[原创翻译][ 美国 AlterNet ] 为什么美国患有妄想迫害症
Noam Chomsky: Why Americans AreParanoid About Everything (Including Zombies)
Noam Chomsky explainswhy Americans have always had high levels of fear -- fear of Indians, ofAfrican-Americans ... even zombies.
AlterNet / By Noam Chomsky February 19, 2014 |
The following is a transcript ofa part of an interview Noam Chomsky recently did with a group of students viaSkype. Towards the end, a student asks the linguist and critic the quirkyquestion why zombies figure so prominently in American popular culture. Hereplied with a brilliant analysis of the history of fear in America.Question: This might sound kind of random,but I would really like to ask your opinion of why you think there's thispreoccupation with the apocolypse and with zombies right now in ourculture.
[i][i]Noam Chomsky: I’ve never seen a real study, but myguess is that it's a reflection of fear and desperation. It's a veryfrightened country. The United States is an unusually frightened country. And in such circumstances, people concoct either for escape or maybeout of relief, fears that terrible things happen. Actually, the fear of the United States isa pretty interesting cultural phenomenon. It actually goes back to thecolonies. There are some good studies out there. A very interestingbook by a literary critic, Bruce Franklin. It's called War Stars. You might want to take a look at it. It's a study of popular literature, the kind of literature that mostpeople read from the earliest days to the present. When it gets to thepresent it switches to television, things like that. Just kind of popularculture. There are a couple of themes that runthrough it that are pretty striking. For one thing, onemajor theme in popular literature is that we are about to face destruction fromsome terrible, awesome enemy. And at the last minute we are saved by asuperhero or a super weapon, or in recent years high school kids going to thehills to chase away the Russians, things like that. That's onetheme that runs through constantly. And there's a sub-theme. Itturns out this enemy, this horrible enemy that's about to destroy us, issomebody we're crushing. [/i][/i]
So you go back to the early years, theterrible enemy was the Indians, who were going to destroy us. Thecolonists were, of course, invaders. They were invading thecontinent. Whatever you think about the Indians, they weredefending their own territory. There's a scene in the Declaration ofIndependence, people read it every July 4th, but not many people pay attentionto what they're reading. It's kind of like a prayer book, you move onsomewhere else. But if you read it and pay attention, there are somepretty remarkable passages. So one passage is a list of a bill ofindictment against King George the Third of England explaining why thecolonists were revolting. One of them is “He unleashed against us themerciless Indian savages, whose known way of warfare is torture and destruction” and so on. Well, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that and is avery great thinker of the Enlightenment, knew perfectly well that it was the mercilessEnglish savages whose known way of warfare was destruction and murder and weretaking over the country and driving out or exterminating the natives. But it's switched in the Declaration of Independence and nobody commentson it for years. That's another sign of the same concern.
After that it became the slaves. There was going to be a slave revolt, a terrible slave revolt, and theslave population, the black population was going to rise up and kill all themen, rape all the women, destroy the country, something like that. Thenit goes on through the centuries. It becomes modern times, Hispanicnarco-traffickers are going to come in and destroy the society. One thingafter another. And these are real fears.
That's a lot of what lies behind theextremely unusual gun culture in the United States. It's quite unique. Homicides, deaths by guns in the United States are way outside—there's a kind ofhysteria about having guns. A large part of the population believes theyjust have to have them to protect themselves. From who? From theUnited Nations. Or from the federal government. From aliens. Maybe from zombies. Whoever it is. We just have to have gunsto protect ourselves. That's not known elsewhere in the world. Maybe in, say, Syria, a country that's warring you might find somethinglike that. But in a country that's not only at peace but has an unusualsecurity and a great degree of freedom, that's quite remarkable.
I suspect that what you're bringing up ispart of that. I think it's, much of it is kind of just a recognition, atsome level of the psyche, that if you've got your boot on somebody's neck,there's something wrong. And that the people you're oppressing may riseup and defend themselves, and then you're in trouble. And another is strangeproperties the country has always had of fear of invented dangers. Thereis a kind of paranoid streak in the culture that's pretty unusual.
Noam Chomsky is a professor oflinguistics and philosophy at MIT.