Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Church in Laodicea

The Church in Laodicea
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.

I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, "I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing;" not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore, I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. I correct and discipline those whom I love. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 
- Jesus' message to the Church in Laodicea, circa 95 AD (Revelation 3:15-20)

Laodicea was an ancient Roman free city in Asia Minor; the ruins of which today are located near the modern city of Denizli, in Southwestern Turkey. It was one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation. Many of Laodicea's inhabitants were Jewish and in the first century were Christianized by disciples of St. Paul (possibly by St. Epaphras who was mentioned in his letters to the Colossians and Philemon).

Laodicea was a very prosperous city which benefited from its location at the crossroads of economic trade routes and had large financial, black wool, and agricultural industries. It was a cosmopolitan city with a taste for the arts and literature. It also had a great medical school which specialized in diseases of the eye (ophthalmology). In addition, it had an impressive aqueduct system which carried hot mineral water from several miles away into the city; but by the time it got to the city though, it was tepid or lukewarm.

When Jesus talks about them being neither cold nor hot, he was probably making an analogy to the tepid, lukewarm water Laodicea was known for. As a character trait, being tepid is synonymous with being apathetic, unenthusiastic, indifferent, or uninterested. When we drink water or soda we want it to be cold, and when we drink coffee or tea we want it to be hot. Room temperature beverages just don't taste good; in fact, they can be quite unpalatable. What do we do when we've discovered our coffee has cooled to room temperature? We spit it out. "Cold and hot" are desirable compared to being lukewarm.

Holocost survivor Elie Wiesel once said, "The opposite of love is not's indifference." And indifference is treating others as if they didn't matter. All around us are people that society treats as inconsequential, having no value or importance, such as the homeless, the poor, the illegal immigrant, the handicapped, the old, the unborn, and many others. But more importantly, we become indifferent or apathetic towards God. We say we believe in God or we have faith, but our actions don't match up with our beliefs. We may go to Church on Sunday, but we don't live our faith during the week. If we're like this, then our faith and works are lukewarm and unpalatable to God.

When Jesus talks about the Laodicean's poverty, blindness, and nakedness, he was probably making an analogy to the city's wealth, medical science, and their black wool. Materially the city was wealthy, but spiritually they were poor; their medical school specialized in ophthalmology, yet they were spiritually blind; they made black wool, yet they were spiritually naked. And why were they spiritually poor, blind, and naked? It was because of their pursuit of material wealth that they didn't see the poverty all around them. The purpose of wealth is not to raise one's standard of living but to help improve society as a whole. By sharing our wealth with others we help cure society's ills and make life better for everyone.

The developed world today has become just like The Church in Laodicea. We're wealthy beyond our wildest dreams; we have some of the longest life-spans due to our medical science, and our closets are overflowing with clothing. Yet we're spiritually poor, blind, and naked just like the Laodiceans because we've become apathetic towards God and our neighbor and we've forgotten about the welfare of those less fortunate.

Companies drive themselves into spiritual bankruptcy when they pursue profits at any price forgetting about the people who helped make those profitsOur lifespans are getting shorter because we're working ourselves to death in pursuit of material wealth. We've become spiritually blind to the sufferings of the world by looking the other way when we see poverty, homelessness, chronic unemployment/under-employment,  corporate greed/dishonesty, and government inaction.

The solution to our society's spiritual poverty, blindness, and nakedness is to change our paradigms. Companies must stop maximizing "shareholder" value and instead maximize "stakeholder" value by spreading the wealth around. They could start by paying their workers a living wage and sharing their profits; if they did they'd prosper even more materially and spiritually. If they'd stop trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes our society would have more revenue to address society's ills such as chronic homelessness and poverty.

If each of us would keep our priorities straight by putting God first, others second, and ourselves third we'd live more meaningful lives. If we'd each do our part to take care of the disenfranchised and marginalized in our society, we'd become spiritually rich beyond our wildest dreams. The works of corporal mercy are to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and welcome the stranger, visit the sick, visit and ransom the captives, and to bury the dead.

Finally in Revelations 3:20 when Jesus says, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me." he's simply asking each of us to let him into our hearts and lives by repenting and changing our ways. We routinely invite our family and friends into our homes to eat with us; Jesus too wants to have an intimate relationship with us and he's knocking at our heart's door asking to come in. Jesus can change our lukewarm indifferent hearts so that we'll no longer pursue futile material wealth but true and lasting spiritual wealth through our love of God and our neighbor. 

Friday, February 23, 2018


by St. Pope John Paul II (1920 - 2005)

Your words open up for us grand and fascinating prospects that, for believers, are certainly further confirmations of their hope. And yet, we cannot forget that in every century, at the hour of truth, even Christians have asked themselves a tormenting question: How to continue to trust in a God who is supposed to be a merciful Father, in a God who-as the New Testament reveals-is meant to be Love itself, when suffering, injustice, sickness, and death seem to dominate the larger history of the world as well as our smaller daily lives? 

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis (The Cross remains constant while the world turns). As I stated earlier, we find ourselves at the center of the history of salvation. Naturally you could not fail to bring up that which is the source of recurring doubt not only in regard to the goodness of God but also in regard to His very existence. How could God have permitted so many wars, concentration camps, the Holocaust? 

Is the God who allows all this still truly Love, as Saint John proclaims in his First Letter? Indeed, is He just with respect to His creatures? Doesn't He place too many burdens on the shoulders of individuals? Doesn't He leave man alone with these burdens, condemning him to a life without hope? So many incurably ill people in hospitals, so many handicapped children, so many human lives completely denied ordinary happiness on this earth, the happiness that comes from love, marriage, and family. All this adds up to a bleak picture, which has found expression in ancient and modern literature. Consider, for example, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, or Albert Camus. 

God created man as rational and free, thereby placing Himself under man's judgment. The history of salvation is also the history of man's continual judgment of God. Not only of man's questions and doubts but of his actual judgment of God. In part, the Old Testament Book of Job is the paradigm of this judgment. There is also the intervention of the evil spirit, who, with even greater shrewdness than man, would judge not only man but God's actions in human history. This too is confirmed in the Book of Job. 

Scandalum Crucis (The Scandal of the Cross). In the preceding questions you addressed the problem precisely: Was putting His Son to death on the Cross necessary for the salvation of humanity? 

Given our present discussion, we must ask ourselves: Could it have been different? Could God have justified Himself before human history, so full of suffering, without placing Christ's Cross at the center of that history? Obviously, one response could be that God does not need to justify Himself to man. It is enough that He is omnipotent. From this perspective everything He does or allows must be accepted. This is the position of the biblical Job. But God, who besides being Omnipotence is Wisdom and-to repeat once again-Love, desires to justify Himself to mankind. He is not the Absolute that remains outside of the world, indifferent to human suffering. He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, a God who shares man's lot and participates in his destiny. This brings to light another inadequacy, the completely false image of God which the Enlightenment accepted uncritically. With regard to the Gospel, this image certainly represented a step backward, not in the direction of a better knowledge of God and the world, but in the direction of misunderstanding them. 

No, absolutely not! God is not someone who remains only outside of the world, content to be in Himself all-knowing and omnipotent. His wisdom and omnipotence are placed, by free choice, at the service of creation. If suffering is present in the history of humanity, one understands why His omnipotence was manifested in the omnipotence of humiliation on the Cross. The scandal of the Cross remains the key to the interpretation of the great mystery of suffering, which is so much a part of the history of mankind. Even contemporary critics of Christianity are in agreement on this point. Even they see that the crucified Christ is proof of God's solidarity with man in his suffering. God places Himself on the side of man. 

He does so in a radical way: "He emptied himself, / taking the form of a slave, / coming in human likeness; / and found human in appearance, / he humbled himself, / becoming obedient to death, / even death on a cross" (Phil 2:7-8). Everything is contained in this statement. All individual and collective suffering caused by the forces of nature and unleashed by man's free will-the wars, the gulags, and the holocausts: the Holocaust of the Jews but also, for example, the holocaust of the black slaves from Africa.


The objection of many people to the previous response is well known-the question of pain and evil in the world is not really faced but only displaced. Faith affirms that God is omnipotent. Why, then, hasn't He eliminated-and does He persist in not eliminating-suffering in the world He created? Aren't we being presented with a sort of "divine impotence," the kind spoken of even by people who are sincerely religious, though perhaps deeply troubled in their faith? 

Yes, in a certain sense one could say that confronted with our human freedom, God decided to make Himself "impotent." And one could say that God is paying for the great gift bestowed upon a being He created "in his image, after his likeness" (cf. Gn 1:26). Before this gift, He remains consistent, and places Himself before the judgment of man, before an illegitimate tribunal which asks Him provocative questions: "Then you are a king?" (cf. Jn 18:37); "Is it true that all which happens in the world, in the history of Israel, in the history of all nations, depends on you?" 

We know Christ's response to this question before Pilate's tribunal: "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth" (Jn 18:37). But then: "What is truth?" (Jn 18:38), and here ended the judicial proceeding, that tragic proceeding in which man accused God before the tribunal of his own history, and in which the sentence handed down did not conform to the truth. Pilate says: "I find no guilt in him" (Jn 18:38), and a second later he orders: "Take him yourselves and crucify him!" (Jn 19:6). In this way he washes his hands of the issue and returns the responsibility to the violent crowd. 

Therefore, the condemnation of God by man is not based on the truth, but on arrogance, on an underhanded conspiracy. Isn't this the truth about the history of humanity, the truth about our century? In our time the same condemnation has been repeated in many courts of oppressive totalitarian regimes. And isn't it also being repeated in the parliaments of democracies where, for example, laws are regularly passed condemning to death a person not yet born? . . . 

God is always on the side of the suffering. His omnipotence is manifested precisely in the fact that He freely accepted suffering. He could have chosen not to do so. He could have chosen to demonstrate His omnipotence even at the moment of the Crucifixion. In fact, it was proposed to Him: "Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe" (Mk 15:32). But He did not accept that challenge. The fact that He stayed on the Cross until the end, the fact that on the Cross He could say, as do all who suffer: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34), has remained in human history the strongest argument. If the agony on the Cross had not happened, the truth that God is Love would have been unfounded. 

Yes! God is Love and precisely for this He gave His Son, to reveal Himself completely as Love. Christ is the One who "loved to the end" (Jn 13:1). "To the end" means to the last breath. "To the end" means accepting all the consequences of man's sin, taking it upon Himself. This happened exactly as the prophet Isaiah affirmed: "It was our infirmities that he bore, / We had all gone astray like sheep, / each following his own way; / But the Lord laid upon him / the guilt of us all" (Is 53:4-6). 

The Man of Suffering is the revelation of that Love which "endures all things" (1 Cor 13:7), of that Love which is the "greatest" (cf. 1 Cor 13:13). It is the revelation not only that God is Love but also the One who "pours out love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (cf. Rom 5:5). In the end, before Christ Crucified, the man who shares in redemption will have the advantage over the man who sets himself up as an unbending judge of God's actions in his own life as well as in that of all humanity. 

Thus we find ourselves at the center of the history of salvation. The judgment of God becomes a judgment of man. The divine realm and the human realm of this event meet, cross, and overlap. Here we must stop. From the Mount of the Beatitudes, the road of the Good News leads to Calvary, and passes through Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Transfiguration. The difficulty and the challenge of understanding the meaning of Calvary is so great that God Himself wanted to warn the apostles of all that would have to happen between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. 

This is the definitive meaning of Good Friday: Man, you who judge God, who order Him to justify Himself before your tribunal, think about yourself, if you are not responsible for the death of this condemned man, if the judgment of God is not actually a judgment upon yourself. Consider if this judgment and its result-the Cross and then the Resurrection-are not your only way to salvation. 

When the archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin of Nazareth the birth of the Son, revealing that His Reign would be unending (cf. Lk 1:33), it was certainly difficult to foresee that those words augured such a future; that the Reign of God in the world would come about at such a cost; that from that moment on the history of the salvation of all humanity would have to follow such a path.

Only from that moment? Or also from the very beginning? The event at Calvary is a historical fact. Nevertheless, it is not limited in time and space. It goes back into the past, to the beginning, and opens toward the future until the end of history. It encompasses all places and times and all of mankind. Christ is the expectation and simultaneously the fulfillment. "There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12). 

Christianity is a religion of salvation-a soteriological religion, to use the theological term. Christian soteriology focuses on the Paschal Mystery. In order to hope for salvation from God, man must stop beneath Christ's Cross. Then, the Sunday after the Holy Sabbath, he must stand in front of the empty tomb and listen, like the women of Jerusalem: "He is not here, for he has been raised" (Mt 28:6). Contained within the Cross and the Resurrection is the certainty that God saves man, that He saves him through Christ, through His Cross and His Resurrection.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


by Bryan J. Neva, Sr. & Allen F. Laudenslager, Jr.

Accelerated promotion is when a manager is instrumental in advancing an employee based on their merit and long-term strategic thinking. Fast-tracking, on the other hand, is when a manager is instrumental in advancing an amoral, sycophantic employee who delivers short-term results.  In the former case, the manager invests time and effort in mentoring the employee. In the latter case, the manager does not invest time or energy but just demands results from the employee.

With accelerated promotion and fast-tracking, an employee must fit the organizational mold of the kind of person they want in management. In the old days, the mold was usually a tall, lean, healthy, handsome, hardworking, white male with an impressive education. But today with Equal Employment Opportunity laws, the mold has evolved to a tall, lean, healthy, hardworking, attractive person with an impressive education.

When an organization finds themselves top heavy with non-minority men, they'll fast-track minorities and women. Ideally, if they can find a minority woman, that would cover all the bases. This is what is called "The Token Minority" and it has more to do with protecting their backsides from an EEOC complaint or lawsuit than advancing the corporate agenda. 

But generally speaking, short, heavy, unhealthy, unattractive people with so-so educations and unpretentious personalities are rarely fast-tracked. Those who aspire to executive level positions based solely on their merit and hard work are usually left sorely disappointed and passed over for significant positions. The organization wants to keep them in their place to do the hard work and heavy lifting ... they just don't want them in charge.

Many organizations have formalized mentoring programs for employees. Typically if an employee wants to participate in mentoring in order to earn a promotion, the company will either assign them, or the employee can choose, a mentor at least one level above them. Minorities and women typically will be assigned a mentor several levels above them (possibly at the Director or Vice-President level) in order to accelerate their promotions. And when the mentor gets promoted, they'll typically pull their mentees up with them. Now, this can work against them too if they have a mentor whose career has stalled. There are other things organizations do too such as offering a leadership development program where they'll send employees to leadership classes and have them shadow senior executives. The reason for these programs are once again to create, at least the illusion of, fairness in the workplace and protect their backsides from an EEOC lawsuit. 

In our research for this article, we were unable to find any studies that tried to correlate the success rate of people who were accelerated or fast-tracked. In fact, it would be quite difficult to compile that type of data because they're rarely documented in personnel folders and records are kept confidential because of privacy laws. It's like an intelligence agency's list of secret agents: it's a closely guarded state secret and only certain people have a "need to know." Consequently, we have to think about accelerated promotion and fast-tracking anecdotally. 

General Colin Powell graduated from The City College of New York in 1958, receiving a commission in the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) upon graduation. Powell's first tour in Vietnam was as a South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) advisor from 1962 to 1963, but he was wounded when he stepped on a punji stake which resulted in a serious infection. This caused his foot to swell and made it very difficult for him to walk which shortened his first tour. In his autobiography, Powell said he was haunted by the nightmare of the Vietnam War and felt that the leadership was very ineffective.

The officers promoted during the Second World War and the Korean War were selected for their performance as combat officers. During the interwar years, between Korea and Vietnam, the qualities of a peacetime Army were very different than combat leadership. Officers became more like managers and administrators than combat leaders (at least at the higher ranks). Any problems caused by the troops could leave a black mark on their COs evaluations and they tended to view their troops as problems rather than resources and team members.

During Vietnam, both higher and lower-ranking officers were cycled on  6-month rotations to give as many people as possible combat leadership experience. This lead to officers being more concerned with their next assignment and "punching their tickets" rather than with the welfare of their troops. Men like Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and many other young leaders in Vietnam later tried to change these practices as they progressed up the chain of command.

But just as in civilian organizations, in the military the people with the best political skills get promoted. The big problem is separating the politically savvy officers from those who also have the ability to lead troops into combat. 

Powell joined Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig as one of only three generals following World War II to achieve 4-star rank without commanding a division (April 1989). General Powell was selected as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989 -1993). In addition to being the youngest Chairman at age 52, he was also the first ROTC officer to become Chairman and the first African-American. After the military, Colin Powell went on to become the 65th Secretary of State under President George W. Bush (2001 - 2005).

Colin Powell benefited from accelerated promotion and he helped shape the U.S. Army into what it is today. But did he make mistakes? Nothing really noteworthy. He was, in fact, a very good leader as well as a savvy politician. Some might argue that he was the "Token Minority," but we believe his record of accomplishments speaks for themselves especially his performance in the first Gulf War and he earned the respect of the majority of Americans. He is without a doubt an American hero!

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1960,  Jack Welch went to work for GE. After a year on the job, he almost quit but was persuaded to stay by his manager. And despite an explosion at a factory under his management in 1963, he didn't lose his job but remained on the fast-track to the top of the organization.

When Welch finally took over GE in 1981, he was the youngest person in the company's history to become CEO. The company was a stodgy, bloated, industrial organization with 411,000 employees and a value of about $13 billion. When Welch retired in 2001, GE had just 70,000 employees and a value of about $300 billion! The way Welch accomplished this feat at GE was he essentially fired everyone and selectively brought in new talent which is why he earned the nickname "Neutron Jack" (in reference to the neutron bomb, he eliminated all the people but the buildings were left intact). Welch was a very controversial CEO with his "profit-at-any-price," "throw the baby out with the bathwater" business strategy, and he epitomized the sycophantic, psychopathic, sociopathic, and narcissistic behavior so common among CEOs today. He was singularly focused on the shareholders of GE rather than on the welfare of all the other stakeholders of the company (especially the employees).

We believe Welch was fast-tracked to the top of GE because the top management was acutely aware of GE's problems as a bloated, bureaucratic organization and they wanted Welch to come in and shake things up, take names, and kick ass! They didn't want the status quo, and Welch exceeded their wildest expectations. In a way, you have to hand it to him for transforming such a large organization into a lean one, but the way he went about it was very inhumane.

In August 2014, Welch and his wife Suzie published an article entitled, "Five Ways to Fast Track Your Promotion."  These are 1) Over-Deliver - consistently deliver great results and deliver them right  away; do more than you have to (translation: work 80 hours a week); 2) Don't Make your Boss Play Defense - don't do anything careless so your boss has to defend you (translation: make your boss look good by not doing anything stupid)3) Love Everyone - play politics with everyone (translation: win a popularity contest with your superiors); 4) Volunteer for Tough Duty (translation: work 112 hours a week); 5) Seek Mentors... Everywhere - play politics with your superiors (translation: win a popularity contest with all the managers in the company by being a sycophant).

So what can we conclude from all this? First of all, we have to ask the question, is fast-tracking even ethical? We believe that it is NOT! In fact, fast-tracking has consistently been used to exclude minorities and women from executive level positions for decades. Fast-tracking is just another name for old-fashioned favoritism and cronyism or the "good ol' boy's club." And what is cronyism? Its the promotion of friends and associates to positions of authority without regard to their qualifications or merit.

Are formalized programs such as accelerated promotion, mentoring, and leadership development programs ethical? They certainly can be if promotions are based on merit rather than relationships. But when career development and accelerated promotion degenerate into nothing more than formalized fast-tracking they're no longer ethical.

I (Bryan) have a friend who once worked for a company that practiced a quasi-mentoring program. My friend once got into an argument with a mediocre performing colleague with an abrasive personality. Unfortunately, his colleague, who was being fast-tracked or "mentored" by a higher-level executive than he was, saw to it that my friend's career stalled. Eventually, his colleague was promoted over him. 

Second, we believe the practice of fast-tracking is a symptom of short-term thinking rather than a stand-alone problem. Too many senior managers suffer from what we call the superstar syndrome. This most typically occurs were everyone around the so-called superstar is paid to say "Yes." In the case of fast-trackers, the staff is paid to make it possible for the superstar to do anything that strikes their fancy and to insulate them from the results.

If the superstar wants to drive drunk the staff's job is to help them get away with it rather than to say “No!” In much the same way, a senior manager will surround themselves with a staff of sycophants and enablers: people who will accept the instructions and carry them out without trying to stop what may be an obviously bad choice. Whatever fast-trackers are told to do they'll do it without question. 

I (Allen) once worked for a large,  west coast defense contractor. A Vice-President was walking through the hallway and noticed two senior engineers reading the Federal Procurement newspaper that advertised government contracts open for bids. Knowing that they were well-paid engineers he asked them why they were doing that kind of work? They told him that they were not currently working on any projects and were looking for contracts to bid on. So in his infinite wisdom, the Vice-President decided to lay them both off in order to save money (after all, they didn't have any work to do). A year or so later, there was a federal contract that the Vice-President wanted to bid on but couldn’t because, you guessed it, he had laid-off those two engineers off. They were the only two people who had the expertise and security clearances to perform the work. And of course, by that time the two engineers had found new employment, and they couldn't hire anyone with that type of talent so the company lost a very lucrative contract because of the short-sightedness of the Vice-President.

Looking back, the Vice-President surrounded himself with sycophants who wouldn’t challenge his decision to lay-off those two engineers. That Vice-President was so focused on short-term gains that he took his eye off the long-term needs of the company. (As an aside, the Vice-President was never held accountable for his bad decision, and those two engineers went on to work for competitors.)

Third, there's no proof that accelerated promotion or fast-tracking is any more of a predictor of success than picking a racehorse. We believe that Colin Powell would have been successful regardless of his accelerated promotion. On the other hand, we believe that Jack Welch would have weaseled his way to the top regardless of fast-tracking. Both Powell and Welch were both successful, the difference was that Powell proved to be unpretentious while Welch proved to be an unethical sycophant. So roll the dice and see if you can predict who'll most likely succeed.

Finally, fast-tracking is simply not good for business. When employees figure out that promotions are based on favoritism and cronyism, they'll stop trying to improve because they know that no matter how hard they try, they'll never get promoted. Fast-tracking leads to employee disengagement which leads to lower effectiveness and productivity and greater turnover. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM - Noam Chomsky And The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power

by Peter Hutchinson, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott

In his final long-form documentary interview, Noam Chomsky exposes what you don’t know about inequality in America—the forces and policies behind an orchestrated campaign to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a select few, Articulating ten fundamental principles that perpetuate this vicious cycle, Chomsky provides clear and penetrating insight into the legacy of our time—the death of the middle class.

“Requiem For The American Dream” is the definitive discourse with Noam Chomsky, widely regarded as the most important intellectual alive, on the defining characteristic of our time—the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few. In his final long-form documentary interview—filmed over four years—Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality. Tracing a half-century of policies designed to favor the most wealthy at the expense of the majority, Chomsky lays bare the costly debris left in its wake: the evisceration of the American worker, disappearance of the living wage, collapse of the dream of home ownership, skyrocketing higher education costs placing betterment beyond reach or shackling students to suffocating debt, and a loss of solidarity that has left us divided against ourselves. Profoundly personal and thought-provoking, “Requiem” is a potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed—and is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.


A global phenomenon–both revered and reviled–Chomsky has authored over 100 books and is the 7th most cited person in history, behind the likes of Shakespeare, Aristotle, Marx and Plato.

Noam Chomsky has tirelessly explored the powerful forces that dictate policy decisions in the United States his entire career and, in doing so, has influenced and inspired generations of thinkers, politicians, academics, activists, students, and organizers alike.

Five decades ago, Noam Chomsky warned against a dangerous trend he was witnessing—the increasing consolidation of wealth and power in the United States. This trend, he cautioned—if not addressed—would expand exponentially and result in dire implications on the healthy functioning of democracy, and our sense of shared aims.

Today, with America owning the dubious distinction of the highest level of income inequality among advanced countries—and as recent examples of civil unrest ignited by incidents in Staten Island, Missouri and Wisconsin have borne out—his words ring as eerily prescient.

In the Documentary “Requiem For The American Dream - Noam Chomsky And The Principles Of Concentration Of Wealth & Power”, filmmakers Peter Hutchinson, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott have taken interviews of legendary author/speaker/and social activist Noam Chomsky and woven them into a coherent narrative of the corruption of our American socio-economic-political systems. The film is a post-mortem of the strategies and tactics that have transformed the U.S. into an oligarchy. (The film is available to watch on NETFLIX.)

The following is a transcript of the documentary:

Introduction – Inequality and Wealth Distribution

During the great depression, which I'm old enough to remember, there was... And most of my family were unemployed working class... There wasn't... it was bad, much worse subjectively than today. But there was an expectation that things were going to get better. There was a real sense of hopefulness. There isn't today. Inequality is really unprecedented. If you look at total inequality, it's like the worst periods of American history. But if you refine it more closely, the inequality comes from the extreme wealth in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of one percent. There were periods like the Gilded Age, in the '20s (Gilded Age, the time between the Civil War and World War I) and the roaring '90s and so on, when a situation developed rather similar to this. Now, this period's extreme... Because if you look at the wealth distribution, the inequality mostly comes from super wealth. Literally, the top 1/10th of a percent are just super wealthy. Not only is it extremely unjust in itself... Inequality has highly negative consequences on the society as a whole... Because the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy.

The American Dream – Class Mobility

You open by talking about the American dream. Part of the American dream is class mobility. You're born poor, you own a car, you get rich. It was possible for a worker to get a decent job, buy a home... Get a car, have his children go to school. It's all collapsed. Imagine yourself in an outside position, looking from Mars. What do you see? In the United States, there are professed values like democracy. In a democracy, public opinion is going to have some influence on policy. And then, the government carries out actions determined by the population. That's what democracy means. It's important to understand that privileged and powerful sectors have never liked democracy and for very good reasons. Democracy puts power into the hands of the general population and takes it away from them. It's kind of a principle of concentration of wealth and power.

The 10 Principals of the Concentration of Wealth and Power:
1)  Reduce Democracy
2)  Shape Ideology
3)  Redesign the Economy
4)  Shift the Burden
5)   Attack Solidarity
6)   Run the Regulators
7)  Engineer Elections
8)   Keep the Rabble in Line
9)   Manufacture Consent
10)  Marginalize the Population

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of power... Particularly so as the cost of elections skyrockets, which kind of forces the political parties into the pockets of major corporations. And this political power quickly translates into legislation that increases the concentration of wealth. So fiscal policy like tax policy... Deregulation... Rules of corporate governance and a whole variety of measures... Political measures, designed to increase the concentration of wealth and power, which, in turn, yields more political power to do the same thing. And that's what we've been seeing. So we have this kind of vicious cycle in progress. You know, actually, it is so traditional that it was described by Adam Smith in 1776. You read the famous "wealth of nations." He says in England, the principal architects of policy are the people who own the society. In his day, merchants and manufacturers. And they make sure that their own interests are very well cared for, however grievous the impact on the people of England or others. Now, it's not merchants and manufacturers, it's financial institutions and multinational corporations. The people who Adam Smith called the "masters of mankind," and they're following to the vile Maxim, "all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else." They're just going to pursue policies that benefit them and harm everyone else. And in the absence of a general popular reaction, that's pretty much what you'd expect.

Principal #1—Reduce Democracy

Right through American history, there's been an ongoing clash... Between pressure for more freedom and democracy coming from below, and efforts at elite control and domination coming from above. It goes back to the founding of the country. James Madison, the main framer, who was as much of a believer in democracy as anybody in the world in that day, nevertheless felt that the United States system should be designed, and indeed with his initiative was designed, so that power should be in the hands of the wealthy... Because the wealthy are the more responsible set of men. And, therefore, the structure of the formal constitutional system placed most power in the hands of the senate. Remember, the senate was not elected in those days. It was selected from the wealthy. Men, as Madison put it, "had sympathy for property owners and their rights." If you read the debates at the constitutional convention... Madison said, "the major concern of the society has to be to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." And he had arguments. Suppose everyone had a vote freely. He said, "well, the majority of the poor would get together and they would organize to take away the property of the rich." And, he said, "that would obviously be unjust, so you can't have that." So, therefore the constitutional system has to be set up to prevent democracy. It's of some interest that this debate has a hoary tradition. Goes back to the first major book on political systems, Aristotle's "Politics." He says, "of all of them, the best is democracy," but then he points out exactly the flaw that Madison pointed out. If Athens were a democracy for free men, the poor would get together and take away the property of the rich. Well, same dilemma, they had opposite solutions. Aristotle proposed what we would nowadays call a welfare state. He said, "try to reduce inequality." So, same problem, opposite solutions. One is reduce inequality, you won't have this problem. The other is reduce democracy. If you look at the history of the United States... It's a constant struggle between these two tendencies. A democratizing tendency that's mostly coming from the population, pressure from below, and you get this constant battle going on, periods of regression, periods of progress. The 1960s for example, were a period of significant democratization. Sectors of the population that were usually passive and apathetic became organized, active, started pressing their demands. And they became more and more involved in decision-making, activism and so on. It just changed consciousness in a lot of ways. Minority rights, If democracy means freedom, why aren't our people free? If democracy means justice, why don't we have justice? If democracy means equality, why don't we have equality? Women's rights, This inhuman system of exploitation will change, but only if we force it to change, and force it together. Concern for the environment, A unique day in American history is ending, a day set aside for a nationwide outpouring of mankind seeking its own survival. Opposition to aggression, I say to those who criticize us for the militancy of our dissent that if they are serious about law and order, they should first provide it for the Vietnamese people, for our own black people and for our own poor people. Concern for other people, One day we must ask the question, "why are there 40 million poor people in America?" When you begin to ask that question, you're raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth, the question of restructuring the whole of American society. These are all civilizing effects... And that caused great fear. I hadn't anticipated the power... I should've, but I didn't anticipate the power of the reaction to these civilizing effects of the '60s. I did not anticipate the strength of the reaction to it. The backlash.

Principal #2—Shape Ideology

There has been an enormous concentrated, coordinated... Business offensive beginning in the '70s to try to beat back the egalitarian efforts that went right through the Nixon years. You see it in many respects, over on the right, you see it in things like the famous Powell Memorandum... (Associate Justice of the SC) Sent to the chamber of commerce, the major business lobby, by later Supreme Court justice Powell... Warning them that business is losing control over the society... And something has to be done to counter these forces. Of course, he puts it in terms of defense, "defending ourselves against an outside power." But if you look at it, it's a call for business to use its control over resources to carry out a major offensive to beat back this democratizing wave. Over on the liberal side, there's something exactly similar. The first major report of The Trilateral Commission (is a non-governmental group founded by David Rockefeller in July 1973) is concerned with this. It's called "the crisis of democracy." Trilateral Commission is liberal internationalists... Their flavor is indicated by the fact that they pretty much staffed the Carter administration. They were also appalled by the democratizing tendencies of the '60s, and thought we have to react to it. They were concerned that there was an "excess of democracy" developing. Previously passive and obedient parts of the population, what are sometimes called, "the special interests," were beginning to organize and try to enter the political arena, and they said, "that imposes too much pressure on the state. It can't deal with all these pressures." So, therefore, they have to return to passivity and become depoliticized. They were particularly concerned with what was happening to young people. "The young people are getting too free and independent." None of us will beget any violence. If there's any violence, it will be because of the police. The way they put it, there's failure on the part of the schools, the universities, the churches... The institutions responsible for the "indoctrination of the young." Their phrase, not mine. If you look at their study, there's one interest they never mention... Privat business. And that makes sense, they're not special interest, they're the national interest, kind of by definition. So they're okay. They're allowed to, you know, have lobbyists, buy campaigns, staff the executive, make decisions, that's fine. But it's the rest, the special interests, the general population, who have to be subdued. Well, that's the spectrum. It's the kind of ideological level of the backlash. But the major backlash, which was in parallel to this... Was just redesigning the economy.

Principal #3—Redesign The Economy

Since the 1970s, there's been a concerted effort on the part of the masters of mankind, the owners of the society, to shift the economy in two crucial respects. One, to increase the role of financial institutions, banks, investment firms, so on... Insurance companies. By 2007, right before the latest crash, they had literally 40% of corporate profits... Far beyond anything in the past. Back in the 1950s, as for many years before, the United States economy was based largely on production. The United States was the great manufacturing center of the world. Financial institutions used to be a relatively small part of the economy and their task was to distribute unused assets like, say, bank savings to productive activity. The bank always has on hand a reserve of money received from the stockholders and depositors. On the basis of these cash reserves, a bank can create credit. So besides providing a safe place for depositing money, a bank serves a community by making additional credit available for many purposes. For a manufacturer to meet his payroll during slack selling periods, for a merchant to enlarge and remodel his store, and for many other good reasons why people are always needing more credit than they have immediately available. That's a contribution to the economy. Regulatory system was established. Banks were regulated. The commercial and investment banks were separated, cut back their risky investment practices that could harm private people. There had been, remember, no financial crashes during the period of regulation. By the 1970s, that changed. You started getting that huge increase in the flows of speculative capital, just astronomically increase, enormous changes in the financial sector from traditional banks to risky investments, complex financial instruments, money manipulations and so on. Increasingly, the business of the country isn't production, at least not here. The primary business here is business. You can even see it in the choice of directors. So, a director of a major American corporation back in the '50s and '60s was very likely to be an engineer, somebody who graduated from a place like MIT, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology maybe industrial management. More recently, the directorship and the top managerial positions are people who came out of business schools, learned the financial trickery of various kinds, and so on. By the 1970s, say General Electric could make more profit playing games with money than you could by producing in the United States. You have to remember that General Electric is substantially a financial institution today. It makes half its profits just by moving money around in complicated ways. And it's very unclear that they're doing anything that's of value to the economy. So that's one phenomenon, what's called financialization of the economy. Going along with that is the off-shoring of production. The trade system was reconstructed with a very explicit design of putting working people in competition with one another all over the world. And what it's lead to is a reduction in the share of income on the part of working people. It's been particularly striking in the United States, but it's happening worldwide. It means that an American worker's in competition with the super-exploited worker in China. Meanwhile, highly paid professionals are protected. They're not placed in competition with the rest of the world. Far from it. And, of course, the capital is free to move. Workers aren't free to move, labor can't move, but capital can. Well, again, going back to the classics like Adam Smith, as he pointed out, free circulation of labor is the foundation of any free trade system, but workers are pretty much stuck. The wealthy and the privileged are protected, so you get obvious consequences. And they're recognized and, in fact, praised. Policy is designed to increase insecurity. Alan Greenspan. When he testified to congress, (Alan Greenspan Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006) he explained his success in running the economy as based on what he called, "greater worker insecurity." A typical restraint on compensation increases has been evident for a few years now, but as I outlined in some detail in testimony last month, I believe that job insecurity has played the dominant role. Keep workers insecure, they're going to be under control. They are not going to ask for, say, decent wages... Or decent working conditions... Or the opportunity of free association, meaning unionize. Now, for the masters of mankind, that's fine. They make their profits. But for the population, it's devastating. These two processes, financialization and off-shoring are part of what lead to the vicious cycle of concentration of wealth and concentration of power. I'm Noam Chomsky and I'm on the faculty at MIT, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and I've been getting more and more heavily involved in anti-war activities for the last few years. Noam Chomsky has made two international reputations. The widest is as one of the national leaders of American resistance to the Vietnam war. The deepest is as a professor of linguistics, who, before he was 40 years old, had transformed the nature of his subject. You are identified with the new left, whatever that is. You certainly have been an activist as well as a writer. Professor Noam Chomsky... Is listed in anybody's catalog as among the half-dozen top heroes of the new left. The standing he achieved by adopting over the past two or three years a series of adamant positions rejecting at least American foreign policy, at most America itself. Actually this notion anti-American is quite an interesting one. It's actually a totalitarian notion. It isn't used in free societies. So, if someone in, say, Italy is criticizing Berlusconi or the corruption of the Italian state and so on, they're not called anti-Italian. In fact, if they were called anti-Italian, people would collapse in laughter in the streets of Rome or Milan. In totalitarian states the notion's used, so in the old Soviet union dissidents were called anti-Soviet. That was the worst condemnation. In the Brazilian military dictatorship, they were called anti-Brazilian. Now, it's true that in just about every society, the critics are maligned or mistreated... Different ways depending on the nature of the society. Like in the Soviet union, say Vaclav Havel would be imprisoned. In a U.S. dependency like El Salvador, at the same time, his counterparts would have their brains blown out by U.S.-run state terrorist forces. In other societies, they're just condemned or vilified and so on. In the United States, one of the terms of abuse is "anti-American." There's a couple of others, like "Marxist." There's an array of terms of abuse. But in the United States, you have a very high degree of freedom. So, if you're vilified by some commissars, then who cares? You go on, you do your work anyway. These concepts only arise in a culture where, if you criticize state power, and by state, I mean... More generally not just government but state corporate power, if you criticize concentrated power, you're against the society, that's quite striking that it's used in the United States. In fact, as far as I know, it's the only Democratic society where the concept isn't just ridiculed. It's a sign of elements of the elite culture, which are quite ugly.

Principal #4—Shift The Burden

The American dream, like many ideals, was partly symbolic, but partly real. So in the 1950s and 60s, say, there was the biggest growth period in American economic history. The Golden Age. (approximately from 1945 and lasted until the early 1970s It was pretty egalitarian growth, so the lowest fifth of the population was improving about as much as the upper fifth. And there were some welfare state measures, which improved life for much the population. It was, for example, possible for a black worker to get a decent job in an auto plant, buy a home, get a car, have his children go to school and so on. And the same across the board. When the U.S. was primarily a manufacturing center, it had to be concerned with its own consumers... here. Famously, Henry Ford raised the salary of his workers so they'd be able to buy cars. When you're moving into an international "plutonomy," as the banks like to call it... The small percentage of the world's population that's gathering increasing wealth... What happens to American consumers is much less a concern, because most of them aren't going to be consuming your products anyway, at least not on a major basis. Your goals are, profit in the next quarter, even if it's based on financial manipulations... High salary, high bonuses, produce overseas if you have to, and produce for the wealthy classes here and their counterparts abroad. What about the rest? Well, there's a term coming into use for them, too. They're called the "precariat"... Precarious proletariat... The working people of the world who live increasingly precarious lives. And it's related to the attitude toward the country altogether. During the period of great growth of the economy... The '50s and the '60s, but in fact, earlier... Taxes on the wealthy were far higher. Corporate taxes were much higher, taxes on dividends were much higher... Simply taxes on wealth were much higher. The tax system has been redesigned, so that the taxes that are paid by the very wealthy are reduced and, correspondingly, the tax burden on the rest of the population's increased. Now the shift is towards trying to keep taxes just on wages and on consumption... Which everyone has to do, not, say, on dividends, which only go to the rich. The numbers are pretty striking. Now, there's a pretext... Of course, there's always a pretext. The pretext in this case is, well, that increases investment and increases jobs, but there isn't any evidence for that. If you want to increase investment, give money to the poor and the working people. They have to keep alive, so they spend their incomes. That stimulates productions, stimulates investment, leads to job growth and so on.

Principal #5—Attack Solidarity

If you're an ideologist for the masters, you have a different line. And in fact, right now, it's almost absurd. Corporations have money coming out of their pockets. So, in fact, General Electric, are paying zero taxes and they have enormous profits. Let's them take the profit somewhere else, or defer it, but not pay taxes, and this is common. The major American corporations shifted the burden of sustaining the society onto the rest of the population. Solidarity is quite dangerous. From the point of view of the masters, you're only supposed to care about yourself, not about other people. This is quite different from the people they claim are their heroes like Adam Smith, who based his whole approach to the economy on the principle that sympathy is a fundamental human trait, but that has to be driven out of people's heads. You've got to be for yourself, follow the vile Maxim, "don't care about others," which is okay for the rich and powerful, but is devastating for everyone else. It's taken a lot of effort to drive these basic human emotions out of people's heads. And we see it today in policy formation. For example,in the attack on social security. Social security is based on a principle. It's based on a principle of solidarity. Solidarity, caring for others. Social security means, "I pay payroll taxes... So that the widow across town can get something to live on." For much of the population, that's what they survive on. It's of no use to the very rich, so therefore, there's a concerted attempt to destroy it. One of the ways is defunding it. You want to destroy some system? First defund it. Then, it won't work. People will be angry. They want something else. It's a standard technique for privatizing some system. We see it in the attack on public schools. Public schools are based on the principle of solidarity. I no longer have children in school. They're grown up... But the principle of solidarity says, "I happily pay taxes so that the kid across the street can go to school." Now, that's normal human emotion. You have to drive that out of people's heads. "I don't have kids in school. Why should I pay taxes? Privatize it," so on. The public education system, all the way from kindergarten to higher education, is under severe attack. That's one of the jewels of American society. You go back to the Golden Age again... The great growth period in the '50s and '60s. A lot of that is based on free public education. One of the results of the second world war was the G.I. Bill (of Rights), which enabled veterans, and remember, that's a large part of the population then, to go to college. They wouldn't have been able to, otherwise. They essentially got free education. Where a community, state or nation... Courageously invests a substantial share of its resources in education, the investment invariable returned in better business and the higher standard of living. U.S. was way in the lead in developing extensive mass public education at every level. By now, in more than half the states, most of the funding for the colleges comes from tuition, not from the state. That's a radical change, and that's a terrible burden on students. It means that students, if they don't come from very wealthy families, they're going to leave college with big debts. And if you have a big debt, you're trapped. I mean, maybe you wanted to become a public interest lawyer, but you're going to have to go into a corporate law firm to pay off those debts, and by the time you're part of the culture, you're not going to get out of it again. And that's true across the board. In the 1950s, it was a much poorer society than it is today, but, nevertheless, could easily handle essentially free mass higher education. Today, a much richer society claims it doesn't have the resources for it. That's just what's going on right before our eyes. That's the general attack on principles that, not only are they humane, they are the basis of the prosperity and health of this society.

Principal #6—Run The Regulators

If you look over the history of regulation, say, railroad regulation, financial regulation and so on, you find that quite commonly it's either initiated by the economic... Concentrations that are being regulated, or it's supported by them. And the reason is because they know that, sooner or later, they can take over the regulators. And it ends up with what's called "regulatory capture." The business being regulated is in fact running the regulators. Bank lobbyists are actually writing the laws of financial regulation, it gets to that extreme. That's been happening through history and, again, it's a pretty natural tendency when you just look at the distribution of power. One of the things that expanded enormously in the 1970s is lobbying, as the business world moved sharply to try to control legislation. The business world was pretty upset by the advances in public welfare in the '60s, in particular by Richard Nixon. It's not too well understood, but he was the last new deal president, and they regarded that as class treachery. In Nixon's administration, you get the consumer safety legislation, safety and health regulations in the workplace, the EPA, the environmental protection agency. Business didn't like it, of course. They didn't like the high taxes. They didn't like the regulation. And they began a coordinated effort to try to overcome it. Lobbying sharply increased. Deregulation began with a real ferocity. There were no financial crashes in the '50s and the '60s, because the regulatory apparatus of the new deal was still in place. As it began to be dismantled under business pressure and political pressure, you get more and more crashes. And it goes on right through the years. '70s it starts to begin. '80s really takes off. Congress was asked to approve federal loan guarantees to the auto company of up to one and one half billion dollars. Now, all of this is quite safe as long as you know the government's going to come to your rescue. Take, say, Reagan. Instead of letting them pay the cost, Reagan bailed out the banks like Continental Illinois, the biggest bailout of American history at the time. He actually ended his term with a huge financial crisis, the savings and loan crisis. President Bush today signed the 300 billion-dollar savings and loan bailout bill. In 1999, regulation was dismantled to separate commercial banks from investment banks. Then comes the Bush and Obama bailout. Bear Stearns is running to the feds to stay afloat... (The Bear Stearns Companies) President Bush today defended the decision to bail out Citigroup... (Citigroup Inc) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have asked for a total of three billion dollars more... The bailout could get much bigger, signaling deepening troubles for the U.S. economy. And they're building up the next one. Each time, the taxpayer is called on to bail out those who created the crisis, increasingly the major financial institutions. In a capitalist economy, you wouldn't do that. In a capitalist system that would wipe out the investors who made risky investments. But the rich and powerful, they don't want a capitalist system. They want to be able to run to the nanny state as soon as they're in trouble, and get bailed out by the taxpayer. That's called "too big to fail." There are Nobel laureates in economics who significantly disagree with the course that we're following. People like Joe Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and others, and none of them were even approached. The people picked to fix the crisis were those who created it, the Robert Rubin crowd, the Goldman Sachs crowd. They created the crisis... Are now more powerful than before. Is that accident? Not when you pick those people to create an economic plan. I mean, what do you expect to happen? Meanwhile, for the poor, let market principles prevail. Don't expect any help from the government. The government's the problem, not the solution, and so on. That's, essentially, Neo-liberalism. It has this dual character which goes right back in economic history. One set of rules for the rich. Opposite set of rules for the poor. Nothing surprising about this. It's exactly the dynamics you expect. If the population allows it to proceed, it just goes on and on like this until the next crash, which is so much expected that credit agencies, which evaluate the status of firms, are now counting into their calculations the taxpayer bailout that they expect to come after the next crash. Which means that the beneficiaries of these credit ratings like the big banks, they can borrow money more cheaply, they can push out smaller competitors, and you get more and more concentration. Everywhere you look, policies are designed this way, which should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. That's what happens when you put power into the hands of a narrow sector of wealth, which is dedicated to increasing power for itself, just as you'd expect.

Principal #7—Engineer Elections

Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power, particularly so as the cost of elections skyrockets, which forces the political parties into the pockets of major corporations. The Citizens United, this was January 2009, I guess, that's a very important supreme court decision, but it has a history and you got to think about the history. The 14th amendment has a provision that says, "no person's rights can be infringed without due process of law." And the intent, clearly, was to protect freed slaves. Says, "okay, they've got the protection of the law." I don't think it's ever been used for freed slaves, if ever, marginally. Almost immediately, it was used for businesses, corporations. Their rights can't be infringed without due process of law. So they gradually became persons under the law. Corporations are state-created legal fictions. Maybe they're good, maybe they're bad, but to call them persons is kind of outrageous. So they got personal rights back about a century ago, and that extended through the 20th century. They gave corporations rights way beyond what persons have. So if, say, General Motors invests in Mexico, they get national rights, the rights of the Mexican business. While the notion of person was expanded to include corporations, it was also restricted. If you take the 14th amendment literally, then no undocumented alien can be deprived of rights, if they're persons. Undocumented aliens who are living here and building your buildings, cleaning your lawns, and so on, they're not persons... But General Electric is a person, an immortal super-powerful person. This perversion of the elementary morality, and the obvious meaning of the law, is quite incredible. In the 1970s, the courts decided that money is a form of speech. Buckley vs. Valeo. Then you go on through the years to Citizens United, (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) which says that, the right of free speech of corporations, mainly to spend as much money as they want, that can't be curtailed. It means that corporations, which anyway have been pretty much buying elections, are now free to do it with virtually no constraint. That's a tremendous attack on the residue of democracy. It's very interesting to read the rulings, like justice Kennedy's swing vote. (Anthony Kennedy associate justice SC) His ruling said, "well, look, after all, CBS is given freedom of speech, they're a corporation, why shouldn't General Electric be free to spend as much money as they want?" I mean, it's true that CBS is given freedom of speech, but they're supposed to be performing a public service. That's why. That's what the press is supposed to be, and General Electric is trying to make money for the chief executive and some of the shareholders. It's an incredible decision, and it puts the country in a position where business power is greatly extended beyond what it always was. This is part of that vicious cycle. The supreme court justices are put in by reactionary presidents, (associate justice) who get in there because they're funded by business. It's the way the cycle works.

Principal #8—Keep The Rabble In Line

There is one organized force which traditionally, plenty of flaws, but with all its flaws, it's been in the forefront of... Efforts to improve the lives of the general population. That's organized labor. It's also a barrier to corporate tyranny. So, it's the one barrier to this vicious cycle going on, which does lead to corporate tyranny. A major reason for the concentrated, almost fanatic attack on unions, on organized labor, is they are a democratizing force. They provide a barrier that defends workers' rights, but also popular rights generally. That interferes with the prerogatives and power of those who own and manage the society. I should say that anti-union sentiment in the United States among elites is so strong that the fundamental core of labor rights, the basic principle in the international labor organization, is the right of free association, which would mean the right to form unions. The U.S. has never ratified that, so I think the U.S. may be alone among major societies in that respect. It's considered so far out of the spectrum of American politics, it literally has never been considered. Remember, the U.S. has a long and very violent labor history as compared with comparable societies... But the labor movement had been very strong. By the 1920s, in a period not unlike today, it was virtually crushed. A truck drivers strike was climaxed by severe riots with many casualties. Open warfare rages through the streets of the city as 3,000 union pickets battle 700 police. Guns, tear gas, clubs and fists bring injuries to more than 80 persons and caused the death of two. By the mid '30s, it began to reconstruct. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he himself was rather sympathetic to progressive legislation that would be in the benefit of the general population, but he had to somehow get it passed. So he informed labor leaders and others, "force me to do it." What he meant is, go out and demonstrate, organize, protest, develop the labor movement. When the popular pressure is sufficient, I'll be able to put through the legislation you want. I am not for a return to that definition of Liberty, under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of a privileged few. I prefer that broader definition of Liberty. So, there was kind of a combination of sympathetic government, and by the mid-'30s, very substantial popular activism. There were industrial actions. There were sit-down strikes, which were very frightening to ownership. You have to recognize the sit-down strike is just one step before saying, "we don't need bosses. We can run this by ourselves." And business was appalled. You read the business press, say, in the late '30s, they were talking about the "hazard facing industrialists" and the "rising political power of the masses," which has to be repressed. Things were on hold during the second world war, but immediately after the second world war, the business offensive began in force. The Taft-Hartley Act. (Labor Management Relations Act of 1947) The Taft-Hartley Act was written for only one purpose, to restore justice and equality in labor-management relations. (In fact, it restricts the activities and power of labor unions) Then McCarthyism was used for massive corporate propaganda offensives to attack unions. It increased sharply during the Reagan years. I mean, Reagan pretty much told the business world, "if you want to illegally break organizing efforts and strikes, go ahead." They are in violation of the law, and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated. It continued in the '90s and, of course with George W. Bush, it went through the roof. By now, less than 7% of private sector workers have unions. The effect is that the usual counter-force to an offensive by our highly class-conscious business class has dissolved. Now, if you're in a position of power, you want to maintain class-consciousness for yourself, but eliminate it everywhere else. You go back to the 19th century, in the early days of the industrial revolution in the United States, working people were very conscious of this. They, in fact, overwhelmingly regarded wage labor as not very different from slavery, different only in that it was temporary. In fact, it was such a popular idea that it was the slogan of the Republican party. That was a very sharp class-consciousness. In the interest of power and privilege, it's good to drive those ideas out of people's heads. You don't want them to know that they're an oppressed class. So, this is one of the few societies in which you just don't talk about class. In fact, the notion of class is very simple. Who gives the orders? Who follows them? That basically defines class. It's more nuanced and complex, but that's basically it.

Principal #9—Manufacture Consent

The public relations industry, the advertising industry, which is dedicated to creating consumers, it's a phenomena that developed in the freest countries, in Britain and the United States, and the reason is pretty clear. It became clear by, say, a century ago that it was not going to be so easy to control the population by force. Too much freedom had been won. Labor organizing, parliamentary labor parties in many countries, women starting to get the franchise, and so on. So, you had to have other means of controlling people. And it was understood and expressed that you have to control them by control of beliefs and attitudes. Well, one of the best ways to control people in terms of attitudes is what the great political economist Thorstein Veblen called "fabricating consumers." If you can fabricate wants... Make obtaining things that are just about within your reach the essence of life, they're going to be trapped into becoming consumers. You read the business press in say, 1920s, it talks about the need to direct people to the superficial things of life, like "fashionable consumption" and that'll keep them out of our hair. You find this doctrine all through progressive intellectual thought, like Walter Lippmann, the major progressive intellectual of the 20th century. He wrote famous progressive essays on democracy in which his view was exactly that. "The public must be put in their place," so that the responsible men can make decisions without interference from the "bewildered herd." They're to be spectators, not participants. Then you get a properly functioning democracy, straight back to Madison and on to Powell's memorandum, and so on. And the advertising industry just exploded with this as its goal... Fabricating consumers. And it's done with great sophistication. You don't see many wild stallions anymore. He's one of the last of a wild and very singular breed. Come to Marlboro country. The ideal is what you actually see today... Where, let's say, teenage girls, if they have a free Saturday afternoon, will go walking in the shopping mall, not to the library or somewhere else. The idea is to try to control everyone, to turn the whole society into the perfect system. Perfect system would be a society based on a dyad, a pair. The pair is you and your television set, or maybe now you and the Internet, in which that presents you with what the proper life would be, what kind of gadgets you should have. And you spend your time and effort gaining those things, which you don't need, and you don't want, and maybe you'll throw them away... But that's the measure of a decent life. What we see is in, say, advertising on television, if you've ever taken an economics course, you know that markets are supposed to be based on "informed consumers making rational choices." Well, if we had a system like that, a market system, then a television ad would consist of, say, General Motors putting up information, saying, "here's what we have for sale." That's not what an ad for a car is. And ad for a car is a football hero... An actress, the car doing some crazy thing like, going up a mountain or something. The point is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. That's what advertising is all about, and when the same institution, the PR system, (The PR Industry, ori Public relations and lobbying industry) runs elections, they do it the same way. They want to create an uniformed electorate, which will make irrational choices, often against their own interests, and we see it every time one of these extravaganzas take place. Right after the election, president Obama won an award from the advertising industry for the best marketing campaign. It wasn't reported here, but if you go to the international business press, executives were euphoric. They said, "we've been selling candidates, marketing candidates like toothpaste ever since Reagan, and this is the greatest achievement we have." I don't usually agree with Sarah Palin, (Governor of Alaska, commentator) but when she mocks what she calls the "hopey-changey" stuff, she's right. First of all, Obama didn't really promise anything. That's mostly illusion. You go back to the campaign rhetoric and take a look at it. There's very little discussion of policy issues, and for very good reason, because public opinion on policy is sharply disconnected from what the two-party leadership and their financial bankers want. Policy more and more is focused on the private interests that fund the campaigns... With the public being marginalized.

Principal #10—Marginalize The Population

One of the leading political scientists, Martin Gilens, came out with a study (professor of politics at Princeton University) of the relation between public attitudes and public policy. What he shows is that about 70% of the population has no way of influencing policy. They might as well be in some other country... And the population knows it. What it's led to is a population that's angry, frustrated, hates institutions. It's not acting constructively to try to respond to this. There is popular mobilization and activism, but in very self-destructive directions. It's taking the form of unfocused anger, attacks on one another, and on vulnerable targets. That's what happens in cases like this. It is corrosive of social relations, but that's the point. The point is to make people hate and fear each other, and look out only for themselves, and don't do anything for anyone else. One place you see it strikingly is on April 15th. April 15th is kind of a measure, the day you pay your taxes, (In the United States is Tax Day) of how Democratic the society is. If a society is really Democratic, April 15th would be a day of celebration. It's a day when the population gets together, decides to fund the programs and activities that they have formulated and agreed upon. What could be better than that? So, you should celebrate it. It's not the way it is in the United States. It's a day of mourning. It's a day in which some alien power that has nothing to do with you, is coming down to steal our hard-earned money, and you do everything you can to keep them from doing it. That is a kind of measure of the extent to which, at least in popular consciousness, democracy is actually functioning. Not a very attractive picture. The tendencies that we've been describing within American society, unless they're reversed, it's going to be an extremely ugly society. I mean, a society that's based on Adam Smith's vile Maxim, "all for myself, nothing for anyone else." A society in which normal human instincts and emotion of sympathy, solidarity, mutual support, in which they're driven out... That's a society so ugly, I don't even want to know who'd live in it. I wouldn't want my children to. If the society is based on control by private wealth, it will reflect the values that it, in fact, does reflect. The value that is greed, and the desire to maximize personal gain, now, any society, a small society based on that principle is ugly, but it can survive. A global society based on that principle is headed for massive destruction. I don't think we're smart enough to design, in any detail what a perfectly just and free society would be like. I think we can give some guidelines and, more significant, we can ask how we can progress in that direction. John Dewey, the leading social philosopher in the late 20th century, he argued that until all institutions, production, commerce, media, unless they're all under participatory Democratic control, (Participatory democracy) we will not have a functioning Democratic society. As he put it, "policy will be the shadow cast by business over society." Well, it's essentially true. Where there are structures of authority, domination and hierarchy, somebody gives the orders, somebody takes them, they are not self-justifying. They have to justify themselves. They have a burden of proof to meet. Well, if you take a close look, usually you find they can't justify themselves. If they can't, we ought to be dismantling them. Trying to expand the domain of freedom and justice by dismantling that form of illegitimate authority. And, in fact, progress over the years, what we all thankfully recognized as progress, has been just that. The way things change is because lots of people are working all the time. They're working in their communities, in their workplace, or wherever they happen to be, and they're building up the basis for popular movements, which are going to make changes. That's the way everything has ever happened in history. Take, say, freedom of speech... One of the real achievements of American society, it's first in the world in that. It's not in the bill of rights. It's not in the constitution. Freedom of speech issues began to come to the Supreme Court in the early 20th century. The major contributions came in the 1960s. One of the leading ones was a case in the civil rights movement. Well, by then, you had a mass popular movement, which was demanding rights, refusing to back down. And in that context, the Supreme Court did establish a pretty high standard for freedom of speech. Or take, say, women's rights. Women also began identifying oppressive structures, refusing to accept them, bringing other people to join with them. Well, that's how rights are won. To a non-trivial extent, I've also spent a lot of my life in activism. That doesn't show up publicly, but, actually, I'm not terribly good at it... I think that we can see quite clearly some very, very serious defects and flaws in our society, our level of culture, our institutions, which are going to have to be of the framework that is commonly accepted. I think we're going to have to find new ways of political action. But the activists are the people who have created the rights that we enjoy. They're not only carrying out... Policies based on information that they're receiving, but also contributing to the understanding. Remember, it's a reciprocal process. You try to do things. You learn. You learn about what the world is like, that feeds back to the understanding of how to go on. There's huge opportunities. It is a very free society, still the freest in the world. Government has very limited capacity to coerce. Corporate business may try to coerce, but they don't have the mechanisms. So, there's a lot that can be done if people organize, struggle for their rights as they've done in the past, and can win many victories. Well, my close friend for many years, the late Howard Zinn... To put it in his words that, "what matters is the countless small deeds of unknown people, who lay the basis for the significant events that enter history." They're the ones who've done things in the past. They're the ones who'll have to do it in the future.

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