Noam Chomsky: The Trump Monster, Covid protests, and the greatest achievements of humanity

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My interview with Professor Chomsky tackled a wide variety of topics. Here are a couple of highlights.

CHOMSKY: The Trump Monster happens to be unique. We have never had anything like this is American history. It’s hard to find examples in world history, if there are any. But there’s a background, of course. It hasn’t been a completely monstrous country, by any means. So, for example, the period from FDR into the 70s had many positive aspects. The country overcame many of the really serious, ugly, brutal aspects of its past, and there were many achievements in that period that were not gifts from above. They were the result of popular, dedicated activism— from the labor movement, activism in the 1930s lead to the New Deal, to the activism of the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, and so on. It made a big difference in the country. Now, if you look back at the total history, it’s not a pretty story.

CHOMSKY: Trump is a monstrous figure, but a very effective confidence man— he’s kind of like the old story in American life— The PT Barnum type— the guy who can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. If you read Huckleberry Finn, one of the main characters is the King who pretends to be the legitimate King of France. Trump is the epitome of this, and he’s perfected the style of confidence man. What that means is you serve your primary constituency. Give the wealthy and the corporations everything they could possibly want so they’ll tolerate your antics— meanwhile shaft everyone else— but to pretend to be working for them— “their man”, “their savior” and so on. And he’s carried it off very effectively.

Noam speaks about the nexus between Trump and the suffering of others:

CHOMSKY: Cut back anything that might be beneficial to people— including health care right in the middle of an epidemic- pandemic. And subsidize the fossil fuel industry. What more do we want to know? Of course this happens all the time. Take a look at the so called stimulus bill. Its a good thing. Have to have something after this— in the current conditions. Who’s the money going to? 50 billion dollars are going to the airlines.

CHOMSKY: Fifty billion dollars are going to the airlines— why did he need fifty billion dollars? Since because like the rest of the corporate sector they’ve been gorging since the near recession. They spent nearly fifty billion dollars that they’re asking for just in buy backs to inflate the value of their stock and enrich their corporate managers and CEOs. Now they’re saying we’re sorry and wanna get fifty billion dollars back. How about instead of that, taking over the airlines, socializing. Say obviously you guys can’t run it. Society will run it.

CHOMSKY: The fossil fuel industry is collapsing. If you look at today’s news, they have to pay you to take their oil. Instead of subsidizing them, how about taking them over? Take ‘em over and put ‘em out of business. That’s the only way to save society. It can be done. It’s not even that expensive right now. So, let’s do that instead of subsidizing.

CHOMSKY: Suppose that the worst case takes place— the Trump version on the virus. A lot of people will be killed— maybe millions. But there will be recovery, just as there was a century ago from what’s called the Spanish Flu. Tens of millions killed. There’s not going to be recovery from the melting of the polar ice caps. There’s not going to be recovery from the other harmful consequences of the destruction of the environment— one of Trump’s prime commitments. No recovery from that. Once that happens, we’re toast.

CHOMSKY: The greatest achievements of humanity are gaining freedom and justice over a very broad range, through constant struggle. The world is much better than it was even earlier in my lifetime. Those are really great achievements of popular struggle, which should never be stopped. And that can not only prevent the worst outcome, but can lead to much better ones. A much better world is within our grasp with a realistic look at what’s happening. No descending into illusions and pretenses. Take a look at the real world, the opportunities available— pursue them. You can get a better world.

 

Here is the full video.

Many thanks to Noam Chomsky, and to Greyson Welch for his technical assistance in producing these videos, which will be part of a large film project coming soon!

Follow Noam on twitter: @NoamChomskyT

@RodWebber

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