Force, law and the prospects of survival

author: Noam Chomsky, Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
introducer: Rudi Rizman, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana
recorded by: Faculty of Arts
published: Feb. 25, 2007,   recorded: March 2005,   views: 7354

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Will, April 28, 2007 at 12:02 a.m.:

Chomsky's lectures all seem to be nearly identical in their themes, and this is no exception. This video has some rough edges technically, but overall quality is good. I would like to see more lectures like this about history, current foreign policy, international political concerns, etc. As it is, this seems to be the only lecture not about computational science.
I'll see if I can find a way to upload Ron Paul's address before the house "Neo-CONNED" to the site to help alleviate this asymmetry.

Comment2 Davor (staff), May 14, 2007 at 9:39 a.m.:

Hello! If you have any material for upload, please contact me at

Comment3 Nilesh, October 12, 2008 at 3:29 a.m.:

This lecture is a good argument of how countries that justify the use of force against others by hiding behind the cloak of democratic principles will ultimately destroy the human race. I liked Chomsky's utilization of the Seminole Indians as a historical example to back up how force justified the satisfaction of the U.S. interest of expansion. Chomsky implied a significant amount of pessimism in this lecture rather than proposing solutions to end this use of force to satisfy economic interests.

Comment4 Nilesh, October 12, 2008 at 10:34 p.m.:

These "Chomsky-an" views directly correspond with his beliefs on U.S. foreign policy. It is interesting how he points out that while the United States claims itself to be a democratic nation, it has undeniably become allies with repressive states. However, I failed to hear anything about the positive effects and ultimate goals of having these relationships with other countries: that they will prosper under a democratic regime, not an oppressive one.

Comment5 Alex S, October 12, 2008 at 11:35 p.m.:

This lecture shows Noam Chomsky's somewhat radical beliefs as he questions the United States and other nations' use of force against others by using democratic principles like the "common good" to justify their reasons for doing so and eventually causing "doom" to the world. His examples from history include the Seminole Indians and slavery which show how self defense and westward expansion justify the United States' use of force.

The quote "democracy is a good thing if and only if it is consistent with strategic and economic interests" makes sense, but is not always true. This "consistency" refers to more of a socialistic, equal or fair view of the nation's ecnonomy as Chomsky says presently that the government only looks for particular interests and doesn't protect the minority. The quote by James Madison at the Constitutional Convention shows that progress in government takes time and collaboration, but obviously Chomsky wants change.

Ultimately, this lecture teaches viewers about the problems with force and government not only in the United States, but worldwide and how the final consequence of using force without legitimate reasons will cause the end of the human race. The problem I have with the lecture is that Chomsky does not address solutions to these problems, like more negotiation, in order to bring about his change and a better future for the United States and world. Maybe the purpose of a lecture like this is to just state amd explain these problems, but Chomsky could gain more support of his beliefs if he explained logical solutions that could bring positive change to the world.

Comment6 uday, October 13, 2008 at 3:16 a.m.:

This lecture delves into Noam Chomsky's ideals. He shows his beliefs and values, pertaining to the United States use of force and survival. In my eyes Chomsky is a sort of mediator, he highlights the issues that are posed with the inmplentation of unligitimated use of force but he does not pose any opposition factor to coutneract this. Chomsky is perpetually bashing our so called democratic nations foriegn polices. The use of ligitmacy in the use of force is a topic that Chomsky hits. What is troubling was his refernce to the kyoto treaty which he seperates the government from the people of america. He is almost suggesting a olagarchy vs. anarchy system of government. Chomsky higlights corruption in the defition of legitimacny with the example of Andrew Jackson and the Seminole Indians. Overall this lecture has a negative connotation to it, and Chomsky is quite clearly looking for some shifting in America's foreign policy.

Comment7 Eric, October 13, 2008 at 4:06 a.m.:

Noam Chomsky explains in great detail the effects of nations hiding behind democratic values for their usage of their military force. He well documents many examples of this from the historical persective. This aside, Chomsky fails to notice the positive effects that nations also use this tactic for. For the United States it seems completely logical that we explain our reasoning in terms of our core democratic values. Chomsky does not thoroughly explain this point, in his lecture. Ultimately, one cannot accurately blame purely one aspect of a nation's rationale for their actions as unjustifiable. He says that this will eventually lead to the extinction of humans. This seems implausible, and just a pessimistic view of the world and society.

Comment8 Kyle, October 13, 2008 at 4:34 a.m.:

The intriguing part of the lecture is the civility and almost willful ignorance of his bashing of the United States. I find it difficult to decipher whether his views reflect those of anarchy, severe liberalism, or simple criticism without solution. The last quote was particularly powerful in that he tied in the necessity of war within the human culture. In a way, he must be right for if there is no conflict, there is no stature or advancement of ideals. The vibe I get from this is that he is too stubborn or egotistical to realize the necessity of such conflict to the human race.
In that his central theme was "Look at All of the Things America has Done Wrong", his lecture tends to lose focus. I understand he feels that violence is not necessary, but must he project with such civilized hatred of a single entity? It makes the entire argument weaker and much more crude.

Comment9 Nilesh, October 13, 2008 at 11:26 p.m.:

Do you think Chomskyan policies would work for a democratic nation like America? If not, what countries do you think it would benefit?

Comment10 Kevin, January 4, 2009 at 8:01 p.m.:

I am surprised that more people are not angry at the things that are being done in our name. The American government is the world leader in state sponsored terrorism. The actions that the government has taken over the years is precisely diametrically opposite to what the stated values of America are. We consistently state that we love freedom and democracy, and at the same time we support factions that overthrough democratically elected governments in third world countries. We say we love freedom at the same time we are supporting the Israeli war on the Palestinians. Our government even supported aparthied in South Africa in the past. We are supporting Turkeys suppression of the Kurds. Now we are occupying a foriegn country which we invaded for no good reason, producing a humanitarian crisis which we supposedly were trying rescue the Iraqis from, just so we can continue to kill a few muslim extremists here and there and control one of the major sources of oil in the world. Things would not be worse if we left, at least not for the Iraqis.

The list goes on and on. Our leaders consistently tell us that they are upholding the virtues of freedom and democracy upon which the country was built, while at the same time the are doing the opposite to other countries. It is like this; Democracy and Freedom in the US, fascism or dictatorship controlled by the US everywhere else.

How can we so blindly pretend we are a peaceloving nation when we are consistenly the lone country opposing UN resolutions that would advance peace and humanitarian support?
Chomsky is trying to get people to see just how hypocritical our foreign policy is. He is not proposing solutions because the solutions are obvious once you understand the point he is making. Unfortunately most people just do not get the point. I don't know if they just don't believe the facts (double check what Chomsky says, he is right), or if it seems to far fetched to believe that the US is the major terrorist nation. We are the rogue nation that we are told to be scared of.

Comment11 antonio serrano, April 19, 2009 at 7:19 p.m.:

I think, Noam Chomsky is one of the brilliants heads that says the true reality as hard it is. We need a lot of persons like him in order to be vigilants about the lies of mechanicpolitics says all the world.

Comment12 Jenna, February 8, 2010 at 4:26 p.m.:

Christ, this is dull. I have given Chomsky chance after chance, but he never seems to have anything incisive, or even remotely interesting, to say. Mundane!

He has one message: the West exercises power, and does so hypocritically. Wow, would you believe it? If you can believe it (and it's not very difficult), then Chomsky here has nothing to tell you. All he can do is drone on in an infeasibly boring voice, chronicling very boring examples of the USA (and it's always the USA) not doing what it ought to, according to his own naive morality.


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