55 Noam Chomsky Quotes about Society


1. “The kind of work that should be the main part of life is the kind of work you would want to do if you weren’t being paid for it. It’s work that comes out of your own internal needs, interests and concerns.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


2. “Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


3. “The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


4. “The more you can increase fear of drugs, crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all of the people.” — NOAM CHOMSKY

5. “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.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


6. “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


7. “The media want to maintain their intimate relation to state power. They want to get leaks, they want to get invited to the press conferences. They want to rub shoulders with the Secretary of State, all that kind of business. To do that, you’ve got to play the game, and playing the game means telling their lies, serving as their disinformation apparatus.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


8. “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


9. “The police can go to downtown Harlem and pick up a kid with a joint in the streets. But they can’t go into the elegant apartments and get a stockbroker who’s sniffing cocaine.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


10. “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.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


11. “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.” — NOAM CHOMSKY



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12. “If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that’s something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can’t live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organisations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


13. “We still name our military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


14. “It’s pretty ironic that the so-called ‘least advanced’ people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


15. “I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


16. “Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that — it’s astonishing. These numbers aren’t duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You’d have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


17. “See, people with power understand exactly one thing: violence.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


18. “I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.”  — NOAM CHOMSKY


19. “States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


20. “When people know we are ready to use nuclear weapons, they’re going to back off if we do something aggressive. So basically, nuclear weapons are always being used.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


21. “Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


22. “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.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


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23. “If anybody thinks they should listen to me because I’m a professor at MIT, that’s nonsense. You should decide whether something makes sense by its content, not by the letters after the name of the person who says it.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


24.  “Efforts can succeed over time, and not trying ensures that the worst will happen.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


25. “There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones: honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change — and the kind of commitment that will persist despite the temptations of disillusionment, despite many failures and only limited successes, inspired by the hope of a brighter future.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


26. “Education is a system of imposed ignorance.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


27. “One might ask why tobacco is legal and marijuana not. A possible answer is suggested by the nature of the crop. Marijuana can be grown almost anywhere, with little difficulty. It might not be easily marketable by major corporations. Tobacco is quite another story.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


28. “Peace is preferable to war. But it’s not an absolute value, and so we always ask, “What kind of peace?” — NOAM CHOMSKY


29. “We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


30. “If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


31. “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


32. “All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


33. “It’s only terrorism if they do it to us. When we do much worse to them, it’s not terrorism.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


34. “There is no reason to accept the doctrines crafted to sustain power and privilege, or to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws. These are simply decisions made within institutions that are subject to human will and that must face the test of legitimacy. And if they do not meet the test, they can be replaced by other institutions that are more free and more just, as has happened often in the past.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


35. “That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


36. “Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


37. “Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world’s people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


38. “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and expose lies.” — NOAM CHOMSKY



39. “Responsibility I believe accrues through privilege. People like you and me have an unbelievable amount of privilege and therefore we have a huge amount of responsibility. We live in free societies where we are not afraid of the police; we have extraordinary wealth available to us by global standards. If you have those things, then you have the kind of responsibility that a person does not have if he or she is slaving seventy hours a week to put food on the table; a responsibility at the very least to inform yourself about power. Beyond that, it is a question of whether you believe in moral certainties or not.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


40. “If voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


41. “You are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


42. “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.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


43. “The indoctrination is so deep that educated people think they’re being objective.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


44. “For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of ‘brainwashing under freedom’ to which we are subjected and which all too often we sere as willing or unwitting instruments.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


45. “For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


46.  “Don’t be obsessed with tactics but with purpose. Tactics have a half life.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


47. “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.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


48. “The general public are not even aware of major decisions that will determine their fate, hence are in no position to influence them.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


49. “Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


50. “Democratic societies can’t force people. Therefore they have to control what they think.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


51. “You can’t have meaningful political democracy without functioning economic democracy.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


52. “Passivity may be the easy course, but it is hardly the honorable one.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


53. “In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies. By and large, I am opposed to those policies. As is most of the population.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


54. “If something is repeated over and over as obvious, the chances are that it is obviously false.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


55. “The social system is taking on a form in which finding out what you want to do is less and less of an option because your life is too structured, organised, controlled and disciplined.” — NOAM CHOMSKY


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