Beyond the Ballot

By Noam Chomsky

Entry 14620

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(1928 - )

Popluar Modern American Anarchist Author, Linguist, Scientist, and Historian

: Though his stance on these issues is that of an admitted anarchist/libertarian, Noam Chomsky prefers to act as an analyst and critic of the state rather than a social theorist.... Chomsky continues to teach at MIT, where he holds an endowed chair in linguistics. (From: Anarchy Archives.)
• "The importance of 'controlling the public mind' has been recognized with increasing clarity as popular struggles succeeded in extending the modalities of democracy, thus giving rise to what liberal elites call 'the crisis of democracy' as when normally passive and apathetic populations become organized and seek to enter the political arena to pursue their interests and demands, threatening stability and order. As Bernays explained the problem, with 'universal suffrage and universal schooling... at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the common people. For the masses promised to become king.'" (From: "Profit Over People," by Noam Chomsky, pages 53-54....)
• "Systems of unaccountable power do offer some choices to citizens. They can petition the king or the CEO, or join the ruling party. They can try to rent themselves to GE, or buy its products. They can struggle for rights within tyrannies, state and private, and in solidarity with others, can seek to limit or dismantle illegitimate power, pursuing traditional ideals, including those that animated the U.S. labor movement from its early origins: that those who work in the mills should own and run them." (From: "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 132, c....)
• "There are many factors driving global society towards a low-wage, low-growth, high-profit future, with increasing polarization and social disintegration. Another consequence is the fading of meaningful democratic processes as decision making is vested in private institutions and the quasi-governmental structures that are coalescing around them, what the Financial Times calls a 'de facto world government' that operates in secret and without accountability." (From: "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 127, c....)


On : of 0 Words

Beyond the Ballot

The US President Bush called last month’s Iraqi elections a “major milestone in the march to democracy.” They are indeed a milestone — just not the kind that Washington would welcome. Disregarding the standard declarations of benign intent on the part of leaders, let’s review the history. When Bush and Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, invaded Iraq, the pretext, insistently repeated, was a “single question”: Will Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction?

Within a few months this “single question” was answered the wrong way. Then, very quickly, the real reason for the invasion became Bush’s “messianic mission” to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East. Even apart from the timing, the democratization bandwagon runs up against the fact that the United States has tried, in every possible way, to prevent elections in Iraq.

Last January’s elections came about because of mass nonviolent resistance, for which the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani became a symbol. (The violent insurgency is another creature altogether from this popular movement.) Few competent observers would disagree with the editors of the Financial Times, who wrote last March that “the reason (the elections) took place was the insistence of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who vetoed three schemes by the US-led occupation authorities to shelve or dilute them.”

Elections, if taken seriously, mean you pay some attention to the will of the population. The crucial question for an invading army is: “Do they want us to be here?”

There is no lack of information about the answer. One important source is a poll for the British Ministry of Defense this past August, carried out by Iraqi university researchers and leaked to the British Press. It found that 82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops and less than 1 per cent believe they are responsible for any improvement in security.

Analysts of the Brookings Institution in Washington report that in November, 80 per cent of Iraqis favored “near-term US troop withdrawal.” Other sources generally concur. So the coalition forces should withdraw, as the population wants them to, instead of trying desperately to set up a client regime with military forces that they can control. But Bush and Blair still refuse to set a timetable for withdrawal, limiting themselves to token withdrawals as their goals are achieved.

There’s a good reason why the United States cannot tolerate a sovereign, more or less democratic Iraq. The issue can scarcely be raised because it conflicts with firmly established doctrine: We’re supposed to believe that the United States would have invaded Iraq if it was an island in the Indian Ocean and its main export was pickles, not petroleum.

As is obvious to anyone not committed to the party line, taking control of Iraq will enormously strengthen US power over global energy resources, a crucial lever of world control. Suppose that Iraq were to become sovereign and democratic. Imagine the policies it would be likely to pursue. The Shia population in the South, where much of Iraq’s oil is, would have a predominant influence. They would prefer friendly relations with Shia Iran.

The relations are already close. The Badr brigade, the militia that mostly controls the south, was trained in Iran. The highly influential clerics also have long-standing relations with Iran, including Sistani, who grew up there. And the Shia-dominant interim government has already begun to establish economic and possibly military relations with Iran.

Furthermore, right across the border in Saudi Arabia is a substantial, bitter Shia population. Any move toward independence in Iraq is likely to increase efforts to gain a degree of autonomy and justice there, too. This also happens to be the region where most of Saudi Arabia’s oil is. The outcome could be a loose Shia alliance comprising Iraq, Iran and the major oil regions of Saudi Arabia, independent of Washington and controlling large portions of the world’s oil reserves. It’s not unlikely that an independent bloc of this kind might follow Iran’s lead in developing major energy projects jointly with China and India.

Iran may give up on Western Europe, assuming that it will be unwilling to act independently of the United States. China, however, can’t be intimidated. That’s why the United States is so frightened by China.

China is already establishing relations with Iran — and even with Saudi Arabia, both military and economic. There is an Asian energy security grid, based on China and Russia, but probably bringing in India, Korea and others. If Iran moves in that direction, it can become the linchpin of that power grid.

Such developments, including a sovereign Iraq and possibly even major Saudi energy resources, would be the ultimate nightmare for Washington. Also, a labor movement is forming in Iraq, a very important one. Washington insists on keeping Saddam Hussein’s bitter anti-labor laws, but the labor movement continues its organizing work despite them.

Their activists are being killed. Nobody knows by whom, maybe by insurgents, maybe by former Baathists, maybe by somebody else. But they’re persisting. They constitute one of the major democratizing forces that have deep roots in Iraqi history, and that might revitalize, also much to the horror of the occupying forces. One critical question is how Westerners will react. Will we be on the side of the occupying forces trying to prevent democracy and sovereignty? Or will we be on the side of the Iraqi people?

(Source: Retrieved on 1st October 2021 from www.khaleejtimes.com.)

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

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February 15, 2022; 2:33:22 AM (America/Los_Angeles)
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