These conversations with the longtime MIT linguist and “wild-eyed radical” offer lively insights on war, inequality and dissent.
Editor Barsamian (Alternate Radio) has collaborated with Chomsky (Making the Future, 2011, etc.) on two previous books; this question-and-answer book provides a useful entree into the formidable academic’s nonconformist, iconoclastic mindset. There is no introduction, just a vigorous discussion: What has happened to America’s historical memory since the Vietnam War? Chomsky frequently laments our “historical amnesia,” reminding us in several places that this is the anniversary of President Kennedy’s little-discussed bombing campaign of South Vietnam in 1962. Chomsky casts a jaundiced eye over America’s military involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, decries everywhere the squeeze on human rights, and otherwise asserts that “power systems” such as government and financial and marketing institutions are jealous of power, keeping people feeling helpless by splintering society. Chomsky fervently derides the gulf of inequality these power systems continue to cultivate; they often create a “class war.” In brief chapters, the author flits in and out of these themes, examining, among other topics, the practical steps the Occupy movements have taken to engage the country in questions of inequality; the right-wing “propaganda” against responsible environmental efforts; and the social and political doctrines we often take for granted, such as the benign nature of American democracy. Moreover, Chomsky worries that new media might encourage the trend toward “atomization” and away from the thoughtful reflection and reading he is so famous for. He also gives an update on his research in language acquisition.
Another terrific give-and-take that will appeal especially to younger seekers.