It is hard to level criticism at a documentary that has the famous Noam Chomsky as spokesperson in it. Who am I to naysay a man who knows more, has experienced more, means more and has more written all over? But this, in a strange manner, works both ways. When a documentary is out to proof something accepting it because Chomsky says so sets us up for a fallacy called speaking from authority. But before continuing on: what is the documentary about anyway?
This documentary is trying to make the case that there is some kind of conspiracy to kill democracy and the American dream. It is not a documentary trying to give you an insight in the theories of Chomsky for instance or trying to give you an overview of his career. In fact Chomsky, being a linguist, is treading outside his area of expertise. We are in the land of economics, politics and power-mongers in general. Which doesn’t mean that he has noting valid to say, but it is really a pity that what he seems to have revolutionized isn’t being talked about or used. Linguistics, the use of language, is a powerful way to shape the world around us for it is the way we get to know the world. You can read books like 1984 or How to read Donald Duck to get an idea. Mind you that me naming them doesn’t mean that I agree with the contents, it merely to give you examples.
The documentary is split in two logical parts. One part has figures and charts that show how the divide between the rich and the rest of the country dramatically changes over the decades. It shows how all kinds of restraints and controls on banks and other financial institutions have been done away with. It shows how the labor unions declined and so on. It tries to make the case that power is getting monopolized. And this all commented upon by Chomsky. And there is nothing wrong with this as far as I can determine.
It is the second part however that made me pause. It is where the documentary and Chomsky try to suggest that all of this is deliberate and aimed at undermining democracy and the American dream to the benefit… of who actually and planned by whom?
And here is the weakness of the documentary which is profound. Who are those people, Chomsky? Only a flimsy piece of evidence is given, which is where Chomsky strongly suggests that Alan Greenspan admitted in an open inquiry to promoting worker insecurity. I was baffled at this, for what use is a conspiracy that openly reveals itself and thus admits to being one? And as a matter of fact, it wasn’t what Chomsky said it was. And Chomsky was even challenged on this back in 2014, but he didn’t bother to correct himself and even repeats it in this documentary but now in a sly way.
The documentary first has Chomsky say it was designed. Then it shows Greenspan concluding worker insecurity kept the wages low and an excerpt of the rapport is given and then Chomsky immediately says in the next shot that it is deliberate again. Thus suggesting again strongly that it was a deliberate policy. It took me a few minutes to google this how Chomsky tries to misuse this. Down below is a link where Chomsky in Counterpunch says it was imposed. You can google the internet too.
Here are screenshots from the documentary
22 minutes into the documentary
The documentary in this part reveals to be another conspiracy aimed at promoting the idea that yet another version of the Illuminati is at it again, only now they are so vague that we do not even get to know who these people are(was it Greenspan?), what they do and how they do it. Chomsky talks unopposed and no criticism of what he says can be found in this documentary. It is preaching for the choir. It is propaganda.
Chomsky strikes me as a man walking in a forest who hears a tree topple over and concludes that a private company is out to wreck nature because the tree must have been cut down by a man, and that man can only work for a company and companies only do stuff because they aim at enriching themselves at the cost of anything else and therefore it is a deliberate way to wreck nature.
Upon investigation however it could very well be that the tree toppled over because it was old and decrepit. You can probably think of yet another explanation.
Alas this documentary doesn’t give room for alternate explanations and this damages the whole purpose. For what would be the upshot of Chomsky’s arguments? That a nefarious group of people plans this? Hence: get rid of this group and all will be well?
Chomsky shoots himself in the foot. For he has to twist language to vindicate his believes which is really shameful for a man who has been a linguist. Twisting words in one case with intent discredits everything else that is said for I do not have the time to fact check everything. And now? What can I trust you to say truthfully? I would almost say: shame on you, Chomsky and those who made this documentary and didn’t bother to check and correct. You did everyone(including yourself) an extreme disservice.
Sources for Chomsky’s claim that it was planned(by Greenspan?)
Chomsky stating that it was ‘imposed’ by Greenspan in Counterpunch.
Actual text of the report:
Invesitgation by politifact & social coldstream
A detailed examination by the New York Times of the role of job insecurity at the time