American Power Under Challenge
Masters of Mankind (Part 1)
By Noam Chomsky
[This piece, the first of two parts, is excerpted from Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World? (Metropolitan Books). Part 2 will be posted on Tuesday morning.]
When we ask “Who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.
States of course have complex internal structures, and the choices and decisions of the political leadership are heavily influenced by internal concentrations of power, while the general population is often marginalized. That is true even for the more democratic societies, and obviously for others. We cannot gain a realistic understanding of who rules the world while ignoring the “masters of mankind,” as Adam Smith called them: in his day, the merchants and manufacturers of England; in ours, multinational conglomerates, huge financial institutions, retail empires, and the like. Still following Smith, it is also wise to attend to the “vile maxim” to which the “masters of mankind” are dedicated: “All for ourselves and nothing for other people” -- a doctrine known otherwise as bitter and incessant class war, often one-sided, much to the detriment of the people of the home country and the world.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
Sunday, May 8, 2016
American Power Under Challenge Masters of Mankind (Part 1) By Noam Chomsky
Posted by Michele Kearney at 6:36 PM