Understanding power

1 August 2016Review

Hamish Hamilton, 2016; 320pp; £18.99

Reviewing Noam Chomsky’s first book in 1969, Robert Sklar wrote in The Nation that the importance of American Power and the New Mandarins lay in its power ‘to free our minds from old perspectives, to stimulate new efforts at historical, political and social thought’.

Chomsky’s latest book, Who Rules the World? is at least as powerful in ‘freeing our minds’. Chomsky is not a sloganeer – in his very first sentence he admits that ‘The question raised by the…

1 July 2013Feature

One of the world’s leading activist trainers draws on decades of experience

I want to give a warning shot to anti-oppression trainers and activists. My bottom line is this: we need to stop applying theory onto people’s experiences, wielding it like a weapon to describe what we believe whether we actually see it in a room or not. It’s not smart organising, creates intense backlash, and shrinks – not grows – our movements.

An organiser recently shared with me an example of what I’m talking about.

He was working in a union that represents workers at a…

1 March 2012Comment

Western powers wanted 'leadership change, regime stabilisation' in Libya

In a letter printed last issue, Martin S Gilbert questioned our earlier article about Libya (PN 2537), asking: ‘If it was a coup, how could western “spooks” have gained control?’ and ‘how could this popular revolution be turned into a coup?’ He suggested that: ‘This was the Spanish civil war of our time, an event that could have stopped Hitler.’ He criticised the approach of the Socialist Workers’ Party, which he characterised as: ‘if it’s American and NATO, it must be bad’, and he called…

1 December 2011News

The government boosted company profits, while increasing inequality and global hunger

The 30 November strikes by 24 unions in Britain (the biggest for several generations), the protests in Greece and Spain, the global wave of Occupy camps, and the student protests are all caused by the way that governments are reacting to the financial crisis of 2008.

Governments could have chosen to respond by tightening regulation on reckless financial institutions, by redistributing wealth and power and by protecting the poor and the vulnerable from the crisis. Instead, governments…

1 October 2011Feature

In time for the PN-initiated Rebellious Media Conference, a brief guide to the classic analysis of the mainstream media by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, co-authors of Manufacturing Consent.

According to Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Propaganda Model (PM) of the media, the mainstream media do not operate as a fourth estate. Although they may challenge individuals and even governments, they do not challenge the edifice behind which the concentrations of economic and political power are maintained. Events that might threaten established interests are either ignored or treated with indignation, whereas events that bolster support for the status quo are given a lot of attention,…

1 September 2011Review

9/11 (Seven Stories Press 2011, rev. ed. 176pp, £8.99); Power and Terror: Conflict, Hegemony and the Rule of Force (Pluto 2011, rev. ed., 224pp, £12.99); New World of Indigenous Resistance: Noam Chomsky and voices from North, South and Central America (City Lights Books 2010, 416pp, £17.99)  

Asked days after the 11 September 2001 attacks if US president George W Bush’s “war on terror” was winnable, Noam Chomsky responded: “If we want to consider this question seriously, we should recognise that in much of the world the US is regarded as a leading terrorist state, and with good reason. We might bear in mind, for example, that in 1986 the US was condemned by the World Court for ‘unlawful use of force’ (international terrorism) and then vetoed a Security Council resolution calling…

1 July 2011Feature

Milan Rai recaps the Chomsky-Herman "Propaganda Model" of the mainstream media.

When the idea of the Rebellious Media Conference first bubbled up a year ago, there were two things that we really wanted to achieve with the event. We wanted to inspire people with excellent examples of radical media – the extraordinary achievements of The NewStandard were a prime example (see articles on this page). We also wanted to get a much wider circle of people (activists, journalists and others) engaging seriously with the Chomsky-Herman Propaganda Model of the media. (There are…

1 April 2009Comment

The British press has been marking the 25th anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike of 1984-5, a shattering event for many of us who lived through it. The strike was one of the major events of postwar British history, marking a turning point for owners and managers, supported by the state, in exerting their authority over working people.

The strike was ignited by a government programme of pit closures aimed at breaking the power of the National Union of Mineworkers, and thereby…

1 April 2008Feature

On 19 March, the British prime minister launched the much–delayed National Security Strategy (NSS) – to little enthusiasm. The Daily Telegraph (which accompanied its report with a picture from Dad's Army) described the document as "a disappointing damp squib".

The report says that Britain faces "diverse and interconnected" threats, including pandemic influenza, failed states, transnational crime, terrorism and the proliferation of WMD. These have "diverse and interconnected"…