Review: Requiem for the American Dream

“ For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit”

  • Noam Chomsky

In this just over an hour long ‘teach-in’ (New York Times 2015) Internationally acclaimed academic Noam Chomsky focuses on 10 key aspects of modern society that have been designed, redesigned or attacked from without and within, in order to concentrate evermore economic power in the hands of an increasingly hyper rich undemocratic minority.

10 principles of concentration of wealth and power:

  • 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  

From James Madison writing about the United States constitution being in place to protect the rich minority, to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and finally on credit agencies factoring in the bailout costs of the next financial crisis, Chomsky gives a detailed and sadly, dystopian summary of how the minority continue to be protected while the vast majority of us, from students to university are heading to a life of ‘greater worker insecurity’ or as John Dewey would call it ‘industrial feudalism’, or my personal favourite ‘Precariat’. His final assertion being that we should be actively asking these institutions to self-justify themselves and if they cannot then they should be dismantled.

Two characteristics have always impressed me when it comes to Chomsky’s work. firstly his dedication as a scientist to empiricism and objective fact finding and secondly is his ability to handle manipulative people and issues in a calm and methodical way, which i first saw when i was 15 watching him debate William F. Buckley on Firing Line. I must admit i’ve been somewhat of a fan ever since, but it’s nice to know at 88 years old he hasn’t lost a step in explaining truth to power or explaining power simply.

Three examples of point six (run the Regulators)to point 7 (engineer elections) which are key

in understanding just how large scale in scope this attack on democratic rights are, are Trump administration appointments. No matter what the rhetoric towards washington insiders and how Trump was going to “drain the swamp”, look at the appointments. Firstly Treasury Secretary is Steven Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs banker. Secondly Is Scott Pruitt who is a known climate-change denier and a very vocal critic of the EPA, Scott Pruitt is now head of the EPA. Carl Icahn who as appointee for regulation tzar, is a long time critic of regulation, as well as the EPA. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a former ExxonMobil CEO that has no government experience, no diplomatic experience. As the team assembled to Make America Great Again, we can hazard a guess who they will be making it great for and who it will be at the expense of.

Requiem for the American Dream is in my view one of Chomsky’s ways of explaining a system of organised oppression that he spans from Adam Smith through to the finkncialised world of today in a way that laypeople can understand, a curtain call if you will. Much like the man himself his 10 principles are well researched, simplistic in its delivery and for the benefit of the people. But i cannot help thinking that from a man who cannot stand hyperbole and rhetoric, the term Requiem is an insight into his views of where the US is going.  

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