I mentioned that [John] Dewey and American workers held one version of democracy, with strong libertarian elements. But the dominant version has been a very different one. Its most instructive expression is at the progressive end of the mainstream intellectual spectrum, among good Wilson-FDR-Kennedy liberal intellectuals. Here are a few representative quotes.

The public are “ignorant and meddlesome outsiders [who] must be put in their place.” Decisions must be in hands of the “intelligent minority [of] responsible men,” who must be protected “from the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd.” The herd does have a function. Its task is to lend its weight every few years to a choice among the responsible men, but apart from that its function is to be “spectators, not participants in action.” All for their own good. We should not succumb to “democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.” They are not. We are: we, the responsible men. Therefore attitudes and opinions must be shaped and controlled. We must “regiment the minds of men the way an army regiments their bodies.” In particular, we must introduce better discipline into the institutions responsible for “the indoctrination of the young.” If that is achieved, then it will be possible to avoid such dangerous periods as the 1960s, “the time of troubles” in conventional elite discourse. We will be able to achieve more “moderation in democracy” and return to better days as when “Truman had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers.”

These are quotes from icons of the liberal establishment: …

(… to read more)

Noam Chomsky /  ©2016