعات قانوينة تساعد فى تركيز الثروة في يد هؤلاء وذلك ما نعيشه ونشاهده تلك الحلقة المفرغة

المبدأ الأول : تقليص دور الديمقراطية

كتب أدم سميث فى كتابه ثروة الأمم عام 1776 أن العماد الهندسي الذي تقوم عليه السياسة هم الناس الذين يمتكلون المجتمع وهم فى ذلك الوقت التجّار والمصنعين وهم حريصون لعمل أى شئ للحفاظ على أن تكون مصالحهم فى المقام الأول حتى لو كان ذلك الاهتمام ظالماً وضد مصالح السكان ، ولكن على ايامنا ليسوا التجار والمصنعين بل هم المؤسسات المالية والشركات المتعددة الجنسيات ، وهؤلاء من سماهم ادم سميث أسياد البشر

وتلك كانت بداية التأسيس فى أمريكا فالدستور تم صياغته لمنع الديمقراطية فجيمس ماديسون المشّرع الأول كان من أكثر الناس المؤمنين بالديمقراطية ومع ذلك شعر أن نظام الولايات المتحدة يجب ان يصمم لتكون السلطة بيد الأثرياء لأنهم هم أكثر الرجال مسئولية ولذلك تم وضع اغلب السلطة بيد أعضاء مجلس الشيوخ والذي لم يكن يتم انتخابهم فى ذلك الوقت ، كان يتم اختيارهم من الأثرياء

وإذا قراءت نقاشات صياغة الدستور فكان اهتمام ماديسون الأول أنه يجب حماية الأقلية المترفة من الأغلبية وقال افتراض أنه اذا تم السماح لكل شخص لينتخب بحرية فسيجتمع أغلبية الفقراء لسلب أموال الأغنياء
أرسطو قال ذلك فى كتابه المشهور السياسة ولكن كان عنده حل مختلف بدل من تقليل دور الديمقراطية قال ارسطو الحل بتقليل الفوارق الطبقية

المبدأ الثاني : تشكيل الايدلوجيا

كرد فعل على حركة الستينات والمظاهرات المعارضة للحرب والمطالبة بالمساواة فى كل الحقوق فمنذ بداية السبعينات كانت هناك هجوم من قطاع الأعمال على كل جهود المطالبة بالمساواة
فثلا فى مذكرة باول الشهيرة التي تم ارسالها للغرفة التجارية يحذرهم فيها أنهم يفقدون السيطرة على المجتمع وأنه يتحتم عمل شئ لايقاف ذلك ويكتب ذلك الكلام فى صيغة الدفاع بأنه يوجد قوي خارجية تواجه الاقتصاد الأمريكي

ولكن اذا نظرت تجد ان الهدف هو النداء للشركات من أجل السيطرة على الموارد ولشن هجوم مضاد لكسر هذه الموجة الديمقراطية
القلق كان من العامة الذين قد بدأوا التنظيم والدخول فى مجال السياسة وهذا يفرض ضغوط كثيرة على الدولة لذلك يجب تشكيل الوعي للعودة لكا كانوا عليه سابقا والابتعاد عن السياسة وكان من رأيهم ان السبب فى ذلك فشل المدارس والجامعات والكنائس فى تلقين الشباب

المبدأ الثالث : إعادة تصميم النظام الاقتصادي

كانت الجهود لتعظيم دور المؤسسات المالية مثل البنوك وشركات التأمين والاستثمار ، ففى نهاية عام 2007 قبل الأزمة العالمية كانت تلك المؤسسات يملكون 40% من أرباح الشركات

كان سابقاً الاقتصاد الأمريكي يعتمد بشكل كبير على الإنتاج فكانت الولايات أكبر مركز للإنتاج وكان دور المؤسسات المالية قليلا وقتها ، فالمؤسسات المالية ليس لها دور مهم للاقتصاد ..مثلا فى السبيعينات كانت جنرال اليكتريك كانت تجني أرباح أكثر عن طريق التلاعب بالأموال أكثر من جنيها عن طريق الإنتاج
ومن هنا تأتي الاشكالية التى تسمي بـ Finalize the econmy
والنتيجة الحتمية لهذه السياسة هي نقل الإنتاج خارج البلاد وابقاء العمال فى حالة تنافس ودائما يكونوا العمال غير مؤمنين وايضا أدي الى تقليل الدخل للعمال

المبدأ الرابع : نقل العبء

كان فى الخمسينات والستينات الضرائب على الاثرياء عالية جدا والضرائب على الأرباح والشركات كان أعلي ، تمت اعادة النظام الضرائبي لتقل الضرائب على الأثرياء ونقل جزء كبير منها على بقية السكان فالأن التحول لابقاء الضرائب على الدخل والاستهلاك والتى يدفعها الجميع وليس فقط على الأرباح التى يدفعها الأغنياء
وطبعا هناك حجة لذلك فالحجة هى زيادة الاستثمار والوظائف ولا يوجد دليل على صحة هذا الكلام
الشركات الأرميكية نقلت عبء اعانة المجتمع لبقية السكان

المبدأ الخامس : الهجوم على التكافل الاجتماعي

من وجهة نظر السادة يجب أن تفكر بنفسك وليس بالأخرين فلا تهتم بأي شخص ، تطلب الأمر جهدا كبيرا لخروج تلك المبادئ والعواطف الانسانية من عقول الناس
لذلك يجب الهجوم علي التأمين الاجتماعي والمدارس العامة وقطع التمويل عنها فأنها الطريقة المتبع لخصخصة أى نظام

المبدأ السادس : إدراة الأجهزة التنظيمية

اذا اطلعت على تاريخ التنظيمات مثل تنظيم السكة الحديد او التنظيمات المالية وما الى ذلك ستجد انه من الشائع ان من لقن مبادئهم نفس التكتلات الاقتصادية التى تدعم تلك التنظيمات لأنهم يعلمون أنه عاجلا أو أجلا سيتمكنون من قيادة الجهات التنظيمية
بهذا يستطيع النشاط المراد تنظيمه إدارة الجهات التنظيمية المشرفة عليه لذلك نصل الى ان جماعات الضغط المالي (اللوبي) هو من يتحكم بالتنظيمات المالية ومنذ السبعينات رجال المال والأعمال انشئوا جماعات الضغط لمحاولة السيطرة على تشريع القوانين

فمثلا كان هناك ايام نكسون تشريعات لحماية المستهلك و60 تشريع لسلامة وصحة العامل بعدها بدأت اللوبي او جماعات الضغط السياسي للتخلص من تلك القيود التنظيمية وايضا نجد ذلك فى أزمة عام 2008 فالحكومة تطالب دافعي الضرائب إنقاذ المؤسسات المالية التى تسببت أصلا فى الأزمة المالية

فالموؤسسات التى تسبب بكارثة اقتصادية يتم أخذ رأيهم ولكن بالنسبة للفقراء تقول الحكومة ��جب ان ندع السوق هو المتحكم ولا ننقذ هؤلاء الفقراء فنجد قوانين للأغنياء وعكسها للفقراء

المبدأ السابع هندسة الانتخابات

كما قلنا ان تركيز الثروة يؤدي الى تركيز السلطة السياسية خصوصا عند ارتف��ع تكلفة الانتخابات
ففى قضية سيتزنز يوناتيد عام 2009 أقرت المحكمة العليا قرار مهم جدا ولكن لها تاريخ فالتعديل الرابع عشر يحتوي على مادة نصها لا يمكن حرمان اي شخص من حقوقه بدون عملية قانونية مناسبة وكان الهدف منها حماية الأفراد وخصوصا العبيد المحرر ولكنها لم تستخدم لذلك الهدف ولكن استخدمت لحماية مؤسسات رجال الأعمال

منذ السبعينات اعتبر المال نوع من انواع حرية التعبير فتم اعتبار تلك المؤسسات كأنها فرد ولذلك كان قرار المحكمة ان المؤسسات والشركات من حقها ان تصرف أموالها بأي شكل بدون رقابة مثل المؤسسات الصحفية التى تنشر رأيها بحرية
ومع أنه طبقا للتعديل لا يمكن حرمان أي أجنبي لا يحمل وثائق من حقوقه لو كان شخصاً فنجد الأجانب الذين يعيشون هنا بدون أوراق ثبوتيه يشيدون منازلنا والطرق وينظفون حدائقنا فهم ليسوا أشخاصا لهم حقوق ولكن شركة جنرال موترز هي شخص بل وفائق القوة والقدرة

المبدأ الثامن : سيطر على الرعاع

القوة العمالية هم الجهة التى رغم نقائصها كانت فى صدارة الجهود لتحسين المجتمع وجدارا مانعا فى وجه طغيان الشركات لذلك كان سبب الهجوم على النقابات هو دور تلك النقابات فى نشر الديمقراطية وجدار عازل لحماية العامل والحقوق الشعبية وذلك ما يتعارض مع من يملكون زمام أمور المجتمع ومصالح السلطة والمال لذلك حارب قانون حرية انشاء النقابات وإلغي الوعي عند العمال

المبدأ التاسع : صنع الرضا

يجب تغيير معتقدات العامة وتوجهاتهم وخلق احتياجات استهلاكية وجعل تلك الاحتياجات هي جوهر حياتهم مثل استهلاك الموضة واي استهلاك أخر حتي نلهيهم عنّا وعن احتياجاتهم الحقيقة فيجب وضع العامة فى أماكنهم حتي يقدر المسئولين على اتخاذ القرار بدون ازعاج منهم ويكونوا فى نفس الوقت راضين ..ايضا الاستهلاك التسويقي يساعد فى الغاء الوعي فنذهب للتسوق بدلا مثلا من الذهاب للمكتبة

المبدأ العاشر : تهميش السكان

عالم السياسة مارتن غيلنر فى دراسته قال ان سبعين بالمئة من السكان ليس لديهم أى تأثير على السياسة ويدرك السكان ذلك مما يؤدى شعب غاضب ومحبط ويكره المؤسسات ، هناك تعبئة شعبية ونشاط عام ولكن فى اتجاهات مدمرة جدا للذات وتاخذ شكلا من الغضب غير المركز تهاجم بعضها وتصوب على الأهداف الضعيفة ويؤدي ذلك الى تأكل العلاقات الاجتماعية ولكن هذا هو الهدف
الهدف هو جعل الناس يكرهون ويخشون بعضهم ويهتموا بأنفسهم ولا يعيرون اهتمام للأخرين

ملحوظة : انا شاهدت فيديو لتشومسكي بمحتوي الكتاب.. ومترجم فالشكر لمن ترجم هذا الفيديو القيم
لينك للفيديو
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,016 reviews364 followers
May 10, 2020
O Funeral do Sonho

Os Alicerces do Sonho:

“«somos extremamente pobres, mas trabalharemos arduamente e encontraremos uma saída», o que, até certo ponto, foi verdade.”

Os Coveiros do Sonho:

“os principais arquitetos da política são os proprietários da sociedade — são as instituições financeiras e as empresas multinacionais — as pessoas que Adam Smith designou por «senhores da humanidade», e que se regem pela «vil máxima»: «Tudo para nós, nada para os demais.» E o seu papel resume-se ao desígnio de conseguir a implementação de políticas que os beneficiem e prejudiquem todos os outros.”

O Sonho Americano está morto ☠️💀 ☠️ e Noam Chomsky dedicou-lhe este Requiem...
Profile Image for Mal Warwick.
Author 29 books404 followers
April 18, 2017
For decades, economic scholars have commented on the dangers inherent in the growing concentration of wealth in Western society. Though misleadingly referred to as “income inequality” in the new media, this critically important topic actively entered public debate in 2011 with Occupy Wall Street. Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman and others added to the debate in the years that followed. Then, Senator Bernie Sanders flogged the issue at every opportunity in his presidential race in 2016, giving the issue further prominence. If there’s anyone alive and alert in America today who isn’t aware that the concentration of wealth is a growing problem for our society, I’d be surprised.

Few contemporary American observers have a clearer-headed understanding of the issue and its causes than Noam Chomsky. Chomsky, born in 1928, is widely regarded as the father of modern linguistics and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He’s also well known—some might say notorious—as an activist and social commentator. He has written dozens of books on the technical aspects of his academic work, and even more on politics. But his latest, Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, is not a book he wrote.

Instead, the book was distilled from a 2015 film of the same name, a documentary patched together using interviews filmed over four years with Chomsky. Unlike the books he has written, most of which are slow going and many (the texts on linguistics, impenetrable), Requiem consists entirely of transcriptions from the spoken word. The style is conversational and uses only a bare minimum of jargon. It’s a quick read, and an enlightening one.

As Chomsky notes, “Power has become so concentrated that not only are the banks ‘too big to fail,’ but as one economist put it, they are also ‘too big to jail.'” Given our experience over the past decade, it would be difficult to argue with that. And anyone who closely follows events in American society today would say the same about this observation by Chomsky: “the rich and powerful, they don’t want a capitalist system. They want to be able to run to the ‘nanny state’ as soon as they’re in trouble, and get bailed out by the taxpayer.” If the American people fully understood how much tax money is funneled to corporations as subsidies, and how much the tax code has been distorted to favor them and their shareholders, they would storm Washington DC by the millions.

In Requiem, Chomsky presents ten “principles” that together explain how the massive concentration of wealth in America today has come about. (His analysis applies to other wealthy countries as well, but it fits the U.S. best.) His argument is best summed up as what he calls a vicious circle: “Concentration of wealth yields concentration of power, particularly so as the cost of elections skyrockets, which forces the political parties even more deeply into the pockets of major corporations.”

The 10 principles underlying this reality, as Chomsky sees them, are:

Reduce Democracy
Shape Ideology
Redesign the Economy
Shift the Burden
Attack Solidarity
Run the Regulators
Engineer Elections
Keep the Rabble in Line
Manufacture Consent
Marginalize the Population

I’ve never seen a more comprehensive or economical explanation of how wealth has come to be so concentrated in so few hands in the U.S. today. Most of these principles are self-evident at a glance. Only two may require explanation. Chomsky uses the word “solidarity” as a synonym for empathy, caring for others, or “concern for your fellow man,” to cite another archaic expression. His Principle #8, “Keep the Rabble in Line,” refers to the coordinated 45-year effort by Big Business and Right-Wing ideologues to destroy the labor movement.

The editors of Requiem—Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott—have interspersed short passages from other sources among the 10 Principles. The sources range over the centuries: from Aristotle and James Madison to Harry Truman and Martin Luther King Jr. These short excerpts from classic documents, speeches, press reports, and social commentaries add depth to the book’s presentation and enhance understanding of Chomsky’s message.

Chomsky’s views have often been regarded as extreme. Certainly, he is vilified by commentators and scholars on the Right. But if you read Requiem for the American Dream, I think you’ll find his reading of history is accurate, his logic is sound, and his view of America today is—sadly—right on target.
Profile Image for Sarah.
470 reviews12 followers
June 24, 2018
Chomsky's bleak outlook on the state of the United States is that it is completely controlled by the very few and the very wealthy, because concentrations of money yield concentrations of power. In Requiem for the American Dream, he outlines the 10 principles that he believes allow these wealthy entities, who subscribe to "the vile maxim": (all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else) to control the US. I found it generally pretty conspiratorial and lacking any real goal – okay, things are bad... so what should we do? No, really. Like, practically?

Principle 1: Reduce Democracy
- Protect the wealth of the aristocrats from the "tyranny of the majority".
- It costs so much to run for office that it must be funded by wealthy businesses. Our representatives are beholden to the businesses, not to the people.
- The current education system limits critical thinking and college tuitions have been rising ever since colleges became places for social activism. People are saddled with debt and beholden to the debtors.

Principle 2: Shape Ideology
- Tell people if they disagree they are anti-American. These sorts of sentiments have tended to develop in totalitarian societies like the USSR.

Principle 3: Redesign the Economy
- Outsource to make more money at the expense of the domestic worker.
- Shift from production to financial services. Then, when you've taken too many risks and collapsed, rely on the government to bail you out.

Principle 4: Shift the Burden
- I'm unclear on what this principle actually comes down to. But it is related to how the American Dream is dying, but the wealthy want everyone else to think it's alive so they'll still have hope that they can join it instead of fighting the system.

Principle 5: Attack Solidarity
- Stop providing social goods, promote personal responsibility and defund public supports so that they'll become so bad that people will demand private options.
- He says that there are data to prove that the vast majority of Americans want national health insurance. Where these data came from I missed.

Principle 6: Run the Regulators
- Lobbying has made corporations even more powerful because they have more influence over politicians.
- Have one set of rules for the rich and another for the poor. Provide subsidies and bailouts for companies, but not support for poor individuals.

Principle 7: Engineer Elections
- Use the fourteenth amendment to give personhood to corporations so that they may freely donate as much money as they want to political campaigns.

Principle 8: Keep the Rabble in Line
- Crush unions whenever possible since they can stand up to big business power.

Principle 9: Manufacture Consent
- Use PR to tell people what they should want and keep them focused on trivial success.
- Promote irrational decision-making with unfounded advertising campaigns.

Principle 10: Marginalize the Population
- The People only get what they want when it is in line with what those in power want.
- Martin Gillis compares public policy and public attitudes based on polling data. Policy correlates with business interests, not public attitudes (based on 107 policies). The rich have a higher correlation.
- Anarchism and democracy are different ways of solving the same problem – too much power in the hands of too few.
Profile Image for Talieh.
28 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2018
I strongly recommend this book to all those Steve Jobs or Elon Musk readers and lovers who are literally mesmerized by the facade of American success.

Noam Chomsky is the sole independent thinker that I have encountered in my intellectual life. Independence of thought is not achieved easily and you have to be one of the best living intellectuals and scientists of the world (i.e. Noam Chomsky) to have it.

Reading this book I found out that the worst dystopian nightmares of humankind (as are depicted in books like 1984, brave new world, etc.) are not nearly as bad as the reality we live in. The book is explicitly about the USA, but the readers shouldn't be restricted to Americans only, since it clarifies the system governing over the whole world and those industrial and developing countries that, explicitly or implicitly, hold the USA as a role-model.

I've been struck by every single page of the book and I'm going to re-read it many times in the future, as I watch the humankind running down the path of the sixth great extinction....
Profile Image for Miquixote.
274 reviews38 followers
May 29, 2023
My 9th Chomsky

Here Noam condenses the principles into a very manageable book. What follows is my further condensation into a review:

Democracy, elections

How can there be democracy when you can only vote every 4 years? And the votes are rigged to the highest bidder (no limits on candidate funding)? Did you know Obama won best Marketing of the year when he won his election in 2008? And you thought he could actually do something the 1% wouldn’t approve of? Tsk tsk.

Ideology, consensus

How can you call it democracy when media is controlled by the 1% too? When the education system is only for the rich? If you do get a university degree without cash in the bank, you’ll be quickly trapped by massive student loans. So for most, the only answer is to become lackeys of the elite.

Economics, regulatory agencies, fiscal loads

The economic system of neoliberalism is fixed too. Emphasis on the ‘neo’. It’s not even capitalism. It’s welfare for the rich. Regulatory agencies and government are in bed with the banks and corporations. The corrupt 1 percenters are too big to jail. So just ask for more from the middle class and poor so the rich can keep getting a bigger slice of the pie. So fat and so mean...

Solidarity, marginalization, unions

Meanwhile we are atomized individuals. There is little solidarity. Unions are basically kaput. The environment done like dinner (especially with Republicans at the helm).

Chomsky says protest, protest, protest. Debate, debate, debate. But really, let’s be frank: No is Not Enough. No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need And that’s my next book.

This is one of Chomsky’s best. It is essentially a summary of the documentary with the same name. Along with his other documentary-based book Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, his most succinct. If you are wondering where to start with Chomsky, i would say one of those 2.

His bigger, deeper masterpieces are however the original Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media and Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky.
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 5 books339 followers
October 1, 2020
Concise treatise of the root problems with American democracy.

Chomsky provides a quick yet profound look into the fundamental problems of our declining democracy. In the style of Chomsky, I'll be brief:

Politicians, policy-making and legislating are controlled by a plutocracy of corporate elites whose only aim is to maintain the conditions that maximize profit.

This plutocratic system is, ironically, exceedingly anti-capitalistic in that it relies on state welfare (public funds) to prop up the failing financially systems that originated with obsession over profit. Friedmanism or neoliberalism is a philosophy that has been weaponized to be used only against the poor and does not apply to corporate elites.

Culture wars perpetuated by partisanship are an illusion of both political parties whose interests are, again, only corporate and have nothing to do with democracy. Power does truly reside within the masses but cannot be harnessed if there is an onslaught of distraction and outrage from culture wars.

Voting is not enough. If you're "voting your conscience" and that conscience informs you to vote in only your interest and that of people like you, you are not a moral agent.

Activism is the only force that can enact change in the power structures.
Profile Image for Ian Beardsell.
230 reviews24 followers
July 1, 2021
This was somewhat of a departure from other Chomsky books that I've read, perhaps as it was meant as a readers' guide for the documentary movie of the same name. Gone are the long-winded arguments supplemented by copious footnotes from a plethora of journalistic sources.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing, as this newer, slicker format may introduce a whole new generation of progressively-minded readers to this paragon of late 20th century American dissidents.

For readers who know the work of Chomsky relatively well, there is nothing really new here, but as I mention above, the book is a great introduction for younger readers who may be unfamiliar with Chomsky's arguments:
* America is not a democracy in the true sense of the word, rather it is essentially an oligarchy focused on maintaining the wealth and privilege of the small proportion of the high-priests of big-business corporatocracy.
* There is a "manufacturing of consent" in which the general population buys into the idea that large corporations, big business, and the leaders thereof know what's best for all of us. This is largely done by marginalizing or distracting the population so that they cannot easily form groups to participate directly in democracy.

The book is designed to discuss Chomsky's major tenets in about 10 principles, and each tenet is also covered with some specific examples and excerpts of legal rulings, news reports, hisrorical writings and whitepapers from business that try to illustrate the ideas. I felt some of these were not always completely accurate representations of the ideas, but it was a nice change from Chomsky's deep and involved footnotes of the past.

I imagine with Chomsky's advanced age that this could very well be his last major book. If so, this is a fine legacy of all the work he has done reminding us how much better the world's resources could work to the advantage of all and not just the top 1%. I hope a new generation of readers (and writers) will be inspired by this voice for social and economic justice.
Profile Image for Larry Bassett.
1,414 reviews300 followers
August 8, 2018
This is a short book and it gets pretty quickly to the problems that we are facing today. You can read the book, listen to the Audible book or you can even watch the documentary movie. I would recommend the documentary if you could only do one but the audible book is pretty good too. If you haven’t paid very close attention to the history of United States and what the founding fathers actually intended for this country to be, you may find this book surprising. If you have fallen for the all men are created equal version of history, you will be severely disappointed. Material in this book not only goes back to the founding of the nation but all the way up to the election of Mr. Trump.
51 reviews3 followers
January 16, 2018
I happened to read this book while the 2017 GOP tax bill was being crafted and voted on. I couldn't fathom what lawmakers were thinking by creating a bill whose benefits were so clearly skewed to the richest people in the country and which was so unpopular with the general public. After reading this book, I completely understand it. Although this book was written prior to the tax plan being crafted, it shows that just about anyone could have predicted it by simply understanding the 10 principles outlined in the book. It was disturbingly prophetic.
Profile Image for Sheila.
2,832 reviews44 followers
March 30, 2017
Very timely. Very interesting. It's the companion book to the documentary by the same name. I liked that he went back 50 years to put what is happening today in our government and society in prospective and giving us the history of what has led up to today. He gives examples as well as excerpts of his source materials. This is written so it can be understood by everyone. I learned a lot. There is a lot to think about in these pages.
Profile Image for Tanja Berg.
1,863 reviews426 followers
January 29, 2023
It’s incredible that I’ve missed Noam Chomsky’s political writings. My main association is linguistics, he was a major reference point when I was studying psychology. This book is actually based on a documentary of the same name, that I have also missed. I’ve scheduled a reminder to watch it next weekend.

The American dream is dead. It only remains as a tantalizing fantasy: even if you’re born poor, if you work hard you can become rich. The reality is that you will be working three jobs just to get by, as the entire system is rigged against you.

The point of politics is to voice the opinion of the lobbyist, and they are working for corporations, not the public good. Since running an election is so expensive, there is no way of getting around this. Big Bucks only want government for the military - and to bail them out. The people in the United States are not to have well working schools, health or social security - but billions of dollars are regularly doled out to mismanaged financial institutions, banks and corporations. One set of rules for the rich, another for the poor.

The free trade - globalization- was never free. It’s an ingenious system that forces the working class to compete against each other in different countries. Only in certain jobs, for now, but just look at air hostesses if you want example. That’s gone from glamorous and well paid to a low wage job. The pilots are also heading the same way.

In the United States, the top tenth of a percent has become massively rich and thus equally powerful and influential. In the meantime the waves of the average person has been stagnant for 30 years.

You can have more democracy and more income equality, or less democracy and more inequality. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see what the United States have chosen, or rather, what the elite has decided. Europe is heading in the same direction.
Profile Image for Michele.
148 reviews11 followers
June 3, 2018
Want to stay up all night because you’re angry and/or depressed about the state of the world? Read this book! Because everything is so, so corrupt and you have no power to stop it.

quote about the Republican Party:
“The Republicans have moved so far toward a dedication to the wealthy and the corporate sector that they can-not hope to get votes on their actual programs, and have turned to mobilizing sectors of the population that have always been there, but not as an organized coalitional political force: evangelicals, nativists, racists, and the victims of the forms of globalization designed to set working people around the world in competition with one another while protecting the privileged.”

Having recently spent a bit of time in Canada and Sweden, this quote is disturbingly accurate:
“Take a trip to Europe, Japan, or even China, and then come back to the United States. One of the things that immediately strikes you is the country’s falling apart, you often feel like you’re returning to a third world country. Infrastructure has collapsed, health care is a total wreck, the educational system is being torn to shreds, nothing works, and with incredible resources. To get people to sit passively and look at that reality takes very effective propaganda.”
Profile Image for David Johnston.
25 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2017
This lays out some very thought provoking and timely ideas that seek to understand how we have arrived at this state in our society. Only 3 stars, as while it is a well laid out book, it is really only a transcription of the talking segments from the film and I would have appreciated a more in depth exploration on the topics discussed.
April 1, 2017
Noam Chomsky breaks it down simply: the US is no longer a Democracy. We are under corporate rule. We the people have been conditioned to believe in free markets while corporations that should be allowed to fail are bailed out by the government (we American taxpayers) as witnessed by the bank bailouts during the Great Recession.
June 15, 2022
Brutal exposition of the state of America and the world

This is Chomsky with his most trenchant, wise, and despairingly concise prognosis for human existence.

Our only hope is to unite behind a fundamentally transformed and democratic socio-political-economic structure—or non-structure, perhaps.
Profile Image for Randall Wallace.
531 reviews389 followers
December 6, 2017
U.S. Planners saw two choices: you could reduce inequality, or you could reduce democracy. James Madison wanted to reduce Democracy while Aristotle wanted to increase Democracy. Madison’s way worked great, as long as “you didn’t pay attention to the victims. The United States was a settler-colonial society, the most brutal form of imperialism.” That conquest of Texas and half of Mexico was in order to increase production, “monopolize cotton” and “bring Britain to their knees.” Madison Quote: “They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” MLK Quote: “The movement must address itself to the questions of restructuring the whole of American Society.” The plutonomy sees the world as Rich/Non-Rich. For Noam, the final backlash against the Plutonomy will only happen when the vast majority of America understands it can no longer participate in the American Dream. Public Schools and Social Security are under attack because they teach solidarity, sympathy and caring with others. “You have to drive that out of people’s heads.” Nixon was the last Liberal President, because with him you get CPSC, OSHA, EPA and so for Noam, Nixon “was the last New Deal president”. When Conservatives say to you they want to shrink the government, ask them “Is that why the government actually grew during the Reagan years?” Elections should take ten minutes of our time and then we get back to our daily activism. Control Labor and you control the idea of people’s rights. We are “rushing” towards environmental disaster, and Republican Party has become the “most dangerous organization in world history.” Activism thrives with face-to-face contact as shown in Egypt, and “activists are the people who have created the rights that we enjoy.” All in all, a great easy to read Chomsky primer about concerns for Americans.
Profile Image for Harry Allagree.
794 reviews10 followers
April 10, 2017
Noam Chomsky lays out the current status of the United States, and there are obvious hints in the very title of this book as to where he's going with it: REQUIEM for the American Dream. 10 principles of CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH & POWER. It would simply be hard, if not impossible, to do any kind of justice to what Chomsky says in a short book review...this book must be read, digested & seriously thought about.

A Chomsky quote (p. 143) summarizes a general sense of what he feels: "The tendencies that we've been describing within American society, unless reversed, will create an extremely ugly society. A society that's based on Adam Smith's vile maxim, "All for ourselves, nothing for anyone else," the New Spirit of the Age, "gain wealth, forgetting all but self," a society in which normal human instincts and emotions of sympathy, solidarity, mutual support, in which they're driven out. That's a society so ugly I don't even know who'd want to live in it...If a society is based on control by private wealth, it will reflect those values--values of greed and desire to maximize personal gain at the expense of others...A global society based on that principle is headed for massive destruction..."

This book's format is superb in every aspect, visually extremely easy to read. Chomsky's style is more like a conversation, exceedingly clear, backed up by historical fact, many snippets of which are quoted within the chapters. He is blunt, honest, not given to exaggeration, hopeful...IF all of us are willing to learn how we can interact & learn from one another in order to correct society's serious defects & flaws, as Chomsky says, "by operating outside of the framework that is commonly accepted. I think we're going to have to find new ways of political action..."
Profile Image for Mohammed Malaky.
27 reviews9 followers
February 12, 2019

Noam Chomsky is one of the best intellectual in our age and you can notice that in his book when he writing about the controversial issues that can give the best benefits of the readers to understand the global current circumstances

In this masterpieces, Noam talking about the Us policy, multinational corporation and the 1 Percents who control our society and Adam Smith named them the "Master of humankind"

Naomi in all his books represent the idea of
voice of reason, Naomi is an Idea and ideas can't die :)
6 reviews1 follower
October 24, 2020
This is a very broad overview of several disparate yet interwoven topics surrounding the increasing concentration of wealth and power in the current financial system, which Chomsky describes as a capitalistic oligarchy. Each chapter focuses on one principle used by those who control this system to keep the rest of society subdued and submissive. The outline shows these submissions reach into all aspects of society making it overall much less equitable for the majority. He lays out brief historical timelines and overviews to quickly describe his views for each “principle” which are always succinct if not always explained well or in any real depth. As stated, the book is only an overview or starting point for those interested in how our financial system has morphed into what it is today. As each chapter topic can, and has been expanded elsewhere into full length books of their own, the most useful part for those wanting to dive deeper is the Notes of Primary Sources section. Overall, this is a very quick read that can serve as an introduction to the ground level of several rabbit holes, all worthy of falling into.
Profile Image for Leftbanker.
805 reviews305 followers
March 24, 2019
Income inequality. This only issue we should be talking about until something is done to change how the hyper-rich are running away with it all. Any time anyone brings up anything else, we need to tell them to shut the fuck up.

This short, simply written pamphlet should serve as the platform for the Democrats in the 2020 presidential election. Anything not contained herein should not be discussed. Transgender politics? Immigration? Crime? Gun control? Global Warming? All of that can wait until after we win the election because we won’t win on those issues. We need to have a simple mantra like Trump’s moronic “Build the Wall” and “Lock her Up.” For the Democrats it should be “Tax the Rich” and “Raise Workers’ Wages.”

What people don’t seem to realize is that if we don’t win elections, we’ll never be able to make changes concerning all of those issues I mentioned in the last paragraph. Like how Obama allowed gays in the military even though he didn’t run on that issue. When he was in office and had the power, he simply changed the law. Simple.

There is nothing in this tome that was new to me, but for the average American it will probably be all new. What most people don’t realize is that Chomsky is a LOT less radical than any of the monkeys posing as commentators on Fox News.

In order to effectively change policy, the most important thing after winning elections will be to eliminate the very undemocratic Senate in the USA. That won’t happen in my lifetime, but a guy can dream.

My criticism of Chomsky is his criticism of Obama. Like many of my so-called liberal friends, he is expecting perfection from a political candidate which is simply foolish. Was Obama perfect? Of course not, but he definitely set the country in the right direction and if people like Chomsky can’t admit that simple fact, they are part of the problem.

I haven't seen this documentary, but it's on my to-watch list:

Profile Image for Tim Johnson.
557 reviews13 followers
September 22, 2017
I apologize to my kids and grandkids for the world they will inherit.

This book didn't teach me anything I didn't already know. It seems more like an attempt to organize the mechanisms that have brought us to the point in history where we find ourselves.

There is a concerted effort being carried out to turn America into an oligarchy, a two class society consisting of only the very rich and the very poor. Everything we fight amongst ourselves about: the economy, education, the environment, jobs, race, and religion are part of a well crafted PR campaign to create disinformed consumers and voters who make irrational choices. It's designed to tie us down with debt and to get us to vote against our own, and even future generations', best interests. It's the 20 ounce ribeye a burglar throws to the watchdog so they can carry out the family jewelry unmolested.

On Real Time with Bill Mayer the other night, one of the guests said that there was racial hatred on the right and class hatred on the left. I don't think that's exactly true. I understand the importance of the economy and the role the wealthy play with regards to investment and job creation. Is it so unreasonable to ask for a level playing field? A clean environment? A fair chance to work hard and get ahead? What good are jobs if you aren't healthy enough to do anything or if there's no breathable air?

I am afraid that the human race has forgotten how to come together and talk things out. If we did that more effectively, perhaps we'd be able to create enough consistent social pressure to bend the government to our will and actually protect he middle class and the working poor, as well as the wealthy.

As it stands now I am considering starting my own gofundme or kickstarter campaign to start an investment firm with global domination as its goal. Since the politician's only listen to money anyway...
Profile Image for J TC.
139 reviews8 followers
October 20, 2020
The book of Noam Chomsky “Requiem for the American dream. The 10 principles of concentration of wealth & power” is about the impossibility of the usual, and so called “social ascending”, the promotion of an ascension in the social scale and the accomplishment of every one hopes and improvement of their economic and social status.
Naom Chomsky explains this “mirage” in an anarchist and pamphleteer form, dividing his justifications in ten major reasons, and in all of them we can find three major messages: Democracy is just a word without real meaning since power is always privilege of an elite that rules the world since man had created agrarian societies; power and richness corrupt any program that intents to give back power to the people; the world is always divided in two classes. An dominant one that gives the orders and an dominated one that accomplishes those orders.
The world had always been like that and neither the “enlightenment in 18th”, nor the liberalism or social theories like socialism or anarchism, had saved us from globalization and the primacy of finances over industrialization. A society where like Adam Smith had put it, is not goods that are free trad object, but jobs are object of free trade. A world of globalization where all of us are treated as consumers, with more wealth for the elites, a greater gap between rich and poor, and the catastrophic consequences of all this to our blue planet and children’s future.
Profile Image for Omar Almansouri.
34 reviews8 followers
June 30, 2020
نقد عبقري للسياسات الإقتصادية الأمريكية عموماً، ومن بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية بشكل خاص، والتي شرحها تشومسكي في عشرة مبادئ استخدمها السياسيين في أمريكا ساهمت في تمركز الثروة والسلطة لدى أقلية من المجتمع بدلًا من تحقيق الأهداف الاقتصادية لكل مواطن أمريكي منتج، وبذلك أصبح الحلم الأمريكي حلمًا جديرًا بالتوديع!!

لطالما قرأت كتبًا وشاهدت وثائقيات تنقد الرأسمالية النيوليبرالية (والتي لها النصيب الأكبر من النقد في الكتاب)، ولكن وأنا أقرأ هذا الكتاب، وهو تجربتي الأولى مع تشومسكي بالمناسبة، كنت أتساءل باستمرار كم لأدبيات وأفكار هذا العبقري من تأثير بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر في تكوين الرأي العام المضاد لهذه المنظومة الاقتصادية اللعينة. والتأثير هذا لا شك فيه باعتباره أحد أشهر الكتّاب في القرن الماضي في العلوم الإنسانية. وهذا سر إعجابي بالكتاب.

فعلًا سيتم تأريخ هذه المنظومة الاقتصادية النادرة في تاريخ البشرية وسيخلد اسمه عبر السنين كأحد أشرس أعداءها، وهي (نتيجة لما سمعت) نظرتي الأولية عنه قبل قراءتي له.

فيما يخص ترجمة الأستاذ محمد الأزرقي، أراها نصية إلى حد ما، ولكن أقدر اختياره للألفاظ المعتاد عليها في الصحف والقنوات.
May 25, 2017
Wow, a really powerful book! Short, but got to the point in a hurry. Definitely whet my appetite for Chomsky. I will have to investigate some more. I like that he stays fairly neutral in his political party preference and makes an argument for general concentration of power with the wealthy.
Profile Image for William Schram.
1,752 reviews66 followers
September 28, 2017
In Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky discusses the problems with the American Dream as of 2016 or so. There are ten basic tactics used to supplant the American Dream with something more acceptable to the rich and privileged. They are as follows:
(1. Reduce Democracy
(2. Shape Ideology
(3. Redesign the Economy
(4. Shift the Burden
(5. Attack Solidarity
(6. Run the Regulators
(7. Engineer Elections
(8. Keep the Rabble in Line
(9. Manufacture Consent
(10. Marginalize the Population

As scary as all of this looks and sounds it goes much deeper than that since this is built into the Constitution. Democracy and its ideals should work as the common man overseeing everything and running the government, but when has that actually been the case in the History of the United States? Even George Washington was a rich, privileged, landowner from Virginia.

The basic idea of the first tactic is that Democracy equals equality to all. This is unacceptable because many landed gentry and other rich people worked to get where they are or inherited their money and don’t want the filthy, unwashed masses to have it. Therefore, they mess with the elections, making them so expensive that no one can afford to run for office. When did one of the factors of being President or a Senator become having millions of dollars? Not to mention the class struggles throughout the History of the US between us and them. The Women’s Rights movement, freeing the slaves, the Black Power movement of the 1960s, Counterculture and its effects and so on.

The second edict is Shape Ideology. This basically talks about how in the 1970s a lot of rich people felt threatened by “raging leftists,” most notably Ralph Nader. Control takes a number of forms. Chomsky presents the idea of College Architecture as one example. Prior to the 1970s, you could find large areas where students could congregate. Now they are rarely included in floor plans. Also, tuition levels have skyrocketed since then, allowing only a select few to even attend college. A student that comes out of college with $100,000 in debt is trapped until they can pay off that debt. It’s not like you can file for Bankruptcy or anything either since they just garnish your wages. Even in the lower grades, we see instances of this. Creativity is undermined, rote learning and mechanical skills are championed. Then we use drugs to “help” the children we feel aren’t up to the task of learning. Chomsky finishes this part by ruminating on the matter of being called “anti-American.” The notion of being called against your country in such a manner is used in Totalitarian Regimes, which I find rather interesting.

The third idea is to Redesign the Economy. Back before the Housing Bubble of 2008, financial institutions had 40% of corporate profits. Before this, back in the 1950s say, our economy was focused mainly on production and manufacturing. Nowadays the “masters of mankind” don’t want manufacturing jobs to return to the US because it is cheaper for them to manufacture things in China or Vietnam, where the Environmental Constraints are lower and the labor is super cheap. This leads to greater profits. Another point Chomsky makes is Worker Insecurity. If you can keep workers insecure, they will be happy to accept whatever scraps are tossed their way, as long as they have their jobs. So Chomsky reiterates that the major problems of wealth concentration are offshoring and financialization.

The fourth idea is Shift the Burden. The American Dream was partly symbolic but partly real. In the 1950s and 1960s was the Golden Age of the American Dream. When manufacturing jobs were here, one could get a job at an auto plant, buy a home, get a car, have their children go to school and so on. In the present, it is not as easy, since the economy is worldwide. Also, the only people that matter are the massive concentrations of wealth dubbed the Plutonomy. Everyone else is worthless and what happens to them doesn’t matter.

The fifth principle is Attack Solidarity. This means congregations of people like the unions or even the Social Security system. The masters hate the Social Security system because it benefits the General Public. So they have attempted to defund it. Then people get angry and want something else. The principle of Solidarity says “I pay taxes so the little child across the street can get a public education.” Since the 1950s and 1960s, with skyrocketing tuition costs, the student now bears the brunt of the burden. Let’s say you want to be a public interest lawyer, but with all the debt you have, you have to go into a corporate law firm to pay them off. Take other countries like Mexico or Germany. How much do you pay to go to school? Virtually nothing.

The sixth is to Run the Regulators. If the business controls the institution meant to control it, what you have is a “Who watches the Watchmen” situation.

I don’t really feel like typing much more, but you get the gist, right? The concentration of wealth leads to a concentration of power, and those in power want to keep it by any means necessary. So this book was pretty good, and it packed a ton of info into such a small package. When I first saw the font size I thought this was going to be an easy read, but I suppose I was wrong in that sense.
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