Date finished: June 25th 2016
Chomsky is widely regarded as one of the most important living intellectuals. A sort of Stephen Hawking of the social sciences, delving into politics, philosophy and linguistics with the versatility of a polymath.
I’ve been meaning to read some of Chomsky’s political work for a long time. Having come across this slim, 100 page volume at a mates, I quickly devoured it whilst I had the chance.
Media Control is a brief history of propaganda and it’s use in controlling the population. Chomsky highlights many instances in which public opinion went against government action without knowing it, and when pertinent information to debates has been suppressed, showing the various hypocrisies and crimes that have gone unnoticed thanks to the narrow window of debate allowed.
A lot of this is applied to the foreign policy of America, and though it’s enlightening, it’s less engaging to the British reader. That said, many of Chomsky’s examples are more widely applicable. Certainly, the part on meaningless slogans employed by governments to create approval for their policies is very pertinent to the recent EU referendum debate in the UK in which people obediently recited the uninsightful mantras of ‘Vote Remain’ and ‘Make Britain Great Again’ without really offering any reasoning or analysis.
There isn’t much depth to this volume, but considering it runs 100 pages in large font, you can’t really fault it. It acts more as an easy, essay introduction to the idea and uses of propaganda, rather than a social history and critique. It’s a great way of dipping your toes in the water, and if you want to explore the topic further there’s a wealth of other material (both by Chomsky and others) to pick up another time. Media Control proves to be a great, short read on an important topic.