Thursday, 2 July 2015

Transcript of interview between Noam Chomsky and Andrew Marr (Feb. 14, 1996)

Recently I had reason to watch a 1996 interview of Noam Chomsky by Scottish reporter Andrew Marr. I started making notes on the interview, which expanded into extended quotes, and ended up becoming a full transcript. I thought I would post it here for somewhere to post it, and on the chance that it may be of some use to someone else who prefers to read rather than listen. I found it quite amusing... (Chomsky to Marr: "I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying.")

While I try to be pedantic, all mistakes in the text below are mine.

Title: Noam Chomsky on Propaganda - The Big Idea - Interview with Andrew Marr
Date: Feb. 14, 1996
Length: 30:17


Introduction by Andrew Marr [Begins: 00:27]

“Do you believe what you read in the media? I’m not talking about Di and Fergie, but about the important stuff, politics and economics. Has it ever occurred to you that it could be a system of propaganda designed to limit how you imagine the world? Well, that’s the view of Noam Chomsky, whose been teaching here in Boston for the last 30 years. Described as American’s leading dissident, he’s based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where although it’s very cold, it isn’t exactly the Gulag Archipelago. As a working journalist myself, I’ve come to talk to Professor Chomsky about bias in the media.”

“Orwell’s nightmare. A place where propaganda rules. Where thought is controlled. [Except from the film 19841: “Comrades attention! Here is a special bulletin from the Ministry of Peace”] It’s now a familiar, if chilling, Cold War fable. Most of us would say it’s old hat. But is it?” [Except from the film 1984: “The Thought Police are joining you”]

[Excerpt from a B/W film reel on Fleet Street: “The chief job of a newspaper is to inform. To tell people…] For decades freedoms of thought and expression have been central to western democracy. The media sees itself as free, fearless, stroppy, and for many in power the press are too strong. So the idea that Orwell’s warning is still relevant may seem bizarre. But not to Noam Chomsky, who thinks the image of a true seeking media is a sham. Chomsky’s devoted his life to questioning western state power.”

“Having virtually invented modern linguistics by the age of 30, Chomsky joined the gathering swirl of protests in the 60s. [Early recording of Noam Chomsky: “I’m Noam Chomsky and I’m on the Faculty of MIT, and I’ve been getting more and more heavily involved in anti-war activities for the last few years.”]

“Since then, Chomsky has championed a brand of anarchism, becoming deeply hostile to established power and privilege. And in recent years he’s refined, what he calls, the propaganda model of the media. He claims that the mass media brainwash under freedom. Not only do the media systematically suppress and distort, when they do present facts, the context obscures their real meaning.”

“The invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian army caused indescribable slaughter. Hundred’s of thousands died. But it was more or less ignored by the main stream western media because, Chomsky argues, we were selling arms to the aggressors. But wars where the west’s interests are directly involved get a different treatment. For Chomsky, coverage of the Gulf War was servile, trivial criticisms were aired, fundamental ones were ignored.”

“Naturally Chomsky has numerous critics. Is the media so influential? Have dissident views really been excluded in an age of relative media diversity? In the age of the Internet? What about Chomsky’s own access? What about this very program?”

Interview [Begins 04:23]

Marr: “Professor Chomsky, can we start by listening to you explain what the propaganda model, as you call it, is? For many people the idea that propaganda is used by democratic rather that merely authoritarian governments will be a strange one.”

Chomsky: “Well, the term propaganda fell into disfavour around the Second World War, but in the 1920s and 1930s it was commonly used. And in fact advocated, by leading intellectuals, by the founders of modern political science, by Wilsonian progressives, and of course by the public relations industry as a necessary technique to overcome the danger of democracy. The institutional structure of the media is quite straight forward, we’re talking about the United States, but it’s not very different elsewhere. The major - there are sectors - but the agenda setting media, the one’s that sort of set the framework for everyone else, like The New York Times and The Washington Post and so on, these are major corporations, parts of even bigger conglomerates. Like other corporate institutions they have a product and a market. Their market is advertisers, that is other businesses, their product is privileged, relatively privileged audiences. More or less…”

Marr: “Their selling audiences to corporations.”

Chomsky: “Their selling privileged audiences. These are big business, big corporations selling privileged audiences to other corporations. Now the question is, what picture of the world would a rational person expect to come out of this structure? Then we draw some conclusions about what you would expect, and then we check, and yes, that’s the picture of the world that comes out.”

Marr: “And is this anything more than the idea that basically the press is relatively right wing with some exceptions because it’s owned by big business? Which is a truism, is well know.”

Chomsky: “Well I would call the press relatively liberal. Here I agree with the right wing critics. So especially The New York Times and The Washington Post, which are called, without a trace of irony, The New York Times is called the ‘establishment left,’ in say, major foreign policy journals. And that’s correct, but what’s not recognised is that the role of the liberal intellectual establishment is to set very sharp bounds on how far you can go. This far, and no further.”

Marr: “Give me some examples of that.”

Chomsky: “Well, let’s take say the Vietnam War. Probably the leading critic, and in fact one of the leading dissident intellectuals in the main stream is Anthony Lewis of The New York Times. Who did finally come around to opposing the Vietnam War about 1969. About a year and a half after corporate America had more or less ordered Washington to call it off. And his picture from then on is that the war as he put it began with blundering efforts to do good, but it ended up by 1969 being a disaster and costing us too much. That’s the criticism.”

Marr: “So what would the non-propaganda model have told Americans about the Vietnam War at the same time?”

Chomsky: “Same thing that the main stream press was telling them about Afghanistan. The United States invaded South… had first of all in the 1950s had set up a standard Latin American-style terror state which had massacred 10,000s of people, but was unable to control local, a local uprising and everyone knows, at least every specialist knows that what is was. And when Kennedy came in 1961 he had to make a decision because the government was collapsing under local attack so the US just invaded the country. In 1961 the US air force started bombing South Vietnamese civilians, authorised napalm, crop destruction. Then in 1965, January-February 1965, the next major escalation took place against South Vietnam. Not against North Vietnam, that was a side-show. That’s what an honest press would be saying, but you can’t find a trace of it.”

Marr: “If the press is a censoring organisation, tell me how that works. Is it… You're not suggesting that proprietors phone one another up [Chomsky: No] Or that many journalists get their copies spiked as we say?”

Chomsky: “It’s a, well actually, Orwell you may recall has an essay called ‘Literary censorship in England’, which was supposed to be the introduction to Animal Farm except that it never appeared. And which he points out, look, I’m writing about a totalitarian society but in free democratic England it’s not all that different. And then he says, unpopular ideas can be silenced without any force. [Marr: How? {inaudible}] He gives a two sentence response, which is not very profound, but captures it2. He says two reasons, first the press is owned by wealthy men who have every interest in not having certain things appear, but second the whole educational system from the beginning on through just gets you to understand that there are certain things you just don’t say. Well, spelling these things out, that’s perfectly correct. I mean, the first sentence is what we expanded on…”

Marr: “This is what I don’t get, because it suggests that - I mean I’m a journalist - people like me are self-censoring.”

Chomsky: “No, not self-censoring. You’re, there’s a filtering system, that starts in kindergarten, and goes all the way through, and it’s not going to work 100% but it’s pretty effective. It selects for obedience, and subordination, and especially I think… [Marr: So stroppy people won’t make it to positions of influence] There’ll be behavioural problems. If you read applications to a graduate school you’ll see that people will tell you, he’s not, he doesn’t get along too well with his colleagues, you know how to interpret those things.”

Marr: “I’m just interested in this because I was brought up like a lot of people, probably post-Watergate film and so on to believe that journalism was a crusading craft and there were a lot of disputatious, stroppy, difficult people in journalism, and I have to say, I think I know some of them.”

Chomsky: “Well, I know some of the best, and best known investigative reporters in the United States, I won’t mention names, {inaudible}, whose attitude towards the media is much more cynical than mine. In fact, they regard the media as a sham. And they know, and they consciously talk about how they try to play it like a violin. If they see a little opening, they’ll try to squeeze something in that ordinarily wouldn’t make it through. And it’s perfectly true that the majority - I’m sure you’re speaking for the majority of journalists who are trained, have it driven into their heads, that this is a crusading profession, adversarial, we stand up against power. A very self-serving view. On the other hand, in my opinion, I hate to make a value judgement but, the better journalists and in fact the ones who are often regarded as the best journalists have quite a different picture. And I think a very realistic one.”

Marr: “How can you know that I’m self-censoring? How can you know that journalists are..”

Chomsky: “I’m not saying your self censoring. I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying. But what I’m saying is that if you believe something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting.”

Marr: “We have a press, which has, seems to me, has a relatively wide range of views… There is a pretty small ‘c’ conservative majority, but there are left wing papers, there are liberal papers and there is a pretty large offering of views running from the far right to the far left for those who want them. I don’t see how a propaganda model can…”

Chomsky: “That’s not quite true. I mean there have been good studies of the British press and you can look at them, by James Curran3 is the major one, which points out that up until the 1960s there was indeed a kind of a social democratic press which sort of represented much of the interests of working people and ordinary people and so on, and it was very successful. I mean in the Daily Herald, for example, had not only more… it had far higher circulation than other newspapers, but also a dedicated circulation, furthermore the tabloids at that time, The Mirror and The Sun, were kind of labor based. That, by the 60s, that was all gone. And it disappeared under the pressure of capital resources. What was left was overwhelmingly the sort of center-to-right press, with some dissidents, it’s true.”

Mann: “I mean, we’ve got, I’d say a couple of large circulation newspapers which are left-of-center. Which are, which are, you know putting in neo-Keynesian views which the, you call the elites, are strongly hostile to.”

Chomsky: “It’s interesting that you call neo-Keynesian left-of-center, I would just call it straight and center. The… I mean left-of-center is a value term. [Marr: sure] But there’s, there’s… there are extremely good journalists in England. A number of them write very honestly, and very good material, a lot of what they write couldn’t appear here. On the other hand, if you look at the question overall I don’t think you are going to find a big difference. And the few, there aren’t many studies of the British press, but the few that there are have found pretty much the same results and I think the better journalists will tell you that. In fact, we, what you have to do is check it out in cases. Let’s take what I just mentioned, the Vietnam War. The British press did not have the kind of stake in the Vietnam War that the American press did, because they weren’t fighting, but just check sometime and find how many times you can find the American war in Vietnam described as a US attack against South Vietnam, beginning clearly with outright aggression in 1961 and escalating to massive aggression in 65. If you can find .001% of the coverage saying that you’ll surprise me. And in a free press a 100% of it would have being saying that. Now that is just a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with left and right.”

Marr: “Let me come up to a more modern war, which was the Gulf War. Which again, you know, looking at the press in Britain and watching television, including some American television. I was very very well aware of the anti-Gulf War dissidents. [Chomsky: ‘Were you?’] The ‘No Blood for Oil’ campaigns. [Chomsky: ‘That’s not the {inaudible}. That’s not the dissidents.’] ‘No Blood for Oil’ isn’t the dissidents?’

Chomsky: “Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait took place on Aug. 2nd. From August, within a few days the great fear in Washington was that Saddam Hussein was going to withdraw and leave a puppet government, which would be pretty much what the US had just done in Panama. The US and Britain therefore moved very quickly to try to undercut the danger of withdrawal. By late August, negotiation offers were coming from Iraq calling for a negotiated Iraqi withdrawal. The press wouldn’t publish them here, they never published them in England. It did leak, however… [Marr: There was a great debate about whether there should have been a negotiated settlement.] Sorry, no, there was not a debate. There was a debate about whether you should continue with sanctions, which is a different question. Cause the fact of the matter is we have good evidence that by late, by mid-or-late August that sanctions had already worked. Because these stories were coming from high American officials in the State Department, former American officials like Richard Helm. They couldn’t get the main stream press to cover them, but they did manage to get one journal to cover it – Newsday – that’s a suburban journal in Long Island, the purpose obviously being to smoke out The New York Times, as that’s the only thing that matters. It came out in Newsday, and this continued, I won’t go through the details, but this continued until January 2nd. At that time, the offers that were coming were apparently so meaningful that the State Department, that State Department officials were saying that, look this is negotiable, meaningful, maybe we won’t accept everything but its certainly a basis for a negotiated withdrawal. The press would not cover it. Newsday did, a few other people did, I have a couple of Op-Eds on it, and to my knowledge, you can check this, the first reference to any of this in England is actually in an article I wrote in the Guardian which was in early January. You can check and see if there is an earlier reference.

Marr: “OK, let’s look a one of the other key examples which you’ve looked at too which would appear to go against your idea which is the Watergate affair.

Chomsky: “Watergate is a perfect example, we’ve discussed it at length in our book in fact and elsewhere. It’s a perfect example of the way the press was subordinated to power.”

Marr: “But this brought down a president!”

Chomsky: “Let me give you a… Just a minute, let’s take a look. What happened there… Here it’s kind of interesting, because you can’t do experiments in history, but here history was kind enough to set one up for us. The Watergate exposures happened to take place at exactly the same time as another set of exposures, namely the exposures of COINTELPRO.”

Marr: “Sorry, you’ll have to explain that.”

Chomsky: “It’s interesting that I have to explain it because it’s vastly more significant than Watergate. That already makes my point. COINTELPRO was a program of subversion, carried out, not by a couple of petty crooks, but by the national political police, the FBI, under four administrations. It began in the late Eisenhower administration, ran up till…”

Marr: “This is aimed at the Socialist Workers Party…”

Chomsky: “The Socialist Workers Party was one tiny fragment of it. It began… By the time it got through, I won’t run through the whole story, it was aimed at the entire New Left, at the women’s movement, at the whole black movement. It was extremely broad. It’s actions went as far as political assassination. Now what’s the difference between the two? Very clear. In Watergate, Richard Nixon went after half of US private power, namely the Democratic Party. And power can defend itself. So therefore that’s a scandal. He didn’t do anything, nothing happened. I was on Nixon’s enemies list. I didn’t even know, nothing ever happened.

Marr: “Nonetheless, you wouldn’t say it was an insignificant event?”

Chomsky: “It was a case where half of US power defended itself against a person who had obviously stepped out of line. That’s… So, and the fact that the press thought that was important shows that they think powerful people ought to be able to defend themselves. Now whether there was a question of principal was involved happens to be easily checked in this case. One tiny part of the COINTELPRO program was itself far more significant in terms of principal that all of Watergate. And if you look at the whole program, I mean it’s not even a discussion. But you had to ask me what COINTELPRO is, you know what Watergate is. There couldn’t be a more dramatic example of the subordination of the educated opinion to power here in England as well as in the United States.

Marr: “I know you’ve concentrated on foreign affairs and some of these key areas. [Chomsky: I’ve written a lot about domestic politics.] But, well I’ll later come onto that. But it still seems to me that on a range of pretty important issues for the establishment there is serious dissent. [Chomsky: That’s right] Gingrich and his neoconservative agenda in America has been pretty savagely lampooned. The apparently fixed succession for the Republican candidacy at the presidential election has come apart. Clinton, who is a powerful figure, is having great difficulty with Whitewater. Everywhere one looks, one sees disjunctures, openings…”

Chomsky: “Within a spectrum so narrow that you really have to look hard to find…

Marr: “Let me, can I just stop you there, because you say the spectrum is narrow, but on the one hand… [Chomsky: Can I illustrate? May I illustrate?] you have flat-tax Republicans right the way through to relatively big state Democrats.

Chomsky: Find one, find a big state Democrat. The position now is exactly what Clinton said. The era of big government is over, big government has failed, the war on poverty has failed, we have to get rid of this entitlement business. That was Clinton’s campaign message in 1992. That’s the Democrats. The difference… What you have now is a difference between sort of moderate Republicans and extreme Republicans. Actually it’s well known that there has been a long standing sort of split in the American business community, it’s not precise but it’s sort of general, between high-tech, capital intensive, internationally orientated business which tends to be what’s called liberal, and lower-tech, more nationally orientated, more labor-intensive industry which is what’s called conservative. Now between those sectors there have been differences and in fact if you take a look at American politics it oscillates pretty much between those limits. There’s good work on this incidentally, the person whose done the most extensive work is Thomas Ferguson4 whose a political scientist here.”

Marr: “One more example which will have some resonance in Britain and Europe is the great argument over the North American Free Trade Association, the NAFTA argument [Chomsky: Interesting] If there is something that one could describe as a global opposition movement, that is, trade union, environmental, community-based then it was certainly present in the anti-NAFTA. [Chomsky: Shall I tell you what happened? Shall I tell you what happened?] All I was going to say is that those arguments were well, we were well aware of those arguments.”

Chomsky: “No. That is flatly false. They were not permitted into the press and I’ve documented this. I’ll give you references if you like. [Marr: We read all about it in Britain is all I would say] No you did not. [Marr: Sorry, yes we did, yes we did!] Well I’ll ask you, did you read the report of the Office of Technology Association of Congress? Sorry. Did you read the report of the Labor Advisory Committee? [Marr: Well, I don’t get these reports.] Sorry.  [Marr: I read many articles about the anti-NAFTA argument] I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you. [It’s very interesting stuff?] I’m sorry. If you are interested in the facts, I’ll tell you what they are and I’ll even give you sources. The NAFTA agreement was signed, more or less in secret, by the three Presidents in mid-August, at the time of the, right in the middle of the presidential campaign - in mid-August. Now there’s a law in the United States, 1974 Trade Act, which requires that any trade related issue be submitted to the Labor Advisory Committee, which is union based, for assessment and analysis. It was never submitted to them. A day before they were supposed to give their final report in mid-September it was finally submitted to them. They were infuriated, the unions are very, are pretty right-wing, but they were infuriated. They had never been shown this. They had strong… Even at the time they had to write the… They had 24 hours to write the report. They hadn’t even looked at the text. Nevertheless they wrote a very vigorous analysis of it with alternatives presented saying, look we’re not against NAFTA, we’re against this version of it. They gave a good analysis, happened to be very similar to one that had been given by the Congressional Research Service, the Office of Technology Assessment. None of this ever entered the press. The only thing that entered the press was the kind of critique that they were willing to deal with. Mexico bashing, right ring nationalism and so on, that entered the press, but not the critical analysis of the labor movement.

Marr: “Well somehow by some process of osmosis or something I picked up quite a lot of [Chomsky: No you didn’t] anti-NAFTA arguments, on the basis of worker protection, environmental degradation…”

Chomsky: “May I continue? This goes on in the press right until the end… By the end… There were big popular movements opposing it, it was extremely hard to suppress all of this. To suppress everything coming out of the labor movement, out of the popular movements and so on, but they did. At the very end it had reached such a point that there was concern that they might not be able to ram this through. Now take a look at The New York Times and The Washington Post, say the liberal media and the national ones in the last couple of weeks. And I’ll tell you about it, I’ve written about it and I’ll tell you what you find. What you find is 100% support for NAFTA, refusal to allow any of the popular arguments out, tremendous labor bashing…”

Marr: “Can I come back to make sure that I understand the point about the liberal press as against the conservative press, because in Britain over the last two years, politicians I come across are deeply irritated ranging on furious about attacks on them in the press, day after day, on issues which have come to be known as ‘sleaze’. [Chomsky: “That’s right”] They feel that they are harassed, they are misunderstood and that the press has got above itself, is uppity and is destructive. That’s the message that they are giving to us. Now are you saying that that whole process [Chomsky: That’s true] doesn’t matter? As it were because it’s all part of the same…”

Chomsky: “I mean when the press - the same thing is true here - when the press focuses on the sex lives of politicians reach for your pocket and see whose pulling out your wallet. I mean, because those are not the issues that matter to people. I mean they are of very marginal interest. The issues that matter to people are somewhere else. So as soon as you hear the press and presidential candidates and so on talking about values, as I say, put your hand on your wallet. You know that something else is happening.”

Marr: “But it’s been much more than, certainly with us, its been much more than bed hopping. It’s also been about taking money from [Chomsky: corruption] corporations, paying for political parties [Chomsky: corruption, corrupt judges, fine topic] corrupt politicians… [Chomsky: corrupt party…]

Chomsky: “Big business is not in favour of corruption, you know. And if the press focuses on corruption, Fortune Magazine will be quite happy. They don’t care about that. The don’t want the society to be corrupt, they want it to be run in their interest. That’s a different thing. Corruption interferes with that. So for example, when I was, I just happened to come back from India, the Bank of India released an estimate, economists there tell me its low, that a third of the economy is black, meaning mostly rich business men not paying their taxes. Well that makes the press, because in fact certainly transnationals don’t like it. They want the system to be run without corruption, robbery, bribes, and so on, just pouring money into their pockets. So yes, that’s a fine topic for the press. On the other hand the topics I’ve talked about are not fine topics because they’re much too significant.

Marr: “What would a press be like do you think without the propaganda model. What would we be reading in the papers that we don’t read about now?”

Chomsky: “I’ve just given a dozen examples. On every example that incidentally you’ve picked, I haven’t picked, I mean I could pick my own, I’m happy to let you pick them. On every one of those examples I think you can demonstrate there has been a severe distortion of what the facts of the matter are. This has nothing to do with left and right as I’ve been stressing, and it has left the population pretty confused and marginalised. A free press would just tell you the truth. This has nothing to do with left and right.”

Marr: “And given the power of big business, the power of the press, what can people do about this?”

Chomsky: “They can do exactly what people do in the Haitian slums and hills - organise. In Haiti, which is most, pick that, which is the most poorest country in the hemisphere they created a very vibrant, lively civil society. In the slums, in the hills, in conditions that most of us can’t even imagine. We can do the same much more easily.”

Marr: “You’ve got community activists in American [Chomsky: Yes, we do] You’ve got… I’m not talking about the so called Communitarian movement, but I’m talking about the local community activist writers all over the place…”

Chomsky: “All over the place. Take a city like Boston. All sorts of people, they don’t even know of each other’s existence. It’s… There’s a very large number of them. One of the things I do constantly is run around the country giving talks. One of my main purposes, and the purpose of the people who invite me, is to bring the people together, people in that area, who are working on the same things and don’t know of each other’s existence. Because the resources are so scattered, and the means of communication are so marginal, there isn’t just much they can do about it. Now there are things, plenty of things that are happening. So take say community based radio, which is sort of outside this {inaudible}

Marr: “I was going to ask you about that and the Internet which has certainly got pretty open access at the moment.”

Chomsky: “Well the Internet is, like most technologies, is a very double-edged sword. It has like any technology, including printing, it has a liberatory potential, but also has a repressive potential, and there’s a battle going on about which way it’s going to go as there was for radio and television and so on…

Marr: “About ownership and advertising…”

Chomsky: “Right, and about just what’s going to be in it, and whose going to have access to it. Remember incidentally that the Internet is an elite operation. Most of the population in the world haven’t even made a phone call, so they’re certainly not on the Internet. But nethertheless, it does have a democratising potential, and there’s a struggle going on right now as to whether that’s going to be realised or whether it will turn into something like a home marketing service, and a way of marginalising people even further. That discussion went on in the 1920s over radio and it’s interesting how it turned out. It went on over television, it’s not going on over the Internet. And that’s a matter of popular struggle. Look, we don’t live the way we did 200 years ago, or even 30 years ago. There’s been a lot of progress. It hasn’t been gifts from above. It’s been the result of people getting together and refusing to accept the dictates of authoritarian institutions. And there’s no reason to think that that’s over.”

Marr: “You been portrayed, and some would say occasionally portrayed yourself as a lonely dissident voice. You clearly don’t feel lonely at all.”

Chomsky: “I say nothing like that. I certainly do not portray myself that way. I can’t begin to accept a fraction of the invitations from around the country. I’m scheduled two years in advance. And of that I’m only selecting a fraction of [Marr: And you’re speaking to huge audiences] huge overflow, huge audiences. And these are not elite intellectuals either, these are mostly popular audiences. I probably spend 20 or 30 hours a week just answering letters from people all over the country and the world. I wish I felt a little more lonely. I don’t. Of course I’m not on NPR, I wouldn’t be in the main stream media, but I wouldn’t expect that. Why should they offer space to somebody whose trying to undermine their power, and to expose what they do? But that’s not lonely.

Marr: “Professor Chomsky, thank you very much.”

1 I think the film snippets come from the 1956 version of “1984”. Full movie available here:]

2 The full text of Orwell’s preface (actually called 'The Freedom of the Press') can be found here:
The paragraph that contains the sentiments Chomsky is referring to is:
“Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

3 A partial bibliography of Curran’s post-2002 work can be found here:]

4 A very limited selection of Ferguson's works are referenced on his Wikipedia page, and also a note attributed to Noam Chomsky of Ferguson being threatened at MIT for his political theories. Link:]


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Rafael said...

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time and effort documenting this.
I saw another Chomsky quote for the first time two days ago:
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." The Common Good p43