Noam Chomsky turns 91 on December 7. To celebrate, we’re bringing you John Veit’s interview with “the father of modern linguistics,” originally published in the April, 1998 issue of High Times.
A hundred years from now, Avram Noam Chomsky is going to figure in the history books as the prime voice of conscience, dissent and reason in the wars and social catastrophes of the late 20th century. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s, he began an intellectual revolution in the understanding of linguistics which very efficiently challenged and subverted the old knee-jerk behavioristic worldview that nourished the Cold War. His seamless critical essays on American foreign and domestic policies since then have unerringly diagnosed their fallacies, relentlessly dissecting the propaganda of the power establishment. We thought it was time he addressed the Drug War.
High Times: You’ve defined the War on Drugs as an instrument of population control. How does it accomplish that?
Noam Chomsky: Population control is actually a term I borrowed from the counterinsurgency literature of the Kennedy years. The main targets at the time were Southeast Asia and Latin America, where there was an awful lot of popular ferment. They recognized that the population was supporting popular forces that were calling for all kinds of social change that the United States simply could not tolerate. And you could control people in a number of ways. One way was just by terror and violence, napalm bombing and so on, but they also worked on developing other kinds of population-control measures to keep people subjugated, ranging from propaganda to concentration camps. Propaganda is much more effective when it is combined with terror.
You have the same problem domestically, where the public is constantly getting out of control. You have to carry out measures to insure that …
Author: High Times / High Times