Noam Chomsky Quotes

Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.

The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.

As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.

He who controls the media controls the minds of the public.

Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world. The choice is yours.

The key element of social control is the strategy of distraction that is to divert public attention from important issues and changes decided by political and economic elites, through the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.

The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective.

If voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal.

It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions – you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.

The world is a very puzzling place. If you’re not willing to be puzzled, you just become a replica of someone else’s mind.

Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.

Governments will use whatever technology is available to combat their primary enemy – their own population.

Democratic societies can’t force people. Therefore they have to control what they think.

The best defense against democracy is to distract people.

There’s a good reason why nobody studies history, it just teaches you too much.

It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.

A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.

Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them.

I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions… Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself.

The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on — because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.

Hypocrites are those who apply to others the standards that they refuse to accept for themselves.

That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.