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“I will not tolerate civil disobedience in the city of Boston.”—
Mayor Tom Menino ensuring that he will end up on the wrong side of history.
Q+A With Noam Chomsky at Occupy Boston
- Q: What about the ruling class in America? How likely is it that they’ll have an open fascist system here?
- Chomsky: I think it’s very unlikely frankly. They don’t have the force. About a century ago, in the freest countries in the world, Britain and the United Sates at the time, the dominant classes came to understand that they can’t control the population by force any longer. Too much freedom had been won by struggles like these, and they realized it. It’s discussed in their literature. They recognize that they’re going to have to shift their tactics to control of attitudes and beliefs instead of just the cudgel. It can’t do what it used to do. You have to control attitudes and beliefs. In fact that’s when the public relations industry began. It began in the United States and England. The free countries where you had to control beliefs and attitudes, to induce consumerism, to induce passivity, apathy and distraction. It’s a barrier, but it’s a lot easier to overcome than torture and the Gestapo. I don’t think the circumstances are any longer there to institute anything like what we call fascism.
Last night I sat in my room watching live streaming video of the OccupyBoston movement at the Kennedy Greenway. Why I was sitting in my room and not standing in solidarity at the Greenway is a separate issue; however, the coverage on live stream, Twitter, and Facebook sparked thoughts and energy in my mind.
I have written in the past on my ideas of dissipating national unity in my home state of Kansas. Now, I want to comment on that idea as a larger issue that I see as a nationwide problem.
Last night while watching this coverage I was chatting with a friend who is a self-proclaimed Socialist. When I met this friend a little over a year ago he explained how he was known in his high school for these Socialist ideas. At that time I sensed the desire and enthusiasm for social change in America. Last night, what I sensed was a total loss of hope for change. Instead, my friend admitted that, although he wished it wasn’t so, he had to buy into the existing system. He used language such as “for my success I need to do this.”
That is when it hit me. American’s often use language such as “I, my, mine.” And that language is what will lead to the failure of our nation. It takes away from our collective identity as Americans and instead focuses solely on individual success.
For our success as a united nation, ideas such as “we, us, and ours” seem more fitting. Together, we must turn to civic engagement to determine our collective common good. We are a nation full of farmers, businessmen, musicians, teachers … achievers, believers, humanitarians, pragmatists, and innovators — yes, each an individual, but each also capable of making this nation something exceptional if we work together for our collective success.
It is all very complex, but at the end of the day we are all humans. We are real people with friends, families, and neighbors. And, I believe in us.