Tag Archives: Democratic socialism

NC vs AOC: The Politics of (Cartesian) Common Sense

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC):  When I meet everyday people, they are eager to learn more, ask great questions, & embrace nuance.

I inherently reject the paternalistic idea that some subjects are too complex for everyday people to engage. If we present compelling, solid info+common sense arguments, we can win.


BILL MOYERS: Does a citizen have to have far-reaching, specialized knowledge to understand the realities of power, to understand what’s really going on?

NOAM CHOMSKY::  It’s not absolutely trivial, but I mean, as compared with intellectually complex tasks, it’s pretty slight. It’s not like the sciences. I mean, I think there’s a big effort made to make everything seem mysterious, but there are things that you have to study and know something about. But by and large, what happens in social and political life is relatively accessible. It does not take special training. It does not take unusual intelligence. What it really takes is honesty.


NOAM CHOMSKY: : Yes, if you’re honest you can see it.

BILL MOYERS: Do you believe in common sense?

NOAM CHOMSKY: : Absolutely. I believe in Cartesian common sense. I think people have the capacities to see through the deceit in which they are ensnared, but they’ve got to make the effort.

BILL MOYERS: Seems a little incongruous to hear a man from the ivory tower of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a scholar, a distinguished linguistics scholar, talk about common people with such appreciation, and common sense.

NOAM CHOMSKY: : I think that scholarship, at least the field that I work in, has the opposite consequences.

My own studies in language and human cognition demonstrate to me, at least, what remarkable creativity ordinary people have. The very fact that people talk to one another is a reflection- just in the normal way, I don’t mean particularly fancy- reflects deep-seated features of human creativity which, in fact, separate human beings from any other biological system we know. You get tremendous respect for human beings when you begin to study their normal capacities.