Challenges and Choices: We can learn a lot from Noam Chomsky and use it for our emanzipation




What are the social consequences of capitalism?

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Capitalism or economic development has brought in some good consequences which are as follows:

(i) High Standard of Living:

Capitalism is the product of industrialization. Industrialization has increased production. Now men do not have to toil for bread as they used to do in the primitive days. The necessities of life are easily available.


(ii) Economic Progress:

Capitalism has led men to exploit the natural resources more and more. The people exert themselves utmost for earning money. This had led to many inventions in the field of industry, agriculture and business which have contributed to economic progress.


(iii) Exchange of Culture:

Capitalism has led to international trade and exchange of know-how. People in different countries have come nearer to each other. The development of the means of transport and communication has facilitated contacts among the peoples of the world thereby leading to exchange of ideas and culture.


(iv) Progress of Civilization:

Capitalism was instrument in inventing new machines and increasing the production of material goods. Man is to day more civilized than his ancestors.


(v) Lessening of Racial Differences:

Capitalism has also led to the lessening of differences based on race, creed, caste and nationality. In the factory the workers and officials belonging to different castes co-operate with one another and work shoulder to shoulder. Inter-mixing of castes is the off-shoot of capitalism.


But inspite of above good consequences capitalism has proved a curse instead of a blessing. Its bad effects are the following:


(i) Greed for Wealth:

Capitalism is based on greed for wealth. It has raised wealth to the pedestal of deity. Wealth has become the be-all and end-all of human life. The modern man is mad after wealth. He wants to earn more and more wealth by any means. The idea for morality does not enter into the means of earning. It has thus to moral degeneration.

(ii) Destruction of Human Values:

In a capitalist order, everything has come to be measured in terms of wealth. All values of human life such as love, sympathy, benevolence, love and affection are evaluated in terms of silver coins. Every person wants to get the maximum. The sole criterion is wealth, not value.

(iii) Materialism:

Capitalism manifests materialism in its extreme form. Religion and spirituality lose their force. Religion becomes the opium of people. Religion becomes hypocrisy. The big capitalists save lacks of rupees by way of tax through contribution to fictitious charitable institutions. While people are short of goods, the capitalists hoard them to soar the prices.

(iv) Artificiality:

Capitalism has transformed modern culture into mere artificiality. Today there is false courtesy. One does not find gentility and human touch. One can see false prestige, mere artificiality, and sheer advertisement even in art and literature, nothing to speak of diet, dress and speech etc. Life today has become artificial.

(v) Emphasis on Sex:

Capitalist culture lays emphasis on sex. Marriage has become a mere agreement for the satisfaction of sex hunger. The capitalists advertise their goods through the display of sex instincts. Literature and movies are based on sexual passion. Pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations are on the increase. Man is lacking in self control.

(vi) Imbalance in Social System:

Capitalism has led to an imbalance in the social system. It has failed to adjust itself to the welfare of society. It has widened the gap between the haves and have-nots and crated insatiable greed for wealth among the people.

It has changed the very outlook of human beings. Wealth has become an important criterion of status. It has led to the moral degeneration of man. Obviously, capitalism has failed to bring about the moral development of man. It is injurious both to society and the individual. In short, it has proved a curse to humanity instead of a blessing. Karl Marx was its bitter critic.


Avram Noam Chomsky[a] (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian,[b][c] social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics",[d] Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the author of more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania. During his postgraduate work in the Harvard Society of Fellows, Chomsky developed the theory of transformational grammar for which he earned his doctorate in 1955. That year he began teaching at MIT, and in 1957 emerged as a significant figure in linguistics with his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which played a major role in remodeling the study of language. From 1958 to 1959 Chomsky was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. He created or co-created the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Chomsky also played a pivotal role in the decline of linguistic behaviorism, and was particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.

An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism, in 1967 Chomsky rose to national attention for his anti-war essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals". Becoming associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and placed on President Richard Nixon's Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over subsequent decades, he also became involved in the linguistics wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later articulated the propaganda model of media criticism in Manufacturing Consent and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. His defense of unconditional freedom of speech, including that of Holocaust denial, generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the 1980s. Since retiring from active teaching at MIT, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting the Occupy movement. Chomsky began teaching at the University of Arizona in 2017.

One of the most cited scholars alive,[19] Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as having helped to spark the cognitive revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarship, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. Chomsky and his ideas are highly influential in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements.

Noam Chomsky - Wikipedia

Chomsky is a prominent political dissident.[g] His political views have changed little since his childhood,[178] when he was influenced by the emphasis on political activism that was ingrained in Jewish working-class tradition.[179] He usually identifies as an anarcho-syndicalist or a libertarian socialist.[180] He views these positions not as precise political theories but as ideals that he thinks best meet human needs: liberty, community, and freedom of association.[181] Unlike some other socialists, such as Marxists, Chomsky believes that politics lies outside the remit of science,[182] but he still roots his ideas about an ideal society in empirical data and empirically justified theories.[183]

In Chomsky's view, the truth about political realities is systematically distorted or suppressed by an elite corporatocracy, which uses corporate media, advertising, and think tanks to promote its own propaganda. His work seeks to reveal such manipulations and the truth they obscure.[184] Chomsky believes this web of falsehood can be broken by "common sense", critical thinking, and understanding the roles of self-interest and self-deception,[185] and that intellectuals abdicate their moral responsibility to tell the truth about the world in fear of losing prestige and funding.[186] He argues that, as such an intellectual, it is his duty to use his social privilege, resources, and training to aid popular democracy movements in their struggles.[187]

Although he has joined protest marches and organized activist groups, Chomsky's primary political outlets are education and publication. He offers a wide range of political writings[188] as well as free lessons and lectures to encourage wider political consciousness.[189] He is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World international union.[190]

United States foreign policy

Chomsky at the 2003 World Social Forum, a convention for counter-hegemonic globalization, in Porto Alegre

Chomsky has been a prominent critic of American imperialism;[191] he believes that the basic principle of the foreign policy of the United States is the establishment of "open societies" that are economically and politically controlled by the United States and where U.S.-based businesses can prosper.[192] He argues that the U.S. seeks to suppress any movements within these countries that are not compliant with U.S. interests and to ensure that U.S.-friendly governments are placed in power.[186] When discussing current events, he emphasizes their place within a wider historical perspective.[193] He believes that official, sanctioned historical accounts of U.S. and British extraterritorial operations have consistently whitewashed these nations' actions in order to present them as having benevolent motives in either spreading democracy or, in older instances, spreading Christianity; criticizing these accounts, he seeks to correct them.[194] Prominent examples he regularly cites are the actions of the British Empire in India and Africa and the actions of the U.S. in Vietnam, the Philippines, Latin America, and the Middle East.[194]

Chomsky's political work has centered heavily on criticizing the actions of the United States.[193] He has said he focuses on the U.S. because the country has militarily and economically dominated the world during his lifetime and because its liberal democratic electoral system allows the citizenry to influence government policy.[195] His hope is that, by spreading awareness of the impact U.S. foreign policies have on the populations affected by them, he can sway the populations of the U.S. and other countries into opposing the policies.[194] He urges people to criticize their governments' motivations, decisions, and actions, to accept responsibility for their own thoughts and actions, and to apply the same standards to others as to themselves.[196]

Chomsky has been critical of U.S. involvement in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, arguing that it has consistently blocked a peaceful settlement.[186] Chomsky also criticizes the U.S.'s close ties with Saudi Arabia and involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, highlighting that Saudi Arabia has "one of the most grotesque human rights records in the world".[197]

Capitalism and socialism

In his youth, Chomsky developed a dislike of capitalism and the pursuit of material wealth.[198] At the same time, he developed a disdain for authoritarian socialism, as represented by the Marxist–Leninist policies of the Soviet Union.[199] Rather than accepting the common view among U.S. economists that a spectrum exists between total state ownership of the economy and total private ownership, he instead suggests that a spectrum should be understood between total democratic control of the economy and total autocratic control (whether state or private).[200] He argues that Western capitalist countries are not really democratic,[201] because, in his view, a truly democratic society is one in which all persons have a say in public economic policy.[202] He has stated his opposition to ruling elites, among them institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and GATT (precursor to the WTO).[203]

Chomsky highlights that, since the 1970s, the U.S. has become increasingly economically unequal as a result of the repeal of various financial regulations and the rescinding of the Bretton Woods financial control agreement.[204] He characterizes the U.S. as a de facto one-party state, viewing both the Republican Party and Democratic Party as manifestations of a single "Business Party" controlled by corporate and financial interests.[205] Chomsky highlights that, within Western capitalist liberal democracies, at least 80% of the population has no control over economic decisions, which are instead in the hands of a management class and ultimately controlled by a small, wealthy elite.[206]

Noting the entrenchment of such an economic system, Chomsky believes that change is possible through the organized cooperation of large numbers of people who understand the problem and know how they want to reorganize the economy more equitably.[206] Acknowledging that corporate domination of media and government stifles any significant change to this system, he sees reason for optimism in historical examples such as the social rejection of slavery as immoral, the advances in women's rights, and the forcing of government to justify invasions.[204] He views violent revolution to overthrow a government as a last resort to be avoided if possible, citing the example of historical revolutions where the population's welfare has worsened as a result of upheaval.[206]

Chomsky sees libertarian socialist and anarcho-syndicalist ideas as the descendants of the classical liberal ideas of the Age of Enlightenment,[207] arguing that his ideological position revolves around "nourishing the libertarian and creative character of the human being".[208] He envisions an anarcho-syndicalist future with direct worker control of the means of production and government by workers' councils, who would select temporary and revocable representatives to meet together at general assemblies.[209] The point of this self-governance is to make each citizen, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "a direct participator in the government of affairs."[210] He believes that there will be no need for political parties.[211] By controlling their productive life, he believes that individuals can gain job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment and purpose.[212] He argues that unpleasant and unpopular jobs could be fully automated, carried out by workers who are specially remunerated, or shared among everyone.[213]

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a [Palestinian] population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder. Chomsky criticizing Israel, 2012[214]

Chomsky has written prolifically on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, aiming to raise public awareness of it.[215] He has long endorsed a left binationalist program in Israel and Palestine, seeking to create a democratic state in the Levant that is home to both Jews and Arabs.[216] Nevertheless, given the realpolitik of the situation, he has also considered a two-state solution on the condition that the nation-states exist on equal terms.[217] Chomsky was denied entry to the West Bank in 2010 because of his criticisms of Israel. He had been invited to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University and was to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.[218][219][220][221] An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman later said that Chomsky was denied entry by mistake.[222]

News media and propaganda

Main article: Propaganda model

External videoChomsky on propaganda and the manufacturing of consent, June 1, 2003

Chomsky's political writings have largely focused on ideology, social and political power, the media, and state policy.[223] One of his best-known works, Manufacturing Consent, dissects the media's role in reinforcing and acquiescing to state policies across the political spectrum while marginalizing contrary perspectives. Chomsky asserts that this version of censorship, by government-guided "free market" forces, is subtler and harder to undermine than was the equivalent propaganda system in the Soviet Union.[224] As he argues, the mainstream press is corporate-owned and thus reflects corporate priorities and interests.[225] Acknowledging that many American journalists are dedicated and well-meaning, he argues that the mass media's choices of topics and issues, the unquestioned premises on which that coverage rests, and the range of opinions expressed are all constrained to reinforce the state's ideology:[226] although mass media will criticize individual politicians and political parties, it will not undermine the wider state-corporate nexus of which it is a part.[227] As evidence, he highlights that the U.S. mass media does not employ any socialist journalists or political commentators.[228] He also points to examples of important news stories that the U.S. mainstream media has ignored because reporting on them would reflect badly upon the country, including the murder of Black Panther Fred Hampton with possible FBI involvement, the massacres in Nicaragua perpetrated by U.S.-funded Contras, and the constant reporting on Israeli deaths without equivalent coverage of the far larger number of Palestinian deaths in that conflict.[229] To remedy this situation, Chomsky calls for grassroots democratic control and involvement of the media.[230]

Chomsky considers most conspiracy theories fruitless, distracting substitutes for thinking about policy formation in an institutional framework, where individual manipulation is secondary to broader social imperatives.[231] While not dismissing them outright, he considers them unproductive to challenging power in a substantial way. In response to the labeling of his own ideas as a conspiracy theory, Chomsky has said that it is very rational for the media to manipulate information in order to sell it, like any other business. He asks whether General Motors would be accused of conspiracy if it deliberately selected what it used or discarded to sell its product.[232]


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