Deciphering Foreign Policy
Bernie Sanders, then Mayor of Burlington, opened up City Hall for Chomsky to decipher some of the standard tropes surrounding the selling of U.S. foreign policy to the American public and the world. Sanders called Chomsky “an important voice in the wilderness of intellectual life in America.” Chomsky, in the lecture section, comments “a striking fact of the U.S. is the high degree of class consciousness on part of the privileged classes, business, professionals and elite intellectuals and correspondingly there is an unusually low degree of class consciousness on the part of working people.” He examines the roots of this phenomenon. During the Q&A he addresses the important topic “Why do people vote against their own interests?” About history, Chomsky says it “isn’t physics.” In physics if you lie “you’ll be caught very quickly. History isn’t like that. You can lie for a long time.” On Israel-Palestine (remember he is speaking in 1985): “The U.S. won’t tolerate a political settlement. Period. And because we play a decisive role” there will be no just outcome. This brilliant talk stands the test of time and demonstrates the old saying, “the more things change…”
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. His contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 94, he is still active, writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.