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Noam Chomsky: America Is a Terrified Country

Noam Chomsky discusses American terror abroad, dire income inequality at home, and what to do next.

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Because of that, what’s within the Beltway reflects wealth and power. Elections are basically bought. We know the story. So “objectivity” in the commercial media means looking at the world from the point of view of the extremely rich and powerful in the corporate sector. Now, it’s not 100 percent from their view. There are a lot of very honest reporters who do all kinds of things. I read the national press and learn from them and so on, but it’s very much skewed in that direction. It’s kind of like the filters in Manufacturing Consent. And going back to your point, what the independent press ought to be doing is what the national press ought to be doing, looking at the world from the point of view of its population. This holds on issue after issue—you can almost pick it at random.

CK: The Occupy movement has had several pretty big successes: Occupy Sandy, Occupy Our Homes, Strike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee. But what do you think a post-Occupy movement looks like? What comes next?

NC: The Occupy tactic was a remarkably successful tactic. If I’d been asked a month before Zuccotti Park whether to do this, I would have said, you’re crazy. But it worked extremely well. It just lighted a fire all over the place. People were just waiting for something to light the spark. And it was extremely successful, but it’s a tactic, and tactics are not strategies. A tactic has a half-life; it has diminishing returns. And in particular, a tactic like this is going to arouse antagonism, because people don’t want their lives disrupted and so on. It will be easy to fan it the way you do with public workers. So it’s a tactic that had to be revised. Frankly, when the police broke the occupations up, it was harsh and brutal and didn’t have to be done like that. But in some ways, it wasn’t a bad thing, because it turned people to what they have to do next. And what they have to do next is bring it to the general population. Take up the topics that really bother people. Be there when you’re needed like Sandy. Be there for the foreclosures. Focus on debt. Focus on a financial transaction tax, which ought to be instituted. Nobody else is bringing it up. That’s what the Occupy movement ought to be doing, and not just as a national movement, but as an international movement.

It’s actually striking that there are Occupy offshoots all over the world. I’ve talked at Occupy movements in Sydney, Australia, and England, all over. Everywhere you go there’s something. And they link with other things that are happening, like the Indignados in Spain; the student actions in Chile, which are pretty remarkable; things in Greece, which are enormous; and even movements in the peripheral parts of Europe trying to struggle against the brutal austerity regimes, which are worse than here and which are just strangling the economies and destroying the European social contract. We look progressive in comparison with Europe.

So that’s a future that can be looked forwardto, including things like we were talking about before, supporting and maybe even initiating things like worker-owned, worker-managed enterprises. It sounds reformist, but it’s revolutionary. That’s changing—at least giving the germs for changing—the basic structure of this society in a fundamental way. Why should banks own the enterprise in which people work? What business is it of theirs? Why should they decide whether you move it to Mexico or Bangladesh or where the next place will be? Why shouldn’t the workers decide, or the communities? There’s a lot to say about this.

 
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