His thoughts on the "manufacturing of consent" and "the control by the elite" are what captivated my imagination for most of this chapter. He goes back to the days of the beginnings of the United States, when Madison had faith that the "enlightened Statesman" and "benevolent philosopher" who were to exercise power would "discern the true interest of their country" and guard the public interest against the "mischief" of the democratic majorities. He goes on to quote David Hume in saying that the control of opinion is the foundation of government, from the most despotic to the most free. Trippy.
He moves forward to President Wilson's Committee on Public Information which had great success in whipping the population into war fever. Then he turns to the Reagan administration's Office of Public Diplomacy which [manufactured] consent for its murderous policies in Central America. (A side note: To understand Iraq, you must read some material on the 1980's Central American affairs that the US was involved in. Seems like Deja-vu in so many ways. Confessions of an Economic Hitman is a good starting place for this.) Also, the White House...installed and supported forces in Central America that could "easily compete against Nicolae Ceausescu's Securitate for the World Cruelty Prize."
He actually begins the chapter in the present, remarking tha the war on Iraq had popular opposition that was without historical precedent. And that due to this, propaganda had to be used to sway the public...the linking of Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, Al-Queda, and WMDs, etc.
Watching V is for Vendetta, of course, stirs similar suspicions...that the powerful manufacture consent in order to sway the masses. It's an interesting thing to consider. I do not watch TV news anymore because of this very suspicion.
Chomsky closes the chapter with these thoughts that I'll quote to wrap up.
Destroying hope is a critically important project. And when it is achieved, formal democracy is allowed–even preferred, if only for public-relations purposes. In more honest circles, much of this is conceded. Of course, it is understood much more profoundly by [the masses] who endure the consequences of challenging the imperatives of stability and order.
These are all matters that the second superpower, [that is,] world public opinion, should make every effort to understand if it hopes to escape the containment to which it is subjected and to take seriously the ideals of justice and freedom that come easily to the lips but are harder to defend and advance.
As an addendum, tonight we watched The Future of Food at home. This film, which documents the move to GMO foods in the US and it's effects, is very important to every N. American consumer. It offers a great example of the rule of the many by the power of the elite few (or perhaps I need to be corrected that it is by the power of the many...the shareholders?)...but instead of being a strictly government-run operation, it's corporate-run. Perhaps scarier?
The worst of all is that many of those who work or who have worked for MONSANTO are in Congress, the Supreme Court, or the Cabinet. Spooky. This is not unusual. Look at the list of Bush's appointees. Okay, just rambling, but it's a film worth checking out.
Okay, thoughts from others who read the chapter?