When a New York Times contributor asked noted philosopher Noam Chomsky to name the most important existential issues facing the planet, Chomsky replied: “climate change and nuclear war.”
In this telling piece from the paper’s Opinion Page that was published on July 5, Chomsky talks about the difficulties of speaking truth to power in a “post-truth” world, some of the reasons for the rise of a political leadership divorced from reality, the limits of ridicule, the role of citizen action, and the reasons for hope. Among other positive signs, Chomsky cites the fact that “The Sanders campaign showed that a candidate with mildly progressive (basically New Deal) programs could win the nomination, maybe the election, even without the backing of the major funders or any media support.”
He also points out that contrary to popular belief, Trump voters “tend to be typical Republicans, with ‘elitist, pro-corporate and reactionary social agendas,’ and ‘an affluent, privileged segment of the country in terms of their income, but one that is relatively less privileged than it was in the past, before the 2008 economic collapse…”
And Chomsky says that Trump’s pursuit of Obama-era plans to modernize the US nuclear force seriously fray the slender thread on which survival depends: “…it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”
(In the interests of full disclosure, Chomsky also said: “The matter is discussed in detail in a critically important article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in March, which should have been, and remained, front-page news.” And he highlighted the importance of the Doomsday Clock. But we’d still be reading and recommending this Times article without those comments.)
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