Noam Chomsky’s new book, “Occupy,” published as part of the Occupied Media Pamphlet Series, lays out many arguments first articulated at student meetings and in front of gatherings of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists. Professor Chomsky’s interest in Occupy is consistent with his support of previous grassroots movements for change and stems from some of his better-known views on American culture and politics. He has said that “it’s only when people get together that they become dangerous” because then “they begin to enter that arena where they don’t belong, namely influencing public affairs.”
Hence the usefulness of what is known as “the entertainment industry” for those who don’t wish to relinquish their hold on power. Television (“You are alone watching the tube. That is very advantageous for the control of people”) and sports (“a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority”) are both useful as they succeed in keeping people isolated and outside of the political arena. It is because they overcome these strategies of alienation and estrangement that movements like Occupy Wall Street will always be opposed by police wielding pepper spray and tear gas.
Seth Kershner: You’re listed as a New York Times syndicated columnist — ironic, considering your history of leveling criticism at the Times. How long have you held this distinction?
Noam Chomsky: I was invited by the editor, who seems to operate more or less independently of the journal. I don’t know the details. The op-eds distributed by the syndicate, though distributed here, don’t appear in the New York Time, or in the U.S. press generally (except for In These Times, occasionally some other small newspaper, or websites). The book “Interventions” is a collection of them (updated), and another collection is appearing. Continue reading