13 May, 2016
Bangkok – He is often referred to as the “world’s leading intellectual.” His name is Prof Noam Chomsky, and Wikipedia describes him thus: “An American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes described as “the father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy, and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He has spent more than half a century at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is Institute Professor Emeritus, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media.”
In spite of his formidable qualifications, Prof Chomsky will NEVER be invited to speak at a travel industry conference.
Why? Because he is an against-the-grain, alternative thinker who opposes U.S. government policies, neoliberal economics and supports Palestinian independence. Such people are persona non grata in the brain-dead travel industry whose leaders are allergic to such thinking and have historically never, ever provided anti-establishment intellectuals with an opportunity to disrupt their befogged mindset.
Prof Chomsky has just released another book called “Who Rules the World?” An Amazon website review and brief excerpt is reproduced below. I strongly recommend all my readers buy it, especially those who are genuinely concerned about the future directions of the world and what is becoming an over-arching need to disrupt the trend.
Prof Chomsky and I are very much like-minded people. I, too, have vigorously argued many of the same points and perspectives espoused by Prof Chomsky – and paid the price. A like-minded column I wrote for 15 years in the Bangkok Post – which claims to be “the newspaper you can trust” — was gagged by its editors without explanation in July 2012, cheered on by a cabal of right-wing, extremist Western expatriates in Thailand.
On 18 May, the UN World Tourism Organisation will be holding the First World Conference on Tourism for Development in Beijing. On the same day, the Pacific Asia Travel Association will be held holding its three-day annual conference and AGM in Guam.
Both high-level events are being held against the backdrop of a perfect-storm triumvirate of geopolitical, economic and ecological disasters which threaten the future of travel and tourism like never before, all that bluster about growth notwithstanding.
Geopolitically, freedom and democracy is being rolled back worldwide and both military and monetary dictatorships are on the march; economically, the rich-poor income gap is at record levels and multinational corporations are becoming bigger and far more powerful than most countries; and ecologically, climate change and global warming are causing heat-waves, water shortages and major disruptions in weather conditions.
None, repeat NONE, of these problems were caused by the developing countries. They were NOT caused by the Pacific islands, Laos, Burundi, Zambia, the Maldives, Fiji, Bhutan, Paraguay, Ecuador nor Kyrgyzstan. There are all in some shape or form triggered by the policies of the so-called developed world, helmed by the self-proclaimed and entirely unelected and unaccountable leader, the United States.
The United States’ responsibility for creating, aiding and abetting many of these problems is the theme of Prof Chomsky’s book, “Who Rules The World?”
You can be sure that both the UNWTO and PATA events will avoid all mention of this book and its key messages. Prof Chomsky may be “the world’s leading intellectual” and Prof Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but he will get no traction at any travel industry summit.
The world’s leading intellectual offers a probing examination of the waning American Century, the nature of U.S. policies post-9/11, and the perils of valuing power above democracy and human rights.
In an incisive, thorough analysis of the current international situation, Noam Chomsky argues that the United States, through its military-first policies and its unstinting devotion to maintaining a world-spanning empire, is both risking catastrophe and wrecking the global commons. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the expanding drone assassination program to the threat of nuclear warfare, as well as the flashpoints of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine, he offers unexpected and nuanced insights into the workings of imperial power on our increasingly chaotic planet.
In the process, Chomsky provides a brilliant anatomy of just how U.S. elites have grown ever more insulated from any democratic constraints on their power. While the broader population is lulled into apathy—diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable—the corporations and the rich have increasingly been allowed to do as they please.
Fierce, unsparing, and meticulously documented, Who Rules the World? delivers the indispensable understanding of the central conflicts and dangers of our time that we have come to expect from Chomsky.
Among states, since the end of World War II the United States has been by far the first among unequals, and remains so. It still largely sets the terms for global discourse, ranging from such concerns a* Israel-Palestine, Iran, Latin America, the “war on terror,” international economic organization, rights and justice, and others like them to the ultimate issues of survival of civilization (nuclear war and environmental destruction). Its power, however, has been diminishing since it reached a historically unprecedented peak in 1945. And with the inevitable decline, Washington’s power is to some extent shared within the “dc facto world government” of the “masters of the universe,” to borrow the terms of the business press—referring to the leading state capitalist powers (the G7 countries) along with the institutions they control in the “new imperial age,” such as the International Monetary Fund and the global trade organizations.
The “masters of the universe” are of course very far from representative of the populations of the dominant powers. Even in the more democratic states, the populations have only limited impact on policy decisions. In the United States, prominent researchers have produced compelling evidence that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” The results of their studies, the authors conclude, “provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.” Other studies have demonstrated that the large majority of the population, at the lower end of the income/wealth scale, arc effectively excluded from the political system, their opinions and attitudes ignored by their formal representatives, while a tiny sector at the top has overwhelming influence; and that over a long period, campaign funding is a remarkably good predictor of policy choices.