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Tue Dec 2, 2014, 03:30 PM

A Genuine Movement for Social Change 02 December 2014 By Noam Chomsky

"War is the health of the State," wrote social critic Randolph Bourne in a classic essay as America entered World War I:

"It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. ... Other values such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them."
And at the service of society's "significant classes" were the intelligentsia, "trained up in the pragmatic dispensation, immensely ready for the executive ordering of events, pitifully unprepared for the intellectual interpretation or the idealistic focusing of ends."

They are "lined up in service of the war-technique. There seems to have been a peculiar congeniality between the war and these men. It is as if the war and they had been waiting for each other."

The role of the technical intelligentsia in decision-making is predominant in those parts of the economy that are "in the service of the war technique" and closely linked to the government, which underwrites their security and growth.

It is little wonder, then, that the technical intelligentsia is, typically, committed to what sociologist Barrington Moore in 1968 called "the predatory solution of token reform at home and counterrevolutionary imperialism abroad."

Moore offers the following summary of the "predominant voice of America at home and abroad" - an ideology that expresses the needs of the American socioeconomic elite, that is propounded with various gradations of subtlety by many American intellectuals, and that gains substantial adherence on the part of the majority that has obtained "some share in the affluent society":

"You may protest in words as much as you like. There is but one condition attached to the freedom we would very much like to encourage: Your protests may be as loud as possible as long as they remain ineffective. ... Any attempt by you to remove your oppressors by force is a threat to civilized society and the democratic process. ... As you resort to force, we will, if need be, wipe you from the face of the earth by the measured response that rains down flame from the skies."
A society in which this is the predominant voice can be maintained only through some form of national mobilization, which may range in its extent from, at the minimum, a commitment of substantial resources to a credible threat of force and violence.

Given the realities of international politics, this commitment can be maintained in the United States only by a form of national psychosis - ......................


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Reply A Genuine Movement for Social Change 02 December 2014 By Noam Chomsky (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Dec 2014 OP
villager Dec 2014 #1
Ichingcarpenter Dec 2014 #2

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Tue Dec 2, 2014, 03:35 PM

1. Gotta rec anything that references Randolph Bourne


Surprised how few DUers know about his seminal, turn-of-last-century writing.

Then again, no "accident" he's withheld from the history books, etc...

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Response to villager (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 2, 2014, 03:41 PM

2. Yes very few these days on DU know their progressive history

I guess they are too busy attending salons.

Randolph Silliman Bourne (May 30, 1886 December 22, 1918) was a progressive writer and "leftist intellectual"[1] born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and a graduate of Columbia University. Bourne is best known for his essays, especially his unfinished work "The State," discovered after his death.


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