Noam Chomsky is best known for his prodigy status in the field of linguistics, as he has been part of controversial, groundbreaking, and extremely useful theories regarding linguistics in the human species. The documentary, Manufacturing Consent, is one of Chomsky’s great accomplishments when it comes to his findings and legacy. After looking through this documentary, it is rather apparent that Chomsky uses more qualitative evidence than quantitative evidence, and this can be seen when the documentary uses a case study to back up Chomsky’s belief. As background, Chomsky’s main idea, or thesis, in this documentary is that human’s need to be used for their creative thinking rather than just being part of a machine that works to produce numerous things such as material objects.
When watching, I couldn’t help but draw some parallels to Karl Marx, the Father of Marxism, or Communism. Marx believed that society was driven by class dominance where the proletariat, or the workers, were exploited by the ruling class. Anyways, Chomsky uses a case study which shows how the U.S. media covers up atrocities committed by the establishment, or the ruling class. In particular, he shows how the media covered up incidents in Cambodia and East Timor in order to uncover the propaganda that exists within the media and how the American people are brainwashed by the media, which is paid off by numerous corporations and special interests in order to keep the establishment, or ruling class, in power. Back to the case study, Chomsky showed that the media paid attention to only one of these incidents, Cambodia, whilst ignoring the incident in East Timor. The conclusion he got from this is that the media works to influence public opinion, close open debate, rewrite history, and divert attention from things that would harm the ruling class.
Chomsky says that the corporations have grabbed hold of our institutions too much and that we need more institutions to be driven by and for the people rather than the special interests. He talks abut the concept of institutional memory, which reflects the ideas of the powerful elite rather than the people, and says that it’s the institutions that write history and not the people; this is no good when the people hold no power within the institutions and all the power is held by a few individuals that don’t reflect the views of the people.
As I’ve said above, Chomsky’s views kind of mirror Marxism but a bit less radical. He believes in class warfare: a ruling class and a working class. He believes that the ruling class is exploiting the working class in order to gain more money and power. He also believes that the media structure in society is working to undermine free thinking and the people who are hurting in the economy: the working class.
A lot of socialism is seen in this film, which talks about class warfare and a corrupt government full of institutions that aren’t working for the people. Chomsky’s views of an unequal society can be seen through the portrayal of the media (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) and how it exploits and deceives the people. The media is simply a tool that is used to influence public opinion and keep the establishment in power. Therefore, Chomsky believes that the people need to act more independently and this means that they need to form a community full of activists. He believes that people are more powerful the more united they are, and that this should be a motivating factor for people to form activist groups in order to disrupt the establishment.