11 January 2006

I finished book #2 this morning: Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival.

. . .

hegemony n. dominance, originally of one Greek city-state over others, the term has been extended to refer to the dominance of one nation over others, and, following Gramsci, of one class over others. Conflict over hegemony fills history from the war between Athens and Sparta to the Napoleonic wars, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War. Gramsci’s use of the concept extends it beyond international relations to class structure and even to culture.

survival n. the act or process of surviving; the fact of having survived; something, such as an ancient custom or belief, that has survived.

. . .

The title describes his main argument--that U.S. hegemony threatens the survival of the world. So, let's just take away U.S. hegemony and the world will be peaceful, easy and free. Ah-ha! If only it was that simple...

Ok, I take it back. Noam Chomsky is a radical leftist, and not merely an anti-statist. He identifies globalization and privatization as the major threats against the working class struggle. When he goes all Marxie he loses me a bit.

But, he makes a lot of valid points that our leaders ignore and the majority of the American people would benefit from if they considered his arguments. He has a unique way of weaving unrelated facts into a cohesive theory to explain U.S. foreign policy. He gives loads of examples how the United States is the #1 supporter of state-sponsored terrorism, international terrorism, and tyrannical regimes throughout the world.

His writing style is somewhat cold and bland. It's one of those books that you read faster and faster as you proceed in hopes of finishing sooner. About half of the book consists of quotes from other sources. Chomsky likes weaving quotes of political leaders and journalists into his own sentences. Yeah, it got boring.


Chomsky argues that the imperial ambitions of the United States are nothing new. They began in the late 1800s and were allowed to blossom at the end of World War II. September 11 didn't change anything accept that foreign policy adventures and domestic repression could get more brazen and in your face. Umm, yeah, I knew that already.

Now, his facts are correct. But they portray such a negative picture of the world that it is rather depressing. As demonstrated by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States was willing to annihilate the human race with nuclear weapons simply to maintain its control over the rules of the game. U.S. policies stem from a heartless logic that any means will justify the end of maintaining superpower status.

The United States is a self-serving actor on the world stage that behaves like a mad director on a violent film set. Democracy building and humanitarianism are ideological justification for foreign policy adventures. One could summarize Chomsky's main argument by saying this.

Chomsky the Icon

Chomsky does get a bad rap from the Right. If he is simply a liar or a crazy hatemonger then why aren't NeoCon pundits and scholars lining up to debate him? It should be easy to disprove the arguments of a liar, right?

I personally would love to see a televised hour-long debate between Paul Wolfowitz and Chomsky, for instance. But the Right is afraid of Chomsky, probably because they know that they couldn't defeat him in a head-to-head contest of wits, intellect and knowledge.

U.S. Hegemony

I guess I have mixed feelings. Perhaps cognitive dissonance is the cause of my ambivalence. I don't like knowing that my tax dollars have been indirectly used to provide Israel with bulldozers that crush wheelchair-bound Palestinians. I don't like knowing that my parents and grandparents' tax dollars were indirectly funneled to support murderous tyrants such as Mobutu, Pinochet and Suharto. Actually it makes me angry. So I rather push it out of my mind, because after all, what I can do to change this madness.

So, if one removed U.S. hegemony then one is left with an apolar world that would experience far more conflict than the present. Maybe the world needs a hegemon. We're better off having Uncle Sam play that part than Chairman Mao or some EU technocrat.

More info at The American Empire Project

. . .

next I'll be reading George Orwell's Why I Write. Then it's off to some lighter fare. I'm tired of reading rants by the nattering nabobs of negativism.


I guess you could say this is the "Original Pime". I stopped blogging here regularly in May 2008 (if you don't count the B-Sides diversion - yes it gets confusing) when I joined the Tumblr revolution. Going forward bravely into 2009, this site will serve to house any large image work I produce.

Peace out.


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