2015 Harvard Trade Union Program
The annual question and answer session does not disappoint. This is Chomsky at his best. In response to a question, “Is the middle class doomed?” he says, “The middle class, meaning the working class, has taken it on the chin during this neo-liberal period. But those are policy decisions which can be reversed. Furthermore, the population is in favor of reversing them.” Poll after poll for decades, say on taxes, show “overwhelmingly” people favor “higher taxes on the wealthy and on corporations. But policy goes the other way. Public opinion has almost no effect on policy. That’s not engraved in stone. It can change. Do we sit and watch?” That’s just fine for the rich and powerful. He adds, “The business class is fighting a bitter class war. They are kind of Marxists in reverse.” Chomsky encourages engagement and activism.
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. The MIT professor’s 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.” He is Institute 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 92, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda & the Public Mind, How the World Works, Power Systems and Global Discontents with David Barsamian. His latest books are Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal and Consequences of Capitalism: Manufacturing Discontent and Resistance.