Detailed View

The Independent Book Review: Who Rules the World? and Difficult Women

The Independent Book Review: Who Rules the World? and Difficult Women

By Kirbie Bennett

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 | Number of views (3693)

Long before “fake news” and “alternative facts” became topics of national discussion and face-palming, the linguistic theorist and social critic Noam Chomsky was offering up in-depth reflections on the way power-systems manufacture consent, creating necessary illusions to distract citizens from systemic inequalities and injustices. Chomsky’s critiques were especially aimed at liberal democratic societies such as the United States. Regardless of who is in power, whether Democrat or Republican, Chomsky argues that both parties serve to maintain the status quo of wealth accumulating at the top, while the gap between rich and poor widens, leading to apathy and erosion of democracy.

    For a man who has been writing, teaching and taking to the streets since the 1960s, such a summary does not do justice to Chomsky’s material. His opposition to war and blunt indictments of U.S. foreign policy, to which he has devoted numerous books, also deserves recognition. With that said, in his 2016 book, Who Rules the World? Chomsky offers up a collection of essays addressing the state of the world, especially regarding these various areas of U.S. media, foreign policy and international relations.

    Among the book’s highlights include the essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Redux.” Alluding to his 1967 essay of the same title, which called out intellectuals and academics submissive to power and uncritical of the Vietnam War, this “redux edition” essay serves to remind intellectuals (e.g.,. academics, writers and artists), of the choices they face. Whether to act as cheerleaders for power, such as those who rationalized the war in Iraq only to have its justifications discredited, or to dissent and voice opposition to power’s illusions, even at the expense of experiencing marginalization in society, becoming orphans in a political wilderness. In post-9/11, post-Obama society, Chomsky presents an urgent reminder of responsibility and call to action.

    Worth mentioning, and often overlooked, in Chomsky’s writings is his dry, sarcastic and dark sense of humor sometimes sprinkled through essays here and there. This collection of essays offers a dose of that, especially the pieces, “One Day in the Life of a Reader of the New York Times” and, odd as it sounds, “The U.S. is a Leading Terror State.”

    The thread that connects these 22 essays together is the question asked in the book’s title, “Who rules the world?” Whether it’s manipulation of U.S. media or wars of aggression on multiple fronts overseas, Chomsky points out with clarity and precision that multinational corporations have an allegiance to profit and those in power have an allegiance to serving sociopathic corporate interests.

    As the world reckons with Europe in disarray after the Brexit vote and burnt-steak-with-ketchup connoisseur Donald Trump taking office in the U.S., Chomsky’s critique of power and propaganda is well-worth reading up on. For those unfamiliar and familiar with Chomsky’s work, Who Rules the World? serves as a great introduction and reminder of the life-long rabble rouser’s contribution to struggles against injustice.


Book Review of Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

For reference to appropriate edition of book, see ISBN: 9780802125392

After recently making headlines for ending her contract with the publishing giant Simon & Schuster over a generous book deal with the hate-mongering alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos, the outspoken feminist writer Roxane Gay reaffirmed her position of being one who doesn’t hold back, despite the risks and loss. That commitment is reaffirmed once again in her latest work, Difficult Women – a collection of 21 short stories, giving voice to the pain, endurance and complexities of women; a voice often denied or dismissed in larger society.

    Ranging from gritty realism to beautiful fantastical stories such as “Requiem for a Glass Heart,” which tells the story of a moving relationship between a glass wife and a stone thrower husband, Gay paints powerful portraits of women broken by life and the world, by the violence committed by men, yet Gay takes female perseverance and complexity and celebrates it. The title story offers kaleidoscopic vignettes of “Loose Women,” “Crazy Women” and “Frigid Women,” among others, encapsulating the whirlwind of emotions the book as a whole provides.

    At times the stories take on the intense subjects of assault and rape (as in the heart-wrenching story, “Strange Gods”), yet confronting such realities and giving voice to those wounds is a large part of what makes Difficult Women a powerful, compelling book.

In defining the role of the artist, the late African-American writer James Baldwin wrote that, “The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through vast forests, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.” Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is emblematic of that goal by giving voice to the sorrows and celebrations of women.


Number of views (3693)/Comments (0)

Please login or register to post comments.

Theme picker


FLC Instructors Take over Brad Clark’s Courses

By: Kim Cassels
Fort Lewis College administrators placed Brad Clark, an associate professor of political science at FLC, on administrative leave after his arrest...
Number of views (55)

FLC develops resources for low income students

By Ethan Hale Indy Staff Writer
Fort Lewis College will begin to offer a tuition payment that will cover all expenses for families who make less than $60,000 a year starting in...
Number of views (303)

The Real College Survey analyzes food and shelter insecurity

By Taylor Hutchison Indy Staff Writer
Across the nation, the Real College Survey started Fall 2019 ending Oct. 31, and collected data from colleges such as Fort Lewis College. The...
Number of views (182)
Student artists create aquatic life in the art courtyard

Student artists create aquatic life in the art courtyard

By Charlotte Williams Indy Staff Writer
Aquatic creatures line the brick walls of the art courtyard as a result of a project for a communicative design class from Oct. 28 through Nov. 15
Number of views (466)

Theme picker

Advertise with us

Would you like to advertise your business, event or cause with the Independent?

The Independent gives clients the opportunity to reach one of the best target markets in the Durango Area.

Various advertising options are available. Click here for more information!


The Independent | Fort Lewis College | 1000 Rim Drive | Durango, CO 81301 | 970-247-7405 |  independent@fortlewis.edu