Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Still Manufacturing Consent: An Interview with Noam Chomsky (fair.org)
559 points by zachguo on Oct 16, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 302 comments



Among people familiar with the book, "Has the propaganda model been invalidated by the social media media giants?" is a regular question. Chomsky's initial reply is most of what needs to be said. Information production is a vital part of the media industry and the landscape of information producers by volume is more or less the same as it was back then — dominated by state institutions and corporations. It was so interesting to read that section in Manufacturing Consent; the hard numbers really helped get a proper sense of the scale imbalances in information production.

The marking out of the symbiotic relationship between reliable information producers and journalists is also vital to understanding the media system. A reliable, centralised stream of new information content is the life blood of journalism organisations, with a strong emphasis on _reliable_ and _centralised_. This particular need that journalists have sees them often becoming dependent on state institutions and corporations at the expense of minority groups and labor. An example being the journalists 'on the beat' that used to hang out around the local courthouse because that's where the 'feeding trough' is. Or the reports so nicely formatted and condensed produced by the state departments such that journos merely have to copy-paste the information straight into their papers. Easy-peasy.

Fascinating book.


> the landscape of information producers by volume is more or less the same as it was back then

It's not quite the same. Before fact checking anything took an impossible amount of time and not a few resources - a very good library for a start. Now, or even a decade ago it suddenly became possible for everyone.

I vividly remember when the Iraq was announced, and you could see the "information producers" in full swing. I was amazed when my local radio station announcer, well known for his resistance for being bullshitted asked someone he was interviewing in a disbelieving voice if they didn't agree Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The point being that by then I had already done my own homework (we were going to war, my fellow citizens were going to be killed and I wanted to know why), and knew full well Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. The reports and opinions of the UN weapons inspectors was easily available on the internet, along with numerous dumbed down pieces from the mass media. Anyone willing to waste a few hours could easily get past the propaganda smokescreen. Yet this news interviewer who up until then I assumed to be a master of his craft had been pulled in hook, line and sinker.

It changed the message in Chomsky's books from an interesting theoretical discussion to distressingly real. But it also created another puzzle: why didn't the Internet fix it? Why didn't people immediately put this bullshit filter to good use?

I still don't know the answer. There have now been numerous studies into the phenomenon of people continuing to loudly defend bullshit despite the facts being easily available in just about anywhere you look (cue: climate change). Apparently it has to do with people preferring to signal they are part of a particular tribe over acting in their best interest. Or something. I guess I'll never understand, as they aren't people like me.


Not that I disagree with what you've said, but I put "producers by volume" in there. Thus talking about fact-checking isn't really a counterpoint.

Did changes in fact-checking change the proportion of information produced by state and corporate actors?


> it has to do with people preferring to signal they are part of a particular tribe over acting in their best interest.

> I guess I'll never understand, as they aren't people like me.

I see what you did there, welcome to the tribe. Conforming to the tribe is often in the persons best interest as most tribes like mob justice.


I find it beyond fascinating that Chomsky is effectively barred from appearing on any news network. His perspective is that dangerous to the status quo and, amusingly, supports his points about media control.


Is he actually “barred”? Or he just don't go there? I remind him talking[1] about TV and radio, and how it was structurally[2] impossible to hold non-mainstream views there, so he wasn't really interested going.

[1] in On Anarchism.

[2] he said it was because the mandatory conciseness when talking live.


He used to appear on PBS news shows in decades past. News Hour is now the epitome of “there are only two sides”.

Chomsky can be seen on RT every now and then.

Of course, today’s woke equate RT as only propaganda while they consume whatever media they watch without question.

https://rtd.rt.com/shows/conversation-with/chomsky-correa-ta...


He also appears on Democracy Now! occasionally. That it takes a listner/viewer funded station to get this stuff out is interesting.

RT can be propaganda in intent but I do like that they are at least showing a very different point of view to the majority of mass media. That Chris Hedge gets a weekly program would never happen on most other networks nowadays.

Watch it, take it in but don't take it too seriously. Treat it as stuff to be contemplated in its context.


The questions that RT talking heads ask are so laced with Kremlin engineered bias that it makes Fox News look borderline academic.


If you only see certain points in "western" media, then it could be easy to think that all other points are "Kremlin engineered bias". How about instead you just look at the points themselves and what the speaker says, and make your own conclusions whilst having a bit of an open mind.


They are quite literally a propaganda arm, someone being unable to recognize that the other news networks fit a similar bill doesn't mean RT isn't a propaganda arm of the Russian government.


My personal bet that it is a mix of the above. But is it a happy coincidence that an individual that does not really talk in bumber sticker langauage and questions some of the basic core beliefs, is not there in the 'marketplace of ideas'.


Did he decline invitations though? Even if he might decline them, not getting them in the first place would still be saying something.


I have such a love-hate relationship with him. In this case I feel he's nothing but correct. Maybe it's that the news outlets feel the same way and instead of being honest about their differences they'd just rather not provide any sort of dissenting opinion. With which, from what I can tell, he would agree.


He's been interviewed on the BBC at least a couple of times in recent years.


where does he stand in the production of information, though.


On the analysis side.


Here's a nice 1h documentary on "Engineering Consent" focusing on Edward Bernays (pioneer of PR and propaganda).

https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/071470-000-A/propaganda-engine...


"cannot be viewed from your current location" (California?)

A (related?) four-part video series on this topic is called 'Century of the Self' and might be found out there somewhere


I highly recommend this, I found it on YouTube easily last time. It seemed to be a recording of the TV screen but picture quality wasn't too important for the subject.


Seems blocked outside of the EU.


Here's another (37 minute) documentary on Edward Bernays, Gustave Le Bon, etc. Mind-boggling stuff.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=p8ERfxWouXs&t=85s


Adam Curtis has a good documentary about Bernays influence in the PR industry.It's a really good watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnPmg0R1M04


This is really 'blue pill' stuff. It's like discovering product placement in movies. Once you see it, you can't unsee it again.


John Pilger's 2010 Documentary The War You Don't See (https://vimeo.com/67739294) is also great; it references Bernays too.

Would check this one.


Just saw that, I was utterly shocked how many terms I thought were casual normal socially coined things (like PR) but were in fact introduced with malign interests. High level of cynicism


Of all of Chomsky's positions that I have read, the propaganda model is the hardest to doubt - it seems almost unassailable. Are there any convincing criticisms of it?


It's been about 15 years since I read Manufacturing Consent, but- the weak version of his thesis is fine, sure. An NBCUniversal media property, say, is probably not going to report critically on something that NBCUniversal has a financial stake in.

The actual hypothesis Chomsky puts forward in the book is childishly simple, though. He imagines literally every for-profit corporation, the military, and the entire federal government as being one fused united party with identical interests, and so NBCUniversal would never report anything critical of the military or the US government. This, um, doesn't track reality.

While it's easy for me to just dismiss this obviously incorrect hypothesis as 'dumb' (which it is), I think on a deeper level Chomsky is influenced by Marx who was influenced by other 18-19th century philosophers like Hegel. Who used extremely, overly broad handwavey concepts like Elites or The Powerful as part of their totally academic, abstract, philosophical explanation for How Society Works. As someone who read a bunch of Chomsky books when I was 20 years old- part of his worldview is that nothing happens by accident, but every major moment in history is part of a Hegelian Battle Between Forces (like elites vs. the working class or something). It's still a childishly unrealistic way of looking at how society actually functions, but it comes from a super super abstract philosopher's worldview where he can handwave Big Business/the Military/the Government as one unit with identical interests. If that makes sense at all. Sort of reminds me of ancient philosophers theorizing about how physics or medicine works without conducting any empirical tests whatsoever


The actual hypothesis Chomsky puts forward in the book is childishly simple, though. He imagines literally every for-profit corporation, the military, and the entire federal government as being one fused united party with identical interests, and so NBCUniversal would never report anything critical of the military or the US government. This, um, doesn't track reality.

Is that really his thesis?

It seems to me that it's more about how incentives for all these organizations are aligned towards those same interests. Only the very "top" of the power pyramid needs to be deliberately trying to manufacture consent; everyone else falls into line because of the incentives set up by those one level of power above.


But in practice, we don't observe that these organizations blindly support 'those at the top'. Empirical observation over abstract philosophizing, please. Society is much more complex & interesting than Chomsky imagines, with many more nuances. Even the actual federal government and military have many competing factions with different interests, different goals, etc.

It's a philosopher's 'let's model civilization as a one-page flowchart' level of analysis. I don't think it's particularly deep or interesting, and I read a great deal of Chomsky back in the day


> (there are) incentives for all these organizations are aligned towards those same interests.

> But in practice, we don't observe that these organizations blindly support 'those at the top'.

That isn't the same thing. I'm not sure how you connect these. This is better illustrated in specific countries, where the incentives are fierce and immediate. You still see dissent there too, but that's not relevant to the point ("I don't see it all the time so it's not true", missing the point).


The thesis of the book is that mass media acts or editorializes on behalf of the powerful in society- not just that their 'incentives are aligned'. The book is about the specific actions that media companies supposedly take. So, pointing out all of the times that mass media has acted orthogonally to powerful interests in society (publishing the Pentagon Papers, publishing the Snowden revelations, the current run of publishing ultra-critical pieces about tech companies, etc.) would be relevant counter-examples.

Zooming out slightly, handwaving everyone who's wealthy or powerful in the US into 'elites' that are sort of one fused organic unit with identical interests is just bad, sloppy thinking, sorry. Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the military, Fortune 500 corporations, Hollywood, New York/DC-media companies, Ivy League universities- they're all 'elites' and they are competing, at times hostile power centers to each other. I don't take any analysis that smushes them into 'elites' or 'the 1%' or whatever seriously. (For example, the 'mass media' that Chomsky handwaves- a more precise description would be New York/DC media moguls- is actively hostile to Silicon Valley these days. Many of these power centers actively compete. His categories are absurdly broad)


No, the mass-media that Chomsky discusses very much includes Hollywood, Jeff Bezos' newspapers, gaming companies and any other popular company producing media.

Of course there is in-fighting amongst the elites. But there is no group of elites that is willing to reduce the power of even a different group in favor of 'the masses'. The NY/DC media moguls may want to take SV down a peg, but they wouldn't want to see, say, FB become a worker's co-op, or Jeff Bezos to start paying 90% progressive income tax.


Currently the elites are fighting and not one united front against the non-elites (the rise of tech created a new elite group that wasn't dependent on the existing elites to exist), bit that doesn't mean one side won't either eventually win, or broker a truce in order to go on managing the masses for corporate gain.


But even now, how are the elites not united in most goals? Are the new tech elite pro workers rights? Are they for radical action to stop global warming? Are they anti-monopoly? Are they pro corporate taxation? Are they anti-interventionist?

There may be in-fighting between the elites, but that does not mean that these groups are not still aligned on most broad topics. Teh same has always been true for democrats VS Republicans. They do care who gets to be in power, and will fight tooth-and-nail for that, but neither will do anything that would hurt the elites in general.


But we do! To a great extent, anyway. There is a spectrum of opinion, but it broadly goes between 'the most important thing is that the biggest corporations continue to make a larger profit, damn all else' at the extreme right, and 'we should make sure there is a modicum of prosperity for everyone, so that they will keep supporting our goal of ever increasing profit, damn almost everything else'. There are other topics where there is a wider variety of opinions (e.g. climate change, though even there, addressing climate change is only considered to the extent that it wouldn't hurt profit too much, or universal healthcare).

There may very rarely be an article or two that really are going against the grain, but that is to be expected, since there is no claim of hard censorship.


This reads like an undergrad's hot take. No offense, and there are plenty of valid criticisms of Chomsky, but this is the laziest reading and interpretation of Chomsky that you are arguing with.

>t's a philosopher's 'let's model civilization as a one-page flowchart' level of analysis.

Irony.


That's not a fair reading of the central thesis to my memory (which is going back more than 15 years, to be fair).

This is meant constructively: Some of the rhetorical devices you've chosen ("childish", "dumb", etc.) nearly always read to me as coming from someone who hasn't understood the work they are commenting on, so I suspect you might communicate more effectively with different choices.


> The actual hypothesis Chomsky puts forward in the book is childishly simple, though. He imagines literally every for-profit corporation, the military, and the entire federal government as being one fused united party with identical interests, and so NBCUniversal would never report anything critical of the military or the US government. This, um, doesn't track reality.

That's, a bad misreading.

Can you quote relevant sections that support this statement? The laying out of the propaganda model is only about 50 pages in entirely so you shouldn't need walls of text to show some evidence.


That is not his thesis at all. He is claiming that in most cases mainstream media will be supportive of American imperialism (it applies more broadly than the US, but let's limit it for now).

Of course there are factions within the most powerful, but there are also universal interests. For example, there are no rich or powerful groups in the US who are pro unionization in tech or pro worker's co-ops (there may be individuals, sure, but you won't find a PAC or lobby group). There are no rich or powerful groups in the US who would accept unilateral nuclear disarmament. There are no rich or powerful groups in the US which consider the US has no legal or moral rights to intervene militarily unilaterally anywhere in the world.

Of course, there are sometimes 'dissident' groups, like the currently surprisingly popular Bernie Sanders movement. If they do get a foothold, some popular opinions may also change. But such moments are a good time to test the hypothesis, and you can easily see how much the media, 'left' or right, is against the Bernie campaign, and considers it naive or pie-in-the-sky.

Overall, going on the empirical path, you'll be really hard-pressed to find any US mainstream media critical of US actions, or often even reporting on relevant events, if they put the US in a bad light.


Judging from Chomsky’s critique of Žižek I really doubt you can call his position Hegelian


>how society actually functions

You know a better answer to this question than a 91 year old philosopher, so .. lets hear it.


Manufactured consent can be similar to fabrication. But, it cuts both ways. People think of this manufacture as big gov or big biz pushing their agenda trough their lapdog media. But the same process happens with social causes. Let’s say vegetarianism or the anti-fur movement (very few people would disagree with the latter), but this took manufactured consent to achieve. The same with environmental and social causes. People don’t just wake up and change their minds. These opinions are filtered down to them.


> Let’s say vegetarianism or the anti-fur movement (very few people would disagree with the latter), but this took manufactured consent to achieve.

The concept of "consent" as it's used in Manufacturing Consent does not apply to those movements at all. It means more than "some people agree with x because of information that was presented to them."


I think it does. These movements start out small but have vocal sympathizers who have some kind of gravitas via popularity or due to some other characteristic people grant some “authority”. Then media carry water for it, etc.

The mechanism is exactly the same. If the media didn’t carry the message and others wouldn’t grab in to that, it wouldn’t happen.

Why aren’t social causes not as prevalent in China? Because the media is controlled. Lots of feminists in CN lament that they are not allowed to influence people. And it’s true. The gov will not allow subversion of their power no matter how just a cause is. It will only happen on their terms.


I don't fully agree with the comment you're replying to in that Manufacturing Consent has nothing to do with those movements.

However, I completely disagree with your statements that:

>The mechanism is exactly the same.

>People don’t just wake up and change their minds. These opinions are filtered down to them.

People do in fact change their minds, for various reasons. These mechanisms are not the same because of power. Large institutions in the media that have lots of reach and authority act as gatekeepers to what is or isn't discussed. This idea that movements are propelled from sympathizers who are popular or have authority just misses how movements form and grow to begin with.

Yes they start out small, but they aren't cleared by the media or any figure before they grow. Movements grow with pressure through direct action to a point where the media cannot ignore it anymore. It is a challenge for every movement that exists.


It's not that what you're saying is uninteresting, but the "consent" in Manufacturing Consent is a reference to the concept of the "consent of the governed."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consent_of_the_governed


It's a very unusual view that equates a spontaneous shift towards vegetarianism in the face of corporate lobbying and advertising on behalf of the meat industries with an institutional refusal to question Israel's nuclear arsenal.


Except that shift isn’t spontaneous. Someone has to propose it, someone has to promote it, someone has to popularize it, etc.

Manufacturing consent isn’t by default bad. Manufacturing convent to built pubic transit, manufacturing consent to have people vaccinated, etc., in the face of other interests is still manufacturing consent.


>Except that shift isn’t spontaneous. Someone has to propose it, someone has to promote it, someone has to popularize it, etc.

The mechanism is different though. We didn't just wake up one day and start hearing multiple coherent media voices that vegetarianism is the way forward. We did have precisely that for the Iraq war.


It’s just slower. But there is an interest and there is a promoter, people selling books, talking on air, in movies, talked about by teachers, elevated by kids’s shows, etc. It’s more diffuse and immersive, thus, it’s even more effective because people rarely notice it. It has parallels to refined state propaganda.

Iraq war-like talk basically is the poorman’s version of ideal propaganda.


It's not just slower and there is no "promoter" that is filtering down news in the same way with talking points dictated to media. There is a wide variety of views being spread in a far more grass roots fashion.

"Propaganda" isn't just an attempt to convince somebody of something. Writing a book advancing a viewpoint isn't automatically propaganda.


I think you're talking about fads. Fads are a bit different than movements. Vegetarianism and not wearing fur are more like fads than they are social movements. Social movements fundamentally change a society.

And because they fundamentally change societies, they rarely have advocates who are "popular" or have "gravitas". If a social movement is a real social movement, then it does more than change what coats people wear to school. (Changing what clothes people wear happens every year. In fact, they made a whole industry out of it changing every year. The fashion industry.)

No, a social movement has the potential to threaten changes to everything, right down to the actual people in power at the top of a society.

If the people in the society generally accept the social movement as collectively beneficial, then the social movement becomes mainstream societal belief, and over time, will integrate into what we would call that society's "culture". If the people in the society generally reject the social movement, that's when you usually have a war.

For instance, republicanism was a social movement in France, but it's proponents could not get enough people to accept it as a good idea. The proponents refused to give up on the idea and it eventually resulted in war and the Reign of Terror. (Which, ironically, eliminated all of the ideas proponents.) France is now on its Fifth Republic at last count. (Not surprisingly, the Fifth Republic is one that had the support of the populace.) Similarly, the communist movement in Czarist Russia. Not enough accepted it. War ensued, which enabled the proponents to force communism on the people. Then the people got rid of it in the 1990s.

There are also movements that are accepted by the populace. Gandhi's radical idea of universal suffrage in India was readily accepted by legions of people on the Sub-Continent, and eventually, the British simply had to leave.

In all of these cases, those in power were staunchly opposed to the social movements in question. Obviously because those movements threatened not only their power, but to change, effectively, everything in society that even enabled their power.

Veganism, Vegetarianism, anti-fur, etc, those kinds of things just don't rise to the level of movements in my mind because they don't threaten to fundamentally change society in that fashion. There is no threat that the people making decisions if we eat veggies, would be different than the people making decisions if we eat meat. The societal structure remains in place in either case.


There is a collective mind, a thoughtform or egregor, which can formulate around any particular subject.

Mass media is about the industrialised manifestation of these entities, in an effort to create 'godhead', or "everyone knows _ about _" conditions.

"Everyone knows that the _'s did it", is pretty much the epitome of such a substance.

Mass, collective 'reality' is basically a function of the things we can get as many people to agree to, as possible.

Alas, our individual instincts are not always aligned with the truth, nor the righteous, nor the just. Often-times our individual personalities, as functional components, mixed in certain ways into egregor, become vile creatures, nearly unstoppable power. This is why we do it.

There is no such thing as "America". This is a device invented, manifested, and maintained by an entity so large it seems undefeatable to an individual.

These powers are manufacturable. We can fabricate collective reality. What we can't do too well, is allow our collective minds to become too self-aware. This seems to collapse it in on itself.

Thus, a measure of ones prowess might be, how many lies can you get others to believe, and then: how many can you get them to repeat, in order that it eventually becomes a 'truth'?


> But the same process happens with social causes. Let’s say vegetarianism or the anti-fur movement

Those are not "social causes" and they do exist within the same system. Some corporation hires PR firm to redirect consumption away from expensive fur things, because it sells non-fur things and wants to get in on some of those spending money or another corporation that sells processed vegetable-based foods wants you to buy it, instead of meat and so on. There are lots of forces at play that create and support those movements, it's pretty hard to find truly honest social movements and even if some start that way they will be mostly supported by those who share the same enemies. The government itself wants to divide and marginalize people to make it easier to control them.


I remember in high school I used to say "I believe I speak for the class when I say..." And if folks didn't disagree it was consent by silence. Not the same thing but an allegory, when "fake news" parrots an absurd line, if we don't step it, it stands.


It's the narrative though. You cannot deny that western media has a narrative structure that is organized around conflict. They will always seek out and exaggerate conflicts because strife lures more viewers than harmony. If it bleeds, it leads. Even ad-free media like publicly funded institutions are prey to this in a race for eyeballs. This creates a certain kind of filter that prevents an informed populace.

As someone who leans left I notice this strongly with all those "left wing" causes. They will choose a variation of that to carry that is least likely to be informing and most likely to exaggerate conflict. For example, they will put the anger and tears of Greta Thunberg and voices like hers front and center again and again, while ignoring the literally thousands of climate experts who could come and explain the facts in a sober and non-polarizing way. This is no accident, it is by design, because it gets more viewers.

The end result of this is that media makes it easy to misinform and lie, hard to inform and tell the truth. This makes it easy for "the powers that be" to push a false narrative to get what they want. All they have to do is set up a conflict and the media laps it up.


Functional programming also cuts both ways. People think of it as a practical application of category theory, but it can also be about declaring and defining functions in something like the C programming language.

However, if everyone is talking about Haskell and you come in and try to shift the conversation to "programming languages that use functions" you are likely not adding anything of interest to the conversation.

Similarly, "Manufacturing Consent" posited a set of specific filters and measured column inches as evidence for the existence of that set of filters. While you are certainly correct that all forms of human social interaction involve filtering information in order for people to have ideas and follow causes in the first place, it's a broad truism that sheds little light on the topic the book discusses.


That’s not really his attack though.

His attack is what causes we’re driven to consent to.

Elsewhere Chomsky has quipped along the lines of “oh no how horrible if we had world peace” via organic filtering among neighbors.

He’s not challenging that such a process exists. But how the organic process is bent toward disposable consumerism, imperialist conquering, not much different than in the old days of Napoleon and Alexander the Great, even though we call ourselves “civilized”.

And we consent via manufactured apathy. Every option the public may want is explicitly bad, m4a, reducing military spending, higher taxes. Every option the elites want is just the right balance, citizens united, lower taxes, binding arbitration, etc etc


I love how people are worried about the far right in these comments but not on the impact of propaganda on themselves.

This recent Kurds vs Turkey is an example of this.

The left usually hates war. Why? If you break down to the lowest level, it looks like the current left is mainly dominated by the maternal instinct. In every issue they divide the world into child vs predator. And they always come down on the side protecting the weak child.

You can see this across a number of social, economic and geo poilitical issues.

In terms of war, they look at it as America's selfish predatory instincts preying upon innocent parties in the middle east leading to countless lives lost of the weak.

So how do you get people who think like this to support war?

Simple. Invent a weak, childlike ally in the middle of the war zone, who are being attacked by a notorious hateful predator, and we would be abandoning them if we dont put our troops in harms way.

So, you rebrand the american troop presence as honorable protection rather than predatory intervention. Thats all it takes to manufacture consent.


I'm (USA) left on just about any position you care to mention, and am worried more by the Kurd/Turkey thing's apparent ineptness and failure to fit any foreign policy plan whatsoever. Bumbling incompetence is less appealing to me than either well-executed, cold realpolitik, or failed but well-meaning attempts at actual moral leadership. It's about as bad as it gets, short of outright evil for evil's sake.

I also don't think it'd be inconsistent to oppose going into various wars in the Middle East, while also opposing recklessly withdrawing once we'd stuck our noses in already.


Yep, the lack of any plan is usually the issue. Often it's not even clear there is a goal.

The New York Times was recently criticizing Trump on the basis of him having reduced US influence due to his recent actions. I was a bit confused by that claim, as I wasn't sure what we needed the influence for. The previous stated goal was "defeating ISIS", which largely already happened. I have no real idea what the current goal was supposed to be.


Oh, yeah, to be clear I think that, given public information (you never know what secret crap's going on, same for Trump's moves, so we have to work with what we know), intervening in Syria to begin with—by which I mean encouraging and supplying the rebels, not the later anti-ISIS actions—was a massive humanitarian and geopolitical disaster, possibly a bigger blunder than (though related to) the invasion of Iraq, even, and I think that shouldn't have been too hard to predict from the start, not just an obvious-in-hindsight thing. It's a big part of why I don't hold Obama's (or Hillary's) actions on foreign policy in very high regard, to put it mildly.


Sure, Trump is especially incompetent. But the same exact idea applied to Obama's reign and policy in Syria as well. You can forget about "saving the children of Aleppo", etc.


This has nothing to do with the "left". Protecting your "brothers" and "sisters" from dehumanized child-killing enemy is the core of all war propaganda.


> The left usually hates war.

At least politically that is not true. There is a anti-war left, but politically its long gone.

However you overall point that 'we can't leave otherwise genocide' or 'if we don't act genocide' has been part of the narrative for every war.

Remember Bengazi? Apparently Gadaffi was gone go in an slaughter 50000 people. That was of course total nonsense but it convinced the government to act.


Are you equating "left" to "Dems"? Because the left that I know is all against war and interventionism.

Maybe there is something to be said about how people think Liberal means leftie.


That's why I said politically its not true. The political left is for the most part not against war. If you want to call all those people not of the 'true' left then whatever.

The reality is both right and the left have a strong anti-war movment and neither has political power.


>The left usually hates war.

Do you mean the politicians or the public? If you mean politicians, I haven't seen much evidence that Democrat (center/leftish) politicians hate war in the last few decades. Wilson was president during WWI, FDR during WWII, LBJ during Vietnam, Bill Clinton had Bosnia and Hillary Clinton voted for Iraq. Obama presided over quite a few conflicts. Maybe Jimmy Carter?

>the current left is mainly dominated by the maternal instinct

What are you basing this on?

>Simple. Invent a weak, childlike ally in the middle of the war zone, who are being attacked by a notorious hateful predator, and we would be abandoning them if we dont put our troops in harms way.

Typically war has been based on pushing a fear of "ism." Anarchism in the early 1900s, Communism middle 1900s, Terrorism in the 2000s.


>What are you basing this on?

It should be fairly obvious if you look at any issue the left focuses on. Blacks vs Whites. Rich vs Poor. Women vs Men.

The double standards of how they talk about christianity vs islam. Israel vs palestine.

Literally every issue. Divides the world into weak vs strong, blames the strong for the situation of the weak regardless of causal chain.

For more practical evidence, the only march which gained traction was the women's march. They tried it with latinos, science etc.

The biggest issue which has resonated against Trump is the children in cages. Why do you think that is?


You're basically criticising leftists for pointing out how power structures in the world are abused and phrasing it as somehow being maternal and therefor... questionable?

Or is your problem only with the causal chain? Which leftist cause that condemns an abuse of power has incorrectly assumed a causal link?

I would say the biggest issue that has stuck against Trump is by a wide margin the alleged Russian collusion, but are you trying to say that people - nevermind leftists - _shouldn't_ be collectively upset about children being separated from their parents and kept in cages?


Interesting example, considering Chomsky was one of the early proponents on the left for keeping troops in Syria to protect the Kurds.

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/13cf816e-8e40-41c8-bb76-...

I think this is a case where the establishment/media and the left actually agree. We shouldn't abandon allies. Additionally, Rojava is running a libertarian socialist society, which leftists obviously like. Finally, 60 or so troops is all that's needed to stop Turkey, and I wouldn't really call 60 troops "predatory intervention".

I don't think the left's opinion here is manufactured consent.


The YPG is marxist offshoot of the PKK. Turkey (an actual member of NATO) will never voluntarily let them establish an independent homeland in Syria.

The way it is working out now is the best anyone, Americans at least, could hope for. Let the regional powers that have actual national interest sort it out.

If ISIS comes back, the US can come back if needed.

As a vet, with a son who was an Army Ranger and a daughter who is an Army aviator, 60 troops sounds like too many to me.


There are very serious facts on the ground that entirely negate concepts such as 'manufactured' consent.

Also, I think CNN is screaming sympathy for the Kurds right now partly because they really hate Trump.


This article is from June. I've generally been a bit skeptical of Noam Chomsky's politics but this interaction seems prophetic given the current situation in Syria and makes me think that I should give "Manufacturing Consent" some attention:

>But as Patrick Cockburn pointed out in the Independent, what is happening in Afrin is about the same.

> AM: Happening where, sorry?

> NC: Afrin. Turkish forces and their allies are carrying out the attack in a mostly Kurdish area. Patrick Cockburn has covered it, but almost nobody else.

Doing some research on it, the articles I read in the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/10/11/who-are-kurd...) said that the Turkish offensive was "days old" while the Independent article Chomsky references (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-afrin-crisis-turk...) attributes a death toll of 220 to Turkey in March 2018.


The 1992 documentary film based on Herman and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent book is also worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnrBQEAM3rE


How is it that this guy still has no Nobel Prize?


Because of political bias. Just look at the introduction of the (fake) Nobel Prize for economics. It exists purely to legitimize a neoliberal economic ideology. Awarding Chomsky a Nobel Prize would undermine that goal.


The idea that awarding a prize to the most respected scientists in a particular field is solely for the purpose of advancing an ideology is in itself extremely anti-intellectual and biased. Have you even looked at the work of the scientists who received the prize?


It's hardly "anti-intellectual" to note that unlike the actual prizes funded by Nobel over a century ago, the economics "Nobel" was created by the Swedish Central Bank only 50 years ago. That's not exactly an unbiased source. If there was no chemistry prize and Dow Chemical or Bayer stepped in to create one, it wouldn't be anywhere as respected as the actual Chemistry Nobel, would it?


The anti-intellectual part was to claim that the awarding of prizes to prominent scientists only served to promote a certain ideology. It is like saying that the Nobel Prize for Medicine would exist only to promote orthodox medicine.

> If there was no chemistry prize and Dow Chemical or Bayer stepped in to create one, it wouldn't be anywhere as respected as the actual Chemistry Nobel, would it?

The Nobel Prize was created by the owner of a Swedish chemical and weapons company. I don't see what's so great about it.

And as for the Swedish Central Bank, I think Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head: Oh, and cue the usual complaints that this isn’t a “real” Nobel. Hey, this is just a prize given by a bunch of Swedes, as opposed to the other prizes, which are given out by, um, bunches of Swedes.


I think its still fair to say that economics is not a science the way medicine is.


>I think its still fair to say that economics is not a science the way medicine is.

Which is very unfortunate, because like medicine, the practice of economics has the power to influence decisions and affect lives.


The only difference is that people who reject medicine are rightfully considered delusional.


> ... funded by Nobel over a century ago, the economics "Nobel" was created by the Swedish Central Bank only 50 years ago.

So will the Economics Nobel be legitimate when it turns 100 then?

The official Nobel site lists the Economics prize:

* https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/

What other authority on the matter is there than the actual organization itself?


There can be no legitimate Nobel Prizes added because Nobel is dead.


This smells of "No true Scotsman" IMHO.


I like how this is going towards “Swedish Central Bank is a for-profit organisation”


The Nobel for Economics is not down to Mr Nobel. It was instituted by the Swedish Central Bank, and I think the selection committee is organised differently to the real Nobels.

Edit: Brain having a moment off - s/Swiss/Swedish/


The selection processes for the real Nobels differ significantly in their organization, for what it's worth, though it's mostly Peace vs all the others... In particular, for the Peace prize the Norwegian Parliament appoints a 5-person committee that then selects the prize winner, while for the others various Swedish academic institutions select a committee that then proposes laureates back to a larger body that votes on them.


The swedish central bank, not the swiss.


> The idea that awarding a prize to the most respected scientists in a particular field is solely for the purpose of advancing an ideology is in itself extremely anti-intellectual and biased.

Man, if you want to hear about anti-intellectualism and bias, go and look at the SMD theorem. Economists will continue to assume that Macroeconomic demand curves will continue to slope downward.


> Man, if you want to hear about anti-intellectualism and bias, go and look at the SMD theorem.

The D in SMD was actually awarded the nobel prize in economics.


>The D in SMD was actually awarded the nobel prize in economics.

Debreu's work on general equilibrium, which was the basis of the award, had to skirt around the SMD theorem:

>Prize motivation: "for having incorporated new analytical methods into economic theory and for his rigorous reformulation of the theory of general equilibrium."[0]

In order for the Arrow-Debreu model[1] to give a unique equilibrium, which is usually desired, some strong (arguably, unrealistic) conditions must be assumed, otherwise there can be multiple equilibria, as guaranteed by the SMD theorem.[2]

In particular, the SMD theorem asserts that any polynomial function can be a market demand function, which fundamentally breaks the so-called "law" of demand in neoclassical economics. This is because most polynomial functions are not monotonically decreasing[3], as required by the "law" of demand, but give rise to demand curves that can curve up or down arbitrarily. As an example of such a function, just think of the curve generated by a generic cubic polynomial.[4]

This "anything goes" situation then leads to non-unique equilibria, since a supply curve can now intersect the market demand curve at more than one point. But since an equilibrium point is supposed to be where welfare is maximised in a society, the existence of non-unique equilibria means that there can be multiple economic arrangements under which social welfare is maximised. Then it's a matter of taste (i.e. "ideology") to decide which equilibrium point a society wants to be in.

[0] https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1983/deb...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%E2%80%93Debreu_model

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnenschein%E2%80%93Mantel%E2...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotonic_function

[4] A graph of such a curve is shown here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monotonicity_example3.png


> Debreu's work on general equilibrium, which was the basis of the award, had to skirt around the SMD theorem:

Watch out for moving the goalposts. He was awarded the nobel prize after all. "Rigorous reformulation" does not sound like skirting at all.

> This "anything goes" situation then leads to non-unique equilibria, since a supply curve can now intersect the market demand curve at more than one point. But since an equilibrium point is supposed to be where welfare is maximised in a society, the existence of non-unique equilibria means that there can be multiple economic arrangements under which social welfare is maximised.

Economy (or climate or orbits) exhibit chatoic and complex behaviour and it is not surprising that they can have multiple stable points (look up bifurcation diagrams for a simple representation of chatoic solutions). If I am not mistaken, one can hear such things routinely in university economy classrooms today especially when giving caveats about models being wrong in general. Even when you include game theory and Nash equilibria with respect to economic solutions, there might not be efficient ways to reach the equilibrium points at all!

> Then it's a matter of taste (i.e. "ideology") to decide which equilibrium point a society wants to be in.

That is to assume that every equilibrium solution you get is tied to a specific policy or a set of them (or even more, an ideology!) or that points can be reached easily which are very strong assumptions. Maybe some ideologies don't exhibit any reachable equilibrium points or pertain only to unstable ones.


>Watch out for moving the goalposts.

Says the one who's been moving the goalposts in the first place. The point of this thread was about whether or not the Nobel prize in economics was anti-intellectual and ideologically biased. You chimed in with:

>>>The D in SMD was actually awarded the nobel prize in economics.

Which is why I responded, because this was a non-sequitur and an appeal to authority (of the people awarding the prize, and the question was whether or not these people were biased).

>He was awarded the nobel prize after all.

That means nothing in the context of this thread, and is another appeal to authority.

>"Rigorous reformulation" does not sound like skirting at all.

The SMD theorem was a big deal, yet Debreu wasn't awarded the prize for that, but for a rigorous reformulation of Walrasian equilibrium,[0] which has very strong assumptions.

In particular, that rigorous reformulation, known as the Arrow-Debreu model,[1] fails under weaker (i.e. more realistic) assumptions, because of the SMD theorem.

This is skirting the issue.

>Economy (or climate or orbits) exhibit chatoic and complex behaviour and it is not surprising that they can have multiple stable points (look up bifurcation diagrams for a simple representation of chatoic solutions). If I am not mistaken, one can hear such things routinely in university economy classrooms today especially when giving caveats about models being wrong in general. Even when you include game theory and Nash equilibria with respect to economic solutions, there might not be efficient ways to reach the equilibrium points at all!

A few points:

- It's nice and all that caveats are being given, but what tools are being taught to economics undergrads to handle chaotic and complex behaviour? Please supply links to some university course syllabus as evidence (I'm happy to read material in a language other than English).

- If economics students aren't being taught tools to handle chaotic and complex behaviour, then giving caveats is just paying lip service.

- Game theory and Nash equilibria are tools to deal with equilibria, which is what neoclassical economics is comfortable with. To be more realistic, you need to look at what happens in disequilibria, as you've pointed out yourself.

- Chaos theory also showed that equilibria may never be attained at all by a system, so the obsession with equilibria in economics is, at best, unproductive.

>That is to assume that every equilibrium solution you get is tied to a specific policy or a set of them (or even more, an ideology!) or that points can be reached easily which are very strong assumptions. Maybe some ideologies don't exhibit any reachable equilibrium points or pertain only to unstable ones.

Agreed. Unfortunately, neoclassical economics, thanks to its underlying ideology, assumes that equilibrium points can be reached by the "free market" and are desirable.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_equilibrium

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow%E2%80%93Debreu_model


"Then it's a matter of taste (i.e. "ideology") to decide which equilibrium point a society wants to be in."

I think this statement is quite representative of the world we live in, don't you? My personal experience is, strongest adherents to an ideology are the least productive people .


All models are wrong by definition. The purpose of a model is to be a simplification of reality in order to gain insights and not to perfectly replicate reality. In physics, there is even the metaphor of the spherical cow[1] to make fun of the need to simplify things in order to understand them. Just because a model is simple doesn't mean that it is bad or worse than a model with more complex assumptions.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/19991009000912/http://lheawww.gs...


> All models are wrong by definition.

I would agree.

> Just because a model is simple doesn't mean that it is bad or worse than a model with more complex assumptions.

I'm not condemning it being simple. If we were just talking about small or exceptional exclusions to the rules like Giffen or Veblen goods, then I wouldn't have made the above post. We're talking about fundamentally incorrect building blocks that aren't even acknowledged in the literature.


>In physics, there is even the metaphor of the spherical cow[1] to make fun of the need to simplify things in order to understand them.

It's a joke to remind us of a sobering fact: that unreal assumptions lead to unreal results.

>Just because a model is simple doesn't mean that it is bad or worse than a model with more complex assumptions.

But if a model with more complex assumptions is a better approximation to reality than a model with simpler assumptions, would you not adopt the former?

What has happened in economics is that people have clung on to, say, Newtonian mechanics, instead of embracing Einstein's relativity.

Even this does not quite adequately express the enormity of the inertia that you see in economics, because at least Newtonian mechanics is right most of the time, whereas neoclassical economics is wrong most of the time. The SMD theorem guarantees, for example, that most market demand curves will NEVER satisfy the fundamental neoclassical "law" of demand.

Let me also point out that your comment is rehashing Friedman's positivism.[0] Even in quantum mechanics, which has for decades been dominated by the positivism of the Copenhagen interpretation, people are now transcending that positivism because they've come to the realisation that quantum mechanics can't be advanced without overcoming the crutch of positivism. And Friedman's assertions about assumptions are unsound anyway.[1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essays_in_Positive_Economics

[1] For a critique of Friedman's argument about assumptions in models, see https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-6435....


> But if a model with more complex assumptions is a better approximation to reality than a model with simpler assumptions, would you not adopt the former?

Not necessarily. Maybe the simpler model is enough to understand what is going on. Maybe a more complex model suffers from over-fitting and performs worse than the simpler model. It really depends.

> The SMD theorem guarantees, for example, that most market demand curves will NEVER satisfy the fundamental neoclassical "law" of demand.

Does it really say that? Or simply that weird market demand curves are possible in a few exceptional situations?


>Maybe the simpler model is enough to understand what is going on. Maybe a more complex model suffers from over-fitting and performs worse than the simpler model. It really depends.

If only physics departments everywhere would adopt this philosophy! Physics undergrads would then be liberated from the yoke of Einstein's relativity, let alone the tyranny of the mind-blowing quantum field theory with its insufferably complicated Feynman diagrams.

It does not depend. The simpler model in economics is fatally flawed, and is the one suffering from over-fitting (to a straight line, no less) and contributing to the bad reputation of economics as a "dismal science".

>> The SMD theorem guarantees, for example, that most market demand curves will NEVER satisfy the fundamental neoclassical "law" of demand.

>Does it really say that? Or simply that weird market demand curves are possible in a few exceptional situations?

Yes, it does.[0] The exceptional situations are precisely those that neoclassical economics assumes are the norm, namely, that there is only one agent and one commodity in the market.[1]

As soon as you have more than one agent/consumer in an economy, the mathematics will undermine the "law" of demand, because the inter-agent interactions would generate non-linear terms in the market demand function.

And once you have terms of higher order, the demand curve generated by that function will have sections that slope upwards, exactly what is being forbidden by the "law" of demand.

And we haven't yet taken into account the very real fact that multiple consumers cannot possibly have the same preferences. Or that these preferences can change with different levels of income.[2]

In short, neoclassical microeconomics only works in a communist economy of identical clones with identical preferences and incomes.

Oh, the irony.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnenschein%E2%80%93Mantel%E2...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_agent

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homothetic_preferences


> If only physics departments everywhere would adopt this philosophy!

Let's take electrical engineering as an example. If you model an electrical circuit, you assume that there simply is a voltage source where electricity comes from. That assumption is of course complete nonsense: In reality, electrical energy is not just there, it has to be generated somewhere, for example in a power plant. The electricity also flows through a grid that is shared with many other consumers.

So, according to your requirement to always use the more realistic model, electrical engineers should always model a whole power plant and an entire power grid in each circuit, because otherwise their model would be bullshit.

> Yes, it does.[0]

Do you know of any empirical studies that show that the models currently used in macroeconomics actually cause problems with real data?


>Let's take electrical engineering as an example.

I'd usually say you're shifting the goal posts, perhaps muse about how dehumanising and simplistic it is to think of humans as components in an electrical circuit, and move on. Then I thought that it'd be more illuminating to address your analogy, because your reasoning suffers from the same problem that I've been talking about.

>If you model an electrical circuit, you assume that there simply is a voltage source where electricity comes from. That assumption is of course complete nonsense: In reality, electrical energy is not just there, it has to be generated somewhere, for example in a power plant. The electricity also flows through a grid that is shared with many other consumers.

I think it might help to read Musgrave's paper[0] (the abstract will do if you can't get the paper itself) on the three kinds of unrealistic assumptions, in which he attacked Friedman's twist. The assumption you pointed out is the most benign type: a negligibility assumption. It's like assuming that a object falling through air experiences no friction: complete nonsense, but air friction exerts only a negligible effect on most falling objects, unless the object is, say, a feather.

In the case of your example, taking into account the power plant adds nothing to the analysis, because the electrical circuit you're concerned with usually doesn't output electricity. Usually. But in the 21st century, that can change...

>So, according to your requirement to always use the more realistic model, electrical engineers should always model a whole power plant and an entire power grid in each circuit, because otherwise their model would be bullshit.

Firstly, I did not say the more realistic model should "always" be used. The situation in economics is more like the more realistic model is ignored in favour of the incorrect unrealistic model, even when the more realistic model is appropriate. The analogy with Newtonian/Einsteinian mechanics is quite shaky here, since as I've said, Newtonian mechanics is vastly more accurate than neoclassical microeconomics.

To take another example from engineering and continue the theme of relativity, error corrections required for GPS depend on an understanding of relativity.[1] If, as you've previously suggested, the simpler and more easily understandable model should be preferred, then we would not have GPS and allied technologies today.

Secondly, in the 21st century when we have renewable energy, electrical engineers are now required to take into account a power grid, because consumers are now also power plants if they have solar power, for example, and want to feed the excess power generated into the power grid.

The point is this: if the circuit you're modelling is a passive one that doesn't generate electricity, sure, make use of the unrealistic assumption that there's an unknown voltage source. However, if your circuit is also a voltage source, that assumption is then false, and you need to update your model.

The same should apply in economics. Unfortunately, it turns out that markets and economies are far more complex systems than power grids: as soon as you have more than one agent (e.g. humans, corporate entities, HFT algorithms, etc.), the simplistic analysis derived from marginal utility theory fails. So, outside of the laboratory perhaps, the models used in neoclassical microeconomics are probably almost never appropriate for the problems they're treating.

>> Yes, it does.[2]

>Do you know of any empirical studies that show that the models currently used in macroeconomics actually cause problems with real data?

This is a really garbled question. Firstly, nowhere did I assert that economic models "cause problems with real data". I really don't understand this assertion and would welcome any clarifications.

Secondly, I think you misunderstand the point of my argument about the SMD theorem. The point is that, as soon as you have more than one agent/consumer (human, firm, algorithm, what-have-you), they will interact in a non-linear way, giving rise to a nonlinear market demand function that gives a "weird" market demand curve.

This has nothing to do with any effect that the belief in a certain economic model would have on the economic behaviour of an agent. That is an entirely separate question altogether.

Back to your question about whether "weird market demand curves are possible" only "in a few exceptional situations". The SMD theorem basically says no: in all but the most exceptional cases, multiple market equilibrium points can exist.

The implication is that the aggregation problem[3] is not solved by the neoclassical assertion that the market demand curve for a well-defined commodity has the same pleasant mathematical properties -- in particular, that it is monotonically decreasing ("downward-sloping"), i.e. obeys the "law" of demand -- as the demand curve for that commodity of a rational agent.

And the reason why the aggregation problem isn't solved is because, as soon as you have more than one agent or commodity (like in most IRL markets), you get a complex system. And when you have a complex system, you can't draw line diagrams like you do in the textbooks. You need to do modelling and numerical analysis. There's a field called complexity economics[4] that's only beginning to do that, some 40 years after the SMD theorem appeared. Better late than never, but it's still a lot later than the other less "dismal" sciences, which have come to realised that they're dealing with complex systems and have updated their thinking accordingly.

[0] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-6435....

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Error_analysis_for_the_Global_...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnenschein%E2%80%93Mantel%E2...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggregation_problem

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complexity_economics


> The idea that awarding a prize to the most respected scientists in a particular field is solely for the purpose of advancing an ideology is in itself extremely anti-intellectual and biased.

The very idea of it is anti-intellectual? That's absurd. There's nothing magical about awarding prizes to scientists that prevents it from being done with a motivation. The committee famously cancelled the prize for a year to avoid awarding it to Einstein, since he was a Jew with radical political beliefs.


Economics is not a science though.


Therefore economist created their own award and pushed it as 'nobel' price in economics. Quite hilarious .


It is a science, just a very dismal one!


I doubt that. When you see evaluations like "plot", "neoliberal", "cultural-marxist" etc etc, you're dealing with a heavily ideology-loaded stuff, which is by definition based on selectivity of facts (since the reality never follows ideology, reality can't be fit into ideology, and even soviet union had ideology only on paper).


Could you please elaborate, because I’m sure am not alone in my complete failure to understand what you mean.


Neither social institution could adhere to any rigid ideology. A social institution, which does not correct basic assumptions and axioms lying in its foundation according to new knowledge and data, is doomed.

Any widespread movement or social institution exists under the pressure of new facts, new social norms, hence any social institution is a flexible moving target.

Only the heterodox, marginal movements can adhere to a rigid ideology. Mainstream science can't have one, only marginal branches can.

Modern economics is not a "neoliberal" plot, of course, there is a strong scientific discussion, various competing theories within it, which are constantly being validated using statistics, and omitted, if proved wrong. Economics today, 25 years ago and 50 years ago vastly differs even in methodology, it's a very vigorous field.

To say that this edifice is grounded in some ideology, one needs to omit all that constant scientific discussion, render empirically proved parts as ideological, axioms as "truths" etc.

This kind of intellectual dishonesty could come only from a ideology-loaded follower of some heterodox (and usually pseudoscientific) theory, most likely grounded in some ideology (guessing from value judgments of op like "neoliberal" -- left one) rather than verified by empiric data.


I think the problem is many mistake mainstream political opinion for the prevailing scientific opinion. Most economists do not agree with the way our economy is being managed right now. The current political prevailing wind is definitely neoliberal.

Of-course most people do not read economics papers.


>Mainstream science can't have one, only marginal branches can.

This is like native speakers of a language (say, English) asserting that only non-native speakers of their language have accents. You do, you just speak with an accent that's considered to be standard.

>This kind of intellectual dishonesty could come only from a ideology-loaded follower of some heterodox (and usually pseudoscientific) theory, most likely grounded in some ideology (guessing from value judgments of op like "neoliberal" -- left one) rather than verified by empiric data.

And mainstream (i.e. neoclassical) economics[0] does that, even in the face of mathematical reality, let alone empirical data.[1] The ignorance of the implications of the SMD theorem,[2] because it implies that the aggregation problem remains unsolved and the fundamental breakdown of the "law" of demand, was a profoundly anti-intellectual move.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoclassical_economics

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21269064

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnenschein%E2%80%93Mantel%E2...


> The ignorance of the implications of the SMD theorem

You are confusing different things together. Mainstream exists in a form it is not because Mainstream translates the Truth™, but because there are no better theories yet.

Newton's mechanics is worse than Einstein theory in describing celestial bodies' movements, yet the former was better than anything until the latter appeared.

I have a lot to argue against neoclassical economy, especially about its view of a person as a profit-driven (rational, as they call it) degenerate, or fondness of regressions in the mid of chaos.

Yet it changes in the right direction, behavioral economics appeared, regressions are taken with a grain of salt now, rational choice is heavily criticized.

The problem is that no heterodox theory provides both an axiomatic basis and empirical framework to compete mainstream economic science. What would you propose instead of Neoclassical economics? Nothing?

It's not ignorance to accept theory that is not always true, it's stupidity to omit theory without having anything better, as Lakatos would say.

As for ideology, I don't see such a thing. People in mainstream science vary from Joseph "We all need to follow Venezuela example" Stiglitz to post Austrians like William White.


>Mainstream exists in a form it is not because Mainstream translates the Truth™, but because there are no better theories yet.

Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, the string wars in theoretical physics.

>Newton's mechanics is worse than Einstein theory in describing celestial bodies' movements, yet the former was better than anything until the latter appeared.

In its early days, the Copernican model was no better than the mainstream Ptolemaic model at describing the motion of celestial bodies:

For his contemporaries, the ideas presented by Copernicus were not markedly easier to use than the geocentric theory and did not produce more accurate predictions of planetary positions. Copernicus was aware of this and could not present any observational "proof", relying instead on arguments about what would be a more complete and elegant system.[0]

>I have a lot to argue against neoclassical economy, especially about its view of a person as a profit-driven (rational, as they call it) degenerate

I think you're confusing a person with a firm. A person has rational preferences[1] -- another unrealistic assumption -- while a firm seeks to maximise profits.

>The problem is that no heterodox theory provides both an axiomatic basis and empirical framework to compete mainstream economic science.

The idea that an axiomatic basis is necessary for a good theory is classic physics envy[2], and ignores the fact that even physics itself does not have an axiomatic basis, because that is Hilbert's sixth problem, which remains open.[3]

I don't know why this phenomenon is called "physics" envy anyway: it seems like you want economics to follow the model of Euclidean geometry, hence "mathematics" envy, which is even more absurd.

I get that mainstream economics has become more diverse, but neoclassical economics, which I believe is still the dominant school, is based on postulates that are simply unsupported by empirical -- and even mathematical -- evidence.

>What would you propose instead of Neoclassical economics? Nothing?

A critical synthesis of everything that isn't marginalism? An empirical search for a new framework with postulates backed by evidence?

And perhaps economists should learn more mathematics and have the courage to invent their own mathematical tools. After all, if you want to carry on with your physics envy, you should know that Feynman invented his own integral[4], which mathematicians derided for a long time for its lack of rigour... until its power became clear, at which point the functional analysts got down to work to extract the deep mathematics underlying Feynman's formalism.[5]

>It's not ignorance to accept theory that is not always true

This is an acceptance of Friedman's discredited positivism.

>it's stupidity to omit theory without having anything better

We have, and had, better: marginalism (aka neoclassical economics) was heavily criticised even during the 20th century. It's stupidity to cling to a theory when there are better ones.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_heliocentrism#Early...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_(economics)#Applica...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physics_envy

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_sixth_problem#Stat...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Path_integral_formulation

[5] https://ncatlab.org/nlab/show/path+integral


Very well put! Thank you! I agree.


Out of 84 economics Nobels, maybe 9 were about macroeconomics. Which of those 9 do you think serve only to legitimize "neoliberal" ideology?


Krugman wrote a column once I quite enjoyed where he stated that he couldn't quite see why people objected to the TPP because "more trade" isn't something to object to. His own comment section proceeded to school him in what the trade agreement actually contained.

This is something that would be quite hilarious to see from an actual scientist about a topic that is supposedly their field of expertise but it's very much something you'd expect from somebody who is there to legitimize a neoliberal (no quotes necessary) ideology.


The Nobel prize of economics is not fake. It was added later and it financed by the centeral bank, but it is approved by the Nobel foundation and listed on their website with the other prices.

And the claim that it 'legitimize a neoliberal economic ideology' is baseless nonsense if you actually look at who got the prices.

Chomsky doesn't get a nobel price in economics because nonthing he has done is close to worthy of that price. Whatever some Hacker News comment thinks.


Aren't these orgs pretty independent from each other?


Supposedly "Independent" orgs play into the same wider networks all the time...

Here's an example from an article posted yesterday. While one might not agree with the article's main premise regarding climate change not being real or anthropogenic (I, for one, don't), the mechanism described here is all too common across many areas of science, economics, politics, public policy, etc:

"(...) many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the Royal Society in the U.K., the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S.A and the Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC. The reports were touted as national assessments that were supposedly independent of the IPCC and of each other, but of necessity were compiled with the assistance of, and in some cases at the behest of, many of the scientists involved in the IPCC international machinations.(...)"

That's how one can find and quote N "independent" studies and organizations approving something or verifying another, when, looking carefully there's a single, well funded, or politically well supported, central origin behind all of their "findings", and their "independent verification" is basically a high level re-telling of what was giving to them (with nobody bothering to run the numbers).


About as much as Sweden is an "independent" country (really just a US puppet, as we've seen in the Assange affair).

(edit: Assange, not Snowden)


I meant Norway vs Sweden, but your point is well taken. If you want kowtowing even more overt, there is the Pirate Bay raid. That goes beyond the pale.


That’s when I understood that this idea of justice for all under one rule of law was bunk. It is justice against those who don’t have by those that do have. Interestingly I’m not sure if that drives me further right or left. Neither I guess.


Justice is a legal concept and by that measure both Assange and Pirate Bay had to be prosecuted. Or am I misunderstanding something?


I agree with toxik below with caveats. [0] Specifically I was referring to how the Minister of Justice just casually called the Police and ordered a raid. This is not just frowned upon in Sweden, it's against the Constitution. [1]

[0] The Assange case has the veneer of legality. The Swedish law against statutory rape is actually very strict, stricter than what you might believe. It's just about everything else in the whole sordid affair which is horrible.

[1] Yes, Sweden has a constitution, not as neatly cut and well defined as the US one, but it exists. The point is ministers must not push their departments around, but let them follow the law on their own. It's even got it's own name "minister rule". ("Ministerstyre".)


Thank you for your corrections, it’s hard to remember exact details on the spot but it’s equally important to not let these gross violations of Swedish sovereignty and due process go unnoticed.


You are missing entire swaths of information about particularly TPB from Wikileaks. Swedish police basically rushed the process when the US embassy said “fucking shut it down or face sanctions.” There were prosecutorial issues and the trial was a complete farce with one of the judges sitting in some copyright lobby’s board of directors. Absolutely made a mockery of justice and due process.

As for Julian Assange, the hearings with the two alleged rape victims DO NOT describe rape. It describes an asshole having sex with star struck women.


How am I missing that? Does that information somehow magically make it not a legal matter?

If there are procedural violations it does not have any bearing on whether TPB broke the law or not. It only means that TPB owners can revert that particular decision if they are right.

Assange - yeah, I'm amazed how people can still revere him. His personality aside, his blocking of information related to Russia or China to be published on Wikileaks is atrocious and pretty telling.

But again, that's beside the point. It's kind of weird to me, this whole "sturstruck" angle. When that happened he was no way near a celebrity. Also, why do you have to whitewash it like that? The "it's not rape, he's just an asshole" defense sounds pretty whitewashy to me.


> As for Julian Assange, the hearings with the two alleged rape victims DO NOT describe rape

They do by the Swedish law.

> with star struck women.

So justice to you means blame the alleged victim?

I still prefer the Swedish way, the tribunals, the judges, and all the ceremony of a real justice system to your tribal "white men are always right" rite.


Oh come on. If it was actually about rape, law and protecting women, they would have actually pressed charges, not just dropped the case as soon as he came out of the embassy, and leave him to the Americans.


Both points - that Chomsky has not received the Nobel price due to 'bias' and that the Nobel Price for economics is a neoliberal 'plot' are essentially false and conspiratorial.

I like Chomsky because he's such an antagonist (we need them) but I think he also misrepresents a lot of information.


>It exists purely to legitimize a neoliberal economic ideology.

As opposed to which model? The highly successful communist alternative?


There are non-neoliberal economic ideologies that aren't Marxian.


Like what? What is the reasonable alternative to 'neoliberal' economics?


> What is the reasonable alternative to 'neoliberal' economics?

Probably something that doesn't blow up every 5-7 years or pushes us into a climate apocalypse.


Again. What is that thing?

"Climate apocalypse" is a function of capitalism/"neoliberal economics" only insofar that this system provides things that make living nice and comfortable - like smart-phones, air-conditioning on hot days, heating in the winter, affordable air travel, meat, washing machines, etc - and there is no way to provide those things to 7 billion people without major impact on the environment. You can choose a system that makes everybody poor and consequently environmentally friendly - but do you really want to?


It's bizarre this is being downvoted when, before the 70s, the United States can, in no imaginable way, be defined as being "Communist." After the 70s, Neoliberalism was the predominant ideology, which replaced the prior Keynesian + expansionist ideology (not sure if there was a term for this iteration of ideology like there is for the post-70s--"Neoliberalism").

How, then, would there have been an economic system which fits neither Neoliberal nor Communist models? It's super simple: there are more than two competing systems.


The example proposed, as a proxy argument (saying that there are alternatives), has nothing to do with Marxism or non-neoliberal ideologies. This is a derail, which goes from possibly earnest into the droll discussion about terminology instead of the point made.


Socialism is not Marxian.


And Marxists would tell you that socialism is inherently Marxian, and Xi Jinping would tell you that the PRC is socialist (with Chinese characteristics!), and Americans will tell you that universal healthcare and Sweden are socialist.


> And Marxists would tell you that socialism is inherently Marxian

But they would be wrong, it's the other way around.

> and Xi Jinping would tell you that the PRC is socialist (with Chinese characteristics!),

It is, economically speaking, at least until it entered the WTO it was 100% a socialist country.

You're conflating politics and economics, China is a socialist country, Sweden is mostly a socialist country, Italy is mostly a socialist country, the state has a lot of economic power in these countries.

It is simply true.

What the U.S. take wrong (among many other things) is that it is not bad for the citizens. I live in Italy and would never change it for Silicon Valley. I don't want to live where homeless are homeless because the staste cares more about selling more guns, so that another mass shooting in a school can happen, than helping poor people.


I have no idea what this means in this context.


Socialism predates Marx.

Marx is socialist, socialism is not (only) Marxist.

You can be socialist without being Marxist.

So "There are non-neoliberal economic ideologies that aren't Marxian." it's not technically true.


> You can be socialist without being Marxist.

Okay, understood.

> So "There are non-neoliberal economic ideologies that aren't Marxian." it's not technically true.

These two things just don't even remotely follow. Socialism isn't Marxism, therefore there have only ever existed Neoliberal and Marxian economic systems?

What do you think Neoliberalism is?

Furthermore, do you believe the United States was Neoliberal in, say, 1963?


I don't know the history of the U.S well enough, but McCarthyism ended in the 50s, the cold war started immediately after the world war II against communism, so I can't really say U.S. was radically different from now.

One thing worth noting is that fascism (and neo-fascist/nazi groups) was anti capitalist, but not (of course) marxist-socialist.

They have some common ideas, the nationalization of the means of production for example, but it ends there, they aren't against social classes, they aren't against private property, they are simply against free market.

If for Marx communism was the goal, for fascists the goal is complete autarchy.

I would add neo-fascism to the list of anti capitalist movements, even though I sincerely hope they'll disappear ASAP.


> I don't know the history of the U.S well enough, but McCarthyism ended in the 50s, the cold war started immediately after the world war II against communism, so I can't really say U.S. was radically different from now.

I don't know what to tell you, but the Keynesianism the US applied before 1973 is fundamentally different from what followed in Reaganomics--i.e., Neoliberalism.

I don't think you have a strong grasp on what the word means.


> Keynesianism the US applied before 1973 is fundamentally different

It is true, but I think it was more about war reconstruction and applied automation that drove the public spending up.

Governments had to deal with the consequences of the war and made everything possible to give people a job, a purpose, to let the war behind.

The crisis of 1973 revealed the truth: that kind of growth is not sustainable, especially if it's global (in Italy we call that period "Italian economic miracle", it was more "spending the Marshall's plan money without thinking of the consequences on the future").

But without doubts it was different from Reaganomics, if I'm not wrong it was even possible to approve in the 60s a public healthcare system (kind of) in USA named Medicare. Of course the conservative attacked the idea and Reagan in particular was very vocal about invasion of the freedom and all the usual things they say.

But, if Reagan's idea of economy won is not because Reagan was particularly good, but because lobbies invested an enormous amount of money on propaganda and people in the 70s had good jobs, a powerful enemy to fight, baby boomers had lived 30 years of peace, fought no war and didn't think enough of the consequences of leaving the poorest behind.

They had been educated to believe that if you put enough effort in something, you will succeed.

If you don't succeed, it's because you haven't worked hard enough.

In places like Europe, were being socialist was not seen as a crime, public debate never ceased to address the fundamental differences between a free market economy (even with Keynesian bits) and a more equal society based on the idea that everyone deserves the same level of services from the state and the same protection, regardless of the single economic power.

So in a way USA before 1973 was more similar to what we call socialism, but not for the same (correct?) reason.

It was the best way they had found to sustain growth and fight unemployment and consequently discontent, but they did'nt really believe in a more equal society, that is the base for the economic ideas of socialism.


The highly successful (for the working class at least) protectionist capitalism.


I’m SUPER interested how protectionist capitalism has helped the working class. Could you elaborate?


Here's a great read on how offshoring labor has affected the US labor market.

http://economics.mit.edu/files/7723


That offshoring will lower wages is a pretty obvious thing. But that's not what I've asked.

Where is it evident that protectionism would sustainably help and not reduce aggregate demand or in fact not lower employment? And how would one prevent even more entrenched oligopolies?


>I’m SUPER interested how protectionist capitalism has helped the working class.

Australia is an example of a protectionist capitalist society: in fact, its first federal government was formed by a party called the Protectionist Party, with the support of the union-based Labor Party.[0] Unions are relatively strong there, compared to the rest of the world, and Australia's immigration policy is pretty tight, which protects workers there from foreign competition. Consequently, workers have some of the highest (minimum) wages in the world, and enjoy relatively excellent working conditions. The economy has also been doing well since the 1990s, despite the GFC and everything.

The EU is probably another example: strong labour laws with stringent labour market tests and excellent working conditions, as well as stringent requirements on a wide range of commodities that has to be satisfied by imports.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton_Government


Wait, but unions are not necessarily protectionist. Also the protectionist government you are referring to was active until 1903, yet the productivity growth in the 1990s was followed by Labour winning majority in the parliament. What am I missing?


>Wait, but unions are not necessarily protectionist.

Please define what you mean by "protectionist".

In what sense are unions not protectionist? Their sole function is to protect the labour market. I'd view unions in Australia as really protectionist: they've managed to secure very high minimum wages, as well as highly restrictive immigration policies that Trump praised to high heaven.[0]

>Also the protectionist government you are referring to the cabinet which was active until 1903

Their immigration policy[1] lasted for decades, before being replaced by the current immigration policy. The Protectionist Party[2] hung around until 1909, when they merged into the Commonwealth Liberal Party. This party was a predecessor of the current Liberal Party:

Protectionist + Anti-Socialist -> Commonwealth Liberal

Commonwealth Liberal + National Labor -> Nationalist

Nationalist + dissident Labor + Australian -> United Australian -> Liberal

So there is still protectionism hanging around in both major political parties today.

>the productivity growth in the 1990s was followed by Labour winning majority in the parliament. What am I missing?

It's spelled Labor, because modern spelling.[3] And Labor was in power from 1983 to 1996 (Hawke[4], then Keating[5]), so that productivity growth in the 1990s... probably Labor's fault? Lol. I think the proliferation of personal computers may have had more to do with it.

[0] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-27/donald-trump-tweets-s..., https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/01/donald-trump...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Australia_policy

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectionist_Party

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Labor_Party

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Hawke

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Keating


Protectionism in economic sense are measures that inhibit international trade. Tariffs, selective subsidies and too restrictive immigration policies are good examples. Maybe in Australia they use the word differently, but in Europe this is what is meant by “protectionism”.

The function of unions is decidedly NOT to “protect the labour market”, but to provide organised market power to a group of labourers. A union fulfils its function even if it secures jobs for its members at the cost of say workers of another trade or those who are not unionised. Hence a union can satisfy its members but reduce the overall employment.

Also, I don’t understand. At first you claim that the 90s boom was due to protectionist policies. Now you claim that it’s because of personal computers. Which one is it then?


>Protectionism in economic sense are measures that inhibit international trade. Tariffs, selective subsidies and too restrictive immigration policies are good examples. Maybe in Australia they use the word differently

I'm not sure which part of the Australian politics I've described doesn't fit your definition of what protectionism is.

I've certainly gone into great length about restrictive immigration policies: in fact, one of the first pieces of legislation of the Barton government was the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act,[0] the passage of which was a condition of Labor's guarantee of confidence and supply for the minority Protectionist government.

The 1901 election itself[1] was straight from the textbooks: Protectionist vs. Free Trade vs. Labor. Protectionism (Protectionists and Labor) won that election, both in terms of seats and popular vote. You couldn't get a more literal election than that.

As for tariffs and selective subsidies, Australia has that too.[2][3][4]

>The function of unions is decidedly NOT to “protect the labour market”, but to provide organised market power to a group of labourers. A union fulfils its function even if it secures jobs for its members at the cost of say workers of another trade or those who are not unionised. Hence a union can satisfy its members but reduce the overall employment.

You're presuming a fragmented union ecosystem, which isn't quite the reality in Australia. The Labor party was founded as the political arm of the unions; this shows a high enough degree of co-ordination amongst the unions at the very least.

And once you have a party in parliament, you get the power to influence policy-making in such a way as to protect the labour market. A single union may only be able to protect its own members, but a well-coordinated group of unions is well-positioned to protect the entire labour market itself. Labor did that in spades in the early days of federation, and still does to this day.

>At first you claim that the 90s boom was due to protectionist policies. Now you claim that it’s because of personal computers. Which one is it then?

I did not. You wrote:

>>yet the productivity growth in the 1990s was followed by Labour winning majority in the parliament. What am I missing?

I pointed out that you missed the fact that Labor was in power from 1983 to 1996.

I then made the facetious statement that perhaps it was Labor's fault that the 90s boom happened: this was a joke because, clearly, nobody blames a party for a good economy.

I then went on to suggest that the productivity growth may perhaps be more reasonably attributed to the proliferation of PCs, and the attendant automation. There are other plausible factors for the boom: the economic rise of China must surely have been one.

In any case, it's simply not true that the 90s boom was due to protectionist policies. Labor during the Hawke-Keating years was uncharacteristically enthusiastic about reforms, and I think the success of their policies may have inspired the Third Way of Blairite Labour.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Restriction_Act_19...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1901_Australian_federal_electi...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_tariffs_in_Australi...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_import#Australia

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Tax


Yes, because everybody was trying to make Communism work and there were never any extremely powerful opponents to it, working in the background to make sure Communism never worked. It just didn't work and we should forget about it. The best way is surely to have a handful of individuals run the show. Case closed.


Having powerful opponents is inevitable. If a system of government can't stand against that then it is not a viable system.


This seems like a ridiculous oversimplification for finding good alternative forms of government.

A small community of people could come up with the greatest governmental system we could ever dream of, but if the leaders of the current system believe it to be a threat they could wipe out its adherents before it is ever properly understood by the wider population. Or spread misinformation about it to dissuade people from finding out more about it for themselves.


Sounds a lot like what happened to the Free Territory / Mahknovia in Ukraine in the early 20th Century.[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Territory


Are you being ironic when you say there were "never any extremely powerful opponents to it"?


I absolutely am. It would require others to understand World history in relation to the terms they, and I, are using in this discussion, for them to get that irony.

I have absolutely zero faith in the average HN user to understand, but why should I explicitly appease their ignorance? The downside is people like you, who obviously realise that it could be irony, might imagine the avg HNer would legit say it.


He’d be deserving of a Turing Award too for his “Hierarchy of the Grammars”. Maybe would have been more likely to win it if he hadn’t discovered it 10 years before the award existed.


How does Noam Chomsky's work on linguistic contribute to computer science? And are there applications? He is always described in the popular media as a "linguist", although many works seem to be directly related to formal language in computer science to me, but I'm not sure.


The Chomsky hierarchy of grammars, Context-free, Context-sensitive etc., thus to regular expressions:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chomsky_hierarchy


> How does Noam Chomsky's work on linguistic contribute to computer science? And are there applications?

This stuff is referenced in textbooks on compilers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chomsky_hierarchy


Ever heard of compiler? Or computer language(s)?

I first heard about Chompsky at the Uni when doing semester on compilers.


Awarding a Nobel Prize (e.g., Literature) is a political statement.

The Nobel committee doesn't want to "shake the floor too much" (i.e., wants to avoid controversy with the American/European elites on key topics).

Questioning the legitimacy of power by proxy is dangerous when protecting reputation.


Nobel in Literature, Peace and Economics are political statements.


Yes, and they make "so brave" political statements like giving Obama a Peace prize, which to some has the appearance of controversy.


Nobel Prize outside of the sciences is a total anachronism. Obama increased drone strikes by an order of magnitude compared to his immediate predecessor, compounding civilian deaths in an already tenuous situation, with civilian deaths still unrecorded in any meaningful manner, and yet he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. I voted for Obama to give you some context but still, it is a farce.

This year, in another category, you have three winners who have "contributed" to the systematic analysis of poverty and solutions towards alleviating poverty. Glad they have their 1.5 million/3 each. I wonder what the truly impoverished would think about that.

`Panem et circenses` for the elite, that's all this is. Revolution is coming, don't doubt it for a second.


Samantha Power, who served as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the time, revealed in recent podcast that even Obama's close staff thought the price was BS and inconvenient to the president. They saw the price just as a attaboy.

Obama was likely thinking the same but it's not diplomatic to reveal it.


3 times writing price in the context of prize, it it intentional?


I share your general sentiment, but to be fair the decision to honor Obama wasn't made with his actual policies in mind - they hadn't been enacted yet, he received the prize within his first year in office. I hope and do believe they wouldn't have awarded him any peace prize at the end of his second term.


Thank you for mentioning that, because that actually reinforces the overall point more deeply - it speaks to the exact farcical nature of the act in question - the awarding of the highest, globally accepted award toward actions that are claimed to be geared toward the enacting of a peaceful world. This is obviously false, if you award a leader ostensibly on his initial actions, without any knowledge of what the next 3 years will hold. Awarding Obama a Nobel Peace Prize was a symbolic decision, meant to reinforce the notion that solving the racial issues in the USA would somehow have some kind of long-term effect on US politics, and indirectly, on global geopolitical activity (lol, that definitely worked out super well, looking back from 2020).

Has anyone told the current US leadership that we were terrorists to our own set of oppressors, back in the day?

Sorry, but this topic upsets me because no one seems to realize what all of these subtle actions really mean in the aggregate. Maybe I'm just a kook.


You are not a kook.

Back during the invasion of Afghanistan, there was a photo of a soldier holding up a poster. The poster read, "We are at war. America is at the mall."

Murdering browns and yellows abroad while being laser-focused on status and self-stimulation at home has been the American Way for the entire post-war period.

Today's google news recommendations:

- delete these android adware apps hiding on your phone - a british family on vacation accidentally drove into the US - cardi b stuns in louis vuitton bikini picture - salma hayek, 53, shares revealing acupuncture photo - 'wheel of fortune' contestant's crack about 'loveless marriage'


I think the committee got somewhat carried away and allowed themselves to dream that "Yes, we can" was more than a slogan and that Obama's presidency would be "change we can believe in" and they wanted to both encourage him to stay on that road by showering him with praise and give him more civil clout. I do believe that they were convinced they'd be helpful, that it was honest naivete, but I might very well be wrong.


The Nobel Peace Prize was part of Alfred Nobel's original will. So how is it an anachronism? Then I agree that the Norwegian Nobel committee hasn't shown particularly good judgement when chosing the winners lately.


Nobel isn’t noble in spirit. He created the Nobel prize because his eulogy was accidentally published before his death, where he was declared the father of death (he invented dynamite), or something like that. He pulled a Bill Gates and started doing philanthropy to clear his name. His real eulogy was far better. I don’t care for a second what that man thought was a good idea.


Wait is that it? His only problem was that he invented a better way to clear rocks?


He was an arms dealer, and won his riches by selling destruction.


> Revolution is coming, don't doubt it for a second.

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.


True. If Obama got it, anyone can.


I take your point but that was the peace prize which is different than a prize for some actual discoveries.

It was a stupid decision but it’s been a long time and the references are getting tired.


10 years is not a "long time". If we're to learn anything from history, even 50 or 100 years is not a long time...


It's been ten years, it's not ancient history. A decade may be a lot in internet years, but I don't think that translates well to the real world.


Wow. Still kicking that can down the road, eh?


I mean, is it not true? From a peacemaking perspective, Obama was largely W. Bush the Second i.e. not much of a peacemaker at all.


For literature? Historically non-fiction titles that won Nobel prizes had a degree of artistic merit to them. Chomsky works are highly analytical, and it's hard to classify them as "literature" in a traditional sense.


Nobel prize in what?


That's a good question, actually. Had a Nobel Prize in linguistics existed, he'd definitely deserve it. Computer Science arguably for the Chomsky hierarchy of formal languages, but again, there's no Nobel Prize for it. Political Science also has no Nobel Prize. Economics and Peace could be argued, but are probably a bit far-fetched.

Maybe there should be a generalist Nobel Prize for people who contribute across many different fields.


Peace, economics, awesomeness?


Israel.


Portugal.


Noam Chomsky is 91. Holy crap.

My favourite Chomsky thing is the very short shrift he gives to conspiracy theorists.

e.g. Rethinking Camelot, his book about JFK - https://zcomm.org/wp-content/uploads/zbooks/htdocs/chomsky/r... - the thesis being that JFK was really no different to any other president at that time - the idea he was radical being a kindof post-hoc reconstruction - and hence there was absolutely no reason for anyone to want to bump him off.

A methodological point is perhaps worth mention. Suppose that we were to concoct a theory about historical events at random, while permitting ourselves to assume arbitrary forms of deceit and falsification. Then in the vast documentary record, we are sure to find scattered hints and other debris that could be made to conform to the theory, while counter-evidence is nullified. By that method, one can "prove" virtually anything. For example, we can prove that JFK never intended to withdraw any troops, citing the elusiveness of NSAM 263 and his unwillingness to commit himself to the withdrawal recommended by his war managers. Or we can prove that the attempt to assassinate Reagan was carried out by dark forces (Alexander Haig, the CIA, etc.). After all, Reagan had backed away from using US forces directly in Central America (unlike JFK in Vietnam); he was cozying up to the Chicoms; he had already given intimations of the anti-nuclear passion that led him to offer to give away the store at Rejkjavik and to join forces with the arch-fiend Gorbachev, whose perestroika was a transparent plot to entrap us; his associates were planning off-the-shelf international operations, bypassing intelligence and the Pentagon. Obviously, he has to go. Or suppose there had been an attempt to assassinate LBJ in late 1964, when he was refusing the call of the military to stand up to the Commies in Vietnam, pursuing Great Society and civil rights programs with a zeal well beyond Kennedy, and about to defeat a real alternative, Barry Goldwater. Nothing is easier than to construct a high-level conspiracy to get rid of this "radical reformer." The task is only facilitated by a search for nuances and variations of phrasing in the mountains of documents, usually committee jobs put together hastily with many compromises.

This is not the way to learn about the world.


These days people can call you a conspiracy theorist for the very things Chomsky stands behind.


You can get easily downvoted on HN for saying the very things Chomsky stands behind. Happens me all the time.


Yep, for all the love of entrepreneurship and social justice, this site can be very conformist and pro-establishment,especially in economic/international matters.

That by the way this is my conspiracy theory, somehow in the last 20 years or so the focus of social movements changed from socio-economic and international inequalities, to gender-sexual orientation. Pretty convenient for the people in power. A me-too is 100 times easier to manage and even get advantage from compared to an occupy wall street.

You now see companies from P&G to Disney getting in the diverity wagon (purely for advertising reasons). For sure you wont see them advocating for better wages,work conditions or tax rules.


> the thesis being that JFK was really no different to any other president at that time

Unless you see his efforts at arresting Israel's nuclear program as the reason for why he was assassinated.

Which dovetails nicely with the "short shrift" he gave 9/11 conspiracy theorists, who largely implicate Israel in that attack.

All gleefully lapped up by hungry chicks with mouths wide open and not an ounce of critical-thinking skills they can call their own.


Are you trying to imply Chomsky is actively working for the interests of the Israeli government? He's been banned from entering the country.

I'm not sure how to respond to your comment only to suggest you might apply some of the critical thought you condemn others for supposedly lacking.


> He's been banned from entering the country.

Sheep's clothing, off-the-rack no less. Proves nothing.


I consider myself a rather well-informed person, but this is the first time I've read about Harris Media involvement in the last German election and I'm German. All I can remember is indeed the "Russian interference" and how the AfD is supposedly financed out of Russia.

But that Bloomberg Businessweek article [0] unearths some scary details:

“We took that 300,000 (AfD likes), and Facebook created a model of them and used their lookalike audiences to find the closest 1 percent of German people to match that audience,”

That "1 percent" sounds extremely familiar, particularly in a far-right context [1] It makes me wonder who originally came up with that concept, was it Harris Media or was it the idea of their client, the AfD?

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-29/the-germa...

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ein_Prozent_f%C3%BCr_unser_Lan...


Why do you find this story scary? It seems like a sensible way for a political party to get votes: profile your current supporters, find other people who fit that profile, convince those people to vote for you too.

As for Russian interference, the article you linked to says this: "The Russian meddling that German state security had been anticipating apparently never materialized. Instead, the foreign influence came from America."


> Why do you find this story scary?

For several reasons.

Over these past years the rise of the AfD, the alt-right in general, has been heavily credited to Russian interference.

But to this day there's no actual solid evidence for anything like that, and these accusations of "You are just a Russian bot!" have been a major factor for driving protest voters to the AfD.

When in reality it seems to have been a US American PR firm facilitating most of it, one that has managed to make political attack ads an actual thing in Germany. While I was wondering why and how the political discourse suddenly became so unbelievably hostile in Germany.

But all the German mainstream gets to read and hear about is the Russians attacking "democratic institutions in Germany" [0] and supposedly propping up the alt-right, which keeps on driving voters to the AfD for feeling marginalized with their "Russian opinions".

[0] https://www.dw.com/en/hackers-target-democratic-institutions...


> Why do you find this story scary? It seems like a sensible way for a political party to get votes: profile your current supporters, find other people who fit that profile, convince those people to vote for you too.

I'm going to take the bold stance that: yes, fascists renting time on sophisticated ad networks to spread pro-fascist propaganda is in fact scary.

This is not a case of a simply political party pushing a policy agenda. This is a dangerous, militant and xenophobic group attempting to target individuals with materials designed to stoke fear and subtly misinform the public.

So yeah, it is scary. It's also scary that they had help from American interests. It speaks to how far right American politics are sliding.


It's scary but we evolve and learn from it. While they can be targeted with fear and misinformation. The opposite also holds.

They can be targeted to diffuse fear and inject purpose, hope etc. Which is the thesis of the book Nudge (by Nobel winner Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein who tried doing this during the Obama Administration)


as much as I support the aspiration, I do not see this working practically, well, funded, and not being abused for propaganda. I think the practical solution is to forbid foreign interests from financing attack ads and political campaigns, be they from US or Russia. And to enforce this vigilantly, with tough penalties.


> It seems like a sensible way for a political party to get votes

Democracy was about educated voters, I thought. If you find this acceptable, we're on different planets. Perhaps ask a German about slippery political slopes? Or live long enough and find yourself in the middle of one.

> the article you linked to says this: "The Russian meddling that German state security had been anticipating apparently never materialized. Instead, the foreign influence came from America."

It also says "While the Russian episode involved ads bought under false identities by people with Kremlin ties" which you must have seen if you'd searched for 'russia'. How this statement links with the one you found, I don't know.


If you read the sentence before the one you very selectively quoted, or even just completed the very sentence you quoted, it becomes clear the sentence is talking about the US presidential election, not the German one: "That’s a paltry sum for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who finds himself in the greatest crisis of his career over the company’s role in Russia’s meddling with the U.S. election. While the Russian episode involved ads bought under false identities by people with Kremlin ties, the AfD campaign was completely different—the party literally walked through Facebook’s front door and introduced itself, a strategy Harris Media intends to repeat."


I messed up, thanks for catching it. My mistake. Upvoted.


> Democracy was about educated voters, I thought.

So trying to convince voters is undemocratic because voters are supposed to be educated before they become potential voters (and therefore don't require convincing)? Or is it just that you shouldn't try to convince them with simplified messages that don't reflect the actual complexity of the universe? Or that you shouldn't do it via Facebook?


> because voters are supposed to be educated before they become potential voters

yes, in that they make up their own minds rather than be open to influence by those with most money.

> Or is it just that you shouldn't try to convince them with simplified messages that don't reflect the actual complexity of the universe?

Such messages tend to be of the form 'vote X! Y is crap!'. Or outright lies (qv. certain leaders) That's not even a simplified messages, the first is pure tribalistic emotive, the second, well, it misrepresent reality (aka 'wrong' or 'deceitful' or 'lie').

If the were factually based and told both sides I guess I'd be OK with it.

> Or that you shouldn't do it via Facebook?

No, facebook is just a tool. How that tool is used is what makes it right or wrong.


I think here American and German sentiment differ. From the American perspective the informed general public comes as a result of every ambitious group of people trying to pull you in their direction and you using as much of that input as possible to create a model that you can use for your personal gain. In sum of all the selfish actions a more objective result is achieved than with previous political models. So nobody is responsible to educate you but yourself. And it is assumed that everybody tries hardest to improve their own life independent of the General Good.

That's at least how I understand the Americans.


I've heard similar regarding how they do things in the US, though your expression is more extreme. If true that has to be the most inefficient and corrosive way of improving anything.


> yes, in that they make up their own minds rather than be open to influence by those with most money.

The entire point of profiling is to spend less money, or spend their money more efficiently, by only advertising to a smaller part of the population.

If you have tons of money, you can just carpet bomb the entire population with your message.


"Spending less" was not really what happened there:

"Although Canter gave up on getting the display ads approved, he did keep paying for the Google search term “Angela Merkel,” which it linked to the Oath Breaker site. The Merkel campaign could’ve paid Google more money to displace the ad, but, to Canter’s disbelief, it never did. “We’ve been running search on Merkel’s name, calling her ‘Oath Breaker,’ and pointing to a very ugly website about her,” Canter said, laughing. “If it was us, we’d say, ‘You need to invest to get that ad bumped down.’ ”

For US Americans this might not be anything out of the ordinary, after all, "money=speech" and political campaigns mostly focusing on tearing down the opposition have been the norm for decades.

But for the German political landscape, where political parties are publicly funded to ensure a somewhat level playing field (at least in theory) this is a complete perversion.

Particularly the change in tone in the political discourse, it's become extremely toxic, apparently in no small parts due to the introduction of US American campaign tactics.


> But for the German political landscape, where political parties are publicly funded to ensure a somewhat level playing field (at least in theory) this is a complete perversion.

Public funding is only a part (about ~30%), donations and member fees contribute far more.

As for that being totally new, I don't think so. The AfD is the only new addition in recent years which changed a lot and still takes adjustments (though I don't know if it's actually that different from the Greens way back when - only they aren't conservative, so they wouldn't have used the patriotism angle and websites weren't a thing).


> The entire point of profiling is to spend less money

This totally misses my point.


> If the were factually based and told both sides I guess I'd be OK with it.

Do you have an example of a message that you'd be okay with?


I'm a brit and I suppose I'd describe myself as a remainer. That is itself a label which I don't like, but let it ride.

So an example message I'd be OK with is if bojo (boris johnson) had said that the uk gives 160 million (or 199 million[0]) a week to the EU, instead of his claim that it was £350 million a week (which deliberately and dishonestly ignored the rebate), I'd be OK with that.

I fear that tribalism is a disease that's damaging both the UK and the US at the moment; make your point with facts as far as possible.

[0] dependng on how you count, I've heard both figures


I guess that would quickly end up being a judgement call, since there are barely any things that aren't connected to other things, so mentioning a single fact without mentioning the others could be said to be deliberately ignoring the other.

And since we typically vote on our shared expectations, "no false claims" would probably mean everybody has to shut up. That might be a good thing, I don't know. I don't believe in the power of elections to bring about change (whatever party wins will have very little room for maneuvering), so maybe removing the loud and divisive parts of them might be helpful. Basically: if they don't help, we can at least make them less harmful.


Lies are lies. Some are more evident than others. This was blatant. If you do not care about facts and truth then don't complain about the world you're allowing to be created by liars. Don't complain about shoddy products sold as good quality, don't expect contracts to mean anything, don't complain when politicians are dishonest. Do expect a race to the bottom, that bottom being a very ugly place.


The next paragraph goes on to state they targeted 10.1 million people:

In all, Harris Media created seven target groups, according to Canter, including mothers (2.6 million targets), business owners (1.1 million), and working-class people such as union members (6.4 million).

The detail about the 1% is pretty much a non-sequitur; I don’t really follow why that is even mentioned.


One percent is just a small, round, common number that crops up in human thought frequently. What's the point of targeting 5% of the closest users if you might not even have luck converting the 1% closest users? Would you see this connection if it turns out they actually targeted the closest .96% of users? Do you think the one percenters that Bernie Sanders rallies against have anything in common with your [1]?


> Do you think the one percenters that Bernie Sanders rallies against have anything in common with your [1]?

I don't know and I seriously doubt it.

I didn't see Bernie Sanders stickers in the middle of Germany advertising for "We only need 1% to change the country", as the German identitarians do.

But as you say: It's very likely just a coincidence.


A 1% lookalike is the standard starting point for targeting pretty much any type of target audience on FB.


Genuine question, why does he say NYT and WaPo present "center to far right opinion"? C'mon. How NYT is far right?


Remember WMDs? Judith Miller?

Mastheaders like David Brooks carried water for the far right for decades until he couldn’t keep up with them. He’ll still wax philosphical about Reagan, Gingrich or W at the drop of a hat.

But I guess they’re all “centrist” now.


There isn't really a mainstream left wing in the US. Since the times of Reagan, the right moved steadily rightward, and the left "compromised" its way towards the center.

Note for example that the mid-90s GOP health care proposal was eventually the basis for the Obama plan 20 years later, which the more recent GOP called some kind of communism.

Chomsky is left of the mainstream American "left", and it is common in that crowd to refer to the latter as center-right.


What you write is only true on the economic axis. E.g. attitudes towards LGBT or immigration (as measured by number of immigrants, not hot air spouted by politicians) certainly haven't moved rightward.


20 million illegal migrants and legal gay marriage in many states still not enough?


That doesn't mean NYT and WaPo are far-right. Just that they will regularly publish far-right opinions (eg Bret Stephens) and rarely, if ever, far-left opinions. The bulk of both papers content is dead center but by constantly using far-right opinion to contrast their own opinions against, NYT and WaPo establish themselves as the left-wing of "acceptable discourse".


There are many matters upon which the NYT takes a right wing stance, Israel being a pretty key one.


Because he is a full on Communist. Its not that hard to understand.



Technically, he's an anarcho-syndicalist.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Noam_...


By what measure is he, or indeed anyone really, a "full on Communist"? I have always believed there have never been any real ones.


Sure there were -- thousands died fighting Franco, in Spain. See George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, or Whitaker Chambers' Witness.


"communist" in the singular is kind of an auto-oxymoron, isn't it?!


By Western standards, any publication that doesn't fully support Medicare for All is far right.


If by Western you mean US, then probably. Because in any other part of the world, being pro universal health care is not considered a left-wing position per se. Even most Tories support it in the UK for example.


It's funny/sad that there's even a term for when reporters venture outside of the confines of their pen: investigative journalism.


The thesis of Manufacturing Consent is that even investigative journalism doesn't venture outside of certain acceptable norms.


Would be great if the video was available.


I do find it interesting that while he talks about frameworks from within media conveys the story they present, a property of the government they work and live under, he seems overly concerned with large corporations having too much power of influence.

Well, sorry, but the same has been true about governments for too long. For too long they controlled the message and some of them are doing their damn best to not lose that control. Whether but authoritarian methods as used in China to coercion of public opinion in Western countries that government needs to step in and protect people from the message they don't control and therefor is not true.

This is not to say that very large organizations like Facebook or Google are not a concern but to highlight the hypocrisy that does not call out the various governments who are worse regardless of what method they use to control speech and money


Chomsky has always been very concerned with media abuses by states. most of the book is about the relationship of establishment media to the government as it pertains to geopolitical incidents in the 60s-80s. You’ve got him wrong there, even if it was true that he talks more about corporations in the interview.


I'd suggest you read and/or watch a little more of Chomsky before making the claim that he doesn't call out governments.


Dictatorships notwithstanding, in a real democracy, voters are the check on that power. The problem is that, in the USA, money has been allowed to become directly correlated with voter share and the tail wags the dog.


> money has been allowed to become directly correlated with voter share

This is demonstrably false, most vividly exemplified by the current president who raised far less than his competitor. In the United States, when there is a race with no incumbents, the winner is anticorrelated with the one who raised the most.


The president is just a figurehead. Seeing the money flowing between corporations, lobbyists, and our representatives is much more indicative of money and its influence on our laws.


Money buys far more than campaign and PAC ads.

Money buys newspapers, TV stations, etc. The fact that it can also buy unlimited amounts of direct advertising is just plain gross.


calling into TV news shows also gets you unlimited direct advertising, which Trump showed is highly effective


Your statement that this is demonstrably false is demonstrably false. The current president has done wonders for the 0.1% - just as he was supposed to.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/camilomaldonado/2019/10/10/trum...

The fact that he provided a better ROI than average than his competitor is tangential - because the fact that fundraising is a key concern at all proves the point.

In a genuine democracy elections would be fought on issues and demonstrated competence, not campaign income.


Money allows organizations to write bills on behalf of special interests and hand them over to state and federal congress already formed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Legislative_Exchange_...


While an unpopular position, I place the blame for this on the uneducated voters. Intelligence and research trump marketing and campaign finance.


What about voters who are uneducated by design?


> Intelligence and research trump marketing and campaign finance.

Then why is advertising spending such a great predictor of who wins a political race? Just because we want something to be true doesn't mean it is, and if you want to think about a problem clearly it is necessary to confront the disgusting reality of the thing.


How is "the voters are just stupid" an unpopular position?


It’s not unfortunately. I don’t buy it, I think people aren’t stupid. It’s a profoundly anti-democratic idea. They’re manipulated by sophisticated powers, and the truth is hidden from them, they’re not stupid.


I absolutely agree with regards to voters in total not being stupid, though I'm not so sure they're manipulated.

Imho, "the voters are stupid" is an easy way to explain why "my side didn't win". They cannot not agree with me, they must be stupid. Assuming that they are being manipulated is similar, I believe.


Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: