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Author: Noam Chomsky
ISBN13: 978-1567510102
Title: Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda
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Language: English
Category: Politics and Government
Publisher: Common Courage Pr; First Printing edition (February 1, 1993)
Pages: 167

Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda by Noam Chomsky

Main Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda. Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda.

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Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda (Series in Critical Narrative).

In personal reflections on his Philadelphia childhood, Chomsky also describes his own intellectual journey and the development of his uncompromising stance as America’s premier dissident intellectual. Wide-ranging interviews on war, power, and politics with Noam Chomsky, the world’s leading critic of US foreign policy. Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2004. The Generative Enterprise Revisited: Discussions with Riny Huybregts, Henk van Riemsdijk, Naoki Fukui, and Mihoko Zushi, with a new foreword by Noam Chomsky, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004.

Personal Name: Chomsky, Noam.

Letters from Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda, first published in 1993, contains Noam Chomsky's criticism of the American media. Foreword by Edward S. Herman. What Makes the Mainstream Media Mainstream. The Middle East Lie. Defensive Aggression. The Sunday Times Makes for a Day of No Rest. Notes on the Culture of Democracy. Third World, First Threat.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

In a collection of letters written for Lies of Our Times Magazine, Noam Chomsky outlines the role of the media in justifying . government and corporate actions. Chomsky's examination of propaganda is, as always, incisive. Subject(s): against war and empire.

An Illuminating Companion for any Serious Student of Journalism.

In this collection of letters written to "Lies of Our Times Magazine," Noam Chomsky outlines the role of the media in justifying U.S. government and corporate actions.

About the "New York Times" coverage of the Middle East peace process, Chomsky states:

"'Times' history follows the official line throughout... the major Arab initiatives are down the memory hole, apart from that of Sadat in 1977.... The 'peace process' is defined as whatever the U.S. proposes: blocking the peace process for 20 years, in the present case. The 'Times' regularly refused to report Arafat's offers; even letters referring to them were banned. The articles of Jerusalem correspondent Thomas Friedman were a particularly noteworthy contribution to this remarkable record of historical engineering in the service of power."

LETTERS covers many aspects of propaganda, including Defensive Aggression; Our "Sense of Moral Purpose;" Notes on the Culture of Democracy; U.N.=U.S., Toxic Omissions; and much more. AUTHORBIO: Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is the author of many books on U.S. foreign policy.

Reviews: 6
The double entendre in the title of my review is intentional. Chomsky's letters not only sketch how the USA government manufactured domestic consent for its foreign policies during the early 1990s, it also (perhaps intentionally?) adumbrates by demonstration the salient aspects of the "propaganda model" Chomsky and Edward Herman explored in considerable depth in their work *Manufacturing Consent*.

As for the content of the work, I recommend that readers consult the excellent reviews by Chris Green (always, always read his reviews), Egalitarian, and "Reader" (10.10.99) on this page. I couldn't possibly improve on them.

One last observation: Chomsky resides in Lexington, but I can't help but wonder if the title selection plays on the historical significance Lexington has as the location for the beginning of the American Revolution. Perhaps I am poeticizing the title. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that this work will make the canon of literary political dissent as so many of Chomsky's works have already done.
As advertised... thank you, its a great book in excellent condition, actually better than advertised. Thank You!!
Chomsky writes that the Sandinistas won an election in November 1984 widely perceived as free and fair but U.S. elites put this down the memory hole. Michael Kinsley noted the "Orwellian" rhetoric of the Reaganites in blaming the Sandinistas for Nicargua's ruined economy, after it had been the official policy of the U.S. backed contras to destroy it. But he praised Nicaragua's 1990 elections as free and fair. Anthony Lewis praised the elections too but criticized the Central American policies of the administration--which included the economic embargo on Nicaragua supported by liberals like him. Chomsky quotes the UNO economist Fransisco Mayorga as estimating that the embargo cost Nicaragua 3 billion.

The implications suggesting that the U.S. is a terrorist state in that it was telling the Nicaraguan people that Contra terror and the embargo would continue unless they voted out the Sandinistas in Feb. 1990, was not noticed in the U.S. media. Indeed Time magazine celebrated the attacks on Nicaraguan civilian infrastructure i.e. U.S./contra war crimes as causing the Sandinistas to be voted out. The killing of the poor by the U.S. backed security forces in El Salvador and Guatemala, which ran elections under extreme terror, received little sustained attention.

Chomsky observes that Laurence Pezullo, while the last U.S. ambassador to Somoza, had advised the National Guard to continue its final mass murder operations which were killing tens of thousands. After Carter couldn't prevent the Sandinistas from taking power, the National Guard, the future Contras, were flown out in U.S. military planes with Red Cross markings (a war crime). The media had nothing to say about the U.S. successfully pressuring the new UNO government in Nicaragua after 1990 to drop its demand that the U.S. comply with the World Court ruling of 1986 that the U.S. stop terrorizing Nicaragua and pay 17 billion dollars in reparations. After the U.S. withheld desperately needed aid, the Chamarro government dropped its demand for U.S. compliance

The media suppressed that evidence of Libyan involvement in the murder of one American that led to the "retaliation" against Libya in 1986 which killed many dozens of civilians, was non-existent according to the West Germans. . Chomsky writes that likewise evidence for Libyan involvement in the Lockerbie bombing is negligible (and years later this is still the truth, see--William .Blum's new book "Freeing the World to Death). In any case, Lockerbie may have been "retaliation" for the U.S. shooting down an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988, killing 290. The commander of a nearby vessel, David Carlson later wrote that the Iranian plane was clearly civilian.and not acting otherwise.. The shoot down, by the U.S.S. Vincennes, Carlson suggested,was designed to test the ship's Aegis missile system. This atrocity was the culmination of U.S. support for Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war; for a few days later Iran capitulated to a cease fire on Iraq's terms. When the commander of the Vincenes came home, he was awarded medals by George Bush Sr. In another case of the U.S. and blowing up planes, Chomsky writes that George Schultz later admitted "in a backhand way" that the terrorists who blew up the Air India Flight over Ireland in 1985 killing 329, originated in a mercenary training camp for Central America in Alabama. It was a sting operation that went haywire.

The U.S. funded Noriega's candidate in 1984 elections in Panama that Noriega stole with great violence, a period when he was knee-deep in the drug trade.. George Schultz went down to the inauguration of the candidate, Barletta. The U.S. later soured on Noriega of course, for reasons having nothing to with his bad qualities. As the U.S. invaded Panama to install more reliable drug tycoons in the name of freedom, the Bush senior administration was resuming high tech sales to China and lifted a ban on loans to Saddam's Iraq. After the U.S. suppressed peaceful settlements of the first Gulf war and killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, Thomas Friedman and Alan Cowell explained that after the first Gulf War the U.S. undermined the anti-Saddam rebellion.. They hoped Saddam would remain in place until a more pliable clone of the dictator could overthrow him and restore Iraq to the "iron-fisted" rule that the U.S. had so admired before August 1990.. Ahmad Chalabi complained in the British press about the U.S. supporting Saddam's butchery of the rebels. Chomsky notes that the late Senator Moynihan was heard a great deal during this period about his devotion to the UN charter/international law. Of course, Moynihan had bragged in his 1978 memoir about blocking UN efforts to stop Indonesia's aggression against East Timor in 1975 while U.S. ambassador to the UN. He admitted that the invasion, supported by the U.S. until 1999, had killed 60,000 people by early 1976... The media did not juxtapose proclamations of U.S. opposition to aggressive dictators with U.S. support for aggression in East Timor, Morocco in Western Sahara(also helped along by Moynihan at the UN), Turkey in Cyprus, Turkey's ethnic cleansing of its Kurds, South Africa in Namibia and Angola, etc.

Chomsky analyzes a review by Caleb Carr about a book about America's mid 19th century Indian wars and notes its similarity to a hypothetical apologetic for Nazi expansionism. He exposes some embarrassing contradictions and fallacies in the venerable A. Schlesinger's claim that JFK intended to withdraw from Vietnam without victory.
Sadaron above the Gods
"Letters from Lexington : Reflections on Propaganda" is a compelling collection of letters which reveal the role of the US major media in justifying and championing US government and corporate actions throughout the world. One chapter which illuminates Chomsky's dissident analysis is the chapter entitled, "The PC Thought Police". In this chapter, Chomsky compares the US propaganda system to that of Brezhnev's USSR:
"In the study of any system, it is often useful to look at something radically different, to highlight crucial features. Let's begin, then, by looking at a society that is close to the opposite pole from ours: Brezhnev's USSR.
Consider policy formation. In Brezhnev's USSR, economic policy was determined in secret, by centralized power; popular involvement was nil, except marginally, through the Communist Party. Political policy was in the same hands. The political system was meaningless, with virtually no flow from bottom to top.
Consider next the information system, inevitably constrained by the distribution of economic-political power. In Brezhnev's USSR there was a spectrum, bounded by disagreements within centralized power. True, the media were never obedient enough for the commissars. Thus they were bitterly condemned for undermining public morale during the war in Afghanistan, playing into the hands of the imperial aggressors and their local agents from whom the USSR was courageously defending the people of Afghanistan. For the totalitarian mind, no degree of servility is ever enough.
There were dissidents and alternative media: underground samizdat and foreign radio. According to a 1979 US government-funded study, 77% of blue-collar workers and 96% of the middle elite listened to foreign broadcasts, while the alternative press reached 45% of high-level professionals, 41% of political leaders, 27% of managers, and 14% of blue-collar workers. The study also found most people satisfied with living conditions, favoring state-provided medical care, and largely supportive of state control of heavy industry; emigration was more for personal than political reasons.
Dissidents were bitterly condemned as "anti-Soviet" and "supporters of capitalist imperialism," as demonstrated by the fact that they condemned the evils of the Soviet system instead of marching in parades denouncing the crimes of official enemies. They were also punished, not in the style of US dependencies such as El Salvador, but harshly enough.
The concept "anti-Soviet" is particularly striking. We find similar concepts in Nazi Germany, Brazil under the generals, and totalitarian cultures generally. In a relatively free society, the concept would simply evoke ridicule. Imagine, say, that Italian critics of state power were condemned for "anti-Italianism." Such concepts as "anti-Soviet" are the very hallmark of a totalitarian culture; only the most dedicated and humorless commissar could use such terms.
Well-behaved party hacks were guilty of no such crimes as anti-Sovietism. Their task was to applaud the state and its leaders; or even better, criticize them for deviating from their grand principles, thus instilling the propaganda line by presupposition rather than assertion, always the most effective technique.
With these observations as background, let us turn to our own free society.
Begin again with policy formation. Economic policy is determined in secret; in law and in principle, popular involvement is nil. The Fortune 500 are more diverse than the Politburo, and market mechanisms provide far more diversity than in a command economy. But a corporation, factory, or business is the economic equivalent of fascism: decisions and control are strictly top-down. People are not compelled to purchase the products or rent themselves to survive, but those are the sole choices.
The political system is closely linked to economic power, both through personnel and broader constraints on policy. Efforts of the public to enter the political arena must be barred: liberal elites see such efforts as a dangerous "crisis of democracy," and they are intolerable to statist reactionaries ("conservatives"). The political system has virtually no flow from bottom to top, apart from the local level; the general public appears to regard it as largely meaningless.
The media present a spectrum of opinion, largely reflecting tactical divisions within the state-corporate nexus. True, they are never obedient enough for the commissars. The media were bitterly condemned for undermining public morale during the war in Vietnam, playing into the hands of the imperial aggressors and their local agents from whom the US was courageously defending the people of Vietnam; a Freedom House study provides a dramatic example. For the totalitarian mind, again, no degree of servility is enough.
There are dissidents and other information sources. Foreign radio broadcasts reach virtually no one, but alternative media exist, though without a tiny fraction of the outreach of samizdat. Dissidents are bitterly condemned as "anti-American" and "supporters of Communism" as demonstrated by the fact that they condemn the evils of the American system instead of marching in parades denouncing the crimes of official enemies. But they are not severely punished, at least if they are privileged and of the right color. Again, the concept "anti-American" is particularly striking, the very hallmark of a totalitarian mentality."
Just one example of Chomsky's brilliant analysis contained in this seminal study of how the major US media works together with the US government and its corporate interests to undermine democracy. A must read for any student of journalism.
Chomsky is the American Empire's worst enemy. Like anyone who challenges powerful interests and their claims to authority, he has been the target of an unrelenting, but increasingly ineffectual (sometimes comical), smear campaign. Noam Chomsky is a national treasure and a credit to the human species. Read Chomsky's "Letters", or anything else by one of the world's leading advocates for democracy and freedom.
This short book is lucidly written and full of Chomsky's subtle humor. It is Chomsky at his best and most accessible.