Ask Noam Chomsky!
Professor Noam Chomsky answers your questions about love, relationships, and campus living.
My boyfriend has become abusive recently. He hasn't injured me but I fear it is a pattern of violent behavior that is emerging. What should I do?
Thanks - Minzi, Stoke Hall
Nicaragua in the 1980s was subjected to violent assault by the U.S. Tens of thousands of people died. The country was substantially destroyed; it may never recover. The international terrorist attack was accompanied by a devastating economic war, which a small country isolated by a vengeful and cruel superpower could scarcely sustain ... The effects on the country are much more severe even than the tragedies in New York the other day. They didn't respond by setting off bombs in Washington. They went to the World Court, which ruled in their favor, ordering the U.S. to desist and pay substantial reparations. The U.S. dismissed the court judgment with contempt, responding with an immediate escalation of the attack. So Nicaragua then went to the Security Council, which considered a resolution calling on states to observe international law. The U.S. alone vetoed it. They went to the General Assembly, where they got a similar resolution that passed with the U.S. and Israel opposed two years in a row (joined once by El Salvador). That's the way a state should proceed. If Nicaragua had been powerful enough, it could have set up another criminal court.
My roommate and I get along OK, but he is a foreigner without much money to go out with. Should I still hang out with him?
Thanks from a big fan - George, Babcock Hall
A U.S.-backed army took control in Indonesia in 1965, organizing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly landless peasants, in a massacre that the CIA compared to the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. The massacre, accurately reported, elicited uncontrolled euphoria in the West, in the national media and elsewhere. Indonesian peasants had not harmed us in any way.
[...] When Nicaragua finally succumbed to the U.S. assault, the mainstream press lauded the success of the methods adopted to "wreck the economy and prosecute a long and deadly proxy war until the exhausted natives overthrow the unwanted government themselves," with a cost to us that is "minimal," leaving the victims "with wrecked bridges, sabotaged power stations, and ruined farms," and thus providing the U.S. candidate with "a winning issue": ending the "impoverishment of the people of Nicaragua" (Time). We are "United in Joy" at this outcome, the New York Times proclaimed.
My roommate is insane! He plays loud music at all hours of the night, and leaves huge messes behind wherever he goes. To make matters worse, I think he has serious mental problems. What should I do?
Thanks in advance - Jon, Hamilton Hall
We should not underestimate the capacity of well-run propaganda systems to drive people to irrational, murderous, and suicidal behavior. Take an example ... World War I ... on both sides, the soldiers marched off to mutual slaughter with enormous exuberance, fortified by the cheers of the intellectual classes and those who they helped mobilize across the political spectrum, from left to right including the most powerful left political force in the world, in Germany. Exceptions are so few that we can practically list them, and some of the most prominent among them ended up in jail for questioning the nobility of the enterprise: among them Rosa Luxemburg, Bertrand Russell, and Eugene Debs. With the help of Wilson's propaganda agencies and the enthusiastic support of liberal intellectuals, a pacifist country was turned in a few months into raving anti-German hysterics, ready to take revenge on those who had perpetrated savage crimes, many of them invented by the British Ministry of Information. But that's by no means inevitable, and we should not underestimate the civilizing effects of the popular struggles of recent years. We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe merely because those are the marching orders.
I can't survive in this dorm! The water is never hot when I need it, and it seems like the upperclassmen are planning to drive me out. What should I do?
Worried - Beth, Hall House
The plans, which have roots in traditional goals of the Zionist movement from its origins (across the ideological spectrum), were articulated in internal discussion by Israeli government Arabists in 1948 while outright ethnic cleansing was underway: their expectation was that the refugees "would be crushed" and "die," while "most of them would turn into human dust and the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries." Current plans, whether imposed by coercive diplomacy or outright force, have similar goals. They are not unrealistic if they can rely on the world-dominant power and its intellectual classes. The current situation is described accurately by Amira Hass, in Israel's most prestigious daily (Ha'aretz, 18 October). Seven years after the Declaration of Principles in September 1993 -- which foretold this outcome for anyone who chose to see -- "Israel has security and administrative control" of most of the West Bank and 20 per cent of the Gaza Strip. It has been able "to double the number of settlers in 10 years, to enlarge the settlements, to continue its discriminatory policy of cutting back water quotas for three million Palestinians, to prevent Palestinian development in most of the area of the West Bank, and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only. During these days of strict internal restriction of movement in the West Bank, one can see how carefully each road was planned: So that 200,000 Jews have freedom of movement, about three million Palestinians are locked into their Bantustans until they submit to Israeli demands. The blood bath that has been going on for three weeks is the natural outcome of seven years of lying and deception, just as the first Intifada was the natural outcome of direct Israeli occupation."