Interview with US political activist and philosopher Noam Chomsky

April 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

To me, it seems that Noam Chomsky is one of those people who has a lot of speaking engagements, but for some reason doesn’t show up in the mainstream media that often. And when he does, everyone listens.

On March 13, Professor Chomsky sat down with Michael Dranove for an interview in his MIT office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their discussion covered many topic:

  • the 60th NATO conference – “the obvious question is why should NATO exist?”
  • mass strikes all around the world – “the sit down strike is one step before workers taking over the factory”
  • is Obama going to institute welfare reform – “There’s nothing much in his budget to suggest otherwise”
  • Ron Paul Libertarians – “the feeling for example that the government is our enemy. It’s a very widespread feeling, in fact that’s been induced by propaganda as well.”

The part that really caught my eye was Chomsky’s take on Social Secuity, or rather why Social Security has been made into such a big issue, when really it isn’t:

So why bring up Social Security at all? If it’s an issue at all it’s a very minor one. I suspect the reason for bringing it up is, Social Security is regarded as a real threat by power centers, not because of what it does, very efficient low administrative costs, but for two reasons. One reason is that it helps the wrong people. It helps mostly poor people and disabled people and so on, so that’s kind of already wrong, even though it has a regressive tax. But I think a deeper reason is that social security is based on an idea that power centers find extremely disturbing, namely solidarity, concern for others, community, and so on.

The fundamental idea of Social Security is that we care about whether the disabled widow across town has food to eat. And that kind of idea has to be driven out of people’s heads. If people have a commitment to solidarity, mutual aid, support, and so on, that’s dangerous because that could lead to concern for other things. Like, it’s well known, for example, that markets just don’t provide lots of options, which today are crucial options. So for example, markets today permit you to buy one brand of car or another. But a market doesn’t permit you to decide “I don’t want a car, I want a public transportation system”. That’s just not a choice made available on the market. And the same is true on a wide range of other issues of social significance, like whether to help the disabled widow across town. Okay, that’s what communities decide, that’s what democracy is about, that’s what social solidarity is about and mutual aid, and building institutions by people for the benefit of people. And that threatens the system of domination and control right at the heart, so there’s a constant attack on Social Security even though the pretexts aren’t worth paying attention to.

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