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Alex Singleton on Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent

Incoming from Alex Singleton:

I know you’ve described Noam Chomsky as “a monster” before now, so I thought you might be interested in a review that I have written of his book Manufacturing Consent.

Singleton’s review is entitled “Manufacturing Consent by Chomsky and Herman isn’t just wrong: it is ludicrous”. Chomsky argues that multinational corporations have it all their own way in the mainstream media. Singleton argues otherwise:

As Herb Schmertz, former VP at Mobil Oil, put it in a 1986 book: “[Many people are] under the false impression that the wealthier the organization, the more seriously its views are taken. I wish that were true! If anyone still believes that old canard, I invite them to spend a month working for a major oil company during the next fuel shortage.”


Having worked in the media himself, Alex Singleton now earns his living advising organisations, big and small, about how to handle the media. So, if you run a wealthy organisation, and you are facing some sort of crisis and consequently are liable to get a media beating, why not give Singleton a call? Maybe he could manufacture some consent for you.

19 comments to Alex Singleton on Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent

  • rantingkraut

    Isn’t “Manufacturing Consent” one of the Chomsky classics rather than his latest book? According to the Amazon listing for Chomsky his latest is the modestly titled “How the World Works” …

  • YogSothoth

    Chomsky’s old … man, I can’t wait until he joins Howard Zinn, I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid dancing a little jig 😉

  • RRS

    Google is your friend:

    This work is from 1988, a co-work when N C was 60.

  • RRS

    Now wwhy was that smited?

    Typed quickly, etc. ?
    Just didn’t preview?

  • rantingkraut

    Thanks. Shows you how well I know Chomsky’s writings, as in not.

    I have corrected the error (calling this book Chomsky’s “latest book”) in the title, completely. Had the error been in the mere text, I would have done a strike through of the offending words, but since they were in the title, I didn’t want to complicate things, like searches. I hope this comment suffices to make sense of your comment.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    If multinationals are as powerful as some claim, that hardly squares with, say, how the likes of Starbucks have been clobbered recently, to give just one example. Or look at how the ludicrous government of Argentina recently stiffed the Spanish oil business, Repsol. Etc.

    The truth is that big business can actually be vulnerable precisely because of the bigness, since it presents a fat target. Unless these firms pay fat political donations, of course……

    Ask any shareholder in BP whether that firm is able to do what the hell it likes.

  • As long as you’re correcting, go with “Noam” instead of “Naom”.

  • Blogging can often work well when done in haste.

    Just not this time.

  • Paul Marks

    As Chomsky recyles his stuff, even in his “latest” work one is likely to find stuff written years (or even decades) ago.

    His admirers do not care.

    They are taught (by the education system and the media) that he is a great man – so they nod at whatever nonsense he comes out with.

    If he said that the rich were lizard men from the planet Zog – the “intellectuals” would nod at that as well.

    For those interested in Noam Chomsky……

    “The AntiChomsky Reader” examines his lies and disinformation – in varous areas.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I beg to disagree with at least one point made in Singleton’s review:
    “The book’s thesis is that there the media is operates in a “propaganda model”. The media uses a set of filters that, it seems the authors believe, meanss [sic] that it only reports on what powerful politicians and rich corporations want covered.”

    I claim that the book’s thesis, as stated, is broadly correct if “and rich corporations” is removed from the above.
    Alternatively, it might be correct if “rich corporations” is replaced as follows:
    “those rich corporations which get most of their profits from crony capitalism”

    The trouble is, the agenda of powerful politicians and crony corporations is exactly the opposite of what Chomskyites believe it is.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way consent is “manufactured” – i.e. it produced by campaigns of lies and disinformation.

    However, the policies that consent is manufactured for are leftist ones.

    Whether it is the betrayal of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (thus leading to the murder of millions by the Communists).

    Or higher taxes and ever more government spending.

    Or the future betrayal of Israel.

    Consent is manufactured.

    And one of the leading manufacturers is, of course, Noam Chomsky.

    He stakes out the extreme position (evil is good, black is white, water is dry…..) thus putting the defenders of truth on the defensive, and leaving the population confused (not that they get his stuff first hand – they get it more “moderate” form the education system and media, especially the entertainment media, the hard core lies are just for the “intellectuals”).

    So public opinion is left in a mess “we want less governent, but perhaps the rich are not paying their fair share, and perhaps most government spending is on wars for you-know-who – and, besides, is not a reduction of the Welfare State a denial of basic rights……..”

    And the betrayal occurs – again and again.

    “But Chomsky is a an anarchist”.

    Chomsky is a Black Flagger.

    Look at an “Occupy” gathering – the ones shouting for the death of the rich, smashing things, and throwing human excrement about, are just as likely to be Black Flag people as Red Flag people.

    In practice there is no real difference.

    Black Flag “anarchist” and Red Flag Marxists cooperate happily – for example in the unions.

    They may scream “smash the state” – but the people they really want to smash are Charles and David Koch, Jon Huntsman and ……

    Basically any rich person who owns a company that actually makes things.

    Someone like George Soros (who funds “the movement” – and does not own factories, mines, farms,…) gets a pass.

    At least whilst he is useful.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Paul. Indeed.

    And there’s one other way “consent” is manufactured–and that’s by means of confabulations by the news and entertainment media, and the properly-minded pundits of high repute, in which they repeatedly tell the public just exactly what its opinion is.

    And, just as you’ve described, in due course it comes to be so; and what was once simply unthinkable becomes taken for granted as Established Truth. At least, by a large enough majority to drown out those who continue to think they have a different opinion. (Silly us.)

    Then too, we are led to see how true it is that “black is white, up is down, freedom is slavery.” Why, after hearing the arguments, one can hardly disagree! See how effectively the methods of “proof” of these statements work to support a great many ridiculous arguments, if only you keep repeating the main words of the main argument, don’t let anyone veer off of the main line to bring in “extraneous” facts which point out where the argument fails, make sure to use terms which carry the desired emotional freight and sound plausible in the context….

    That’s how you show the UK was Wrong (Evil) to oppose Hitler, how Israel is Wrong (Eviller than the Palestinians) in throwing rockets in amongst the civilian population of Gaza, the US is Wrong (Evil) in denying food and meds and other goods to Cuba because of the Embargo…–the Embargo! HAH!!! Same for Israel and Gaza, of course…. And the the Wrong, Evil Israeli Occupation of, what–sometimes I think it’s the entire ME…. And, natch, the U.S.’s propping up of bad evil Dictators.

    (Well, there’s some truth to that one. We did prop up Mao.)

    Anyway, I seem to recall Miss Rand’s rather harping on the importance of not “dropping context.” I’m afraid she had a point. Much harder to play the Moral Equivalence game, and from there to invert Evil and Good, if you don’t insist on keeping the full situation and the actual terms of the argument in mind. Tsk.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Ach de Meow! Das Smite-Kats!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Smited or no, I have to correct my last full sentence. It should, of course, read,

    Much harder to play the Moral Equivalence game, and from there to invert Evil and Good, if you insist on keeping the full situation and the actual terms of the argument in mind. Tsk

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Julle.

    And, whatever one may think of her philosophy, Ayn Rand always choose good over evil.

    The Rothbardians (let along the Chomskites) can not honestly say that – indeed they supported some of the worst people on the planet (Maoists and other such – Marxoids of all sorts were treated by Rothbard and co as “freedom fighters” opposing “Western Imperialism”).

    One can cut through complex questions of philosophy by just having a look which side people choose to side with.

    Any friend of Uncle Ho or Pol Pot (different factions of the same movement) is no friend of mine.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, and anyone else who, like me, is still fighting the V-N War–you might be interested to see Prof. Robert F. Turner’s book Vietnamese Communism, which commences with the true early indoctrination of Ho into Stalinism. The book is long out of print, but I found a copy used on Amazon.com.

    Prof. Turner is a J.D. (“Juris Doctor”) who specializes in issues of security law, and is the co-founder of the University of Virginia Law School’s Center for National Security Law. (I don’t necessarily agree with his every word *g*.) He served in Viet Nam, and was one of the presenters at the “Myths of Viet Nam” conference in 2004 (fascinating):


    He has been a staunch anti-Communist Cold Warrior all his life.

    You can see his C.V. at, among other places,


  • Julie near Chicago

    Ach, dem Smite-Katz…. 🙁

  • Other than the fact that Chomsky is wrong on just about everything he has an opinion on, I found that Manufacturing Consent, leaving aside the obvious doctrinaire slant that he brings to it, actually goes a long way in explaining propaganda methods by government, in general, with cooperation from the mainstream media.

    In fact, on the basis of the methods that I learned in it, I am often able to determine weeks or months in advance what the next so-called threat to our wellbeing (and, subsequently, liberty) is going to be. It helped me to develop good BS detectors when reading print media or watching the news. Unfortunately for his thesis, many of the methods that Chomsky points at seem to be, IMHO, utilised more by the Statist Left than anyone else.

    Of course, you have to trawl through a lot of leftwing muck-spreading to get to the valuable points in the book. But even a stopped clock can be right twice a day.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – many thanks.

    The Chomsky “argument” (in so far as a rational argument can be put together from Chomsky’s lies and just plain ravings – hat tip to Paul Johnson for trying to construct a rational argument from Chomsky) on IndoChina was as follows……

    The United States and alies have no right to impose an alien ideology on Vietnam and so on.

    This falls apart when one remember the basic fact that it was MARXISM that was the alien ideology in the context of IndoChina (and it was not the United States that was trying to impose it).

    However, such an argument could have some validity in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Islam is the basic belief system of the vast majorty of people in these places.

    So a policy that ignores that (or pretends that Islam is something fundementally different from what it is) is bound to fail.