On Noam Chomsky and Requiem for the American Dream


In my younger years I was a fan of Noam Chomsky. It’s been quite a while since I reviewed any of his work so tonight I watched the 2015 documentary Requiem for an American Dream. This is apparently Chomsky’s last documentary and is a compilation of interviews filmed over the last 4 years.

Chomsky has a brilliant mind with an encyclopedic memory for history.

He discussed some of the problems facing society including falling incomes for the lower and middle classes, a growing wealth gap between the 0.5% super rich and everyone else, the influence of wealth on elections and public policy, the financialization of the economy, loss of manufacturing jobs, and the decline of social programs.

His message in summary was that the lower classes do not have enough money and power, and the upper classes have too much money and power.

Chomsky is an excellent example of how someone who lacks an understanding of the relationship between energy and wealth, energy and complex systems, the mathematics of our debt based monetary system, and evolved human behavior will draw incorrect conclusions about the cause of problems and what should be done in response.

All of the problems he is concerned about are an expected outcome of economic growth fueled by depleting non-renewable energy. No one is to blame.

Chomsky thinks we should redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. If he had a good understanding of overshoot he would know that this solution will make things worse. It’s true that we should reduce the gap between rich and poor to avoid social unrest, but the correct way to accomplish this is to confiscate wealth from the rich and bury it.

Chomsky did not mention any of the problems resulting from human overshoot such as species extinction, resource depletion, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, or tree die-off.

My respect for Chomsky has dropped a lot.

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