Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky

Author of this book Noam Chomsky is a philosopher, historian, political activist and of course a really brilliant writer, I wrote something more about him in one of my previous articles.

The book Profit Over People is about the new world order which were set after both world wars and especially at the end of cold war. After collapse of communism in the end of 20th century there comes also globalization, things changed all over the world. The book is about spreading neoliberalism; about its sources and impacts all over the world. Chomsky in this book describes his critiques of our political and economic system.

Link to a Paper book and to an eBook.


Neoliberalism is a deciding political-economic paradigm of our time in which some private elites can control as much of a society life as it`s possible to increase their profit as much as it`s possible. The beginning of neoliberalism we can connect with Thatcher and Reagan`s era. Today the center, right and also big part of traditional left political parties takeover the concept of neoliberalism. Consequences of such system are the same globally; increasing of social and financial inequality, political apathy of people, unstable global economy and outrageous getting rich of the most rich people.

Neoliberalism and global order

Washington Consensus
Neoliberal Washington consensus contains rules of market related principles created by US and international financial institutions as strict structural programs. Those programs include liberalization of trade and finances, allowing that market determines prices, privatization and reducing inflation. The main architects of this consensus were the owners of private companies, big corporations which control big part of global economy and have funds to control creating politics as well as structuring opinions and positions.

The documents on very high levels describes a threat to those interests, especially in Latin America as `radical` and `nationalistic` regimes which reacts on pressure of crowds who want direct improving of standards of their life and developing the system for their needs.

In secret after war documents they give a special role to every part of the world. The most important role of south-east Asia was supplying with sources to industrial forces, Africa was meant for exploited by Europe for a purpose of recovering, Latin America was also meant to be as service area.

How countries develops
There are two obvious questions: 1. Which countries are developed and which not? 2. Can we discover some operative factors?

The answer on first question is pretty obvious. Outside of western Europe there are two important areas; USA and Japan, both areas were excluded from Europe colonization in the past. Japan colonies are other example, Japan didn’t rob their colonies but was developing them with similar level as their own country. Eastern Europe was something different, in 15th century Europe was divided, the western side became developing but the eastern side not – service area. This became more clear when Russia gets out of that system. Even Stalin dictatorship didn’t achieve some more successful industrialization. The conclusion is that countries which developed were those who were free of experiments based on bad ideas which were good for their architects and their fellow.

The second question; how Europe and the rest of the countries which elude their control develops? They did it with radical breaking rules of recognized doctrine of free market. The official history admits that involving of state had a main role in economic growth. If I mentioned just two examples; Japan and South Korea, both of them rejected neoliberal doctrine of their US advisers and choose industrial policy in which the main role had the country. Latin America economies were widely opened to foreign investment which basically wasn’t bad but there were not some big effects for all people`s benefits. Latin America countries have the worst social and financial inequality on the world. There are probably some other reasons but economy is one of the most important.

Consensus without consensus: controlling public opinion

Every normal democratic society should be based on consensus of the guided. This idea became widely used but we can defy it. By one side it is too strong because it suggests that people need to be guided and controlled. By other side it is too weak cause even the most cruel leaders needs some level of consensus of the guided and normally they get it.

One very talkative example is the United Nations organization. At the start it was very good instrument of US policy and they were admired. But decolonization brings something what they called later `tyranny of majority`. Somehow since 1960 US government takes over leadership in using the right of veto against resolutions of UN or of the Security Council, the second one was UK. Since the period of US dislike the UN, in media soon appears articles why the world is acting against US. The important question no one asks should be; why are USA against the world, but that would be perhaps too bizarre. Argentinian political scientist Atilio Boron expose one important fact. In Latin America the democratic process was created at the same time with neoliberal economic reforms and effects for the majority of people were catastrophic.

World Trade Organization

More than half century the UN represented a main US forum for creating world under its image and playing with their allies to achieve global deals about human rights, nuclear tests or environment for which Washington insists that it needs to reflect its values. Sometimes this was all right but the concept isn’t fair at all. That was the way how the after-war history was created, this was mentioned in an article of David Sanger, a political analyst of New York Times. But times are changing. Later the World Trade Organization became US tool for creating global agreements and for exporting US values. Clinton`s administration started to count on WTO instead of UN. Even if there was so much talking about free trade, the US create some very strong protectionist policies.

One of the worst examples from WTO was agreement about telecommunications. This was another useful US tool for foreign policy. The agreement actually allowed that WTO can intervene in seventy countries (members of agreement) and there was no secret that it could function only in interests of superpowers (US). WTO was also allowed to ensure that other countries will permit foreigners to invest in most important sectors of economy. In practice this means that big corporations will get the most benefits cause they master the best positions on the play pool. Besides telecommunications there is a huge problem also the takeover of food resources which continues by the giant corporations.

The problem is known; most benefits will be for business and rich circles, cost load will be dispersed over ordinary people and in such way there will be set new and potentially dangerous weapons against democracy.

Democracy in neoliberal system

Freedom without opportunity is a devil`s gift. Destiny of people who are more vulnerable makes more clear a version of something what should be a civilization. In third countries every day die thousands of children or women because of lack of health care. By UNICEF Those things could be solved with a 25% of military budget of developed countries, just as an example.

The current political public opinion hasn’t much influence on state policy. Not the US not any developed country actually doesn’t have real wish to improve global conditions. Democracy all over the world is under threat; attacks on democracy and on market are connected. The roots of those attacks lays in super power of corporations which are intertwined, they depend on strong countries and are usually unavailable for public.

As already mentioned one of the worst example was Latin America. Because of right wing neoliberal politics which were backed and blessed by Reagan`s administration there was a disaster. And it was because they planned an area for big business as that would necessary means democracy. The military squads there create horrible repression and killed thousands of activists.

Another example was trade agreement NAFTA. It was forcibly voted in Congress even the public opinion was against it. This supposed to be a democracy? The agreement was supported by business world and media who were full of happy promises about benefits for everybody. Later we saw it was not like that, there were not thousands of new jobs, there were forbidden organized meetings by workers, the companies could sue the country and other examples. Mexico was in danger to become another country of `forced neoliberal democracy`.

My opinion

I like this book, it reveals the background of our global economy system. In my article I exposed only a few chapters which I think told us some essential facts. In some way capitalism isnt`s so bad, we have opportunities, we can buy everything we want, we have freedom of speech, we have human rights…

But of course democracy, freedom and human rights are something which is under threat if our system will be guided only by those who have unimaginable source of power and money. Ordinary people should have more role in deciding about important economic and strategic decisions. Sometimes it seems that political elections are just a show for public but the main players are behind a curtain. Anyway, we should stay positive minded, if we people will be active and hold together, we can achieve some changes.

Link to a Paper book and to an eBook.



  1. This book sounds like a very compelling read in the topic of neoliberalism and the rise of global order. I believe Chomsky is onto something here, but I think our putting profits over people has been going on since the beginning of time! I will have to read the book to see what other thoughts he has on this topic. Overall, the ideals presented are age-old. I think most people already know these issues exist, but this book will give them ideas on their origins.

  2. I love reading books but Politics is not really the genre I like to read but after reading this article and the synopsis about Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky It sounds like an interesting one to read and also an essential one that everyone should read about. 

    Thank you for sharing about this book, I’m sure going to try this out and see how it goes.

    • I know, sometimes politic topics can be boring, but sometimes there are also some interesting things. I`m glad you like this book. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Thank you for posting this content here, I really like it when I get some books related to history and mostly on the politics part, as I was going through the post I have come to learn on how things gradually started from the ancient way forward and people have always put profits on others to which it’s looks to be very normal, j am sure to read this book one of the fine days, can you please redirect on where I can get it easily as a hard copy, I really appreciate for coming across this post, I will have to subscribe to your newsfeed to learn more about this and other related posts, thank you.

    From Joy.

    • Hi Joy,

      it is true, there is something in humans that they always put profit over people, usually it is so when we talk about those in power. I appreciate that you like this book an thank you for your comment.
      No problem, I`ll send you a link.


  4. Hey, Luka! I will read the book, thank you for your review! As an English major graduate person, the name Chomsky is one of the most famed. I am very glad to see his name again after more than ten years from graduation on and hear he published a new book.

    • Hi Sam, I`m glad you like this book, it is interesting for sure, Chomsky is a legend. Thank you for your comment!

  5. Many people believe that Democracy in reality is an illusion in order to keep the public opinion in control. Whether this is true or not there are examples in civilized and technologically advanced countries that even though are democratic states they fail to follow the will of the general public in certain serious decisions. In my opinion globalization has made many countries to follow a certain path no matter what politicians promise to the public. We have seen time and time again how easily they change opinions and they do what they want even if this brings public outcry. It’s like we are in train tracks without the possibility to change course because global economy is so much interconnected between most countries that taking a decision could affect many countries across the world.

    • You know, reading your opinion really made me think about it. In some way you are completely right, globalization made things complicated and absolute democracy is very hard to reach. Thank you very much for your comment!

  6. The concept of profit over people is born out of human greed and this greediness has been in us like forever! We can’t deny it exist especially in animal kingdom, not only humans, other animals exhibits some kind of greediness. No matter how much we try to eliminate this, it will not stop in my own opinion. I think it is a global phenomenon with respect to democracy. Honestly, human cannot have freedom and have everything else.

    • Hi, very interesting opinion, I can agree with you. Thank you for taking your time and leave a comment.

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