Chomsky: Only a Massive Uprising Will Change Our Politics
We continue our conversation with world-renowned public intellectual, MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Noam Chomsky.
Watch Part I of the Interview Democracy Uprising in the USA?here
NOAM CHOMSKY: We were talking about unions before. Union busting is criminal activity by the government, because they’re saying, "You can go ahead and do it; we’re not going to apply the laws," effectively. And the COINTELPRO, which you mentioned, is actually the worst systematic and extended violation of basic civil rights by the federal government. It maybe compares with Wilson’s Red Scare. But COINTELPRO went on from the late ’50 right through all of the ’60s; it finally ended, at least theoretically ended, when the courts terminated it in the early ’70s. And it was serious.
It started, as is everything, going after the Communist Party, then the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Then it extended—the women’s movement, the New Left, but particularly black nationalists. And it ended up—didn’t end up, but one of the events was a straight Gestapo-style assassination of two black organizers, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, literally. The FBI set up the assassination. The Chicago police actually carried it out, broke into the apartment at 4:00 in the morning and murdered them. Fake information that came from the FBI about arms stores and so on. There was almost nothing about it. In fact, the information about this, remarkably, was released at about the same time as Watergate. I mean, as compared with this, Watergate was a tea party. There was nothing, you know?
JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you—we’re obviously entering very soon a new presidential season, and for many of the progressives and liberals who had placed some much hope in the Obama administration, they’re now going to be faced with the quandary of what to do as they move into a new administration. On the one hand, they feel betrayed by many of the things the administration has done; on the other hand, they see this extreme right that is attempting to paint Obama as a socialist, as destroying the Constitution and freedom in America. And they’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to maneuver in this new reality, especially with the Citizens United case, the enormous amount of money that’s going to be poured into. Your thoughts on what progressives who are still glued to the ground and understand the reality of what’s happening in the country should be doing?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, my feeling—actually, I had the same feeling in 2008. I’m not disillusioned, because I didn’t have any expectations, just looking at the funding, looking at his background. Actually, I wrote about it before the primaries even. But nevertheless, you know, when I was asked in 2008, "Who should you vote for?" my own feeling was—and it will be next time—that if you’re in a swing state, you better vote against the prehistoric monsters, because they’re going to cause much more trouble. Well, in our system, the only choice you have would be to vote for Obama. Hold your nose and vote, but don’t expect anything.
Just take a look at where he’s coming from, where his funding is coming from. Over a long period, like a century, you can pretty well predict policies by just looking at concentration of campaign funding. Thomas Ferguson, very outstanding political scientist, has done the main work on this, and it’s convincing. So, when you find that the core of the funding is the financial institutions, you can pretty well expect that the major policies will be to reward them. Yeah, OK, it’s pretty much what happened. You shouldn’t be disillusioned. But if you have to make a choice between that and, you know, Newt Gingrich, well, OK, you have to make that choice. Don’t expect anything.