Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Noam Chomsky NYC Speech on BookTV

Noam Chomsky appears on C-Span2's BookTV* this weekend**, giving a talk sponsored by the Brecht Forum at the Riverside Church in New York last month. For some reason, their YouTube channel has just a small fragment of Chomsky's speech (and none of Amy Goodman's introduction), and even that can't be embedded - not that I can see why anyone would want to - but the entire thing can be watched here.

In terms of content, it seems largely a compilation of his talks and writings over many years, which is fitting as the occasion is the 40th anniversary of American Power and the New Mandarins.

Though it feels a bit disjointed at moments, Chomsky touches on many important points, and I plan to post one or two related items shortly.

The best part, I believe, is the end - the last 30 minutes or so. In this section (*SPOILER ALERT* :)) he talks about democratic worker and community control and the need to rediscover and revive these alternative ideas and futures that the powerful have done their best to make us forget. He argues that of all of the crises that beset us today, perhaps the most serious is the democratic deficit.

*A post about their airing of a Chomsky speech may seem an odd moment to do this, but there's something I'd like to mention that's been bothering me about BookTV for some time now. I've been receiving the weekend schedule for years, and it's always seemed in general heavily weighted toward conservatives, including denialists of all stripes. (Not to mention its rather martial and male-dominated flavor.) During the previous administration I didn't find this especially surprising, but I kind of expected a shift, for that ideological lock to loosen, under the new administration. So far, I haven't seen any perceptible change. I don't know who is reponsible for selecting the talks that are featured, but there definitely appears to be something going on there.

**Oh, by the way this weekend with also feature a talk by Peter Laufer about his new book, The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists.

I haven't yet read it, but I did see him interviewed on The Daily Show recently and thought it sounded fascinating.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Laufer
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