Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bright lights, big pity

Gideon Rachman:

An interesting little item here, on the banning of the works of Noam Chomsky from the prison library at Guantanamo Bay. One has to wonder about the mentality of the Pentagon lawyer, who was trying to obtain a copy of Chomsky for one of the detainees he is representing. Maybe his job at Guantanamo has led him to entertain all sorts of subversive thoughts?

Chomsky predictably interpets the ban on his work as further evidence that the US is slipping towards totalitarianism. But I see it another way. Obama has said that he is banning the use of torture on prisoners at Guantanamo. Subjecting them to the works of Noam Chomsky is clearly incompatible with the torture ban.

Yes, well: That's why I always recommend Understanding Power.

At one point you could get it used at Amazon for a dollar or two; I tried to put as many copies into the hands of my colleagues as possible!

Any other suggestions?


C-Nihilist said...

_Media Control_ was one of the first of his i read, and it blew me away. not sure it would be much use to a Gitmo detainee though. maybe _9-11_ would.

as an American, _What Uncle Sam Really Wants_ changed me in a pretty brutal way. eye opening.

but, yeah, _Understanding Power_ covers most of the ground the ones i mention do.

Richard said...

I think Understanding Power is indeed the best Chomsky book--it's more substantial than the smaller volumes, or the interview books, and it's not as dense as the main books.

That said, there is something stirring about reading the early books, American Power and the New Mandarins and For Reasons of State.