Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, and the Sick Sad USA

Every once in a while I feel the need to step back and look at the decline of the American Empire, though in a sense it seems pointless for me to do so. It is pointless because thinkers far greater than me have already done a vastly better job of delineating our failures and evils as a world power.

For instance, Noam Chomsky is considered by the New York Times to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, intellectual of our age. Chomsky points out all the global-level lies, corruptions and atrocities the US has committed. He does it prodigiously and pretty much unassailably. He is a walking encyclopedia. If he had studied to be on the game show Jeopardy instead of researching foreign and domestic policy, he would be an all-time winner, right up there with Ken Jennings.

However, Chomsky is not the sort to ingratiate himself with a prime time fluff show, one that replaces wisdom and knowledge with cute question-answers to sterilized trivia challenges. Because of Chomsky's speciality--honest analysis of the moral wretchedness of the US--he is effectively banned from the mainstream media. His public speeches are far too dangerous to give prime airtime. Yes, he does get to speak to sold-out crowds at Universities. But our corporate-media masters know that as long as they dominate America’s major pulpits, free speech exercised by Chomsky among intelligentsia won’t challenge the plutocracy. And it pretty much hasn’t.

Another prodigious thinker, far more important and far-ranging than I will ever be, is Gore Vidal. He was considered a boy genius by age 20, wrote dozens of novels and inconceivably many essays. Vidal, like Chomsky, has written extensively on American evils. Unlike Chomsky, he does it with literary panache. You don’t have to decipher turgid presentations of history because Vidal condenses beautifully and stingingly. He died in 2012, but before that, like Chomsky, he was effectively blacklisted from mainstream publicity.

Once and a while, Chomsky and Vidal snuck a small slot in the hydra-head world of TV channels. Here is Vidal discussing Chomsky and how both of them are prevented from reaching sizeable audiences (relative to the population of the United States):

Because both Chomsky and Gore have spoken out so much and so well--and there are others like them too--it feels pretty pointless for me to discuss the ongoing evils and continuing deterioration of the American Empire here. Full-length collections by great writers and thinkers, like Chris Hedges (“The Empire of Illusion”) come and go. Sometimes they even get named as “best sellers” by some esoteric criterion. Yet none of this changes anything. These great voices are swamped by bullhorn-levels of saccharine pablum and patriotic half-stories by half-news agencies. Huge corporate conglomerates control what Americans think and hear, effectively limiting the power of the educated to affect the system.

The whole dysfunctional national scene is exceedingly frustrating and apparently ineradicable. America controlled most of the geopolitical globe in 1950 and since then has quickly slid into a rapid and disgusting decline, driven by idiotic war-mongering and a corporatocracy of parasitic avarice. Currently, the wealth distribution is monstrously skewed toward the rich, but--surprise, surprise--most Americans have no idea how bad it is:

Yeah, what’s the point of me saying anything more here? I’m done for now. Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, you are two of my great heroes. Thank you both. I wish I was even a semblance of you.