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Posts Tagged ‘Chomsky

Lack of Horizon: Can’t vanquish this mighty Dictator

Chomsky can enumerate a long list of dictators who ruled in the 20th century, and so can I.

Chomsky cut this list short and wanted to focus on three dictators: Hitler, Stalin, and absence of horizon. (I would place Mao as #1 for the million of Chinese who had to pay the heavy price of his brand of communism)

On the individual level, lack of horizon is the worst of dictators: It is the cause of all the unrest, confusion, feeling of nothingness, indignity, worthlessness…

Lack of horizon corner citizens within engenders lengthy conflicts, violence, for the sake of violence…

Dictators, totalitarian, theocratic and oligarchic regimes block all horizons for the curious citizens, and the individual has to be extremely imaginative in order to capture a little open space to realize his potentials.

(That is the main definition of brainwashing: no alternative aspects of live are disseminated to grab on and create an alternative world view. I think this is still going on in current China because the majority of the citizens are afraid or don’t care anymore to think politics or watch international news. Only the selected members of the party are allowed to delve deeply in the details of world politics and business)

Lack of vision has different beneficial consequences on the individual level and on the institutional scale.

I say lack of vision for State governments offer greater liberty and freedom of expression for the citizens.

Once State elite leaders start creating and imagining visions, and opening wide horizons for their wealth and grandeur, the little people suffer and are totally subjugated by these crazies who converse among themselves in closed clubs

Drastic solutions are conceived by the elite classes among themselves…

With the practical closing of borders for legal immigration to the former colonial countries, world unrest will cross borders in any way possible. We are following an acute process for the mighty Dictator of lack of horizon to better ourselves, individually.

Can’t vanquish this mighty ruthless Dictator of lack of horizon, except by transcending

the absurd reality with fresh imaginative alternatives…

.

 

 

Spectator Sports: UNDERSTANDING POWER

THE INDISPENSABLE CHOMSKY (pp.98-101)

Edited by Peter R. Mitchel and John Schoeffel,

Published by THE NEW PRESS, New York, 2002

The Footnotes to Understanding Power

WOMAN: Could you talk a bit more about the role that sports play in the society in de-politicizing people? It seems to me it’s more significant than people usually assume.

That’s an interesting one. Actually I don’t know all that much about it personally, but just looking at the phenomenon from the outside, it’s obvious that professional sports, and non-participation sports generally, play a huge role. I mean, there’s no doubt they take up just a tremendous amount of attention.

In fact, I have the habit when I’m driving of turning on these radio-calling programs, and it’s striking when you listen to the ones about sports.

They have these groups of sports reporters, or some kind of experts on a panel, and people call in and have discussions with them.

First of all, the audience obviously is devoting an enormous amount of time to it all. But the more striking fact is, the callers have a tremendous amount of expertise: they have detailed knowledge of all kinds of things, they carry on these extremely complex discussions.

And strikingly, they’re not at all in awe of the experts – which is a little unusual.

See, in most parts of the society, you’re encouraged to defer to experts: we all do it more than we should. But in this area, people don’t seem to do it – they’re quite happy to have an argument with the coach of the Boston Celtics, and tell him what he should have done, and enter into big debates with him and so on.

So the fact is that in this domain, people somehow feel quite confident, and they know a lot – there’s obviously a great deal of intelligence going into it.

Actually, it reminds me in some ways of things that you find in non-literate or non-technological cultures – what are called “primitive” cultures – where for example, you get extremely elaborate kinship systems.

Some anthropologists believe these systems have to do with incest taboos and so on, but that’s kind of unlikely, because they’re just elaborated way beyond any functional utility.

And when you look at the structure of them, they seem like a kind of mathematics. It’s as though people want to work out mathematical problems, and if they don’t have calculus and arithmetic, they work them out with other structures.

And one of the structures everybody has is relationship of kinship — so you work out your elaborate structures around that, and you develop experts, and theories, and so on.

Or another thing you sometimes find  in non-literate cultures is developments of the most extraordinary linguistic systems: often there’s tremendous sophistication about language, and people play all sorts of games with language.

So there are puberty rites where people who go through the same initiation period develop their own language that’s usually some modification of the actual language, but with quite complex mental operations differentiating it – then that’s theirs for the rest of their lives, and not other people’s.

And what all these things look like is that people just want to use their intelligence somehow, and if you don’t have a lot of technology and so on, you do other things.

Well, in our society, we have things that you might use your intelligence on, like politics, but people really can’t get involved in them in a very serious way – so what they do is they put their minds into other things, such as sports.

You’re trained to be obedient; you don’t have an interesting job; there’s no work around for you that’s creative.

In the cultural environment you’re a passive observer of usually pretty tawdry stuff; political and social life are out of your range, they’re in the hands of the rich folk.

So what’s left?

Well, one thing that’s left is sports-so you put a lot of the intelligence and the thought and the self-confidence into that. And I suppose that’s also one of the basic functions it serves in the society in general it occupies the population, and keeps them from trying to get involved with things that really matter.

In fact, I presume that’s part of the reason why spectator sports are supported to the degree they are by the dominant institutions.

And spectator sports also have other useful functions too.

For one thing, they’re a great way to build up chauvinism-you start by developing these totally irrational loyalties early in life, and they translate very nicely to other areas. I mean, I remember very well in high school having a sudden kind of Erlebnis, you know, a sudden insight, and asking myself, why do I care if my high school football team wins?

I don’t know anybody on the team. They don’t know me. I wouldn’t know what to say to them if I met them. Why do I care? Why do I get all excited if the football team wins and all downcast if it loses?

Anti it’s true, you do: you’re taught from childhood that you’ve got to worry about the Philadelphia Phillies, where I was. In fact, there’s apparently a psychological phenomenon of lack of self-confidence or something which affected boys of approximately my age who grew up in Philadelphia, because every sports team was always in last place, and it’s kind of a blow to your ego when that happens, people are always lording it over you.

But the point is, this sense of irrational loyalty to some sort of meaningless community is training for subordination to power, and for chauvinism.

And of course, you’re looking at gladiators, you’re looking at guys who can do things you couldn’t possibly do – like, you couldn’t pole-vault seventeen feet, or do all these crazy things these people do. But it’s a model that you’re supposed to try to emulate.

And they’re gladiators fighting for your cause, so you’ve got to cheer them on, and you’ve got to be happy when the opposing quarterback gets carted off the field a total wreck and so on.

All of this stuff builds up extremely anti-social aspects of human psychology. I mean, they’re there; there’s no doubt that they’re there. But they’re emphasized, and exaggerated, and brought out by spectator sports: irrational competition, irrational loyalty to power systems, passive acquiescence to quite awful values, really.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine anything that contributes more fundamentally to authoritarian attitudes than this does, in addition to the fact that it just engages a lot of intelligence and keeps people away from other things.

So if you look at the whole phenomenon, it seems to me that it plays quite a substantial social role. I don’t think it’s the only thing that has this kind of effect. Soap operas, for example, do it in another domain ? they teach people other kinds of passivity and absurdity.

As a matter of fact, if you really want to do a serious media critique right across the board, these are the types of things which occupy most of the media, after all – most of it isn’t shaping the news about El Salvador for politically articulate people, it’s diverting the general population from things that really matter. So this is one respect in which the work that Ed Herman and I have done on the media is really defective – we don’t talk about it much.

But this stuff is a major part of the whole indoctrination and propaganda system, and it’s worth examining more closely. There are people who’ve written about it, Neil Postman and others – I just don’t feel enough acquaintance with it to say more.

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Origin of languages? Has Mankind stopped migrating?

Apparently, the main factor that discriminates mankind (the latest Homo Sapiens) from the other mammalian species, particularly the chimps-kind, is the capacity to communicate in grammatical structure, starting with the verbal structure 50,000 years ago.

There exist in nature sophisticated communication systems among the animal species, and they are highly efficient, and making sense associated with signals…Among them all species, mankind was the only one making complete sentences.  This evidence is an either we can communicate in grammatical structure or we cannot. “If you are unable to learn grammar, you stay a chimp…”

Grammatical structures do not means learning how the linguist want you to express yourself according to specific rules in a particular language, but the capacity of expressing yourself using words that the community use, in full sentences, and making sense to the community. There is structure in every dialect within the larger family group language.

Language requires a specialized part of the brain.  It is turning out that this specialized part shares the capacity to adapt to extreme environmental conditions.

Most animals survive within particular environments, give or take mild changes in the climate and the vegetation…but mankind survived and settled in extreme regions and thrived…

The American scientist Luca Cavalli Sforza discovered high correlations between languages and the genes of the speakers. Developing a new dialect might take no more than two centuries, but genes diversity need a couple of thousand of years.  Two genetically close populations have the same family group language, where the vocabulary are similar…

Although we are descendant of chimps, a couple million years ago, the chimp can learn (recognize) more than 900 words, but was unable to construct a sentence from the words they acquired…

It is currently admitted that mankind (the latest Homo Sapiens) had a single original language (about 50,000 years ago) and that the current 12 large family languages resulted from periodic mass migration to other regions. Every large wave of migration within or toward another of the 5 continents generated a new group of a basic language and were diversified by local dialect. This presuppose that the people settled the region for many thousands of years.

For example, linguists categorized 4 family group languages in Africa:

1. The Khoisan in the south of Africa

2. The Niger-Kordofan region in the west and central Africa

3. The Nilo-Saharan region that includes Arabic, ancient Egyptian, Berber, Hebrew…

4. The East of Africa group language starting from the Niger Delta (in current Nigeria) and expanding eastward

And how the linguists agreed on these classifications?

1. They use key words such as water, sky, I, you…and what are considered “fossil words”

2. A new-born baby has the potential to learn any language: He will acquire the language of his adoptive community, regardless of the sounds and the complex structure… (Chomsky)

3. There exist common grammatical structures in all languages and the brain of mankind is able to capture any structure at birth, and invent new structures…

And guess what:

1. Homo Sapiens, 100,000 years ago, was barely 30,000. And they were saved from extinction several times. The necessity to split into smaller groups saved them from sweeping epidemics and natural calamities…

 

2. Homo Sapiens migrated to China 65,000 ago, and reached Indonesia and Australia…He migrated to Europe 50,000 years ago, and to North Americas 20,000 years ago. Mind you that during the glacial periods, seas and oceans had receded and mankind and animals could travel walking among many continents …

 

3. The original Homo Sapiens settled the Near East (Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt) and from this region migrated and “colonized” the world and later, exported the urban civilization as they planted and harvested the lands 10,000 years ago (the Neolithic age)…

Go figure: from 30,000 to 7 billion of mankind within less than 12,000 years

 

 

“State Designing-in Failure”: Young Indoctrinated to Obey? How?

Chomsky wrote on April 4 (with slight editing):

“Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere.
Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience. Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline.

California is a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on the campaign to destroy what had been the greatest public higher education system in the world: “California State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on the November ballot.”

Similar defunding policies are under way nationwide. The New York Times reports: “In most States, it is now tuition payments, not State appropriations, that cover most of the budget: the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the State, may be over.” Why?

There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit from higher education, to a belief that it’s the people receiving the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the bill,” concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute.

Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.

A more accurate description is “Failure by Design,” the title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the state of the economy.

The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the economy a generation ago from domestic production to financialization and offshoring.  By design: there have always been alternatives.

One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz called the “religion” that “markets lead to efficient outcomes,” which was recently dealt yet another crushing blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.

Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more convincing description was provided by senior economic correspondent for The Financial Times Martin Wolf: “An out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.”

The EPI study observes that the “Failure by Design” is class-based. For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1%, in fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to virtual stagnation or decline.

As  “the Masters of Mankind” have the opportunity, they pursue their vile maxim of “all for ourselves and nothing for other people,” as Adam Smith explained two centuries ago.

Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate what they regarded as virtual slavery.

The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education because they fear that “This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats.”

But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and train them for obedience.

The “vile maxim” and its implementation have regularly called forth resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite.

Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was breaking free of apathy and obedience: The breaking free must resume and continue.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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