Video: Audience Question and Answer Session
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[First audience question]
Noam Chomsky: How does the U.S. gets such enormous veto power? Simply take the realist position that Churchill articulated. The rich man and the rich societies run the show and simply ask yourself, who is the richest man and which is the richest society? The United States is overwhelmingly the richest and most powerful society in the world by any measure - economic power, military power, security, you name it. So of course, it has the biggest voice. What could be more obvious? Except in terms of the propaganda system which naturally tries to efface the obvious. But if you think about it reasonably, what else would you expect to happen? Now it doesn’t have to happen, but only if people change the inside of the United States, which is also the freest country in the world, do something about it. We’re not living in Indonesia. We’re not living in Iraq. It’s easy to change policy here but first you have to be aware of it and want to change it and do something about it. Otherwise it’ll just go by the natural processes. [1:15]
[Second audience question]
He pointed out correctly in the early 80’s, the UNESCO called for what was called a new information order and it came under bitter attack in the West in American press, the government, intellectuals, and so on, and is still being attacked for trying to impose constraints on press freedom. And in fact, that’s not what the new information order was calling for. What it was calling for was an end to the monopoly over global information on the part of powerful Western, actually tyrannical institutions, which is what the private media corporations are. That’s what they were calling for. The fraud was exposed at once. There are very good academic studies on it. The best one I know was a book published by the University of Minnesota Press and edited by William Preston, Edward Herman, and Herbert Schiller. It was a careful academic study showing what the new information order actually was, how the West reacted, and exposing the lies about it; it was very effective. It was never reviewed or discussed. The book is called Hope and Folly. And the attack on the UNESCO continues, unchanged, just like the revolutions without borders. People like, say, Erskine Childers, a distinguished Irish diplomat who has been in the U.N. forever, has written about this, and others write about it without any ability to penetrate into our intellectual culture. We don’t live under tyranny, but the similarity to Totalitarianism is pretty dramatic sometimes. [3:40]
[Third audience question]
War in the Balkans? Well, it’s bad enough but it doesn’t compare with the usual consequences of the break-up of tyrannical systems. Like it’s nowhere near as bad as what followed the break-up of the Portuguese empire or the French empire and so on. But it’s bad enough. I might even say the last few years, the war in Angola has been going on since 1985. And even in the 90’s, the atrocities in Angola were worse by a long shot than the Balkans. So compare, for example, Sarajevo and Kuito - everyone knows about Sarajevo, there was huge coverage of Sarajevo’s horrors, Serbian peasants bombarding Sarajevo. It is an atrocity, and about ten-thousand people were killed in the same years as when twenty-thousand were killed in Kuito, and that’s just one town in Angola. And of course, you can check how many index entries for Kuito are in the New York Times. They’re being killed by the kind of person who is the wrong person to mention, namely by a person who is hailed as a leading freedom fighter in the 1980’s and a great hero, namely a man who was running the contrasubversion that we were backing that Basil Davidson who I quote, "will be cursed by history." So therefore, we better not talk about that one. But going back to the Balkans, it’s bad enough; it’s nowhere near other things, but it’s bad enough. The reasons for it, you can debate and argue, but I think it’s pretty clear where it’s going. Europe has wanted to quiet it down because it’s dangerous for Europe. The U.S. also wants it to quiet down and not blow it up into a regional conflict that might involve Turkey and Greece and harm U.S. interest anywhere. As long as it’s contained, it’s not a big problem for the West. European powers have become involved in peacekeeping and relief operations. The U.S. refuses to be involved at all except to bomb somebody but not do anything else. U.S. policy has been to keep it contained, and now that it looks like the kind of solution that Washington has wanted may be achievable, the U.S. is trying to move in to try to achieve it. That solution is the partition of the former Yugoslavia into a greater Serbia and a greater Croatia, Croatia being our ally and getting U.S. military support, aid, and training. It looks like that’s what is happening. Behind the façade of preserving Bosnia and so on, it looks like what’s emerging is a partition between Serbia and Croatia, in which there is maybe something called Bosnia, but mostly on paper. And now that it looks feasible, Washington is indeed trying to move in to implement it and now there is some conflict between the White House and Congress as to whether to even go that far. There are all sorts of reasons for it, but I think that’s the rough contour of it. [7:16]
[Fourth audience question]
This country? Depends on what we do with it. This country has all sorts of advantages, all sorts of prospects, extraordinary wealth, tremendous amount of freedom, and all kinds of privileges. I mean, it’s what you make of it..[Q: Does voting matter?]..Just ask yourself what’s changed anything in the past? We’ve got a couple thousand years’ worth of history to look at. What individuals did never made any difference. What organized groups of people did made a big difference. I mean, that’s why we don’t have feudalism, slavery, in recent years, the civil rights movement, for example, the anti-war movement, the solidarity movement, environmental movements, feminist movements - you name them, right in our immediate history. They made a big difference. The labor movement has been the centerpiece of most struggles in social justice for obvious reasons. When people get together, even when people are poor and without power and privilege and so on, they can do quite a lot. In fact, there’s no limits to what they can do. But if they sit alone and ask, "What can I do?" nothing will happen. And it’s not as if there are any big secrets about this. We all know how to do it. If you’re concerned with something, you ask, first of all, what it is. You find other people who have similar concerns; they usually exist right near you. And maybe they’re even organized, and you join them and you do the kind of things that will advance those interests and concerns in coordination with others. It can get to be huge mass movements. For example, we’re the richest country in the world. Let’s take poorest country in the hemisphere and ask how they reacted - Haiti. There’s no country in the world with fewer opportunities than Haiti - it was a very rich country, I should say. A lot of Europe’s wealth comes from Haiti which was the richest colony in the world, and the U.S. took plenty of it too. But now it’s a desert practically. Well, you know, a couple years ago, the poorest people in the hemisphere in the Haitian slums managed to construct out of their own efforts a vibrant and lively civil society based on the grassroots movements and unions and all sorts of things. And it was so powerful. Nobody was paying attention to it because nobody looks at what’s going on with those weird people. But it got powerful enough that it swept its own president to office, astonishing everybody and calling forth a huge terror, of course, which we incidentally backed. But that’s what you do about it. If we were to do it, there would be no terror because nobody can do that to us. If we want to understand something about democracy, we should go to places like Haiti and ask them what democracy is. The idea to teach them democracy is ludicrous. We should go there and learn lessons of what democracy is so we can understand the kind of things you’re asking about which people over here have forgotten. They don’t understand what they know illiterate peasants know in Haiti. So let’s go over there and ask them. Actually, we can figure it out without asking them but those are the answers and people do it under conditions incomparably worse than what we can dream of. So we can certainly do it. [10:47]
[Fifth audience question]
Well you’re certainly right about spending the money. There’s good data on this that just came out from the Center for Responsive Politics. It just came out with a study of data about the effect of correlation of campaign spending and electoral victory in the 1994 elections. They do this regularly. And it turns out that about ninety percent of people elected in 1994 were people who spent much more than their opponent. That’s higher than 1992 and this is a pattern that goes way back in history, which translates into saying that those who are capable of buying the election, win the election to an overwhelming degree. Ninety percent is not a small number. Of course, they are the trans-national corporations and business groups and those who amass enormous amounts of capital and can only be combated in an electoral arena by a very highly organized public. That’s one of the reasons why business and the government more or less run, and are so intent on destroying labor unions because they are the core of the opposition to this, the best major way in which people were able to combat it. So you’re right about spending money but it doesn’t help if one of us spends money. You’re not going to compete with the private tyrannies whose profits are going through the roof. The Fortune 500, for example, controls about two-thirds of the entire gross domestic product of the United States right now, plus a big piece of the international economy. And those are private tyrannies, those are totalitarian institutions, if any deserves the name. They’re not accountable to the public, they’re completely hierarchal internally, they do what they want - you have control over them. Technically they do have a control - they do have state charters and they could be taken away, but until we remember what democracy is, that question won’t arise. As it stands, they have tyrannical control and extraordinary power, and while you can try to compete with them in the electoral arena and it’s worth doing, remember that that requires massive organization. On the trans-national corporations, I think you’re right and I don’t know exactly what your group is doing but you've got to think through what this means. The problem isn’t a chip manufacturing plant - that may be good or bad, you can worry about it - but the problem is who’s making the decision to put it there, who’s going to run it, who’s going to decide what it does, and so on. In a democratic system, people here or elsewhere would be making those decisions in a system where power is vested in private, tyrannical, and unaccountable systems. In institutions, it’s done other ways and those are the crucial issues. And we can vary on our opinion, whether it is good or bad to have a chip plant, but I don’t think people who at least believe in democracy ought to differ on the question of who should make that decision. [14:54]
[Sixth audience question]
She pointed out that I had said that what happened to Haiti wouldn’t happen to us but garment workers were killed in the United States, and students were killed - did you mean Kent State? And in fact, authorities can do things to us too. Yeah, things can happen but look at the scale. Kent State, four people were killed. It’s kind of interesting that we only remember Kent State. About a week or so before that, eight students were killed at Jackson State, which is a black college, but somehow that disappeared. I don’t mean to say you forgot. I mean we forget. But yes, a few students were killed and that’s an atrocity, but twelve. The garment workers, yes, they were killed. In fact, throughout the early part of the century, the United States had an unusually violent labor history. In fact, it appalled even the right wing in Europe. Into the late 1930’s, workers were getting killed, I think I recall about seven hundred in the early part of the century from about 1900’s up to the late 30’s. Seven hundred is an unpleasant number, and twelve is an unpleasant number. But in Haiti, in two years in a tiny country, it was about four thousand. And in Central America in the 1980’s, it was about two hundred thousand. In Indonesia in 1965, when it became our huge friend, maybe half a million to a million, mostly landless peasants in four months, which led to total euphoria in the United States, I should say. You’re right about the violence, but look at the scale. And the scale tells you something. Whatever kinds of repression people face here is invisible by comparative standards, at least for those of us who are relatively privileged and have the right color of skin. For people with a relative degree of privilege and so on, by comparative standards, the repression is extremely limited. True, it is there, but very limited. And the chances of the terror of the Haitian type could be used against the popular movement in the United States are pretty remote. There’s certainly nothing in history to suggest that it could happen. [18:08]
[Seventh audience question]
What are the intents and purposes of the Ross Perot phenomenon? On the intent-side, I don’t know what they’re up to. But I think you can understand the appeal. It’s easy to understand the appeal. The fact, to an astonishing extent, civil society has dissolved in the United States. It’s pretty astonishing. For example, over eighty percent of the population don’t think there’s a democratic system at all. On the regular Gallup polls, there’s a question "Who does the government work for?" and there are various choices. One of them is the few and special interests, meaning not the people, meaning it’s not a democratic system. That’s been running for about fifty percent for awhile. It just shot up to eighty percent. On the economic system, over eighty percent think it’s inherently unfair in recent polls. Cynicism about institutions is going through the roof. It’s also accompanied by huge confusion. So for example, a considerable majority of the population thinks that the government has a responsibility to help poor people, but a considerable majority of the population is opposed to welfare, that is the government’s way of helping poor people. Well that’s a success of the doctrinal system, which has gotten into people’s heads the idea that welfare means giving money to black women and black teenagers, or black women driving Cadillacs and breeding like rabbits because we’re going to pay for them. Okay, well if that’s what welfare is, no sane person wants to pay their hard-earned money for that. But if money is going to go to poor people, which indeed welfare does, then they’re perfectly happy to pay for that. Incidentally, people vastly overestimate the part of the federal budget that goes to welfare. It’s very slight, it has always been slight, it’s declined to close to half since 1970. So you get plenty of confusion. Over eighty percent of the population thinks that working people don’t have enough say in things. But a majority also thinks that unions have too much of a say in things. Well, that’s the only way in which working people can have a say in things but unions have been demonized. What you have is a very cynical population, a very confused, scared, frightened, angry, full of hate, very dangerous situation, a kind of situation in which demagogues could very easily construct scapegoats, other people they want to kill, such as immigrants, welfare mothers, and so forth. Civil societies collapsed in other aspects - there is virtually very little in the way of organization in the United States. So political parties don’t exist, like over half the population thinks that both parties should simply be disbanded. They’re not participant parties anyway. You can’t get together and decide a party platform - it’s handed down from above. Unions, which were traditionally in most countries, and here too, a leading force for social justice and democracy, and so forth. They’ve declined; they still exist, but have severely declined. And the same is true for other organizations. People literally don’t join bowling leagues anymore. On the other hand, there is a very significant proliferation. There are grassroots organizations on every imaginable issue but are very localized. People often don’t know what’s going on a couple blocks away. So there’s plenty of people involved, I don’t know how many but huge numbers of people are involved in something or the other, but in a highly local way and in usually very specific issues and unrelated to other things that ought to be connected with something else.
Now in those conditions, very strange things can happen. One of the things that could happen is the Ross Perot phenomenon. People were just looking for something, anything, maybe that. I mean maybe if somebody came and said, "I’m from Mars and I’m going to lead you", they’d probably go for that too. I’m not joking incidentally, these are the conditions under which Millenarian movements with Messiahs have in fact developed in many societies. We don’t have to look back very far to see similar situations. We are different than other countries but there are analogs, if not parallels. In a way, I think it’s an analog to Iran in the late 70’s when there were big popular movements to try to get rid of this tyranny under the control of extreme religious fundamentalists. Actually something like this happened in Germany in the late 30’s. It’s not a joke, people were frightened, society was dissolving, everything was going wrong, and there was no one to blame, so someone came along and said "blame it on the Jews." It worked. It will work if we let it work. There are certainly a lot of people who would like it to work. What’s all the hysteria about immigrants about? Or about welfare mothers? What’s that for? That’s part of these efforts. It’s like blaming it on the Jews. [23:48]
[Eighth audience question]
Who from the people from higher up stopped from speaking? Well, first of all, we don’t know if anyone from higher up did it, but let’s say they did. There’s plenty people who’s speaking and plenty of activists that keep speaking. There has been repression here, like Black Panther leaders were killed - it’s not zero, but the idea that we face the kind of repression that keeps us from speaking up, I don’t think it’s to be taken seriously when you think about what’s faced by other people who do speak up.
So your point is that the government is trying to keep us disempowered so the game goes on to two parties and it’s not really democratic. I think there’s something right about what you’re saying, but if you don’t mind me saying so, I think you’re being caught up in the propaganda system. It’s not the government doing this - the government is a reflection of private power. There’s been a huge propaganda campaign in the last fifty years on the part of a very class-conscious business community, who are kind enough to tell us what they’re doing, namely fighting the everlasting battle for the minds of men and indoctrinating people with a capitalist story and so on and so forth. That’s what the huge public relations industry is about, and they definitely have the goals that you’re mentioning, and indeed one of their goals is to make us hate the government. Now there’s plenty wrong with the government and they’d love you to blame everything on the government. But the reason why they want you to hate the government, the reason why they’re building up this sense of anti-politics, like let’s get rid of schools and public health systems and everything else, it’s because they’d like you to blame it on the government and not look and see where power is, namely the Fortune 500.
Government has a flaw that General Electric doesn’t have. The government is potentially democratic. There’s a way of influencing the government and participating in it. I’m not joking, just think about it. When you’re saying that the government is doing this and that and the other thing to us, yes, the government is reflecting the interests of the people in it, but they could be representing us - there is no way for private tyrannies to be representing us. So yes, they would like you to hate the government. There is a lot wrong with the government, there is a lot to be hated about it, there is a lot to be changed about it. But the main thing about it is you can participate in it. And there are ways of changing what it does, and therefore, for at least people who believe in democracy, gives us advantages that other systems of powers don’t have. It is potentially our system of power, and the private corporations aren’t. So I kind of half-way go along with what you’re saying. To the extent that the system is not democratic, it’s not zero or a hundred percent - it’s somewhere in there and it changes. But that is because we’ve succumbed to a propaganda offensive and institutional arrangements, which have in fact kept people separated and isolated into atoms of consumption and not dealing with each other, hating each other, and so on. Now that’s within our control. Especially for a relatively privileged and wealthy people, it is very much in our control. It’s true that there’s some repressive apparatus down there, but when you look at what happens around the world, for us to be talking about repression is a joke. If student groups in Indonesia can pass resolutions, saying that Indonesia ought to get out of East Timor, if working people in Indonesia can stand up and say we want to have unions, if writers in Indonesia could stand up and say we want a free press, under the conditions of Indonesia and they do. For us to talk about repression is not even a joke. And you don’t have to go as far to Indonesia, you could just go right south of the border. I mean just cross the border into our traditional domains and you will see what it means for people to speak up. If Jesuits in Central America and El Salvador speak up, they get their brains blown out by the U.S.-trained security forces. That’s not happening to us. [29:15]
[Ninth audience question]
So the question is, if I understood it correctly, what happens to movements that are so keyed to particular leaders that if they are taken out of the movement, the movement dies. Well, it’s not that those don’t exist, it’s just we don’t understand what democracy is. A democratic system is one in which the population is doing things. Now if there’s a group that’s being organized, there’s always someone who comes around and say I’m happy to be your leader and follow my orders. And to the extent you allow that to happen, you’ve given up, not just so that their orders would be for them and not for you which is usually the case, but that’s the wrong structure. So it’s perfectly true that if a popular organization is so hierarchal-structured and controlled in such an authoritarian fashion that taking out a leader could kill it, there must be something wrong with the organization from the very beginning. That’s a Leninist organization on the left and of course it’s tyrannical, what else could you expect from it. It’s going to lead to the Soviet Union. [30:41]
[Tenth audience question]
Who are the "we" and "they" that Adam Smith was talking as?....Well, it’s not really the individuals. It’s the institutional structures that exist. Just in his day. Like when he was talking about the merchants and manufacturers who have taken state power to advance their interest, he wasn’t necessarily talking about this particular person over here or maybe that particular person over there is a merchant and he is very benevolent and wants to give away everything and so on, maybe. But he was talking about a structure of merchants and manufacturers, and we have a structure of institutions too. Our social and economic system is based on arrangements of private power. They are fairly recent - corporations - they don’t go back that far. They got their power mostly in the early part of the century. They achieved through courts mainly, not through legislation, the rights of private persons, in fact immortal persons, with all the rights of a person except you’re immortal and huge and even things like freedom of speech don’t make any sense for institutions. They have now grown and expanded enormously to the extent that the top 500, which have just celebrated their fourth straight year of double-digit profit growth, now controls about two-thirds of the domestic economy and a large part of the international economy. They’re pretty much out of control and unaccountable. You don’t know what they’re doing and they don’t have to ask them what they’re doing. You can follow their orders if you want, but that’s about it. But those are hugely powerful institutions, basically totalitarian in character. And yes, they have an enormous effect on what the government does, and that’s why ninety percent of those who spent more than their opponent won the last election. It’s the main reason. And it’s also why the policies of both political parties are way to the right of the attitudes of the general population. The general population, on issue after issue, is over here and both political parties are over there. And if you look over there, you’ll see that’s where the bosses are. Take say, balancing the budget. That’s considered the major issue - we have to balance the budget. Business is totally in favor of it. Both political parties are in favor of it. When Clinton gets up and makes a speech, he says of course we have to balance the budget, that’s not in question. What about the population? Well, about five percent of the population thinks it’s the most important issue, five percent. That’s the same percentage that thinks homelessness is the most important issue. That’s where the public ranks it. When people are asked "Should we even do it?" about a quarter says yes. When they’re asked the sensible way, "Should we balance the budget if the cost is education or health or environment? Should we balance the budget under any realistic conditions?" Well, it’s how the question is asked, and about a quarter of the population thinks so at all, and about five percent thinks it’s an important issue. But nevertheless, the parties are over somewhere else. They happen to be where the business community is. Same on every other thing. The public does want some parts of the budget cut, primarily the Pentagon. By about six to one, the population is opposed to raising the Pentagon budget. That’s the one part going up. In fact, it’s rather dramatic to see how overwhelmingly opposed the public is to almost everything that’s being rammed through. Well, that gives you the beginning of an indication of where the roots of political power are.
If you look more closely, you’ll see it goes way back. In fact, if you look very closely, you’ll find that the country was founded on that principle. If you go back to the Constitutional Convention and have a look, James Madison was explaining to the Convention, which got implemented in the Constitution, the point he insistently made was democracy is very dangerous. If they had it in England, their model of a possible society at the time, if there was democracy in England, people would get together and take away the landed proprietors. We can’t permit that so we better not have democracy and the government has to be constituted so it fulfills the prime responsibility of government, which is, in his words, "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." It has to be set up that way, and in fact it was set up that way. And this goes right on up to the present. That’s the core of the Eisenhower-Dulles discussions that I was referring to. There’s a whole democratic theory, so-called, which is about this and so forth. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, over time there have been many struggles, many victories for democracy, freedom and rights in this country. In the 1920’s, it looked very similar to now. Total business dominance, no workers’ rights, the Red Scare of the Wilson administration virtually destroyed the unions, and eliminated independent thought. It was considered the end of history, tyranny of the masters and so on. Okay, couple years later, it all fell apart and there was a militant and vigorous popular reaction which led to a substantial range of rights for working people and poor people and organizations and so on. It succeeded and got the government to devote some of its resources, not a trivial part in fact, to the needs of the general population instead of the minority of the opulent. And it just goes on and on like that. There’s a constant struggle. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. There will continue to be an unequal struggle as long as there are tyrannical systems that control, internal to them, the mass of the decision-making of how the country works - in other words, as long as there’s a private corporate system of manufacturing and financial services and other industries. But those are legitimate structures - there’s no reason why they shouldn’t exist in a democratic society. [37:46]
[Eleventh audience question]
He pointed out that a lot of people are saying the war on drugs is a social disaster and causing all sorts of problems, but the common wisdom is that for a politician to get up and say we ought to do something sensible about this is suicidal. And the President in his speech at the U.N. the other day made this his centerpiece in the War on Drugs. That’s quite correct, but it’s had very clear effects on society; it’s had no effect on the use of drugs, but it has had plenty of social effect, like it’s filled the prisons. The prison rate in the United States has zoomed since 1980. We were at the level of the worst country in the industrial world in 1980; we’re now way beyond them. The prison population has gone up by three or four per capita since 1980 without any change in the crime rate. And it’s going up even further. And it’s mostly possession of drugs. It’s highly targeted towards possession of drugs that laws are crafted so that the urban ghettos get way more penalties than the white suburbs. Yes, it has had those effects; it has almost no effect on the use of drugs. I don’t think it was intended to. The same is true in the third world. It’s had a big effect on intensifying counter-insurgency operations against peasants and massacres by para-military forces run by land owners and the military. It hasn’t changed drug production. Whatever it is, it’s not having an effect on drugs, so I don’t think it’s intended to.
In fact, if you look at the President’s message the other day, here’s what a free press ought to say about it in my opinion. At the U.N. on Sunday, President Clinton announced that we were now on national emergency in an unusual threat to national security and all that kind of stuff, and he said he ordered the U.S. government, and called upon others to join us, to identify nations, persons, and companies that were involved in money laundering or were significantly involved in drug trafficking. Well, if we all wanted to do our patriotic duty, we can easily help him out on that, just by using plain government sources. So for example, who’s involved in money laundering? Well, a year or two ago, there was a study by the OECD, an organization of the rick countries did an analysis of the flow of money from narco-trafficking. It’s illegal so you can’t be certain of the numbers. But their estimates are more than half of it goes through U.S. banks. So we know right off which financial institutions to go after if we’re interested in money laundering. Actually, seven percent goes to Colombia, according to them. You can hardly claim that was a secret. It was reported in the country’s leading newspaper, but unfortunately not this country’s leading newspaper. It was reported in Mexico’s leading newspaper, Excelsior. I don’t think it was ever reported here but it’s an OECD study. So if we want to go after institutions involved in money laundering, we know just where to start and put them out of business because that’s what the President said we had to do.
What about persons? What about companies involved in a significant way in the production of drugs? In Colombia? Well, there’s some evidence about this too, in the Reagan years, the CIA and I think the Congressional Research Service did some studies of the flow of chemicals from the United States to Latin America. It turned out that they discovered the chemical exports to Latin America are way in excess of industrial needs, and if you look at the chemicals that are being sent, it’s the ones used to make cocaine, so we know just what corporate companies to go after if we’re interested in the significant involvement of drug flow in Colombia. What about nations? What nations are involved in the drug racket in Colombia? Well, there’s one obvious one, namely the nation that’s giving half of its military aid to Colombia, to the military which is all in bed with the narco-traffickers. It’s not a big secret either, you can read about it in every amnesty national report, in the human rights watch report, church group study, and every international monitor and every European parliament and everyone else. All the studies point out what is obvious to anyone, that there’s a close linkage between the military, the narco-traffickers, land owners, the Para-military forces, and the military that we are funding is not even officially involved in drugs. That’s the police - we’re funding them to some extent - but it’s almost all going to the military which is indeed involved with narco-trafficking. And that’s half our military aid to the hemisphere going up under Clinton. So there’s an obvious start on nations who are involved in drug production in Colombia. We can go on like this. Again, if there was a free press, that’s what it would be saying. And if it isn’t saying it, then you ought to be saying it or at least look into it and find out about it. So there’s an answer to those questions and also an answer to your question. If this is correct which I think it is, then I think this has nothing to do with the war on drugs. Then we can ask the question why is there a war on drugs altogether? Drugs aren’t good for you. But in terms of the actual harm they carry out, most of the harm they carry out is due mostly to the fact that they’re illegal. If you look at, say deaths from drugs, and compare them to say, deaths from tobacco, it’s nowhere near.
Furthermore, in the case of soft drugs like marijuana, although it’s surely not good for you, I don’t think there’s a single recorded overdose in the last sixty million users or so. And furthermore, the use of drugs harms you, not the other people. The use of tobacco harms other people - it is vastly greater in scale. Philip Morris is the biggest corporate advertiser for the Gingrich Congress. And the deregulation is freeing them up from the tort reform from any protection by victims. If you look at what they’re doing in the third world, the U.S. is using real muscle to force open foreign markets to advertising aimed at women and children in Thailand and China and so on. And if countries won’t agree to advertise our lethal narcotics there, we’re going to impose trade sanctions on them which are serious in this case of big countries such as the U.S., and that’s state power. It’s directly involved in serious narco-trafficking and not on a small scale. There was a recent Oxford study by an epidemiologist who estimated that fifty million people will die from the use of tobacco in China. Ok, so there’s a lot we can do about trafficking in lethal narcotics. In fact, there are a lot of questions we ask. But getting back to your point about why it’s suicidal for any politician to say of these things. The reason is we’ve let the propaganda win. So yes, it is possible for people to say obvious things. All anyone hears is that, so you’re sure they’d believe it. If all you hear is one thing, why shouldn’t you believe it? Nobody’s saying anything else, but we have plenty of opportunities to get a different message out. Again, there are a lot of opportunities for people like us in a society like this. If you don’t make use of this, then yes, it still will be impossible for people to think rationally about this topic. To think rationally that the major effect of the war on drugs is something comparable to social cleansing in Colombia. In Colombia, the Para-military forces go out and get rid of people they don’t like, like peasants, union leaders, street kids, and whoever else they don’t like. Well, here we are a more civilized society; we put them in jail instead of social cleansing. And the technique for putting them in jail is, for an overwhelmingly extent, victimless crimes, like having a joint in your pocket. So there’s a reason for it, and there’s an effect of it, and people should be able to understand that. [47:39]
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