I am linking
this post to
Our World Tuesday
The following are excerpts from C.J. Polychroniou’s interview with noted American philosopher Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, and cognitive scientist, born in Oak Lane, Pennsylvania, in 1928.
Note: I have inserted occasional parenthetic phrases myself, usually for clarity, or perhaps emphasis. It is not my intention to play fast and loose with the contents of this interview. —KLD
Polychroniou: "Some years ago, public intellectual Noam Chomsky warned that the political climate in the U.S. was ripe for the rise of an authoritarian figure. Now, he shares his thoughts on the aftermath of this election, the moribund state of the U.S. political system, and why Trump is a real threat to the world and the planet in general."
Q: Following the U.S. election on November 8, Polychroniu asked Chomsky these questions:
“What exactly does Trump's victory mean and what can one expect from this megalomaniac when he takes over the reins of power on Jan. 20, 2017? What is Trump's political ideology, if any and is "Trumpism" a movement? Will U.S. foreign policy be any different under a Trump administration?
Q: With all the talk (in the US) of near-full employment today, labor force participation remains below the earlier norm. And for working people, there is a great difference between a steady job in manufacturing with union wages and benefits, as in earlier years and a temporary job with little security in some service profession. Apart from wages, benefits and security, there is a loss of dignity, of hope for the future, (and loss) of a sense that this is a world in which I (as an individual) belong and play a worthwhile role.
The "change" that Trump is likely to bring will be harmful or worse, but it is understandable that the consequences are not clear to isolated people in an atomized society lacking the kinds of associations (like unions) that can educate and organize.
(On the question of science:)
One of the difficulties in raising public concern over the very severe threats of global warming is that 40 percent of the U.S. population does not see why it is a problem, since “Christ is returning in a few decades.” About the same percentage believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago. If science conflicts with the Bible, so much the worse for science.
Q. Noam, the unthinkable has happened: In contrast to all forecasts, Donald Trump scored a decisive victory over Hillary Clinton, and the man that Michael Moore described as a "wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath" will be the next president of the U.S. In your view, what were the deciding factors that led American voters to produce the biggest upset in the history of U.S. politics?
A. Noam Chomsky:
Before turning to this question, I think it is important to spend a few moments pondering just what happened on Nov. 8, a date that might turn out to be one of the most important in human history, depending on how we react.
On Nov. 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government—executive, Congress, the Supreme Court—in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand.
"No exaggeration," said Chomsky.
The most important news of Nov. 8 was barely noted, a fact of some significance in itself.
(Because, on Nov. 8) the World Meteorological Organization —WMO— delivered a report at the international conference on climate change in Morocco (COP22) which was called in order to carry forward the Paris agreement of COP21. The WMO reported that the past five years were the hottest on record. It reported rising sea levels, soon to increase as a result of the unexpectedly rapid melting of polar ice, most ominously the huge Antarctic glaciers. Already, Arctic sea ice over the past five years is 28 percent below the average of the previous 29 years, not only raising sea levels, but also reducing the cooling effect of polar ice reflection of solar rays, thereby accelerating the grim effects of global warming. The WMO reported further that temperatures are approaching dangerously close to the goal established by COP21, along with other dire reports and forecasts.
During the Republican primaries, every candidate denied that what is happening is happening—with the exception of the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said “It's all uncertain, but we don't have to do anything because we're producing more natural gas, thanks to fracking.” Or John Kasich, who agreed that global warming is taking place, but added that "we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologize for it."
(KLD—Fracking? My mind boggles. These are elected representatives whose decisions will affect the whole world, most likely the US first and Canada next.)
The president-elect calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.
Trump has already taken steps to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by placing in charge of the EPA transition a notorious (and proud) climate change denier, Myron Ebell. Trump's top adviser on energy, billionaire oil executive Harold Hamm, announced his expectations, which were predictable: dismantling regulations, tax cuts for the industry (and the wealthy and corporate sector generally), more fossil fuel production, lifting (President) Obama's temporary block on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Effects (of global warming) may soon become even more vividly apparent than they already are.
In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today's pale in significance.
With considerable justice, Bangladesh's leading climate scientist said that "These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States." (And go to all the) other rich countries, that have grown wealthy while bringing about a new geological era, the Anthropocene, marked by radical human transformation of the environment.
These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia,Effects may soon become even more vividly apparent than they already are. In Bangladesh alone, tens of millions are expected to have to flee from low-lying plains in coming years because of sea level rise and more severe weather, creating a migrant crisis that will make today's pale in significance.
These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply.
Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond. as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply. Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond.