Friday, March 15, 2013
Profit Over People Review
Reading Chomsky is informative, eye opening, and disturbing. Few writers challenge what you think you know better than he. And yet despite the insights, the analysis, the disturbing revelations (that are really a matter of public record and whose sources he quotes exhaustively), what comes through is his optimism and belief in the power of collective groups to work to the benefit of all. Noam Chomsky is brilliant, insightful, a first class mind, destined to be studied for generations, but he is also first and foremost a good human being, who refuses to lose his humanity, or his faith in human beings.
I understand the inherant danger of idolizing an author. They are human beings and as such probably well stocked with foibles, quirks and nasty humours as the rest of humanity. When tempted to idolize an author too much I remind myself that even the great writers and thinkers treated the people around them in ways they would sooner have us all forget. Faulkner used to cruelly remind his daughter that no one remembered Shakespeare's daughter. Count Tolstoy, my own personal hero, used to say horrible things to his wife daily. Even George Eliot, that most compassionate of human beings, probably said something like the following to her life partner George Henry Lewes "You know George, you can really be an asshole sometimes." So age and experience have taught me to be wary of idolizing any single member of our species. But with Chomsky, despite the probabilities that he might be difficult to live with and be around, most true intellectuals are, what moves me is his faith in people.
His optimism is not naive, it is not faith based, it does not even feel rational at times. But it is there, as real and palpable as his tireless efforts to discover the truth. His writings do several things but they do one thing well: make you question the way you think the world works. In this sense he has become a mental and cultural role model. He sees our current apathy and defeatism as ENGINEERED. It is put in place by our media, our corporate dominated systems to make us feel and think as if we cannot act in any way other than to be fearful and our only act of free will consists in consumerism. He lays bare the sources for this influence and as such reminds the reader that sometimes, those things you suspect in your bones of being true, that growing up is not really synonymous with being cynical, or that wanting to help the rest of humanity is not naive but truly human, and in so doing allows you to become the better human being you hoped to be. Or at least to learn how to think like one.
The arguments here reveal the agendas of corporations who seek transnational trade agreements, but attempt to do so behind closed doors, between heads of state and heads of corporations, without the consent or knowledge of the constituents they supposedly represent. The truly disturbing aspect of the book is the collusion between the two groups to effectively rule out the opinion of the masses, whose lives are affected by the deals brokered in glass towers. Chomsky warns we must be wary of those in the business world and in government who claim to act in our best interest without wanting to inform us of how are lives are to be affected by the deals brokered there.