2021 Chomsky Interviews 3-pack
Tipping points are in the air. And with good reason. A planetary emergency looms in the not-too-distant future. This isn’t alarmist talk but the best judgment of our leading scientists. The prestigious International Union for Conservation of Nature has just issued its starkest warning to date: “Humanity has reached a tipping point. Our window of opportunity to respond is narrowing quickly.” Imagine if we had paid attention to Lyndon Johnson’s science advisory committee in 1965 when it noted in their report entitled Restoring the Quality of Our Environment, that “Pollutants have altered on a global scale the carbon dioxide content of the air and the lead concentrations in ocean waters and human populations.” That was 56 years ago. Today, Noam Chomsky warns, “The world is hurtling toward disaster.” And we have a segment of the political class that is in denial.
Many years ago I heard Noam Chomsky lecture. He compared U.S. foreign policy to the way the mafia operates. That caught the audience’s attention. Everyone had seen The Godfather movie. Chomsky went on to explain that obedience to the Godfather was non-negotiable. Do what you're told and you’ll not only be protected but richly rewarded. And if you step out of line, the Godfather will come down on you. So it is with U.S. foreign policy. Dissent is not tolerated. Countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Chile, Indonesia and others, with politics and systems that defied Washington, have felt the wrath of U.S. power. The U.S. rules the world.
The consequences of capitalism during the pandemic have revealed glaring failures and monstrous brutalities. It’s a highly unstable economic system, careening from crisis to crisis. For a handful, it produces unparalleled levels of wealth. But for the many, if they even have a job, it’s a paycheck to paycheck existence. What are the priorities? The U.S. spends close to a trillion on the military. That’s more than the next ten countries combined. Compare that with the less than $50 billion allotted to the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. With robust funding it’s very likely we would have been better prepared for the pandemic and would not be the world leader in deaths. The future? We will move toward a more humane and decent society or continue on our present destructive path.
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.” 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 93, 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, Consequences of Capitalism: Manufacturing Discontent and Resistance, and Chronicles of Dissent: Collected Interviews with David Barsamian, 1984-1996.