Saturday, April 9, 2011

Noam Chomsky: On Mideast and Wisconsin

Noam Chomsky: On Mideast and Wisconsin

Interview with Luke Savage from The Varsity

April 6, 2011

By Noam Chomsky and Luke Savage

The Varsity (TV)

The Varsity: I thought we could start with the recent upheavals in the
Middle East. Could you discuss recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya,
and elsewhere? What do you think is at the root of this regional
upheaval and what are its possible implications for the region, and
for the rest of the world?

Noam Chomsky: First of all it's worth bearing in mind that upheavals
are really not new. It's kind of like an infectious wave, so one
started then the other broke out then another one did but each one of
them has origins going well back. So take Egypt, the most important
country. The demonstration in Egypt — Tahrir Square, the January 25th
movement — was initiated by a group of young people — tech savvy young
people who call themselves the "April 6th movement". Why the April 6th
movement? The reason is that on April 6th, 2008 there was a major
labour action planned at the biggest industrial conglomerate in Egypt
along with solidarity actions, and it was all crushed by force by the
very brutal security system.

Well, we didn't hear much about that here, but it means a lot there,
so that gave the name to the April 6th movement. What that reflects is
that there have been substantial labour struggles, labour militancy
against the dictatorship — trying to gain elementary rights and some
elements of democracy. It kind of blew up on January 25th but it's
been going on a long time. And the same in the other countries: if you
look there's been protests, repressions, violence, torture, more
protests. This wave, it actually got started in Western Sahara, but
that was crushed very quickly by Morocco. Then it went to Tunisia.
There, it succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship, lit a spark, and
then it spread all over the region.

And it's very important. For one thing it's, in many ways, the most
dramatic [and] possibly significant democracy uprising in recent
history. And it has a lot of promise, but plenty of problems. Some of
the problems are internal, some are external. You can see them
coinciding in the countries that the United States and the West are
really concerned about: namely the ones that have oil and that have
loyal dictators. If a country has plenty of oil and a loyal dictator,
the West is going to back the dictator to the hilt, and that's what
happened in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain — which is kind of like
an offshoot of Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the repression was so severe that people
could barely even appear for the demonstrations, and there's no
criticism of that in the West because their dictators are fine. In
Egypt, the US and the West followed what is, in fact, a familiar
gameplan when you can't hang on to a favoured dictator. What you do is
you hold on as long as possible. When it's impossible, typically when
the army turns against him, which is what happened in Egypt, then
[you] shelve him and try to restore as much as you can of the old
order, and that's in fact what's happening in Egypt and Tunisia.

A different case is Libya — plenty of oil but not a loyal dictator, so
the West would be happy to get rid of him, even though they've
supported him right to the end. I mean, the US and Britain have been
strongly supporting him right to the present day. I don't have time to
go into the details, but they're interesting. In any event, if there's
a chance to get rid of him they'd be happy to do it. So in fact, the
Western powers have intervened in support of the rebellion. Of course,
everything is called "humanitarian intervention"… But for example,
they didn't call for a ceasefire for both sides — they called for a
ceasefire for the government forces.

TV: The primary impetus for the rebellion in Egypt — you mentioned the
labour movement — but there also seems to have been a component of
secular nationalism. What do you think the primary impetus for the
anti-Gaddafi movement in Libya is?

NC: Hatred of Gaddafi — he's a brutal, vicious dictator. He's been in
for a long time, '69. There's been plenty of protest, mostly
repressed. He has plenty of support too, you can tell that from the
reports, but there's a strong popular opposition to the dictatorship,
as there is throughout the entire region… Dictators are not popular.
Sometimes they're powerful enough and strongly enough supported by the
West so they can crush opposition — as, for example, in Saudi Arabia.
And Gaddafi's done that for a long time, with plenty of Western
support, incidentally. But this time, it broke through and the West
would be quite happy to get rid of him. That's why the Western powers
are intervening in support of the rebellion.

TV: I'd like to turn now to the topic of your talk at U of T in April,
which is entitled "The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom
and Survival." Could you talk about the "State-Corporate Complex"? How
it is manifested today in the United States and elsewhere, and why is
it a threat?

NC: Well, it's been there forever. I mean the state [and the]
interaction between state power and concentrations of private power
goes back hundreds of years, in fact, Adam Smith talked about it. But
it takes different forms at different times. And since the 1970s there
has been a kind of a vicious cycle that was initiated [then]. It
started with financialization of the economy and export of production
that led to heavy concentration of profit in financial capital, that
translated itself into political power. Political power then enhanced
it by introduction of a whole range of policies, ranging from tax
policies to deregulation, which further enhanced corporate power,
increasingly financial power.

By now, without going through the details, the result is that in the
United States, as everyone knows, there is tremendous inequality. But
what is less known is that the inequality primarily comes from
stratospheric concentration of wealth in a fraction of one per cent of
the population. If you take that out it's unequal, but not madly
unequal, and that's a result of this process.

In the meantime, for the majority of the population, incomes have
pretty much stagnated, work hours have gone up, and conditions are
rotten. There are repeated financial crises ever since the
deregulation set in, and the big corporations are just paid off by the
taxpayer […] they're rescued. Then they're richer than ever and set up
for the next crisis. That's a really severe threat. It almost crashed
the economy and the next time around it'll be worse. Quite apart from
the fact that it almost utterly undermines any democratic functioning
of the state — and it's pretty similar in other countries — the United
States happens to be extreme.

TV: A lot of this seems to be playing out right now in Wisconsin where
the Tea Party, the state government, and the unions are in a direct
conflict about collective bargaining. There was a recent New Yorker
article that alleged that the Tea Party movement was receiving much of
its financial backing from the Koch Brothers, who are also financial
backers of Governor Scott Walker. The Tea Party is often characterized
as a "grassroots movement." Do you agree with that assessment, and how
would you characterize the events in Wisconsin?

NC: Well, it's true that there's a confrontation between the Tea Party
and the popular movement, but that's kind of misleading. I mean,
there's overwhelming support for the protesters. First of all, it's a
major event… The Tea Party has never even dreamed of putting tens of
thousands of people on the streets day after day, occupying the state
capital… It's a major uprising. And it has plenty of support. If you
look at the polls, a large majority of people in Wisconsin support the
protests and are opposed to the legislation.

The Tea Party is a pretty small movement, actually. It's in a sense
grassroots. It comes out of an old nativist tradition that's
relatively affluent, white, anti-foreign, anti-immigrant, it's got
racist elements. It's against "big government" — well, they claim to
be against big government. On the other hand their hero Ronald Reagan
was a great advocate of big government. So it's pretty confused
intellectually, but it appeals to and grows out of a long nativist

On the other hand, it is small and relatively affluent, and it's
perfectly true that it gets massive funding from the corporate sector.
For them, it's their storm troops. So there's a confrontation, but
it's overwhelmingly a popular uprising against the attempt to destroy
the last remnants of the union movement.

TV: In 1970 you gave a lecture called "Government in the Future" which
was about the future of the liberal democratic state. Given the
immense inequities in wealth and income that you've talked about in
the United States, and the events that are playing out right now, what
do you think the future of the liberal democratic state is? Do you
think it's going to survive the next 25 or 30 years? What do you think
the alternatives are?

NC: Well, I think the answer to that question is actually being played
out on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin. It depends which of these
forces wins. There are pro-democratic forces which are protesting,
there are anti-democratic forces which are dedicated to trying to
impose a kind of a narrow corporate tyranny. And how this plays out,
we'll see.


The Varsity: I thought we could start with the recent upheavals in the
Middle East. Could you discuss recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya,
and elsewhere? What do you think is at the root of this regional
upheaval and what are its possible implications for the region, and
for the rest of the world?
Friday, April 08 2011 @ 06:34 PM UTC

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posted by u2r2h at 3:25 AM


Blogger windcatcher said...

Chomsky said: “Plainly, the U.S. and allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people; if that happens, not only will the U.S. not control the region, but it will be thrown out.”

The simple truth can be told in one sentence, it is the US government lies that are confusing and deliberately misleading. Their propaganda against the American People goes on every day.

Chomsky was not only referring to the Middle East and Africa, but also referring to our American Democracy (government for and by the People) that has been overthrown by the corporate Fascist Oligarchy.

You sheep had better wake up to the fact that the Fascist Oligarchy is at WAR with the American People and our Democracy via the Democrats, Republicans and the Libertarians. Look what they have done to the US in the last ten years. They have moved their industrial base to Communist China (their partners), sacked our National Treasury and enslaved American citizens to debt as they purposely bankrupted the United States with unjust wars and bankster fraud. You sheep owe $126, 087 each to the banksters and you know how banksters are, they want you to pay them or enslave you (think austerity). YOU are the ENEMY to them and we are under attack, they are using military, financial, biological and weather modification weapons AGAINST YOU. The rest of the world knows it but Americans are so brainwashed and stupid that they think that the US Fascist Oligarchy represents them!

When you brainwashed sheep wake up, you will have to fight to get your American Democracy back, then we will see if you have any will or not. Man up you whiney little weenies, the Free World is watching!

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”. -- Benito Mussolini

Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 3:46:00 PM PDT  

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