WE OWN THE WORLD: Chomsky on Democracy and Representation

Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.
—David Hume, First Principles of Government

An interesting conversation with Chomsky. This little explanation woke up my brain to the profoundly obvious—just like Lysander Spooner’s “A vice is not a crime” because a crime implies (in general) criminal intent, and a vice, as a rule, does not.


“It’s a mistake to expect anything from leaders other than attempts to expand their power and control and domination. They differ, but as soon as you mention the word leader, you should shudder and look somewhere else.

In a free society you might have representatives, but you wouldn’t have leaders. So let’s imagine this was a real functioning [democracy]—we’re in the primary seasons. Well what would a democratic primary be?

Take New Hampshire. It wouldn’t be a candidate comes into town and…tells you lies about themselves. What would happen is the people of the town would get together and work out the kind of programs they want the next president to follow.

And then if somebody wanted to come in and be elected they’d say [the people from the town], “Okay, you can come, but here’s what we want you to do. If you’re willing to do that, maybe we’ll vote for you. If you’re not, we’re not willing to vote for you.” And there should be mechanism to make sure they do it or you throw them out.

But the way we do it is quite different. The leaders come. They present themselves, usually falsely. You’re then to decide: Do I want him or do I want him? But that’s completely backwards from what a functioning democratic society would do. So when you talk about leaders, you have to shiver.”

The full interview is here.

Chomsky, elsewhere in the interview, discusses the Orwellian absurdity of Condaleeza Rice saying Iraq would be fine if they could just get rid of all foreign troops (and doesn’t, evidently, consider the US to be foreign). This, among other reasons, is why Noam called a recent book We Own The World—which is the only way Rice could say what she did and not trip all over herself. Alas…

Anyway, busy times. All is well. Wish I could write here more—miss the interaction and the fantastic and edifying comments. Hope you liked the video. Hope you’re feeling creative,

Pete xox


One Response to “WE OWN THE WORLD: Chomsky on Democracy and Representation”

  1. […] A couple of quotes I read recently—the first one bouncing off Chomsky’s inherent suspicion of leaders, where he says we don’t need leaders—in fact run when you hear the term—in a true democracy we would have representatives. […]

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