Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The assumption that the U.S. has the transcendent right to use any means necessary to decide the legitimacy of representation in another country seems breathtakingly arrogant. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The assumption that the U.S. has the transcendent right to use any means necessary to decide the legitimacy of representation in another country seems breathtakingly arrogant. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Venezuela and Noam Chomsky’s “We Own the World.”

“When you own everything, you fear everyone...”  and will employ violence at will.

Gary Olson

"Throughout history there is only one thing that the ruling classes have ever wanted—and that’s everything."—Michael Parenti

An especially egregious example of the MSM’s attempt to manipulate public opinion through disinformation occurred this week when the New York Times editorial board gave its lead space to Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president. Guaido wrote, “To end the Maduro regime with the minimum of bloodshed, we need the support of pro-democratic governments, institutions and individuals the world over.” In running the piece, the Times is consistent with its long record of supporting U.S. imperialism and  joins the bipartisan Congressional chorus of support for Washington’s regime change effort in Venezuela.

In running the piece, the Times is consistent with its long record of supporting U.S. imperialism and  joins the bipartisan Congressional chorus of support for Washington’s regime change effort in Venezuela.

Some thirty years ago, Noam Chomsky noted that “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” Starting at an early age, the doctrinal system subtlety limits the bounds of “acceptable thought.” To maintain the illusion of a functioning, free society, vigorous debate rages in the MSM all the way from points A to C, but never beyond. Although exceptions are not unheard of, elites in capitalist democracies prefer not  to employ force and fear because citizens would be less likely to believe the elite’s propaganda.  Moreover, this method is far more efficient than the Gulag because the people learn to police their own thoughts and behavior. All available evidence suggests it’s working well.

On first hearing,  the assumption that the U.S. has the transcendent right to use any means necessary to decide the legitimacy of representation in another country  seems breathtakingly arrogant. But there’s something even more insidious going on and from a certain angle it has a diabolical logic. For example, the U.S. accusation that Cuba is interfering in Venezuela’s internal affaiirs, including the charge that Havana controls the armed forces, only make sense on one assumption, namely that “We Own  the World.” Chomsky provides a classic example from the early days of the Iraq war: A high-level U.S. official’s solution to Iraq was the “Withdrawal of all foreign forces and foreign arms.” That  official was Condeleeza Rice and her comment sounded eminently reasonable until it was clear she was only referring to Iran. 

You see, if we own the world “U.S. forces cannot be foreign forces anywhere.” Chomsky goes on to say that “The simple principle, ‘we own the world,’ is sufficient to explain a lot of the discussion about foreign affairs.”  And it follows that “When you own everything, you fear everyone...”  and will employ violence at will. Chomsky concludes, “It’s like the air you breathe. You can’t question it.”

Far better to engage with the powerless and listen, share and dialogue with them about the truth and then jointly act on that knowledge.

Finally, those responsible for U.S. foreign policy won’t be joining Liers Anonymous any time soon. They absolutely believe that what they’re saying, writing and doing is not only correct but righteous.  This why Chomsky has long maintained that it’s a waste of time to rely on tired bromides like “speaking truth to power.” The powerful already know the truth and embrace it. Far better  to engage with the powerless and listen, share and dialogue with them about the truth and then jointly act on that knowledge.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Gary Olson

Gary Olson

Gary Olson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. His most recent book is "Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture and the Brain" (NY: Springer, 2013.) Contact: olsong@moravian.edu

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·


Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·


Groups Tell UN Food Agency to Ditch 'Toxic Alliance' With Pesticide Association

"This partnership with CropLife is in direct conflict with FAO's mandate as a U.N. institution to fulfill human rights to health, adequate food, clean water and environment, and safe working conditions."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo