Noam Chomsky’s new book, Occupy, is “dedicated to the 6,707 people who have been arrested supporting Occupy to date, from the first arrested marching in New York on September 24, 2012, to the woman arrested in Sacramento on March 6, 2012, for throwing flower petals. May our numbers swell and increase.”
Occupy is a series of small lectures—On the History of the U.S. Economy, On the Working Class, On Banks, On Politics and Money, On Economics, Plutonomy and the Precariat, Toward Worker Takeover, and Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons—through which Chomsky describes how the systematic corruption of the last forty years has paved the way for the “1 percent—and even less—the one-tenth of the 1 percent” to succeed at “controlling the political system and disregarding the public.” Through tax changes, de-industrialization, and off-shoring of production, America has created a concentration of wealth that has purchased its way into new fiscal policies and the removal of corporate governance and regulation. According to Chomsky, the result is “a financial casino instead of a protected economy.”
Occupy begins with a powerful editor’s note from Greg Ruggiero, who comments on “the heartlessness and inhumanity of the system,” where “people’s stolen homes are sold off to the highest bidder.” And if it isn’t obvious to those who are still asking what the demands of Occupy Wall Street are, Ruggiero puts it plainly: “Occupy embodies a vision of democracy that is fundamentally antagonistic to the management of society as a corporate-controlled space that funds a political system to serve the wealthy, ignore the poor.”
For decades, Chomsky has been marginalized for his insightful, levelheaded, and accurate observations about how our society functions. In these interviews and lectures from Occupy, Chomsky, with his tongue-in-cheek tone, sets the record straight. And he’s got an answer for everything. On mobilizing the American public, he says “the only way to mobilize the American public that I’ve ever heard of—or any other public— is by going out and joining them.” On the American deficit, Chomsky says it “would be eliminated, literally, if the United States had a health care system of a kind that other industrial countries have.” Chomsky moves into Medicare, stating its problem is that it “goes through the privatized, largely unregulated system that is totally dysfunctional.” On what’s left of a functioning democracy, Chomsky says:
Things have reached a point in the United States where, even within Congress, if someone wants a position with a degree of power and authority, they literally have to buy it. It used to be that committee chairs we granted by a political party on the basis of seniority, service and other factors. Now, you literally have to pay the party to be a candidate for a chair. Well, that has an effect, too; it drives members of Congress into the same pockets if they want to get anywhere. Again, these are not 100 percent, but these are pretty widespread tendencies and are tending to fragment whatever is left of a functioning democracy. You can see it in the campaigns that are just farcical.
Chomsky provides endless examples of the corruption that has infiltrated the entire system. He cites information from a Citigroup brochure, which says, “the world is dividing into two blocs—the Plutonomy and the rest.” The Plutonomy is the rich, the rest are the 99%— “these days they’re sometimes called the ‘precariat’”— or, the marginal groups of minor importance. Alan Greenspan has also used this word while “testifying to Congress in the Clinton years,” Chomsky says. Greenspan “explained the wonders of the great economy that he was supervising. He said a lot of the success of this economy was based substantially on what he called ‘growing worker insecurity.’ If working people are insecure,” Chomsky explains, “they’re part of what we now call the ‘precariat,’ living precarious existences, they’re not going to make demands, they’re not going to try to get wages, they won’t get benefits. We can kick ‘em out if we don’t need ‘em. And that’s what’s called a ‘healthy’ economy, technically.”
The result is that Americans are now left with a public policy that is “radically divorced” from public opinion. The result is that “for the majority, real incomes have pretty much stagnated, sometimes declined. Benefits have also declined and work hours have gone up, and so on. It’s not Third World misery, but it’s not what it ought to be in a rich society, the richest in the world, in fact, with plenty of wealth to go around, which people can see, just not in their pockets.”
Chomsky has been making similar observations for the last forty years, and he has been systematically marginalized. In that time, society has brought itself to the brink of political, environmental, financial, and moral destruction. “It’s necessary,” Chomsky warns, “to get out into the country and get people to understand what this is about, and what they can do about it, and what the consequences are of not doing anything about it.”
One can only cringe at the thought of what will happen if we continue to ignore the wisdom of Noam Chomsky. He gives a clue in Occupy, when he warns, “People with power don’t give it up unless they have to. And that takes work.”
Original story on The Coffin Factory.