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Reading: Manufacturing Consistency: Social Science, Rhetoric and Chomsky’s Critique


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Manufacturing Consistency: Social Science, Rhetoric and Chomsky’s Critique


Alison Edgley

University of Nottingham, UK
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Chomsky’s critique of US foreign policy – and the media coverage it generates – has significant theoretical merit, and deserves to be of considerable interest within the social sciences. His analysis rests upon two distinctive positions. First, he claims that capitalism only survives because of the role played by the state, legislatively and administratively, controversially adding that it operates as an economic agent providing welfare for the rich. While the political and corporate elite can have varied and at times conflicting interests, the so-called common interest, operationalized via the state, excludes the mass of ordinary people from existing power and economic relations. Second, Chomsky’s analysis of the state is supported by an admittedly unverifiable view of an essentialist human nature. For Chomsky, humans are creative and capable of ‘abduction’. This leads him to argue for conditions of freedom, not so that humans are free to be atomistic individuals, but to allow an interdependent and creative mutuality to flourish. Ironically, the marginalization of Chomsky by social scientists and intellectual elites, especially in the US, has resulted in their own assumptions remaining unchallenged and unexamined.

How to Cite: Edgley, A., 2009. Manufacturing Consistency: Social Science, Rhetoric and Chomsky’s Critique. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture, 6(2), pp.23–42. DOI:
Published on 01 Oct 2009.
Peer Reviewed


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