Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) revisited


To begin, it strikes me as appropriate to reorient us to the environment which gave rise to both the book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, and the film, which premiered on 18 June 1992 at the Sydney Film Festival in Australia.

A different time

Achbar and Wintonick followed Chomsky for five years to make their documentary, [1] implying that they began their project in 1986 or 1987.  A very different time that some readers might not remember too well, or at all.

To offer a glimpse into that era, imagine Miami Vice entering its fourth season, the Simpsons first appearing as short film clips, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiering on network TV, the Bangles walking like Egyptians, Bon Jovi prancing on a prayer, U2 still hadn’t quite found that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow they were looking for, fully grown men wearing big hair and pastel baby blue and pink clothes, women wearing shoulder pads as big as those sported by gridiron players, fluoro coloured neon lights in nightclubs and restaurants, and greed was definitely good all around.

In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, and was censured by the Tower Commission for not being in control of his National Security Council’s ‘involvement’ in the Iran-Contra conspiracy.  But all was well, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassing 2000 points for the first time, rising to 2510 in July.

Microsoft, which had listed publicly the previous year, released Windows 2.0, and the Knoll brothers began developing the prototype for Photoshop, which was initially distributed exclusively with a brand of slide scanners, a couple of years before Apple acquired the licence for distributing version 1.0.

The Single European Act was passed by the European Community while the Walt Disney Company and France signed an agreement to construct Euro Disney.  Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party was re-elected to a third term in the UK, while British Airways was privatised in line with her policies, and listed on the London stock exchange.

Rudolf Hess, the last surviving Nazi war crimes prisoner, hanged himself in his cell in Spandau Prison, aged 93, and the first Intifada began in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

In Australia, Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s Labor Party was re-elected for a third term, and the 19-year reign of Queensland Premier Johannes Bjelke-Petersen came to an end.

Born that year were Lyndsy Fonseca, Robert Kardashian Jr, Hayley Westenra, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Maria Sharapova, Hilary Duff, Zac Efron, and … Snooki.  The departed that year included Alistair MacLean, Liberace, David Susskind, Andy Warhol, Randolph Scott, Danny Kaye, CL Moore, Erskine Caldwell, Rita Hayworth, James Tiptree Jr, Fred Astaire, Jackie Gleason, John Huston, Lee Marvin, Lorne Greene, Peter Tosh, Mary Astor, and Henry Ford II.

By the time the documentary was finished in 1992, the first Gulf War had come and gone, George HW Bush was the outgoing President with Bill Clinton waiting to be sworn in.  The Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall were gone, and Boris Yeltsin was President of a new Russian Federation.  The Maastricht Treaty signed into existence the European Union and South Africans voted to end Apartheid.  There was civil war in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of police who beat Rodney King, and Queensland introduced Freedom of Information laws.

Mark Achbar
Mark Achbar

The long 1980s boom had become only marginally unstuck with the British currency crisis in 1992, and the whole idea of a never ending, American-led prosperity, based on unlimited growth, made it seem unnecessary to challenge orthodoxy.  In such an environment, Achbar and Wintonick’s film, presenting a significantly dissenting view about corporate motives and morality, and doing so in a non-fiction film lasting almost three hours, necessitating an intermission, might have seemed a big risk, perhaps explaining why it was premiered in far-away Australia.

It appears the gamble paid off.  The documentary became highly successful, winning 22 awards globally, being screened in cinemas in 300 cities world-wide, including 50 film festivals, and being broadcast on TV in 30 markets.  Whatever may be thought of the subject of the film, it must be accepted today as globally influential.

The central thesis

The film presents Chomsky as the sole proponent of the central thesis in Herman and Chomsky’s book that American news media are manipulative in creating consent for corporate interests by skewing perceptions with propaganda while avoiding negative reportage of corporate activities or dissent from the hegemony of orthodox capitalism.

It does this by interposing filters between what occurs and what and how it is reported.  The filters include promoting the interests of corporate advertisers; focusing on a limited group of news ‘makers’; relegating dissenting opinions to little or no coverage at all; limiting the length of TV or print explanations of ideas, events, opinions and analysis to fit into short ‘grabs’, thus limiting the breadth and depth of debate overall; repeating orthodox interpretations and opinions, particularly those initiated by ‘elite’ or big media outlets, as ‘necessary illusions’ until they take on the appearance of objective factuality just by uncritical repetition; promoting this skewed coverage as an institutional and self-referential memory in media archives that are then regurgitated as actual history; and diverting people’s attention away from their own self-interests or issues that might concern them, and towards meaningless distractions like sports, entertainment, and other contemporary analogues of ‘bread and circuses’.

By pursuing these strategies, corporations gain the support for their activities of the educated and politically active 20 per cent of the population that matters to them, while the opinions of the remaining 80 per cent of the population are effectively neutralised.

It was and remains quite telling that politicians hardly feature in Chomsky’s scheme of things, except, perhaps, as the lackeys of corporations.  In a different but apposite context, Chomsky is shown arguing that any kind of social or political action has to be animated by a clear vision for a better future society.  It is my own conclusion, not Chomsky’s, that politicians clearly lack any such vision.

He does, however, warn that a hegemonic system seeking to maintain private control over public resources, and which subverts human needs to function creatively rather than as wage slaves, does so by undermining the US First Amendment ideal of not limiting public access to free ideas and opinions.  As such it must have the support of politicians in deliberate actions that are corrosive of a healthy democracy as intended by the American founders and their constitution.

This thesis was a significant challenge to orthodox views on how capitalism worked in America.  It was also a major attack on the notion that there is a ‘free press’ pursuing Fourth Estate ideals.  Yet these ideas were hardly new.

The title ‘manufacturing consent’ was actually coined by Walter Lippman in his 1920 book, Liberty and the News, in which he opposed the old elite orthodoxy about liberal democracy: that most people are not intellectually equipped to make sound judgements about issues affecting national interests.  Consequently the decision-making function was to be reserved for an educated, intellectual elite. Lippman argued that the ‘press’ was a threat to democracy when it adopted objectives other than a ‘free flow’ of ideas, and that it did so partly because journalists themselves interposed their own subjectivities and practices between truth and reportage.[2]

The concept of ‘necessary illusions’ comes from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who suggested in the 1920s and ‘30s that the inspiration for the mass of people to play an unquestioning rôle assigned to them is not rationality but faith in the illusions necessary to make faith itself an animating replacement for rational analysis.[3]

The caution that repetition of an orthodoxy gives it an apparent respectability or unassailable truthfulness dates back at least to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in 1776, in which he said that ‘a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.’

That these ideas are not new does not make them less (or more) credible, but it does establish for them a kind of orthodoxy in themselves that might help to explain their public appeal.

Chomsky’s thesis oddly lacks an emphasis on concentration of ownership, which was one of the major concerns about news media elsewhere in the West in the 1980s, when orthodox capitalist theory saw takeovers and mergers as efficiencies, but fewer owners of news media raised apprehensions about the potential for fewer sources of independent analysis and opinion.

It must also be acknowledged that while the film expurgates a thesis developed and published as the book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988) by Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky, Herman, a professor of finance and a specialist in institutional analysis, corporatism, and modern terrorism, is invisible in the film despite the fact that he contributed the media propaganda model and did most of the writing,[4] an assertion uncritically confirmed by Chomsky himself.[5]  Whatever the reasons, however, the film focuses on Chomsky, not Herman, and this review follows suit.

Cambodia and East Timor – them and us

To prove the Chomsky media thesis, the film presented an interpretation of the rôle of the New York Times (NYT), regarded with some justification as the most influential newspaper on the planet, in reporting news about Cambodia and East Timor between 1975 and 1979.  Without regurgitating the history of the appalling events in both places, Chomsky’s argument was that the ‘elite’ media pointed to the horrors of Cambodia because these were perpetrated by ‘them’ (communists), while the horrors in East Timor were profitably supported by ‘us’ (Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and American corporations investing in Indonesia, selling it the arms for its genocidal colonial venture).  His empirical evidence that the NYT published 70 column inches of reportage on East Timor, but 1,175 column inches about Cambodia stands undisputed, and no matter how much NYT spokesman Karl Meyers wriggled around, trying to discredit Chomsky as inexperienced in media practices, journalistic professionalism, or driven by conspiracy theories, he came across just as unconvincingly today as he did back in the 1990s.

To be fair, there is evidence to suggest that Chomsky was ideologically blind to the Cambodian genocide and the intentions of the Khmer Rouge for much of the 1970s, and changed his attitudes significantly in the 1980s.  British anarchist Paul Bogdanor suggested that this was because Chomsky and Herman were in the thrall of ‘Trotskyite style anti-Westernism, encouraging them to defend inhuman, irrational regimes.’[6]  In the context of Chomsky’s argument about media focus and filtering, however, such a bias is irrelevant, even if proven incontrovertibly.

Peter Wintonick.
Peter Wintonick.

Debunking conspiracy theory critiques

I confess that I was moved, back in the early 1990s, by Tom Wolfe’s on-screen rejection of Chomsky’s adherence to conspiracy theories, but only long enough to discover two things: as a pretty recent graduate[7] who had admired Wolfe as an exemplar of alternative journalism, I had fallen precisely into the trap of being defined by my professional prejudices as a journalist – the very ones that Chomsky had indicated as a potential cause of self-censorship and unquestioning faith in recognised authority figures and institutions; and Chomsky had nowhere actually advocated a conspiracy theory, instead explicitly rejecting such an approach.  Wolfe had simply asserted it, and I had uncritically accepted that fabrication.  That realisation made me change my mind not only about the film, but also about Chomsky’s work more generally.

A good part of the documentary is in fact devoted to Chomsky dealing with the completely irrational accusations made against him on the basis of positions he had never adopted, but that were ascribed to him by shallow and plainly malicious reporting and discussion of his theses.

There was, for example, the ridiculous moment when Dutch Defense Minister Frits Bolkestein, debating Chomsky in a public forum, realised that his prepared arguments against Chomsky were based on fantastical distortions of Chomsky’s actual positions, and then excused himself from the debate on the pretext he had to be somewhere else, but a little too late to save face.  There were also some bizarrely incomprehensible exchanges between Chomsky and interlocutors who charged him with supporting holocaust-denial simply because he had supported freedom of speech – the freedom for French academic and author Robert Faurisson to deny this piece of history.  It was direct evidence of the power of the media to propose interpretations which are uncritically accepted by a great many people without any effort to analyse and come to independent conclusions.

In sharp contrast with his interlocutors, Chomsky is shown as calmly rational, pointing patiently at facts rather than assumptions, and at his most convincing when he repeatedly states that people shouldn’t just believe what he says either, but that, instead, they should form their own independent conclusions by engaging with issues themselves, based on an outlook and information broader than that offered by mass media.

The cult of Chomsky

Although Avram Noam Chomsky was already pretty well known in the US as a notable linguist and part of the anti-Vietnam War literati, it may be that the documentary established him as an international superstar among the global intelligentsia, partly because of the film’s reach, and partly because Chomsky was so easily characterised as a stereotype of what an intellectual should be: mildly spoken, bespectacled, modestly presented, impeccably correct, and only ever approaching passionate loss of composure in the heat of discussion, but even then only approaching that state.

Born in 1928 into a moderately affluent household of Russian Jewish émigré parents who had met in the USA and were both teachers, Chomsky earned Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania before joining the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1955 where he has worked ever since, becoming a full professor in 1961, and an Institute Professor in 1976, placing him at the pinnacle of formal academic titles, and giving him an almost unbounded remit to pursue whatever field of enquiry and publication he might choose.


The film does present a Chomskian vision for a better society, albeit in truncated form.  He is revealed as favouring an anarcho-syndicalist economy based on libertarian notions of individual liberty, or freedom, from the need for wage slavery (his terminology) and embracing what he sees as the innately creative tendencies of human beings.  While not being specific about details, when pushed for examples of what he had in mind, Chomsky mentioned instances of pre-war revolutionary Spanish collectives and the Israeli Kibbutzim.[8]

To rid society of being deluded by necessary illusions or contrived consent for corporate machinations, Chomsky suggests for individuals a greater eclecticism about sources of news, and attentive analysis of events rather than reliance on expert interpretations, though he concedes that the pressure of working routines makes this difficult to pursue with the effort it deserves.

What is not made directly visible in the film is an apparent dichotomy between Chomsky’s academic status, rooted in all the methodology and structure of the academy, and his apparent disdain for the academic culture of expertise, methodology, and the application of theoretical models rather than an approach to institutional analysis via a comparison of stated aims to actions and outcomes on the basis of empirical evidence, and an almost systematic aversion to ascribing significance to individual human agency.[9]

By way of a mea maximum culpa, as a fresh graduate in the early 1990s, and still today, I adhered to the latter principles, except the exclusion of considering individual agency, as a guide to what I perceive journalism should aspire to, albeit that I derived this ideal not from Chomsky, but from my interpretation of Enlightenment era conceptions of the Fourth Estate as a fearless collegium that should function to analyse and question the uses and abuses of public and private power.

What bothered me in the 1990s was what I saw as a rigid determinism in Chomsky, made most explicit in his early linguistic theory, which proposed that human beings are predisposed to language abilities via ‘hard-coded’ genetic instructions.  This always implied to me that human beings are therefore also predisposed to specific cognitive limitations and approaches to social formation, since I saw both flowing directly as objects and constructs of language.  Today I am less inclined to make such a judgement, not least because it is deterministic in its own right, but also because I have found nothing in Chomsky’s extended oeuvre that excludes the possibility of more than one valid approach to the subjects on which he writes.

Nevertheless, I think his distinctive eschewal of theory and refusal to focus on individual human agency is what his staunchest critics seize on instinctively to make their attacks about his ivory tower isolation from the minutiae of, for example, news media methodologies and professional journalistic practices.  These are areas in which my interpretation of Chomsky has altered significantly.

Distorted Fourth Estate principles

In the 1990s I was much more inclined to be suspicious of Chomsky’s dismissal of individuality in the practice of journalism than I am today.  Back then I believed individual integrity could always overcome institutional mediocrity, censoriousness, or hierarchy. Today I know this to have been misplaced idealism.

My perception of journalism today includes analysis with the kind of social theory Chomsky eschews, which suggests to me that journalists tend to be dramatically influenced by their own social self-identification as educated, middle class professionals, and the pragmatic exigencies of forming unhealthily close relationships with the subjects of their inquiry, which is particularly the case in financial and political journalism, where journalists area loath to offend their sources for fear of being cut off from the flow of what passes as ‘inside information’.  Additionally, it seems that quite often the social lives of such journalists are subsumed by contacts exclusive to their profession, making them as isolated from different social and political perspectives as professional politicians and wealthy residents of gated communities.  Arising from this increasing isolation of journalists from reality is the particularly loathsome feature of contemporary news media that elevates journalists to the status of media personalities in their own right.  The spectacle of journalists interviewing other journalists is almost farcical, with palpable arrogance and conspicuously extravagant presumption evident in many of such contrivances.  This is nowhere more powerfully illustrated than in American TV news.

I must acknowledge, though, that my personal opinion and insight in this regard in no way contradicts Chomsky’s overall analysis of journalists, as a faceless group, acting as the propagators of corporate propaganda by repeating uncritically the nonsense they are told by their contacts and pretending that this parroting is ‘objective’ journalism citing ‘creditable’ sources.

In my contemporary reassessment, then, Chomsky’s uncomplicated and relatively Spartan approach to hypothesis does not seem to adversely affect his reasoning or insights, and might actually be quite ingenious in pursuing a formula that is both suitable for mass consumption, and the profitability of publishing for a mass market, without undermining the potential for the altruistic purpose of bringing alternative and challenging points of view to the 80 per cent of people Chomsky suggests are irrelevant to corporate interests and machinations.

There is, however, another aspect to Chomsky’s 1980s analysis that is purely contemporary in its ambit: does his thesis stand up to the changed dynamics of the new media that arose after he developed his views?

Chomsky’s withering gaze into the future

Last year Chomsky commented that neither computers nor the internet had created as big a change in society or communications as the telegraph in the 19th century, and that online communication through gadgets ‘erodes normal human relations’, making ‘them more superficial, shallow, evanescent’, and causing people to be far less well read even among his own students[10] than they used to be.

For these comments he was taken to task by PJ Rey[11], who suggested Chomsky as an example of affluent white academics reinforcing their privileged positions by rejecting media accessible to non-experts, and that:

Chomsky is seemingly ignorant to the use of Twitter and other networks in shaping the Arab Spring and the #Occupy movement; or the fact that young people are voraciously sharing and consuming important news stories through these same networks; or that Blacks and Hispanics were early adopters of smartphones; or that gay men have been pioneers in geo-locative communication.  In many cases, historically-disadvantaged groups have used social media technology to find opportunities previously foreclosed to them.  For these folks, social media is hardly trivial.

Rey further claims that:

Chomsky’s mistake is in his failure to recognize that social media marks a significant shift away from the passivity of mass consumption and towards a paradigm of mass participation.  Social media’s characteristic rapidity – which Chomsky ties to shallowness – is also what facilitates its interactivity.  And it is, in fact, the participation and interaction engendered by social media that differentiates it from broadcast media.  The old media-manipulation frame is simply inadequate to capture all the activity occurring through these new means of communication.[12]

What does all of this actually mean?  Let’s step through it point by point.

Chomsky does not appear to need to promote or preserve any status.  He already has a reputation unequalled by more than a handful of people on the planet, and he arrived at it without the use or need of social media or the gadget culture, neither of which appear to be serious threat to his status at this stage (he’s in his 80s).

It is unclear to me whether Rey was suggesting that ‘Twitter and other networks’ caused the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, or that they would have embodied entirely different ideas without social media and gadgets, or that there was some kind of positive outcome attributable to social media and gadgets.

Noam Chomsky.
Noam Chomsky.

There is a concept known as ‘weasel word’ that proposes the combination of two words sometimes sucks the meaning out of one of those words, like a weasel sucks the yolk from an eggshell.  This is probably precisely what happened in labelling Arab social and political unrest a kind of spring without acknowledging the bitter irony of borrowing that unfortunate conjugation from the Hungarian and Czech uprisings against Soviet tyranny in the 1950s and 1960s.  I say bitter irony because both of these uprisings were brutally suppressed, and even more draconian controls imposed as a consequence.  It is too early to say what will be the case in Arab countries because the bloodshed and brutality of the initial foment has not yet subsided.  Arab re-freezing may yet be a more accurate description than spring.

In terms of the Occupy movement, it might be said that social media and gadgets were used to spread awareness of various sit-ins, but to what effect?  Has the Occupy movement a legitimate claim to have changed a single feature of American politics or capitalism?

Is it not just as plausible to argue that both kinds of movements occurred for reasons well beyond mere communications technology, and that both actually serve as good examples of media orthodoxy that serves to divert attention from seriously analysing root causes for these phenomena, directly attributable to corporate machinations in both cases, by focusing instead on the trivia of technology accessories and fetishes?  Can it not also be argued that the endless mention of these examples is in itself an example of media repetition to establish as truth an inconsequential support of the media for ‘alternative’ points of view?  Finally, is the repetition of these examples without any analysis not just effective, free advertising for the corporations that control the networks and gadgets spoken of?  And not a word by Rey about the potential for networks and gadgets in both cases to have been used to track, arrest, torture, and even kill the dissidents.

Voracious sharing of important news stories appears a deliberately disingenuous re-framing of the reality that young people are drowned in tsunamis of information without any means to determine the accuracy, context or value of that information, let alone its importance to them.  How significant is celebrity gossip, pictures of cats and landscapes, or re-shared TED video clips?  I suggest that the sheer volume of unsorted, unclassified and unvetted information flowing through the internet makes it unnecessary to censor or suppress dissidence since the inconsequential and inane will always drown out the really truthful or significant.

Rey’s mention of gadget uptake by blacks, Hispanics and gays implies that these methods of communication have somehow substantially altered the behaviour or social and political prospects of these groups.  I don’t see much evidence for that suggestion.  Instead, I see evidence for the success of corporate advertising for gadget accessorising, and support for Chomsky’s argument that gadgets have not promoted a depth of analysis that might be required to understand and change the barriers to black, Hispanic and gay marginalisation in their own societies.  LOL, ROFL, and CUL8R type messages don’t count for anything in that context.  Again, no mention of the potential for these gadgets to also function as tools of criminal organisation, and for legal and illegal persecution of the groups mentioned.

Taken together, the points Chomsky and Rey made about social media in particular, but also gadgets as access ramps, are strongly reminiscent of a comment made by commercial Google Plus user, Steve Faktor, that the only apparently sound reasons for using this platform are the pursuit of profit (self promotion, advertising), and ‘fun’.  No mention of social agitation, fomenting revolution, or even just serious analysis and debate.  In that formula we might recognise Chomsky’s cautions about the ‘manufactured consent’ for the notion that the pursuit of profit is not only necessary, but transcends all critique of it.  Likewise, we might recognise as a Chomskian ‘necessary illusion’ that the ‘immaterial labour’[13] necessary to populate social networks, thus making them profitable for their owners (corporations), is ‘fun’, and, perhaps, more importantly, that this ‘fun’ is a diversion from understanding how such behaviour exploits the people performing the immaterial labour.

In this light, Chomsky’s thesis appears to stand up pretty well in the era of new media, gadgets, social networking, and all the breathless techno-babble mantras.

Exit stage left …

It seems appropriate to me to return to an earlier critique I made of Chomsky, as a parting observation.  There was an absence in his conception of the rôle and power of media: the concept of interpellation as developed after Althusser and Foucault to describe a process of objectifying media audiences as both consumers of, and objects within media discourses.  That can be taken to mean in some contexts that apparently external, objective observers are interpellated into the media discourse by positioning them as members of groups such as consumers, or law abiding citizens, or patriotic Americans, and pre-emptively laden with fabricated values that the observers uncritically accept as their own.  Thus, for example, good ‘law abiding American consumers’ includes you as the consumer of the message, and also as the ‘patriotic’ American who supports whatever war your president has initiated, while also sharing in the community of consumptive interest of your fellow Americans in the shiny new products on offer from patriotically American corporations.  And so it goes.  But not in Chomsky’s conception.

Perhaps I see this as a failure in Chomsky’s thesis because the notion of interpellation proposes that all dissenting ideas are portrayed as pre-existing components of even the media discourses that first mention them, and that are already accommodated in orthodox perspectives without challenging them or the media discourses themselves.

I’m pretty certain a smart, switched on guy like Chomsky would have been aware of this concept, but chose not to adopt it, and therefore also not to speculate on whether his own dissenting opinions would be interpellated into the very mainstream media discourses he criticised as propaganda extrusions.

I propose here quite positively that over a relatively short period of time Chomsky has become part of the orthodoxy of discussion about the media and corporate elites, and may in fact have been a significant influence on the emergence of a whole range of dissenting opinions, almost as a genre of mainstream media, particularly in the area of documentary films.

That last area, of a genre of dissident documentary examinations of contemporary issues, is a fertile area for some future writings about documentary film-making since Manufacturing Consent.


Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), 167 minutes.  Zeitgeist Films, Canada.  Directed and produced by Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick.


[1] Burns, Alex (2001), ‘Operation Mindcrime: The Selling of Noam Chomsky.’  Disinformation, 15 November, reproduced at, accessed on 18 October 2012.

[2] See for the digitised book.

[3] Chomsky, Noam (1989). Necessary Illusions ni-c01-s06.html, accessed 18 October 2012.

[4] Burns, Alex (2001). ‘operation mindcrime: the selling of noam chomsky’.  disinformation, 15 November,, accessed 20 October 2012.

[5] ‘I can begin with the very title of the film. The title of the film is Manufacturing Consent. The title is taken from a book, a book written by Edward Herman and me. And if you look at the book, you’ll find his name comes first. Well, his name came first at my insistence . . . for the simple reason that he did most of the book. And in fact, most of the things people write about in the reviews of the film are his work. Here we already begin to see what’s wrong. These are all cooperative activities and they shouldn’t be personalized and associated with one individual. . . . And if the impression is given that there’s some leader or spokesman or something like that organizing, galvanizing things, that’s absolutely the wrong lesson. The lesson there is follow your leader. The lesson ought to be: take your life into your own hands.’  Source:, accessed 20 October 2012.

[6] Bogdanor, Paul (undated). ‘Noam Chomsky on Cambodia’,, accessed 18 October 2012.

[7] My undergraduate degree is a BA English with double majors in journalism and ‘literature, language and culture’, and a politics minor.

[8] Chomsky spent some months in 1953 living in the northern Israeli kibbutz of HaZore’a, which he described to Shira Hadad in 2005 as a mixed experience, enjoying the social aspects but not the nationalist intellectual climate in which he said excessive optimism was displayed about Stalinism.  The interview, apparently conducted for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, cannot be found on that paper’s website using a simple search, but is reproduced on Chomsky’s web site at

[9] Abele, Robert P (2011a). ‘Conspiracy Theory,’ Spotlight on Freedom,, accessed 25 October 2012; and Abele Robert P (2011b). [Unpublished draft] ‘Noam Chomsky’s Theory of Justice,’ Encyclopedia of Social Justice.  The Hague: Springer Publishing.  Source:—-.htm, accessed 25 October 2012.

[10] Jetton, Jeff, (2011). ‘The Secret of Noam: A Chomsky Interview’.  Brightest Young Things, 9 March., accessed 24 October 2012.

[11] Rey is a sociology PhD student at the University of Maryland.

[12] Rey, PJ (2011). ‘Followup: Chomsky on Social Media’, The Society Pages, 19 October,, accessed 24 October 2012.

[13] Unpaid but nevertheless time and resource consuming labour typical of social networking activities.  I have written about this on Google Plus at


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