Noam Chomsky, AOC slam the failures of ‘neoliberal’ economics during their first meeting
Professor Noam Chomsky has had a lot to say about Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the self-described “democratic socialists” he has inspired, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City. But not until recently did Chomsky and AOC actually meet. The leftist magazine Jacobin brought them together for an interview conducted by journalist Laura Flanders, and they covered a lot of ground during the conversation — which Jacobin published in Q&A form this week.
The 93-year-old Chomsky, at the start of the interview, told the 32-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, “I’ve been greatly admiring what you’ve been doing, AOC, and following it closely. So, it’s a real pleasure to be with you” — to which she responded, “Likewise, it’s such an honor and a culminating moment to be able to engage with the one and only Professor Chomsky.”
The interview quickly moved into a discussion of “neoliberal” economics and how much “neoliberalism” has favored the ultra-rich in the United States.
Chomsky told AOC and Flanders, “What we’ve really had for 45 years is what so many economists have called a ‘bailout economy.’ We have the obvious consequences, financial crisis after financial crisis. And every time it comes, there’s a taxpayer-funded bailout. The (Troubled Assets Relief Program) agreement under (President) George W. Bush, for example, had two elements to it. One was to bail out the perpetrators of the crisis — the people giving out predatory loans. And the other was to provide support for the victims of the crisis — people who had lost their homes, lost their jobs. You can guess which one of the two was actually implemented.”
Ocasio-Cortez didn’t disagree with Chomsky’s views on the economic crash of September 2008 and the Great Recession, and the Bronx/Queens congresswoman pointed to her upset victory in the 2018 midterms as proof that many Americans are fed up with an economy that’s slanted in favor of the richest Americans.
“I do think that there is a dam breaking, in electoral politics but also, in organizing beyond our electoral system, like what we’re seeing with strikes, on a scale that really has not been seen in many years,” AOC told Chomsky and Flanders. “It’s a bit of an emperor-has-no-clothes type of situation for our political establishment and our capitalist system. People are beginning to realize that we can name these systems and describe them, that this water that people have been swimming in actually has a name, and that there are alternative ways of doing things.”
Chomsky, during the interview, cited Ronald Reagan’s presidency during the 1980s as a major move away from the gains of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. And Ocasio-Cortez noted the racial and gender elements of the economic conditions that Chomsky was describing.
“When we talk about systems that are being named, this is not just about open critiques of capitalism, but also, about open critiques of White supremacy — not just as racist social clubs of people donning hoods, but actually as a system that has interacted with the development of the United States,” AOC told Chomsky and Flanders. “So many of these essential labor forces are dominated by women and women of color, whether it’s fast-food workers or nurses or childcare and teaching professionals. I would say that what this capitalist class calls a labor shortage is actually a dignified work shortage, concentrated overwhelmingly by working-class people, a multiracial working class, but also, in professions that are dominated by women and women of color.”
Chomsky, Ocasio-Cortez and Flanders went on to discuss climate change’s economic impact. And AOC stressed that whatever happens in the months ahead in the U.S., the left must avoid giving in to “cynicism.”
“Cynicism is a far greater enemy to the left than many others because it is the tool that is given to us to hurt ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez observed. “Hope creates action, and action creates hope. And that’s how we scale forward.”
Watch the interview here:
AOC & Noam Chomsky: The Way Forward www.youtube.com
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