There are only so many songs that will be released in your lifetime that remain embedded in your mental jukebox selection forever, and Beyoncé’s ‘Who run the world? Girls.’ is one of them. Now considered an anthem for empowering women, the song brings me to this point. The new year, where we are witnessing the start of a new presidency, possibly a new European union if they ever make a decision, and a new outlook onto who it is that really is running our world.
It’s safe to say that 2016 for many people, was the year nobody wanted to remember. Celebrity deaths, humanitarian crises and the general state of global politics were enough to make anyone cry. These events, of course, do not simply disappear now the new year has come. It’s said that history repeats itself, and as humans we are meant to have learnt from our mistakes. However, it becomes very clear that this is but a dream after reading Noam Chomsky’s ‘Who Rules the World?’.
Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic and activist. This book is one of the 50 books he has written in his 88 years of living, discussing the realities of the state of our world both politically and philosophically.
Before I start dissecting his work, it’s important to note that the man could make Einstein feel inferior. His analytical responses to some of the most major events to have happened in history make you feel almost unworthy of reading his words. His in-depth research and knowledge on the topics he discusses is beyond superior, and make any attempt to challenge him utterly pointless.
Now, this article is not a review, let me make that clear. But when discussing who really does rule our world, not referring to Chomsky’s work would be, quite frankly, stupid. Just a few months ago, Donald Trump – my least favourite person in the world – was elected as president of the United States. The man now has the power to destroy what little peace and dignity as a global society we have left, so for Chomsky to release such an insightful book on the very issue of what state our world is extremely important.
The title of the book, as Chomsky states from the get go, “cannot have a simple and definitive answer”. The 25 chapters of mind opening information and reflection still do not fully answer the question, but with each point of conversation, it becomes clear that there is a lot of work to do before we accomplish a fair and just society.
The main issues discussed in the book are nuclear war and climate change, the two entities that have the power and force to completely destroy us as all. Chomsky points out that in light of this, it is important for us to “reassess who is making our decisions, and what basis those decisions are made about how we as a society conduct ourselves.” On all the key issues he discusses, be it gun control or the war of class in society, he always refers back to the fact that “the people are always a step ahead of the government, but the government are unresponsive to the people.” Although Chomsky refers to government bodies throughout as a powerful force in the world, he also makes it clear that the reality of who really does rule the world can only be answered when the fact that the second layer of power, where conglomerate companies and global financial institutions lie, is recognised to be of equal authority and power to the government when it comes to the level of control they have over us.
It’s hard to not think of the possible impending doom Trump’s four years of presidency could bring upon the world when reading this book. Chomsky discusses the fact that the United States of America has, over the past 30 years, been at war for the longest time in American history. This fact reinforces the notion that the ‘American way’ is to use force and violence to maintain power. Since the beginning of America’s diminish as the world’s leading power in 1945, it seems that every obstacle or threat to their position as leader has been met with force and military action. It almost, sadly, makes sense that a man who screamed about building a wall to keep out the immigrants, stopping Muslims from entering the country and denying any accusations of him forcing himself onto women, won the vote of a people who have been told that acting in such a way is the only way to ‘be great again’.
From what I can see, to have one person rule the world is to destroy democracy. True and total power over everything and everyone takes away the pillars of fairness, equality and justice that make up a democratic society. So, the answer to ‘Who rules the world?’ should be all of us. But, if we don’t even attempt to change the way our society is governed ourselves, we will lose what little power in our right we have left.
To summarise just one of the many points Chomsky makes when it comes to how we as a society must change our ways to allow a shift in the dynamics of how the world works, I leave you with this quote; “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic and diverted to consumerism and to the hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”