In his first major book on the subject of income inequality, Noam Chomsky skewers the fundamental tenets of neoliberalism and casts a clear, cold, patient eye on the economic facts of life. What are the ten principles of concentration of wealth and power at work in America today? They're simple enough: reduce democracy, shape ideology, redesign the economy, shift the burden onto the poor and middle classes, attack the solidarity of the people, let special interests run the regulators, engineer election results, use fear and the power of the state to keep the rabble in line, manufacture consent, marginalize the population. In Requiem for the American Dream, Chomsky devotes a chapter to each of these ten principles, and adds readings from some of the core texts that have influenced his thinking to bolster his argument.
To create Requiem for the American Dream, Chomsky and his editors, the filmmakers Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott, spent countless hours together over the course of five years, from 2011 to 2016. After the release of the film version, Chomsky and the editors returned to the many hours of tape and transcript and created a document that included three times as much text as was used in the film. The book that has resulted is nonetheless arguably the most succinct and tightly woven of Chomsky's long career, a beautiful vessel--including old-fashioned ligatures in the typeface--in which to carry Chomsky's bold and uncompromising vision, his perspective on the economic reality and its impact on our political and moral well-being as a nation.
"During the Great Depression, which I'm old enough to remember, it was bad–much worse subjectively than today. But there was a sense that we'll get out of this somehow, an expectation that things were going to get better . . ." —from Requiem for the American Dream
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About the Author
PETER HUTCHISON is an NYC-based filmmaker, educator, and activist. His documentary work includes What Would Jesus Buy? with producing partner Morgan Spurlock; Split: A Divided America; Beyond Activism: Four Decades of Social Justice; and Awake Zion: Rasta, Reggae & Judaism. KELLY NYKS is an award-winning writer/director of documentary films and has worked across Europe, Asia, and America. His prior films include The Age of Consequences, Disobedience, Disruption, Do the Math, Split: A Divided America, and Split: A Deeper Divide. Award-winning writer, director, and producer JARED P. SCOTT's other films include The Age of Consequences, Disruption, Do the Math, and The Artificial Leaf. His films have screened at Tribeca, Hot Docs, Sheffield, and IDFA, and have aired/streamed on Netflix, Starz, PBS, and Al Jazeera.
Table of Contents
A Note on the American Dream ix
Principle #1 Reduce Democracy 1
Secret Processings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Philadelphia, In the Year 1787, and Other Sources 9
Principle #2 Shape Ideology 17
Powell Memorandum, Lewis F. Powell Jr., 1971, and Other Sources 25
Principle #3 Redesign the Economy 33
"An End to the Focus on Short Term Urged," Wall Street Journal, Justin Lahart, September 9, 2009, and Other Sources 45
Principle #4 Shift the Burden 51
Henry Ford on Why he Doubled the Minimum Wage he Paid his Employees, and Other Sources 59
Principles #5 Attack Solidarity 65
The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith, 1759, and Other Sources 75
Principle #6 Run the Regulators 79
Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All, Jacob S. Hacker and Nate Loewentheil, 2012, and Other Sources 91
Principle #7 Engineer Elections 97
Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission, Supreme Court of the United States, January 21, 2010, and Other Sources 103
Principle #8 Keep the Rabble in Line 107
"Ford Men Beat and Rout Lewis Union Organizers; 80,000 Out in Steel Strike; 16 Hurt in Battls," New York Times, May 26, 1937, and Other Sources 117
Principle #9 Manufacture Consent 123
Essays, Moral, Political, Literary, David Hums, 1741, and Other Sources 131
Principle #10 Marginalize the Population 139
"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens," Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, 2014, and Other Sources 151
Notes to Primary Source Material 159
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So much easy to read and understand info
The "American Dream" is a central pillar of life in the United States. Work hard, and you can be rich and happy. This book gives a very different view. Over the past several decades, tax policy has been designed to benefit those at the top of the income triangle. Maybe a few percent of the benefit of a tax cut will actually reach those at the middle-income level, but the vast majority of the benefit will go to the top One-Tenth of One Percent. The public reason for tax cuts is that they supposedly increase investment and create jobs. A much better way to do that is to allocate that money to working-class people, who will use that money on clothes and groceries, not on a second (or third) home. Social Security is based on the principle of solidarity, which means caring for others. That automatically makes it a bad thing (in the eyes of the super-rich). A way to destroy it is to de-fund it. The system won't work, so people will get angry, and demand something else. For those who want a third party in America, voting for it every four years is not enough. You must be constantly be working at the local level, developing the system that goes from the city council to Congress. That is how the Tea Party got started. This is an excellent and eye-opening book. Based on a movie of the same name, this gives a very easy to understand look at how America Really Works. Whether you see the movie, or read this book, this is very highly recommended.
Very timely. Very interesting. It's the companion book to the documentary by the same name. I liked that he went back 50 years to put what is happening today in our government and society in prospective and giving us the history of what has led up to today. He gives examples as well as excerpts of his source materials. This is written so it can be understood by everyone. I learned a lot. There is a lot to think about in these pages.