Noam Chomsky on John Dewey, interviewed May 28, 2003, Stony Brook University:
Interviewer: We only have just a minute left, unfortunately, but one of the quotes that you refer to is John Dewey in your miseducation book and I'll just read it: "The ultimate aim of production is not production of goods, but the production of free human beings associated with one another on terms of equality." Could you just maybe end with a few comments about that.
Chomsky: Well, John Dewey was the leading American social philosopher was also by our standards pretty radical. I mean, he, I think his position is correct that Bertrand Russell took very similar positions and yes a decent education ought to be creating free, independent, creative human beings. It doesn't have to be developing them it has to be allowing them to follow those natural instincts; those are natural among children--the educational system has to beat it out of them and make them obedient and subordinate and so on. But a decent educational system would allow these natural aspects of human nature to flourish and encourage them. And it would be part of developing a free and democratic society of real participation. But of course that runs counter to elite interests. It's worth remembering that the United States was not founded to be a democratic society and elites do not want it to be a democratic society. It's supposed to be what political scientists sometimes call a "polyarchy," a system basically of elite decision and public ratification. And if you had the kind of educational system that Dewey spent his life committed to, you wouldn't be able to sustain that. People would become active, involved, engaged, and would try to create a truly functioning democratic society which would, as Dewey also pointed out, require an industrial democracy. That means democratizing production, commerce, and so on, which means eliminating the whole structure of capitalist hierarchy. His positions were, well, he's very, uh, real "Mainstreeet America" but radical from the point of view of prevailing doctrine. And I think he's quite right about that. In fact just to go to politics, Dewey also pointed out that until that's done, unless that's done, politics will remain what he called the shadow cast by business over society and the educational system will be a system of indoctrination and control. I was lucky as a kid to be sent to a Deweyite school it was quite, quite an exciting experience.
Interviewer: On that note we have to wrap up but thank you very much.[Applause]
Chomsky interviewed in 2003: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZFuOZ0yTNM&feature=player_embedded
Transcribed from video by David Hildebrand.