In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 1: American culture and politics


This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis.

Hassan Mirza (HM): Let’s talk about the United States (US); I am interested in the US economy for several reasons. Its economics departments and STEM research centres attract the best students from the developing world.

Noam Chomsky (NC): It makes good sense to be concerned with what goes on in the US, whether in academic departments of economics or in the general economy and society. Namely, US power, which is unparalleled.

HM: What were the real reasons which caused the US to wage wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Was it for oil and natural resources or only for power projection? Did these wars benefit the US financially?

NC: Both. In 2007, when Bush had to reach a status of forces agreement, a formal declaration made the war aims pretty clear: permanent military bases and preferential treatment for US energy corporations. Both were rejected. Costs to the society were huge. Some benefited from the war and occupation, of course. Arms manufacturers, contractors, etc.

HM: Which major or famous American and British newspapers do you trust and read the most? Which newspapers do you think are less trustworthy?

NC: I read the major national press: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, foreign press on matters that interest me, journals from across the spectrum. Everything has a point of view. Up to the reader to understand and compensate for it.

HM: Are there any significant differences between the Democratic and Republican positions on politics, economics, other domestic policies (support for big business, abandonment of working classes) and foreign policy affairs of the US?

NC: There are great differences, in many areas. Simply compare the policies. The gulf now is far wider. Moderate Republicans used to be quite similar to liberal Democrats. Now they barely exist.

HM: Why was the Democratic party not able to strengthen American labour unions in the last half a century? There are many Democrats who want, or at least claim they want, to improve the situation of the American working classes. What is stopping them from doing so?

NC: The Democratic party shifted to the right during the neo-liberal period. The leadership has separated from the base. It now consists mostly of Clintonite New Democrats, who are rather like former moderate Republicans. Rather like the New Labour in Britain.

Express Tribune for more

Comments are closed.