noam chomsky on marginalization and the super bowl

Estimated reading time is 2 minutes.

THIS IS AN INTRODUCTION to Noam Chomsky—linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, political commentator, and social justice activist who just may be the Father of Modern Linguistics. He is also a major figure in analytic philosophy. He has spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has authored over 100 books. He was voted the World’s Top Public Intellectual in a 2005 poll.

“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state: the means by which leaders keep the masses in line. In Media Control, Noam Chomsky looks at American propaganda efforts, from the warmongering of Woodrow Wilson to the creation of popular support for the 1991 military intervention in Kuwait, and reveals how falsification of history, suppression of information, and the promotion of vapid, empty concepts have become standard operating procedure for the leaders of the United States in their efforts to prevent citizens from raising awkward questions about U.S. policy.” (Goodreads)

Chomsky is never at a loss for words and has been perhaps the most sought-after non-politician American speaker/lecturer almost everywhere in the world but in America! Here’s one of my favorite observations of his:

“As long as people are marginalized and distracted, [they] have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments. People assume that they are the only people with a crazy idea in their heads.

They never hear it from anywhere else.

Nobody’s supposed to think that.

Since there’s no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball. So you just stay on the side and you don’t pay any attention to what’s going on. You look at something else—like the Super Bowl.”

I don’t know

I remember reading an interview with Noam Chomsky in ‘Z’ magazine (?) in which he discussed a trip he just made to South America. There, the peasants were using low wattage radio broadcasts—sometimes with a range measured in city blocks!—to communicate, to organize socially and politically, and to make things happen for themselves and their families and neighbors that actually benefited themselves and their families and neighbors.

The conversation ended with what was a first for me: Noam Chomsky on marginalization in American voting was unable to answer a direct question (and I am paraphrasing below from memory because I could not find the interview online).

Interviewer: “Why do Americans consistently vote against their own self interest?”

Chomsky: “I don’t know . . .”

2 thoughts on “noam chomsky on marginalization and the super bowl”

  1. I’m glad for the Chomsky reference. I don’t remember if I told you or not about the issue he took up in the ‘fifties (though I didn’t know it till way later [the ‘eighties, I think]) that made him a hero of mine, right off the bat. It was his knocking B.F. Skinner catawampus. Not wanting to get redundant, I’ll wait for you to tell me.

    • For those readers not in the know, Catawampus wrecks was one of the most dialectal dinosaurs of the late Triassic period, sometimes referred to as the Quadrassic Era. It is believed by some paleontologists to be the progenitor of the Widdershinosaurus of the early Jurassic Park era.

      Catawampuses gathered in large groups social groups, apparently to share knowledge. These groups have been are known as “campuses,” a contraction of “catawampus.”

      To “knock someone catawampus” is to force them to learn something against their will.


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