The role of the intellectual, so it is said, is to speak truth to power. Noam Chomsky has dismissed this pious tag on two grounds. For one thing, power knows the truth already; it is just busy trying to conceal it. For another, it is not those in power who need the truth, but those they oppress.
I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.
—Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, reflecting on his life’s work.
“We went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn’t as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. At least George Bush recognized the symbolic importance of showing Americans that justice is blind. We’re now at a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal.”
It’s worth noting that books are among the few remaining forms of entertainment not sustained by, and meant to further, the interests of advertising. Television, newspapers, films and magazines, are busily instilling us with new desires and previously unsuspected needs, while books sell us only themselves. Moreover, the time we spend reading is time spent away from media that have a greater chance of alchemically transmuting attention into money.