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American Power and the New Mandarins is Noam Chomsky’s first political book, widely considered to be among the most cogent and powerful statements against the American war in Vietnam. Long out of print, this collection of early, seminal essays helped to establish Chomsky as a leading critic of United States foreign policy. These pages mount a scathing critique of the contr American Power and the New Mandarins is Noam Chomsky’s first political book, widely considered to be among the most cogent and powerful statements against the American war in Vietnam. Long out of print, this collection of early, seminal essays helped to establish Chomsky as a leading critic of United States foreign policy. These pages mount a scathing critique of the contradictions of the war, and an indictment of the mainstream, liberal intellectuals—the “new mandarins”—who furnished what Chomsky argued was the necessary ideological cover for the horrors visited on the Vietnamese people. As America’s foreign entanglements deepen by the month, Chomsky’s lucid analysis is a sobering reminder of the perils of imperial diplomacy. With a new foreword by Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, American Power and the New Mandarins is a renewed call for independent analysis of America’s role in the world.


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American Power and the New Mandarins is Noam Chomsky’s first political book, widely considered to be among the most cogent and powerful statements against the American war in Vietnam. Long out of print, this collection of early, seminal essays helped to establish Chomsky as a leading critic of United States foreign policy. These pages mount a scathing critique of the contr American Power and the New Mandarins is Noam Chomsky’s first political book, widely considered to be among the most cogent and powerful statements against the American war in Vietnam. Long out of print, this collection of early, seminal essays helped to establish Chomsky as a leading critic of United States foreign policy. These pages mount a scathing critique of the contradictions of the war, and an indictment of the mainstream, liberal intellectuals—the “new mandarins”—who furnished what Chomsky argued was the necessary ideological cover for the horrors visited on the Vietnamese people. As America’s foreign entanglements deepen by the month, Chomsky’s lucid analysis is a sobering reminder of the perils of imperial diplomacy. With a new foreword by Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, American Power and the New Mandarins is a renewed call for independent analysis of America’s role in the world.

30 review for American Power and the New Mandarins: Historical and Political Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea

    A really nice look at intellectual responsibility during times of aggression--in this case, Vietnam. I was concerned about the length of the book as Chomsky can be pretty long-winded / academic when he wants to be but the essays contained in this volume were concise, moving, and very accessible.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I have a note to myself to read the chapter "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship." Apparently recommended by Rosalind E. Krauss in Passages in Modern Sculpture, but I can't remember why specifically she was recommending it. I have a note to myself to read the chapter "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship." Apparently recommended by Rosalind E. Krauss in Passages in Modern Sculpture, but I can't remember why specifically she was recommending it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    This was Chomsky's first book of political writings, originally released in 1969 during the United States' war against Vietnam. It was reissued by The New Press in 2002 as the Bush administration was attempting to take advantage of the anger over the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 to initiate military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. I read some of the more substantial pieces here ("Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship" and "The Responsibility of Intellectuals") around twenty years ago wh This was Chomsky's first book of political writings, originally released in 1969 during the United States' war against Vietnam. It was reissued by The New Press in 2002 as the Bush administration was attempting to take advantage of the anger over the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 to initiate military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. I read some of the more substantial pieces here ("Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship" and "The Responsibility of Intellectuals") around twenty years ago when I introduced myself to his political writings through James Peck's 1987 collection entitled 'The Chomsky Reader.' It was good to revisit these writings again. Having read much of the work he has done since, I'm amazed at how stylistically and logically consistent he has been over the years. Some people use this consistency to criticize Chomsky as strident and unwilling to change his mind when circumstances change. Especially after September 11, some claimed that his once fresh and incisive views had ossified into a broken-record attack on the United States as responsible for everything evil that happens everywhere. Many who were receptive to his anti-authoritarian analysis when he targeted the increasingly unpopular Vietnam situation (during the 1960s and 1970s) recoiled when a similar analysis of U.S. foreign policy was presented during times when the stakes for average Americans were not so high (for example, during the 1980s and 1990s). Chomsky's most important assertion here is that imperialist activities will always be presented by imperialists as beneficial and well-intentioned. This is just as true for the United States as it was for Japan, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. The reason why Chomsky's analysis hasn't changed is because the circumstances have actually not changed. The United States remains an overwhelmingly powerful player in the world with a reach that is no longer impeded by an empire with a competitive ideology (e.g., USSR) and comparable resources. The anti-communist ideology of the American imperialists discussed in these pages has been replaced by others since the Cold War ended in 1989. During the 1990s, imperialists struggled to find justifications for interventions that would be plausible to the American population. In this way, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the subsequent mobilization of radical Islamist forces was a great gift to American imperialists as anti-terrorism may have an even longer shelf life than anti-communism.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    A moderately interesting book, but easy to see why it was out of print for so long. Chomsky offers a notably anarchist critique of the Vietnam war, but his thought and understanding are both slightly unsophisticated and subject to a lot of confirmation bias, and it makes the book more of a snapshot into certain left-wing critiques of the Vietnam war whilst it was still being undertaken, rather than a a valuable piece to read decades after the war has finished.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Armen

    Chomsky takes apart the idea that the USA is the greatest country in the world - and makes us all better off for having him there to stick a pin in our fantasies about America's influence in the world. Chomsky takes apart the idea that the USA is the greatest country in the world - and makes us all better off for having him there to stick a pin in our fantasies about America's influence in the world.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mike Keane

    i started this now i can't find my copy - did i lend this to you? i started this now i can't find my copy - did i lend this to you?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Chomsky demolishes liberal intellectuals' pretensions of moral superiority and honest scholarship. Chomsky demolishes liberal intellectuals' pretensions of moral superiority and honest scholarship.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Beginning before my birth with support for the French recolonization of Indochina after the war, US military involvement in Southeast Asia formed a significant portion of the backdrop of my youth. First, there was the Laotian adventure of the Kennedy administration, then the public introduction of armed "advisors" to support CIA-led efforts against Vietnam. Well indoctrinated, I'd supported these things, even writing a research paper on the subject during the first year at high school, until the Beginning before my birth with support for the French recolonization of Indochina after the war, US military involvement in Southeast Asia formed a significant portion of the backdrop of my youth. First, there was the Laotian adventure of the Kennedy administration, then the public introduction of armed "advisors" to support CIA-led efforts against Vietnam. Well indoctrinated, I'd supported these things, even writing a research paper on the subject during the first year at high school, until the invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 under the Johnson administration and subsequent arguments with my father and grandfather turned my head. By the middle of high school I'd become a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, an anti-imperialist with subscriptions to 'The New Republic', 'Harpers', 'The Atlantic Monthly', 'Liberation', 'Ramparts' and 'The Guardian'. The SDS was a part of the New Left, a third force critical of both the Soviet and the American blocks. As such, it distanced itself from the prevailing "liberal" power centers in the USA, which, it will be recalled, had been governing the country since 1933 except for Eisenhower's administration. This liberal establishment had grown out of the depression, governed through the victorious WWII alliance of the United Nations, established NATO, SEATO, the Marshall Plan, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and made progressive steps to integrate American society--all in competition with the Soviets, their allies and dependents. Having gained global economic predominance at war's end, liberals maintained power through an alliance of big capital and the unions, which funded Democratic campaigns, and the working classes, which voted for them. The alliance held so long as the domestic economy grew: a rising tide raising all ships which lasted until 1972. The tide, however, was a localized one. While America and its closest partners prospered, the Third World did not. Indeed, our prosperity was substantially predicated on their relative poverty. Despite palliative aid and much propaganda, the poor rose against the rich, our clients, in country after country, while the Soviets, the Chinese and other states relatively independent of Western capitalism served as examples of alternative forms of more equitable social development and, sometimes, gave actual material support. Noam Chomsky's first collection of political essays is about US involvement in Indochina, particularly Vietnam, and about how it came to pass that professed progressives of the liberal establishment could countenance illegal invasions and the murder of millions. Chomsky's political writings evince two primary concerns. First, he delights in confounding hypocrisy with facts. Second, and most importantly, he is a profoundly moral person. While liberal progressives espoused the extension of rights and benefits to citizens of the United States and its closest allies and clients, they did so at the expense of the great mass of the world's population. Chomsky, however, is universalistic in his ethics: everyone counts equally for him, everyone has an equal right to seek their own well-being so long as by so doing they do not disable others in their pursuits. Chomsky's work, I think, depends too much on the faith that people, if aware of the facts, will be charitable, or at least fair. This may work for some, but the example of "National Socialism" in Germany suggests that few will care much about the distant interests of distant people. I would like to know whether Chomsky has ever attempted to base his ethics on arguments which go further than a suspect, albeit charming, theory of human nature.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ollie

    Noam Chomsky's first political book is a collection of essays dealing mostly with US aggression in foreign countries, focusing primarily on Vietnam. In addition, Chomsky discusses the important role that scholars (the "new" mandarins) play in this aggression and the view of the public in regards to the war. It's quite remarkable to see that Chomsky has been consistent in his argument for over 50 years. American Power and the New Mandarins argues that American policy in foreign countries is consis Noam Chomsky's first political book is a collection of essays dealing mostly with US aggression in foreign countries, focusing primarily on Vietnam. In addition, Chomsky discusses the important role that scholars (the "new" mandarins) play in this aggression and the view of the public in regards to the war. It's quite remarkable to see that Chomsky has been consistent in his argument for over 50 years. American Power and the New Mandarins argues that American policy in foreign countries is consistent with what the intellectuals and scholars have been proposing: that the US should have a role of influence in Asia because it should be the one to bring justice and democracy to the third world, as long as this "democracy" is consistent with American interest. This poses quite a problem for foreign countries as their interests (whether it be for self-sufficience, or communism, or influence) fall second to US economic interests. Chomsky quotes several scholars on the subject and their arguments appears biased to American greatness (such as Arthur Schlesinger's) or against truly revolutionary movements (as the section on the anarchist element of the Spanish Civil shows). If this is so, how are any of us supposed to make educated objective decisions? What chance does the third world have when an entire government and its academic system is contrary to their well being? Doesn't the US see that alienation and abuse of the rest of he world is contrary to its own self-interests? As such an influential and powerful country, would would think that true American greatness would mean the US would take on a different role, one which promotes freedom and reduce suffering throughout the world. It certainly has the resources for it. Instead, Chomsky poses the compelling argument that the US's obsession with its greatness is used as justification for its oppressive actions. Its even more compelling how little things have changed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This collection of essays is fascinating because they were written in the midst of the war. Some later analyses may be more complete, but the truth and sense of urgency in Chomsky's prose can't be beat. I would recommend selecting a few essays of the bunch to read first, rather than plowing through the whole volume in one go. This collection of essays is fascinating because they were written in the midst of the war. Some later analyses may be more complete, but the truth and sense of urgency in Chomsky's prose can't be beat. I would recommend selecting a few essays of the bunch to read first, rather than plowing through the whole volume in one go.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike Fehrenbacher

    Chomsky cuts through the bullshit to expose the hypocritical moral authority our country uses to justify acts of terror and aggression, specifically calling out the complicity of the intellectual community. Though written in 1968, the lessons of this book are vital today, and for the citizens of any large, powerful democracy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jose Rodriguez

    Very Interesting book about vietnam war but isnt a masterpiece from chomsky, i really was expecting more (i know it's an old book, but still). Very Interesting book about vietnam war but isnt a masterpiece from chomsky, i really was expecting more (i know it's an old book, but still).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Clewett

    Having listened to and read a lot of Chomsky since college, I decided to finally read this collection, his first book on politics, after recently revisiting the Firing Line appearance, and noticing a nice-looking 2002 reprint. The first and longest piece - and especially everything about the Spanish Civil War - was bone dry. The latter ones, shorter, more focused and deeply moving, can easily be found online, which left me feeling somewhat disappointed with the book as a whole. But only somewhat. Having listened to and read a lot of Chomsky since college, I decided to finally read this collection, his first book on politics, after recently revisiting the Firing Line appearance, and noticing a nice-looking 2002 reprint. The first and longest piece - and especially everything about the Spanish Civil War - was bone dry. The latter ones, shorter, more focused and deeply moving, can easily be found online, which left me feeling somewhat disappointed with the book as a whole. But only somewhat. This is the man who, more than anyone else, taught recent generations of Americans how to read mass media and how to listen to public servants (for the most part, private servants). The less the many details of the United States in Vietnam (or Japan in Manchuria, a fascinating comparison) interest us today, the more the hard, chiseled sentences of indignance (here less bitterly sarcastic, more genuinely sad, more human, than his later writing) continue to shine out. As Iraq struggles to recover from our war crimes, as Saudi Arabia destroys Yemen with our help, as our sanctions starve Venezuela, and the Nixon ghouls' successors plan for war with Iran, this collection, unfortunately, continues to demand reprints. Scialabbla: "...people will read Orwell and Camus forever because their political rhetoric is itself a kind of art, a form of literature. People won't read Chomsky or even I.F. Stone forever. I hope they'll read them for a good long time, for as long as this is a class society. But even after this is no longer a class society, people will read Orwell for the beauties of his prose and the windings of his sensibility; while they'll be able to put aside I.F. Stone, gratefully, and say: "All right, God bless him for his beautiful life, but now we've learned what he had to teach; may he rest in peace." And Chomsky, gratefully.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Federico

    Non c'è niente da fare, Chomsky è geniale. È straordinariamente divertente vedere come cita le affermazioni dei "liberali", li prende in giro con una sorta di discorso indiretto libero fingendo di immedesimarsi nelle loro argomentazioni come se fossero le uniche ragionevoli, e le porta alle loro estreme contraddizioni, perdipiú mostrando i paralleli coi discorsi imperialisti giapponesi e tedeschi e prima ancora inglesi. E in questo modo svela del tutto gli scopi e i metodi della guerra in Vietna Non c'è niente da fare, Chomsky è geniale. È straordinariamente divertente vedere come cita le affermazioni dei "liberali", li prende in giro con una sorta di discorso indiretto libero fingendo di immedesimarsi nelle loro argomentazioni come se fossero le uniche ragionevoli, e le porta alle loro estreme contraddizioni, perdipiú mostrando i paralleli coi discorsi imperialisti giapponesi e tedeschi e prima ancora inglesi. E in questo modo svela del tutto gli scopi e i metodi della guerra in Vietnam e in generale dell'imperialismo statunitense (terribile la teoria dell'urbanizzazione forzata!), in modo tale che nessuna persona dotata di ragione può non ammettere che è stato semplicemente un massacro incivile. Ma la cosa piú importante è che riesce a inserire tutto ciò in un discorso piú generale, che è appunto quello della presa di potere da parte dei nuovi mandarini disumani, cioè della tecnica fine a sé stessa: e in questo ci sono degli interessanti rapporti con "Psiche e techne" di Umberto Galimberti. E poi propone anche una via d'uscita, degli esempi (A. J. Muste) e delle tecniche di resistenza, colla consueta umiltà. Un vero piacere intellettuale. Questa edizione della Net sembra una ristampa anastatica dell'Einaudi: nelle note si parla come se fossimo nel 1968 (o giú di lí), si parla di libri di prossima pubblicazione (nel 1969, credo) ecc.; e poi ci sono parecchi refusi. Ma insomma, non c'è proprio nessun motivo per cui un libro simile debba essere smaltito fra le seconde scelte e magari andare al macero, per quanto comprarlo a metà prezzo (o anche meno) sia egoisticamente piacevole. Grazie a Marco Tropea per la ristampa, continuate cosí! Vedi anche http://it.wikiquote.org/wiki/Noam_Cho...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nix Jones

    Chomsky underestimates the crimes of America's enemies. He uses apocalyptic language (with justification) to describe USAs actions in Indochina and yet brushes the Holocaust in China as mere "authoritarianism". He gives very little argumentation behind his core moral beliefs why it is not in our right to extirpate the bolsheviks in Vietnam even if it involves forcing our form of government on them. We did this with the Nazis in Germany why would it be wrong here? I believe the war in Indochina wa Chomsky underestimates the crimes of America's enemies. He uses apocalyptic language (with justification) to describe USAs actions in Indochina and yet brushes the Holocaust in China as mere "authoritarianism". He gives very little argumentation behind his core moral beliefs why it is not in our right to extirpate the bolsheviks in Vietnam even if it involves forcing our form of government on them. We did this with the Nazis in Germany why would it be wrong here? I believe the war in Indochina was indeed imperialism but he ignores the gigantic elephant in the room of potential international holocaust. Our worst fears were realized under Polpot. To Chomsky preventing such holocaust is not on the table if it involves forcing any people to do anything. The British banned ritual suicide of widows in India. This is good. Yes we forced them to do it but it's good. It's not bigotry. I would be in favour of the vegetarian Hindus coming to America and forcing Americans to stop the holocaust of factory farms.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Wilson

    hmm I didn't finish this but I'm finished reading it. it's pretty heavy going!! but I finished the first essay which was about a third of the book and it was great ! hmm I didn't finish this but I'm finished reading it. it's pretty heavy going!! but I finished the first essay which was about a third of the book and it was great !

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Dry

  18. 4 out of 5

    João Padeiro

    "There's a fundamental human nature based on some intinct for freedom" N. C. "There's a fundamental human nature based on some intinct for freedom" N. C.

  19. 4 out of 5

    LDM

    "The search for alternatives, for individuals, for American society, for the international order as a whole, has barely begun, and no one can guess where it will lead. Quite possibly it will lead nowhere, cut off by domestic repression or its "functional equivalent," to use a favorite term of the present administration: the dominance of a liberal technocracy who will serve the existing social order in the belief that they represent justice and humanity, fighting limited wars at home and overseas "The search for alternatives, for individuals, for American society, for the international order as a whole, has barely begun, and no one can guess where it will lead. Quite possibly it will lead nowhere, cut off by domestic repression or its "functional equivalent," to use a favorite term of the present administration: the dominance of a liberal technocracy who will serve the existing social order in the belief that they represent justice and humanity, fighting limited wars at home and overseas to preserve stability, promising that the future will be better if only the dispossessed will wait patiently, and supported by an apathetic, obedient majority, its mind and conscience dulled by a surfeit of commodities and by some new version of the old system of beliefs and ideas." pg 5 "By entering into the arena of argument and counterargument, of technical feasibility and tactics, of footnotes and citations, by accepting the presumption of legitimacy of debate on certain issues, one has already lost one's humanity. This is the feeling I find almost impossible to repress when going through the motions of building a case against the American war in Vietnam. Anyone who puts a fraction of his mind to the task can construct a case that is overwhelming; surely this is now obvious. In an important way, by doing so he degrades himself, and insults beyond measure the victims of our violence and our moral blindness. There may have been a time when American policy in Vietnam was a debatable matter. This time is long past. It is no more debatable than the Italian war in Abyssinia or the Russian suppression of Hungarian freedom. The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us, who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction--all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured." pg. 9 "One who pays some attention to history will not be surprised if those who cry most loudly that we must smash and destroy are later found among the administrators of some new system of repression." pg. 18 "Quite generally, what grounds are there for supposing that those whose claim to power is based on knowledge and technique will be more benign in their exercise of power than those whose claim is based on wealth or aristocratic origin? On the contrary, one might expect the new mandarin to be dangerously arrogant, aggressive, and incapable of adjusting to failure, as compared with his predecessor, whose claim to power was not diminished by honesty as to the limitations of his knowledge, lack of work to do, or demonstrable mistakes." pg. 27 "In general, one would expect any group with access to power and affluence to construct an ideology that will justify this state of affairs on grounds of the general welfare." pg. 27 "Generosity has never been a commodity in short supply among powers bent on extending their hegemony." pg. 32 "...no one can fail to see that to the extent that he restricts his protest, to the extent that he rejects actions that are open to him, he accepts complicity in what the government does." 368

  20. 5 out of 5

    Che

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will

  22. 5 out of 5

    Million Kassa

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chandler

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gregar Chapin

  25. 5 out of 5

    Khalid

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aijaz Ali

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Fierro

  28. 4 out of 5

    ASHISH KUMAR

  29. 4 out of 5

    Berk Oto

  30. 5 out of 5

    Scott

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