Chomsky: Our Country Is Beset by Problems -- Do You Have the Patience of Decades It Takes Activists to Fix Them?

"We've changed things before and we can do it again."

Photo Credit: Ryan Keplin / Flickr

Lifelong activist, prolific author and MIT professor emeritus Noam Chomsky shared insights about Chomsky Archive, an MIT Libraries project commited to the preservation of his life's work. He also offered hope for audience members and online viewers doubting real progress through protest. 

"We want quick victories," Chomsky pointed out, but went on to explain that even the Civil Rights movement was rooted in a movement that had spread to America nearly 200 years prior. 

"[Civil Rights] sparked around 1960 with several events; a couple of black students [arrested] at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina... Freedom Riders in the South violence [with] tremendous courage registered voters, marches like Selma," Chomsky explains. "But it didn't begin in 1960, [it] goes back to abolitionism and that's the way life works; you're not going to get quick [victories], you get small changes, but major victories are going to take time," said Chomsky. 

Chomsky's first involvement with activism was as a teenager, advocating for Arab-Jewish cooperation in the mid-1940s. By the 1960s he became involved in anti-Vietnam war protests, which was very popular at MIT, where he had at that time been teaching for over a decade. 

"[The protests] had an effect on bringing the war to an end," Chomsky said. "If you look closely at how it came to an end, it traces back to the fact that there was so much opposition to the war, engendered by these activities that the government was never able to call the national mobilization of the kind that was called during World War II... what was fought [in the '60s] was the 'guns and butter war,'" Chomsky explained, saying the government kept "the population quiet [and] at the same time continue[d] with the war."

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Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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