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The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation With Noam Chomsky

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In the tradition of Joe Sacco's graphic journalism comes the first interview-based graphic novel treatment of Noam Chomsky's political ideas and activism. An astonishing graphic novel that brings Chomsky's political analysis to bear on real people's stories on the frontlines of America's struggle for economic justice and human dignity. The Instinct for Cooperation innovativ In the tradition of Joe Sacco's graphic journalism comes the first interview-based graphic novel treatment of Noam Chomsky's political ideas and activism. An astonishing graphic novel that brings Chomsky's political analysis to bear on real people's stories on the frontlines of America's struggle for economic justice and human dignity. The Instinct for Cooperation innovatively balances those real-life stories of struggle with conversations the author has had with Chomsky on how best to understand them. Although the themes are wide-ranging, this book is ultimately about the importance and need for spaces of resistance in countering state and other institutional forms of violence. For example, when discussing the removal of books by police and sanitation workers from Zuccotti Park in November of 2011, Chomsky paused to say "Arizona knows all about that," referring to the 2010 ban of Mexican American Studies in Tucson schools under Arizona House Bill 2281, which deemed classes that taught "ethnic solidarity" to be illegal. Rather than footnote the reference, Wilson tells that story. Like Joe Sacco's animated political journalism, this book offers a unique perspective on current issues, while providing a major contribution to the understanding of Chomsky's political theories.


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In the tradition of Joe Sacco's graphic journalism comes the first interview-based graphic novel treatment of Noam Chomsky's political ideas and activism. An astonishing graphic novel that brings Chomsky's political analysis to bear on real people's stories on the frontlines of America's struggle for economic justice and human dignity. The Instinct for Cooperation innovativ In the tradition of Joe Sacco's graphic journalism comes the first interview-based graphic novel treatment of Noam Chomsky's political ideas and activism. An astonishing graphic novel that brings Chomsky's political analysis to bear on real people's stories on the frontlines of America's struggle for economic justice and human dignity. The Instinct for Cooperation innovatively balances those real-life stories of struggle with conversations the author has had with Chomsky on how best to understand them. Although the themes are wide-ranging, this book is ultimately about the importance and need for spaces of resistance in countering state and other institutional forms of violence. For example, when discussing the removal of books by police and sanitation workers from Zuccotti Park in November of 2011, Chomsky paused to say "Arizona knows all about that," referring to the 2010 ban of Mexican American Studies in Tucson schools under Arizona House Bill 2281, which deemed classes that taught "ethnic solidarity" to be illegal. Rather than footnote the reference, Wilson tells that story. Like Joe Sacco's animated political journalism, this book offers a unique perspective on current issues, while providing a major contribution to the understanding of Chomsky's political theories.

30 review for The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation With Noam Chomsky

  1. 4 out of 5

    Randall Wallace

    This is a graphic novel about Noam for the burgeoning market for hip activists who refuse to read. It has some facts of interest, for example when Occupy was broken up one of the first things confiscated and thrown away by the police were the books. Never underestimate the power of books, but especially books that aren’t largely illustration. The best quote inside is, “One of the goals I think, I can’t prove it, of shifting to online courses is that it separates people from one another and in fa This is a graphic novel about Noam for the burgeoning market for hip activists who refuse to read. It has some facts of interest, for example when Occupy was broken up one of the first things confiscated and thrown away by the police were the books. Never underestimate the power of books, but especially books that aren’t largely illustration. The best quote inside is, “One of the goals I think, I can’t prove it, of shifting to online courses is that it separates people from one another and in fact many things in this society are designed quite consciously to atomize society.” Also, universities built after the 70’s have no campus meeting places for students. Civil Rights was a movement of Mutual Aid, Solidarity, and that’s what happens when the people are liberated even a little bit. The Legend of Robin Hood became famous because he was defending the commons against nobles; now the nobles are winning as explained by Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    Having met Chomsky when Chomsky was on a speaking tour, Community College teacher Jeffery Wilson wanted to talk with him because he thought it would enrich his course. He contacted Chomsky and flew east to meet him at MIT. Each chapter begins with a conversation with Chomsky and then is elaborated into the follow up research on the topics that came up on Wilson’s part. Chomsky believes there is a natural desire for people to cooperate but that many factors keep them from doing so. One element is Having met Chomsky when Chomsky was on a speaking tour, Community College teacher Jeffery Wilson wanted to talk with him because he thought it would enrich his course. He contacted Chomsky and flew east to meet him at MIT. Each chapter begins with a conversation with Chomsky and then is elaborated into the follow up research on the topics that came up on Wilson’s part. Chomsky believes there is a natural desire for people to cooperate but that many factors keep them from doing so. One element is student debt. Another is the focus on the individual as opposed to the group. Some historic events are discussed and retold as the Tucson Arizona ban on a successful Mexican-American Studies program. Wilson follows up by interviewing some of the students involved in protesting this action. Chomsky also talks about the reaction after the 80s to student activism and the steps taken to stop it. Sproul’s Plaza was another example of when people came together. In the Occupy movement, they set up a people’s library. Again Wilson interviews some of those involved. The illustrations are in black and white with many close-ups of the people speaking. The text is easy to follow because of this. Chomsky is depicted in a sweater, presenting his points simply but effectively. There are some iconic images such as the Greensboro lunch counter strike and other incidents in the Civil Rights movement. The attack on Social Security shows the elderly in some societies being aided, but in the United States being an object of indifference. This is another example of how the graphic novel can deal with ideas and social issues. History taught partially through these means can be an effective way to provide information.

  3. 4 out of 5

    vostendrasamigosyotengolibros

    Thanks to Edelweiss for give a pdf copy of the book in exchange for a honest review. Well this was amazing it's a wonderful gn super easy to read and concrete, the drawing is okay and easy to follow if the task was doing some of the Chomsky's ideas accessible this is a wonderful success and it's very relevant to everything that is happening now, it's an amazing book and the research work behind it also incredible. I loved it, I specially recommend for people in the EEUU who is in student debt, it Thanks to Edelweiss for give a pdf copy of the book in exchange for a honest review. Well this was amazing it's a wonderful gn super easy to read and concrete, the drawing is okay and easy to follow if the task was doing some of the Chomsky's ideas accessible this is a wonderful success and it's very relevant to everything that is happening now, it's an amazing book and the research work behind it also incredible. I loved it, I specially recommend for people in the EEUU who is in student debt, it says things that we already know very well but it's important to know that you are not alone and don't have to be ashamed for anything.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Derek Minno-Bloom

    What a great comic, it is one of hope. It captures Chomsky's ideas that humans naturally want to cooperate and not compete. Darwin said evolution is about the survival of the fittest , but he also said that the species that collaborate most survive at way higher rates than the species that heavily compete with each other. This comic helps us remember that humans can love and support each other, that they can share power and not hoard it! What a great comic, it is one of hope. It captures Chomsky's ideas that humans naturally want to cooperate and not compete. Darwin said evolution is about the survival of the fittest , but he also said that the species that collaborate most survive at way higher rates than the species that heavily compete with each other. This comic helps us remember that humans can love and support each other, that they can share power and not hoard it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan Sanks

    Interesting to learn about the Occupy Wall Street Library, and the fact that when the police broke up the protesters, one of the first things they destroyed were the books.

  6. 5 out of 5

    GONZA

    As a long time Chomsky reader, I have to admit that putting images in one of his interview made everything absolutely clear and could be a direct line to understand the way he reasons. Come lettrice di lunga data di Chomsky, ammetto che trasporre una delle sue interviste in immagini, ha creato una via diretta e chiarissima ai ragionamenti di uno dei piú grandi intellettuali viventi. THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE PREVIEW!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    See https://thefreeonline.wordpress.com/2... Voting for US President Donald Trump is worse than voting for Hitler, Chomsky told interviewer Linda Solomon Wood, during a webinar sponsored by Canada’s National Observer in April. “Hitler was perhaps the worst criminal in the history of mankind.” He wanted to murder millions of Jews, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, others ”. But what does Trump want to do? He wants to destroy the prospects of an organized human life. “ The 91-year-old linguist and social cr See https://thefreeonline.wordpress.com/2... Voting for US President Donald Trump is worse than voting for Hitler, Chomsky told interviewer Linda Solomon Wood, during a webinar sponsored by Canada’s National Observer in April. “Hitler was perhaps the worst criminal in the history of mankind.” He wanted to murder millions of Jews, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, others ”. But what does Trump want to do? He wants to destroy the prospects of an organized human life. “ The 91-year-old linguist and social critic remains remarkably optimistic about future options, but only if we collectively confront the three existential crises The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky: Wilson, Jeffrey, Gouveia, Eliseu: 9781609808167: he identified in a 2019 interview with the National Observer: nuclear war, global warming, and (prophetically) pandemics. He warned then that humanity has to decide “if organized human society will survive a couple more generations.” Trump is exercising the “ultimate sadism” and exacerbating all three threats, Chomsky now claims. Consider Trump’s response to COVID-19. Critics have rightly noted inconsistent messages, political stances and divisions, fights with governors, and ignoring medical authorities. Chomsky adds a lesser-known dimension: While “the pandemic is raging, people are dying, and hospitals can’t keep up,” the Trump administration proposed a budget that would continue to cut parts of the government related to health, such as the Centers for The diseases. Control. And Senate Majority Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the administration’s “true evil genius”, in Chomsky’s words, declared that the congressional pandemic stimulus program should not bail out the Democratic-led states that have provided pensions for firefighters, teachers and other workers. Noam Chomsky: What History Shows Us Faced with the prospect of a thermonuclear war, Trump’s approach is “let’s make things worse”, dismantling the arms control regime established by previous agreements between the US and Russia, including the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF), “open skies” and the new START treaties, despite pleas from Russian President Vladimir Putin to renegotiate them. The military industry loves it, Chomsky notes: “They are getting huge amounts of money to build weapons that can destroy everything. And then in the future they will get more money to try to build defenses against these weapons that we are encouraging others to produce. “ Beyond dismantling gun control, Trump’s foreign policy amounts to orchestrating an international alliance of “the most cruel, harsh and reactionary states,” environmentally destructive and ethnonationalist regimes like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy and dictatorships in Egypt and the Gulf states. And then there’s the climate crisis, one that policy analysts sometimes call a “wicked” problem, in part because no one needs to press a red button or inadvertently spread a virus for it to undermine human society, just carry on as usual. Chomsky reminds us that while the world will eventually escape the pandemic, albeit “at severe cost,” we will not escape “from the melting of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels [and] other extremely damaging consequences of global warming. “ But the US, with its global power, is in the hands of a president and a party that wants to make the crisis “as severe and imminent as possible.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    Noam Chomsky is a man for all media. The latest is a comic called The Instinct for Cooperation. Jeffrey Wilson has parlayed a chance encounter with Chomsky into an interview, and then ancillary interviews, to produce a short comic book on how capitalism keeps people under control by keeping them apart. It works. The natural instinct is to cooperate, to help, to enjoy the company of others. What capitalism seeks is to keep them apart, ignorant and unable to effect change. The examples in the book Noam Chomsky is a man for all media. The latest is a comic called The Instinct for Cooperation. Jeffrey Wilson has parlayed a chance encounter with Chomsky into an interview, and then ancillary interviews, to produce a short comic book on how capitalism keeps people under control by keeping them apart. It works. The natural instinct is to cooperate, to help, to enjoy the company of others. What capitalism seeks is to keep them apart, ignorant and unable to effect change. The examples in the book include shutting down Mexican-American Studies in Arizona, online courses instead of in person, and the free library at Occupy Wall Street. Student debt has become so crippling that graduates must take the first available job, and have little hope of ever escaping slavery. These are the symptoms of neoliberalism in control, and make for a shallow, depressed and frustrated life. Chomsky, now 90, is the friendly great uncle, dispensing knowledge, wisdom and experience. These hundred pages could have transmitted infinitely more information, especially since most of the images are just people being interviewed. But the medium – the comic – gives hope that the messages that are presented will be communicated to a new generation. David Wineberg

  9. 4 out of 5

    Y.S. Stephen

    The Instinct for Cooperation is a transcript (albeit in a graphic novel form) of discussions between Jeff Wilson, a PhD student and Noam Chomsky, a social activist and political critic, on various social and political themes. WHO WOULD ENJOY IT? Any person worried by the present socio-political issues in the western world will love reading this book. Young people in colleges and universities will definitely get some value from it. IS IT WORTH READING? Though this book did not offer any particular cl The Instinct for Cooperation is a transcript (albeit in a graphic novel form) of discussions between Jeff Wilson, a PhD student and Noam Chomsky, a social activist and political critic, on various social and political themes. WHO WOULD ENJOY IT? Any person worried by the present socio-political issues in the western world will love reading this book. Young people in colleges and universities will definitely get some value from it. IS IT WORTH READING? Though this book did not offer any particular clear answers to issues like student debt, wage disparities, racial injustices, institutional violence, it did well to highlight causes as well as recent examples of the ways governmental powers are used to suppress the poor and the young. Aspiring activists and social campaigners will learn a lot from this book. Well worth reading. ----------- The Instinct for Cooperation by Jeff Wilson and Eliseu Gouveia is available to buy on all major online bookstores from April 2018. Many thanks to Seven Stories Press for review copy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    A quick read - a graphic guide to introduce someone to Chomsky's ideas on human nature and cooperation as it relates to political and social structures. I don't think there's enough depth to say that one would have a solid grasp on these theories after reading this, but it might cause you to seek out Chomsky's full text on a particular topic (I just noticed Nick Sousanis's blurb on the inside cover claims nearly the same thing. Love that guy!). It was cool to see U of A mentioned so frequently, A quick read - a graphic guide to introduce someone to Chomsky's ideas on human nature and cooperation as it relates to political and social structures. I don't think there's enough depth to say that one would have a solid grasp on these theories after reading this, but it might cause you to seek out Chomsky's full text on a particular topic (I just noticed Nick Sousanis's blurb on the inside cover claims nearly the same thing. Love that guy!). It was cool to see U of A mentioned so frequently, especially now that Chomsky is on faculty there. Also the TUSD MAS Program fiasco is featured, so that hit close to home too.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Tan

    The graphic novel doesn't explore any new ideas from Noam Chomsky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Because the medium is so much less intimidating, it makes sharing NC's ideas all the more accessible, which is really what's needed. It distills his thoughts to the essentials with references to Occupy Wall Street , other important but not always well-known historical events and struggles we sometimes find ourselves in today. Four stars because I was left wanting more and I had hoped for so The graphic novel doesn't explore any new ideas from Noam Chomsky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Because the medium is so much less intimidating, it makes sharing NC's ideas all the more accessible, which is really what's needed. It distills his thoughts to the essentials with references to Occupy Wall Street , other important but not always well-known historical events and struggles we sometimes find ourselves in today. Four stars because I was left wanting more and I had hoped for some deeper conversation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ursula

    This is the a great introduction to Noam Chomsky's work, particularly for readers who may feel intimidated by the idea of sitting down with heavier texts. Jeffrey Wilson, a community college instructor, interviewed Chomsky about the Occupy Wall Street movement while also providing other examples of cooperation throughout history. The chapter that stood out for me was the one that detailed how the Mexican American Studies curriculum was dismantled in Arizona. This graphic novel will likely change This is the a great introduction to Noam Chomsky's work, particularly for readers who may feel intimidated by the idea of sitting down with heavier texts. Jeffrey Wilson, a community college instructor, interviewed Chomsky about the Occupy Wall Street movement while also providing other examples of cooperation throughout history. The chapter that stood out for me was the one that detailed how the Mexican American Studies curriculum was dismantled in Arizona. This graphic novel will likely change your concepts of democracy and America.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charles Collyer

    Interesting book - based on an interview with Noam Chomsky and offering a sample of his thought. The graphic format seems engaging for young people interested in activism. It provides a glimpse of the occupy movement, among others. A theme is that people are naturally cooperative, but to prevent a loss of control over the oals that might be pursued , society is structured to keep people from organizing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ulysses

    I find Noam Chomsky's ideas interesting but his person grating, so a graphic novel exploring some of his theory seemed like a creative compromise. Indeed, this is a fun little book, but the title is no joke: it is nothing more than a 30-60 minute interview, put into graphic form, and in many places the literal nature of the project is a bit much (e.g. panels of the author and Chomsky talking in Chomsky's office while the phone or fax machine rings in the background). In the end I feel like I was I find Noam Chomsky's ideas interesting but his person grating, so a graphic novel exploring some of his theory seemed like a creative compromise. Indeed, this is a fun little book, but the title is no joke: it is nothing more than a 30-60 minute interview, put into graphic form, and in many places the literal nature of the project is a bit much (e.g. panels of the author and Chomsky talking in Chomsky's office while the phone or fax machine rings in the background). In the end I feel like I was not the target reader for this book, but it would be ideal as an educational introduction for high school or college students on mutual aid, solidarity, and movement building.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Strong graphic novel describing Noam Chomsky and some of the more recent political movements that impact our day to day lives. The art is clear, the storytelling easy to follow and the philosophy worth absorbing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Britton

    “Even if you think you know all about Chomsky, this is well worth checking out.” Ted Rall “this book offers a unique perspective on current issues, while providing a major contribution to the understanding of Chomsky’s political theories.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Altman

    A pretty good way to read Chomsky, in that it's pretty easy to read. The art is not very good, but I suspect if the author tried to publish this as something other than a graphic novel, it wouldn't have gotten published. It needed the gimmick. A pretty good way to read Chomsky, in that it's pretty easy to read. The art is not very good, but I suspect if the author tried to publish this as something other than a graphic novel, it wouldn't have gotten published. It needed the gimmick.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    I really loved hearing about occupy Wall Street from people who were there and the things Noam Chomsky had to say.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Riegs

    Librarians, read Chapter 4: The People's Library. If you aren't down for guerilla libraries in the Revolution, get out. Librarians, read Chapter 4: The People's Library. If you aren't down for guerilla libraries in the Revolution, get out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Reading

    Accessable primer that covers many of Chomsky's core observations. Appreciated the accuracy of the OWS segment. Accessable primer that covers many of Chomsky's core observations. Appreciated the accuracy of the OWS segment.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Desiree Sotomayor

    Nothing incredibly new for me, though still a good refresher & inspiring as always.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve Center

    Not much surprise. Capitalism is bad communism is good. I agree with the points on student loans bring bad but there are no actual suggestions on how to make things better.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth Seefelt

    Fantastic book on so many levels. Very thought provoking.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ketan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan K

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janice

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jan Angevine

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