Powers and Prospects

Powers and Prospects

Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order

Second edition

By Noam Chomsky



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In this intellectual tour de force, Noam Chomsky brings together his thinking on topics ranging from language and human nature, to the Middle East settlement, and the place of East Timor in the New World Order. Powers and Prospects is a collection of some of Chomsky’s most important essays on questions of linguistics, philosophy, ethics, and international affairs. Supported by a wealth of disturbing details and facts, Chomsky provides a scathing critique of government policy and media complicity, while offering an inspirational view of the potential for true democracy worldwide.

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Powers and Prospects is recommended as a clear presentation of Chomsky’s ideas on language, human nature, and social order as well as a critical examination of the situations in the Middle East and East Timor.

– Counterpoise

Powers and Prospects is a strong antidote to the entrenched hegemony of ruling-class propaganda because of its in-depth scrutiny of late capitalism and the commissar class; and its rigorous standards in scientific inquiry.

– Z Magazine

Chomsky is a global phenomenon…he may be the most widely read American voice on foreign policy on the planet.

– The New York Times Book Review


1 Language and Thought: Some Reflections on Venerable Themes
The First Cognitive Revolution
The Second Cognitive Revolution
The Language Faculty
Unification Problems
Knowledge of Language
2 Language and Nature
Naturalism and Language–World Relations: Weak and Strong Theses
The Materialist Orthodoxy
The Externalist Orthodoxy
Language as a Natural Object
3 Writers and Intellectual Responsibility
4 Goals and Visions
Goals versus Visions
The 'Humanistic Conception'
'The New Spirit of the Age'
Voices of Resistance
'Tough Love'
5 Democracy and Markets in the New World Order
'Enduring Truths'
Markets in the Real World
Democracy: 'Containing the People'
'Free Market Conservatism'
Towards the End of History: the Utopia of the Masters
6 The Middle East Settlement: Its Sources and Contours
'What We Say Goes'
The Strategic Conception
'Victor’s Peace': the Oslo Agreements
Terror and Punishment
Development Programs and Plans
'Human Dust and the Waste of Society'’
7 The Great Powers and Human Rights: the Case of East Timor
Forbidden Territory
Asian Values
Western Values
''The Welfare of the World Capitalist System' and 'The Problem of Indonesia'
The Problem Solved
The Problem of East Timor
8 East Timor and World Order
The Rule of Law
International Responsibilities
Pragmatism and National Interest