- Noam Chomskyworld-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. He is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught for more than 50 years.
In the run-up to the U.S. midterm elections, we speak with world-renowned linguist, dissident and author Noam Chomsky. “What are the domestic policies of the Trump administration?” Chomsky says. “Very straightforward: lavish gifts on the rich, powerful corporate sector and try to undermine and destroy anything that might be of benefit to the general population.”
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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. With the U.S. midterm elections a day away, we continue our conversation with the world-renowned linguist, dissident, author Noam Chomsky. Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh and I interviewed him from Tucson, Arizona, where he now teaches at the University of Arizona. Noam Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he's taught for more than 50 years.
During Part 1 of the conversation, that we played on Friday, Noam Chomsky talked about what’s at stake in tomorrow’s midterm elections.
NOAM CHOMSKY: So, is it the most gravest moment in my life? Yes. But also in all of human history. And things like the election will have an impact on this.
AMY GOODMAN: During our conversation on Thursday, I asked Professor Chomsky to outline some of the issues he thinks should be followed most closely.
NOAM CHOMSKY: What are the domestic policies of the Trump administration? They’re very straightforward: lavish gifts on the rich, powerful corporate sector and try to undermine and destroy anything that might be of benefit to the general population. That’s quite explicitly what’s happening before our eyes.
So, take the legislative achievement that the Republican Party is most proud of: their tax bill—as economist Joseph Stiglitz described it, the donor relief plan of 2017. It’s an enormous gift to wealth, corporate power, including real estate interests, incidentally. Enormous gift, frankly. And it has the secondary advantage—as the Republican leadership was quick to point out, it has the advantage of creating a huge deficit, which can be used as a pretext for getting rid of social spending. U.S. social spending is already very meager by world standards. We’re down at the bottom of the OECD, the 30 rich countries, along with Greece and Turkey, in social benefits spendings. But there’s something there, so let’s get rid of it. Let’s undermine Medicaid, which goes to the undeserving poor; let’s undermine Social Security, which working people just rely on for survival—all because we have to lavish gifts on the super-rich and ensure that the corporations have profits bulging out of their ears. The claim of the pretext for the tax scam was that it was going to sharply increase investment. That was pretty outlandish. To start with, corporations already have—are just overflowing with profits and wealth. And predictably, it did nothing of the sort.
Those are the domestic programs. Then come all of these international horrors that we’re talking about. I shouldn’t—don’t want to suggest that the mainstream Democrats are all that better in these respects. Somewhat. And there is a progressive wave among the sectors of the Democratic Party that could lead in a much more constructive direction. But the midterms next week are going to have a critical impact on how the country goes and, given the enormous power and wealth of this country, what happens to the world.
AMY GOODMAN: And on that issue, you have been extremely critical of Democrats. But with this whole discussion of whether the House will turn Democrat, and possibly the Senate, do you think it matters?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I think it matters. Yes, we have every reason to be critical of the Democrats. These policies of the last generation, the neoliberal policies that have led to these conditions we’ve been talking about, the so-called New Democrats, the Clinton Democrats, have been right at the forefront. Say, deregulation of financial institutions, one of Clinton’s great achievements, which led directly to the financial crisis, along with—one of the factors that led to it—his attack on the welfare program. Lots that we can blame them for.
In fact, I should say that some of the things that Trump has done, which are—which merit praise, are bitterly attacked by the Democrats and by the Republican hawks, in particular, with regard to Korea. In April, last April, the two Koreas, North and South, issued a historic declaration, Panmunjom Declaration, in which they laid out for the first time fairly detailed plans and moves towards a reduction of tension, reconciliation, a reduction of weaponry, denuclearization. Very sensible, detailed plans. And they virtually pleaded with the outside world, meaning the United States, not to interfere. What they said is, the two Koreas will proceed with these plans on their own accord—crucially. In other words, let us do it. Trump, to his credit, has not interfered. The Singapore summit, for which he was lambasted, was one of his more—one of his very few admirable achievements. He not only did not intervene, but he even withdrew what he correctly described as provocative U.S.-South Korean military operations. Well, all of that should be supported. I don’t know what his reasons were, maybe ridiculous reasons, but doesn’t matter. These are moves that should be supported. Those are the things for which he’s being bitterly attacked. So, it’s not an entirely, you know, sort of clear issue.
Nevertheless, overwhelmingly, the Republican Party is simply a major threat to—not only to the country, but to human survival. I’ve said in the past that I think they’re the most dangerous organization in human history, on the issue of climate change alone, and I think that’s worth repeating.
AMY GOODMAN: World-renowned linguist, dissident and author Noam Chomsky. We’ll return to our conversation with him in a minute to talk about the threats of nuclear war and climate change. But tune in Tuesday night for Democracy Now!'s live coverage of the midterm elections. We're teaming up with The Intercept for this special broadcast from 7 p.m. Eastern time to 1:00 in the morning. Check your local listings or simply go to democracynow.org. Back with Noam Chomsky in a minute.