City Lights Books / Open Media Series


Foreword by Peter Hart | Editor’s note by Greg Ruggiero

234 pages | $15.95

ISBN – 13: 978-0-87286483-2

Pub date: July 2007





As one of the foremost political intellectuals and dissidents in the U.S. it’s not surprising that Noam Chomsky’s political work is often relegated to the margins of mainstream media in this country. It is surprising though, to learn that for the past few years the New York Times Syndicate has been distributing concise, approx. 1,000 word op-eds by Chomsky that the New York Times, the most powerful and influential paper in the U.S., did not touch. Despite wide distribution internationally, these essays have barely, if at all, seen light of day in the U.S. press. "Interventions," Chomsky’s latest book, is a collection of these op-eds published by City Lights Books as part of their Open Media Series founded in opposition to the first Gulf War. Here Noam Chomsky answers Z-Net questions about the book.



(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, what your new book, INTERVENTIONS  is about? What is it trying to communicate?

The book is a collection of op-eds distributed worldwide by the New York Times syndicate.  They were written over the past several years (more coming along since), dealing with topical events, trying to present an analysis and background that seems to me pertinent and informative, typically from a perspective different from that of mainstream commentary.




(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?


The idea for the op-eds came from John Stickney, editor of the syndicate.  Op-ed style does not come very naturally to me.  The format requires scant reference.  That is not a problem when one stays within the framework of conventional assumptions, including many that are readily refutable, but is a serious problem when one does not accept them, so that readers can quite appropriately ask why they are rejected.  Thus if someone writes that Iran is an aggressive state or that the positions of Hamas are objectionable or that the US bombed Serbia to stop ethnic cleansing, they do not need evidence, because these are doctrines of what we may fairly call the Party Line.  They are reiterated over and over, rarely if ever questioned, so why shouldn’t they be believed?  Suppose however than one were to tell the truth.  For example, it’s the US, not Iran, that is an aggrsesive state; the positions of Hamas, however objectionable, are less radical and extreme than those of the US and Israel; the bombing of Serbia was the cause, not the consequence, of the ethnic cleansing, and the anticipated cause, and we learn from the highest level of the Clinton administration that the bombing was not undertaken out of concern for the plight of Kosovar Albanians but because Serbia was not carrying out the socio-economic reforms demanded by the Clinton administration.  And so on, endlessly.  Someone reading such statements would, reasonably, call for extensive evidence, which cannot really be provided in this limited format.  For such reasons, I’ve always found it difficult to write op-eds.


Stickney solved this problem for me by taking material mostly from talks and interiews of mine, and putting them in an appropriate format.  We then go through an up-and-back process of editing, modifying, providing sources, etc.  The result is the op-eds that are collected in the book, on a wide range of topics.




(3) What are your hopes for the book? What do you hope it will contribute or achieve, politically? Given the effort and aspirations you have for the book, what will you deem to be a success? 


  I hope that the pieces will encourage readers to look at the world in ways different from those of conventional doctrine, and to determine for themselves whether a serious corrective is needed.   And that they will suggest ideas and information that readers find worth pursuing.  To the extent that that works, it will be a success.




More on Z-Net about Chomsky’s INTERVENTIONS

1) Chomsky Interviewed by Sonali Kolhatkar

2) Chomsky: Columnist Without a Place by Mumia Abu-Jamal



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