Chomsky: U.S. and Europe ‘committing suicide in different ways’
In an interview with GritTV’s Laura Flanders, author and MIT professor Noam Chomsky discussed the potentially bleak future facing both the United States and the European Union. Both, he said, are facing historic crises and are going about trying to resolve them in exactly the wrong ways.
According to Chomsky, we are currently living in a period of “pretty close to global stagnation” but that the world’s great powers are reacting to the lack of growth in exactly the wrong manner. “The United States and Europe are committing suicide in different ways, but both doing it.”
He called European austerity measures “a disaster” and indicated that he expects them to fail, the question being more about how long it will take. The spending cuts and slashing of benefits to workers are ultimately part of a plan designed to dismantle the social contract, he said, although some governmental leaders are more willing than others to call it that.
The U.S., Chomsky believes, has failed in that our electoral system has been “shredded” by the introduction of private money. Our nation has shipped production and manufacturing offshore and concentrated on the “financialization” of our economy. The social safety net has essentially been replaced by the prison system, he said, with the U.S. “getting rid of the superfluous population through incarceration.”
It’s also a mistake, he said, to treat the Republican Party as a genuine political party rather than the “lock-step” policy arm of the superrich. Of course, the wealthy can’t sell the idea of a plutocracy to the population outright, so they mobilize the socially conservative base by stoking the so-called “culture wars.”
Chomsky has a new book, Occupy, about the Occupy Wall Street movement, what it says about society and humanity’s way forward through this time of economic and social stagnation. He calls OWS “the first major public response to 30 years of class war” and believes that the movement’s greatest success has been the introduction of the inequalities of everyday life into the public dialogue.
The nearly half-hour discussion ranges over a number of topics, but keeps coming back again and again to the importance of individual engagement in society and the political system, and the power of Occupy as a force for social and political change.