Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky | Lessons & Book Review

Title: Who Rules the World?

Author: Noam Chomsky

Category: Non-fiction, Politics

Rating: 3/5 

10-word summary: The US has reached peak power; its influence is declining.

About Who Rules the World?

In this book, Chomsky tries to analyze the influence of the US, its recent decline and its intervention in other regions of the world. Chomsky, a renowned intellectual, author and political activist, criticizes the US and paints a different picture of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

While some of his views seem shocking or unbelievable, I doubt that they are unfounded or exaggerated. And the fact that they are often so different from the views presented in mainstream media is one argument in favour of reading Chomsky’s books. Even though you may not be interested in politics, I think that you should read at least one of his books and take his views under consideration.

Lessons from Who Rules the World?

The United States reached peak power after the World War II. Its power has been steadily declining since.

The US has often operated as if it had the right to rule the world and impose their desires on other countries.

Iran is not a nuclear threat as big as we were made to believe.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is harming more Palestinians (including children), but a solution is yet to be found.

The US has tried to meddle in or impose its will on several countries in South America and the Middle East – occasionally with devastating effects.

The US thinks it has the right to carry out actions that would be labeled “acts of terror” if other countries had the audacity to act in the same way.

Some of the threats we need to pay attention to are global warming and the possibility of nuclear war.

What I like about Who Rules the World?

1. Chomsky is an authority in the field

Chomsky has written approximately 100 books about linguistics and politics. He has been writing and speaking about politics for decades. He is one of the most cited scholars alive. He is often critical of the United States, especially of its foreign policy. While his views also stir controversy, I think it’s definitely worth listening to him.

2. He uses many references

While it is true that you cannot assess the accuracy of the information in this book if you don’t know much about politics, I’ve noticed that he includes many resources and he often quotes journalists or politics experts. And whenever someone takes the time to do research or knows the views of other experts in the field, then their book is definitely more reliable and trustworthy than a book with no references.

3. He paints a different picture of the world – one that is both alarming and eye-opening

To truly understand a topic, you need to look at different views and see what is true and logical. Chomsky paints a picture of the US and the balance of power that is scary – but definitely not unrealistic. The US politicians often want to present the US as a leading state that values democracy, peace, progress and so on. Yet their actions sometimes make us doubt their declared intentions – and they should. If you read this book, you’ll see that Chomsky criticizes the US and this might inspire you to read more about US politics and do your own research.

What I don’t like about Who Rules the World?

1. The structure of the book

I didn’t like the structure of the book because it felt like a series of unrelated articles, not a book that had a planned outline. I think the book does not have a clear structure and I often wondered why Chomsky chose to approach certain topics in this book. They were all interesting, but it did not feel like a book written to explain the balance of power in the world.

2. If you know little about politics, you probably won’t understand some of the events and views in this book

I’ll be honest and I say that I know little about politics. It’s a complicated field and I never spent enough time to study it – at least, not yet. And I think my ignorance in the field made it harder for me to appreciate or assess the information in this book.

For example, I knew very little about the Cuban missile crisis or the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But I am sure you will get more out of this book if you are already familiar with the events and conflicts discussed in the book. But, if you are like me, this book may spark your interest in the field or it may just make you realize that we live in a complicated world that is worth studying.

3. Some of the ideas in the book are shocking and controversial and I cannot judge their accuracy

Chomsky is very critical of the US and the way they try to influence what happens in other countries all over the world. While his views make sense – at least in the way he explains them in the book – I am not sure they are 100% accurate. To be honest, nothing has seemed inaccurate or unrealistic; on the contrary, I have sometimes felt the US acts as if they rule the world too. But since I know little about politics (it’s not something I am proud of, but it’s true), I cannot judge the accuracy of Chomsky’s views. There’s a high chance everything is true, but there’s also a chance that not everything he says is accurate. So keep that in mind if you read the book, take it with a grain of salt and do your own research.

Quotes from Who Rules the World?

“As for the responsibility of intellectuals, there does not seem to me to be much to say beyond some simple truths: intellectuals are typically privileged; privilege yields opportunity, and opportunity confers responsibilities.”

“Historical amnesia is a dangerous phenomenon not only because it undermines moral and intellectual integrity but also because it lays the groundwork for crimes that still lie ahead.”

“The peak of U.S. power was after World War II, when it had literally half the world’s wealth, But that naturally declined, as other industrial economies recovered from the devastation of the war and decolonization took its agonizing course.”

“As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, and diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”

“This ‘classic security dilemma’ makes sense, again, on the assumption that the United States has a right to control most of the world, and that U.S. security requires something approaching absolute global control.”

Should You Read Who Rules the World?

Maybe. If you are interested in learning about the US and their involvement in other countries, read this book. If you want to see why Chomsky is so critical of the US, read this book. But if you want to start learning about politics, this is not the best book to start with as it provides little background information. Yet Chomsky is famous for his views and I think everyone should read at least one of his books.

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