THE OPEN MEDIA PAMPHLET SERIES
Copyright © 1991, 1997 by Noam Chomsky
A Seven Stories Press First Edition,
published in association with Open Media.
Open Media Pamphlet Series editors,
Greg Ruggiero and Stuart Sahulka.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form, by any means, including
mechanical, electric, photocopying, recording or
otherwise, without the prior written permission
of the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Media control: the spectacular achievements of
propaganda / Noam Chomsky.
p. cm. —(The Open Media Pamphlet Series)
1. Propaganda. 2. Propaganda—United States. 3.
Mass media—Political aspects. 4. Mass media and
public opinion. I. Title. II. Series.
Book design by Cindy LaBreacht
The role of the media
in contemporary politics forces us to ask what
kind of a world and what kind of a society we
want to live in, and in particular in what sense
of democracy do we want this to be a democ-
ratic society? Let me begin by counter-posing
two different conceptions of democracy. One
conception of democracy has it that a democ-
ratic society is one in which the public has the
means to participate in some meaningful way
in the management of their own affairs and the
means of information are open and free. If you
look up democracy in the dictionary you'll get
a definition something like that.
An alternative conception of democracy is
that the public must be barred from managing
of their own affairs and the means of informa-
tion must be kept narrowly and rigidly con-
trolled. That may sound like an odd conception
of democracy, but it's important to understand
that it is the prevailing conception. In fact, it
has long been, not just in operation, but even
in theory. There's a long history that goes back
to the earliest modern democratic revolutions
in seventeenth century England which largely
expresses this point of view. I'm jus