By Subrata Ghoshroy, AlterNet. Posted October 4, 2008.
In an exclusive interview, Noam Chomksy weighs in on the financial collapse, the election and the power of U.S. propaganda.
Part Two of Subrata Ghoshroy’s exclusive interview with Noam Chomksy takes on the United State’s capacity for revisionist history and propaganda, from Ronald Reagan’s supposed commitment to free markets, to American terrorist actions in Latin America in the 1980s, to the bankrupt rationale for Clinton’s intervention in Bosnia. Chomsky also elaborates on MIT’s role in developing computer technology in the service of the military industrial complex — which he discussed in Part One. Finally, he puts the current financial crisis into global context — and weighs in on the presidential election, explaining why, like any other race in which two pro-business parties dominate everything– is “not a serious election.”
(Read Part One here.
NC: The New York Times had an article by its economic correspondent in its magazine section a couple weeks ago about Obama’s economic programs. He talked about Reagan as the model of passionate commitment to free markets and reduction of the role of the state, and so on … Where are these people? Reagan was the most protectionist president in post-war American history. In fact, more protectionist than all others combined. He virtually doubled protective barriers. He brought in the Pentagon to develop the “factory of the future” to teach backward American management how to catch up on the Japanese lead in production. SEMATECH (“Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology”) was formed. If it weren’t for Reagan’s protectionism and calling in of state power, we would not have a steel industry, or an automobile industry, or a semi-conductor industry or whatever they protected. They reindustrialized America by protectionism and state intervention. All of this is washed away by propaganda as though it never happened.
It is very interesting to look at a place like MIT, which was right at the center of these developments. My department — you’re teaching a course in the Military Industrial Complex — my department is an example of it. I came here in the mid-50’s. I don’t know the difference between a radio and a tape recorder, but I was in the electronics lab. I was perhaps the one person who refused to get clearance on principle. Not that it made any difference; everything was open anyway.
The electronics lab, along with the closely connected Lincoln labs, was just developing the basis of the modern high- tech economy. In those days, the computer was the size of this set of offices.
By the time they finally got computers down to the size of a marketable main frame, some of the directors of the project pulled out and formed DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), the first main frame producer. IBM was in there, at the government’s expense, learning how to move from punch cards to electronic computers. By the early l960’s IBM was capable of producing its own computers, but no one could buy them. They were too expensive. So they were bought by the National Security Agency. Bell Labs did develop transistors. That is about the only example you can think of a significant part of the high-tech system which came out of private enterprise. But that is a joke too! They worked on technology. Their transistor producer was Western Electric, who could not sell them on the market; they were too expensive. So the government bought about 100 percent of advanced transistors. Finally, of course, all of this gets to the point where you can market them privately. It was not until the 1980’s after 30 years of development essentially in the state sector that these things became marketable commodities and Bill Gates could get rich. Continue reading ‘Chomsky: “If the U.S. Carries Out Terrorism, It Did Not Happen”’