Secrets, Lies and Democracy (Interviews with Noam Chomsky) Copyright © 1994 by David Barsamian
Previous section | Contents | Archive

What you can do

Radio listener: Taking it down to the individual, personal level, I got a notice in my public service bill that said they're asking for a rate hike. I work, and I really don't have the time to sit down and write a letter of protest. This happens all the time, and not just with me. Most people don't have time to be active politically to change something. So those rate hikes go through without anybody ever really pointing out what's going on. I've often wondered why there isn't a limitation on the amount of profit any business can make (I know this probably isn't democratic).

I think it's highly democratic. There's nothing in the principle of democracy that says that power and wealth should be so highly concentrated that democracy becomes a sham.

But your first point is quite correct. If you're a working person, you just don't have time -- alone -- to take on the power company. That's exactly what organization is about. That's exactly what unions are for, and political parties that are based on working people.

If such a party were around, they'd be the ones speaking up for you and telling the truth about what's going on with the rate hike. Then they'd be denounced by the Anthony Lewises of the world for being anti-democratic -- in other words, for representing popular interests rather than power interests.

Radio listener: I'm afraid there may be a saturation point of despair just from knowing the heaviness of the truth that you impart. I'd like to strongly lobby you to begin devoting maybe 10% or 15% of your appearances or books or articles towards tangible, detailed things that people can do to try to change the world. I've heard a few occasions where someone asks you that question and your response is, Organize. Just do it.

I try to keep it in the back of my mind and think about it, but I'm afraid that the answer is always the same. There is only one way to deal with these things. Being alone, you can't do anything. All you can do is deplore the situation.

But if you join with other people, you can make changes. Millions of things are possible, depending on where you want to put your efforts.

Go to the Table of Contents.