Beware Who Is Telling the Story

The American Dream—that you can rise above your beginnings—is dying.

That is the message of Noam Chomsky’s documentary, Requiem for the American Dream, available on iTunes and Netflix. In it, Chomsky, identified as the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time, laid out the master strategic plan of the wealthy.

That plan includes 10 principles of wealth that have guided those in power, and the United States, ever since the Constitution was envisioned by a group of wealthy attorneys determined to protect their wealth.

One principle is to redesign the economy so that financial institutions control the wealth, as they do today. Another is to shift the economic burden to the workers, as evidenced by the bailouts. Another is to teach people not to care what happens to others, such as by rationalizing torture.

The idea that a group of people can direct the larger social story, and use all its channels—education, advertising, elections, government and more—to do so is mind-boggling.

But it also makes perfect sense.

Stories are more than emotionally evocative tales. They are strategic tools used to teach constructed “truths.” In a society, those stories, generated through a society’s channels, teach the masses what is “true.” Over time, we come to believe it.

Our task, as citizens, is not to believe the stories at face value but to ask, as those who study the gaming industry suggest, “Who is telling the story and what are their motives?”

And if we don’t like the story and the morals being taught, to disrupt it with activism that demands a different story.


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