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Chomsky on 1968: the year of no assassinations of note

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Noam Chomsky on 1968

New Statesman, 8 May 2008, p.26

Nineteen sixty-eight was one exciting moment in a much larger movement. It spawned a whole range of movements. There wouldn't have been an international global solidarity movement, for instance, without the events of 1968. It was enormous, in terms of human rights, ethnic rights, a concern for the environment, too.

The Pentagon Papers (the 7,000-page, top-secret US government report into the Vietnam War) are proof of this: right after the Tet Offensive, the business world turned against the war, because they thought it was too costly, even though there were proposals within the government - and we know this now - to send in more American troops. Then LBJ announced he wouldn't be sending any more troops to Vietnam.

The Pentagon Papers tell us that, because of the fear of growing unrest in the cities, the government had to end the war - it wasn't sure that it was going to have enough troops to send to Vietnam and enough troops on the domestic front to quell the riots.

One of the most interesting reactions to come out of 1968 was in the first publication of the Trilateral Commission, which believed there was a "crisis of democracy" from too much participation of the masses. In the late 1960s, the masses were supposed to be passive, not entering into the public arena and having their voices heard. When they did, it was called an "excess of democracy" and people feared it put too much pressure on the system. The only group that never expressed its opinions too much was the corporate group, because that was the group whose involvement in politics was acceptable.

The commission called for more moderation in democracy and a return to passivity. It said the "institutions of indoctrination" - schools, churches - were not doing their job, and these had to be harsher.

The more reactionary standard was much harsher in its reaction to the events of 1968, in that it tried to repress democracy, which has succeeded to an extent - but not really, because these social and activist movements have now grown. For example, it was unimaginable in 1968 that there would be an international Solidarity group in 1980.

But democracy is even stronger now than it was in 1968. You have to remember that, during Vietnam, there was no opposition at the beginning of the war. It did develop, but only six years after John F Kennedy attacked South Vietnam and troop casualties were mounting. However, with the Iraq War, opposition was there from the very beginning, before an attack was even initiated. The Iraq War was the first conflict in western history in which an imperialist war was massively protested against before it had even been launched.

There are other differences, too. In 1968, it was way out in the margins of society to even discuss the possibility of withdrawal from Vietnam. Now, every presidential candidate mentions withdrawal from Iraq as a real policy choice.

There is also far greater opposition to oppression now than there was before. For example, the US used routinely to support or initiate military coups in Latin America. But the last time the US supported a military coup was in 2002 in Venezuela, and even then they had to back off very quickly because there was public opposition. They just can't do the kinds of things they used to.

So, I think the impact of 1968 was long-lasting and, overall, positive.

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Two things are noteworthy in this quote from our Official McLeftist.

Even in this brief snippet he snipers JFK with a side reference ,that is immune from contextual analysis only because it is so far off topic. Its the Mrs. Paines Garage tactic typical of the Barnes and Noble latest marketing tactic, their "Who Would Have Known Table", which is up front just behind the new biographies.

More importantly, he continues to nourish his baby; the dichotomy between his favorite word "institutions" on the one hand, and politicians, and the words that come out of their mouth, on the other. He thus conflates the Good Leftists Schwiegs rightly earned cynicism about liberalism post 1968 with ALL liberalism before then.

Institutions. What does that mean, Herr Professor. Wouldn't that mean the media too? If so wouldn't that also include the range of opinions that millions

a) got to hear over network radio and TV or :tomatoes were prevented from hearing over network and TV (these voices being marginilized into smaller magazines and thus not being made to seem, Out There, not part of the mainstream etc.?

Maybe before we apply our cynicism about Rahm Emanuel and Terry Mcauliffe's money laundering opperation--known to Professionals as the Democratic Party-- to those shot from the rapidly privatizing airwaves of 1968, we should compare the speeches of RFK and MLK to the two helmspersons of equivocation, O'bomb'em and Hillary Rodham Bush.

The media, too is an institution. When a substantive alternative to the status quo is allowed access to tens of millions of eardrums, it can begin to have a reciprocal effect on grass roots movements. I don't care how cynical one is about RFK, one cannot deny that comparing him to the Search (us) and Destroy campaigns of Emanuel and Mcauliffes and their professional equivocators is day and night.

Killing a voice that could reach millions, and replacing it with static; that, too, might be an institution of control Uncle Noam.

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...the two helmspersons of equivocation, O'bomb'em and Hillary Rodham Bush.

Famous "mis-speakers," both: From Rodham Bush, the heroine of the Bosnian airport siege (bombardment by flowers), to the man whose relative - not forgetting the rest of his US military unit - liberated Auschwitz. And both apparently alarmingly keen to commit genocide against the people of Iran.

Private Igor Basilikov, disgruntled Red Army vet.

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