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Noam Chomsky

In only the third public conversation between these two progressive icons, Ralph talks to Professor Chomsky about – among other things – the media, the Green New Deal, nuclear war, Gaza, and Venezuela.

 

Considered the founder of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky is one of the most cited scholars in modern history. Professor Chomsky’s theory of transformational grammar revolutionized the scientific study of language. He is also one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world, having written more than 100 books, many of which target the role of the mainstream corporate mass media, which, he maintains, “manufactures consent” in favor of the capitalist system and the political powers that support it.

“What is happening is a soft coup, a stranglehold which will lead somehow to the overthrow of the government and a return of Venezuela to the kinds of circumstances that you see in the other U.S. run countries of the region. You want to look at atrocities, crimes and so-on, simply look at the countries where the U.S. has maintained control.” Noam Chomsky

37 Comments

  1. Paul F de Uriarte says:

    Tx to both Ralph and noam

  2. chris striff says:

    i’m 65. it took til now for me to figure it out. how not even close this country is to greatness since reagan.
    i’d leave but for personal circumstances that make it impractical now.

    • Bruce K. says:

      Chris, I second your astute comment. That is why there is so little threat to the status quo. People can figure out what is going on by the time they are of retirement age only if they care and are actually looking for it. I’m aghast at the sheer mass of ignorance that provides the inertia this country runs on.
      Where would there be to go? So many must feel the same way, and yet what can they agree on? Could they come together and bring about change? I’m skeptical.

      • Christopher says:

        The hell are you two boomers talking about? Reagan? The one who deregulated the financial market, preached the great trickle down hoax, gave credence to Gingrich’s “Christian” conservative ethos, ignored the AIDS crisis, sussed out federal assistance to local governments, made massive cuts to social safety net programs, began the terribly misguided War on Drugs, and was generally the cause for the great mess we’re in today?

        What is so astute about empty rhetoric? What is so noble about resigning to leaving the country and making absolutely no effort to make this country any better off? That’s a coward’s retort. The mass of ignorance this country runs on stems largely in part from our refusal to fund higher education and subsidize public institutions let alone primary education.

        • Pedro Jara says:

          Im puzzled with an aggressive attitude like that, why you would be reading Chomsky?

        • WGK says:

          “The hell are you two boomers talking about?” This is a great opening for a well thought out comment. Well done.-
          I’m one of those “boomers” in my seventies – and I could see what Reagan was up to back before he ever got elected to any public office. Same BS rhetoric since the early sixties – he never changed.

        • Christopher you’re spot on! The corporate masters who really run this country will never allow this country to have a fully educated populous therein lies the problem

    • Jude Rene Montarsi says:

      Chris, I second your astute comment too!

    • Phillip Lelle says:

      Thanks.

  3. NooN says:

    Allways “R”’Thank You 4 “Putting issues on Table”. These puzlzle pieces”R”then more able to be sorted out into “sames”.&.”Picture becomes more & more clearer to us avid readers, listeners & hopefully doers.
    We need to get the “Rats 0uT of Congre$$” in the cutest book I’ve ever read & sharred. Time to have Living Room Meetings & take yoU uP
    on UR 15 minute Promise👐🏼

  4. Don Harris says:

    Noam Chomsky said we need to “…try to develop mass popular action which will compel people within the existing institutions to act differently … and at the same time try to educate the public to understand that there are deep institutional problems that have to be changed.”

    He also asked the most important question that could be asked about a politician- where do you get the money from?

    The media has reported that Bernie Sanders quickly got several million dollars in small contributions for 2020.

    But the question that needs to be asked is where does that money come from because that will answer whether Bernie is running a small contribution campaign or a small donor campaign.

    For example, a person could contribute 50 dollars (a small contribution) to a 2020 campaign each week and by this time next year have made enough small contributions to reach the allowable limit in total (aggregate) contributions.

    Despite an average contribution of fifty dollars, this is not a small donor.

    While it may have been necessary in 2016 to take this half-measure step in the right direction to get citizens to accept the idea of small contributions/ donors, that goal has been achieved and it is time to take the next step to small donor campaigns.

    A candidate that continues to tout their average contributions is being deceptive and preventing progress on small donor campaigns by trying to pass off a small contribution campaign as if it were a small donor campaign.

    Could you please talk about the difference between the two and the effort to mobilize citizens to demand small donor campaigns that is covered in my comment posted on Doctors Opposing Circumsission?

    • WGK says:

      Whether the “contribution” is $50 or $50million should make no difference as long as it is an anonymous contribution — and the candidate is never allowed to know the source of the contribution, then there can be no “beholding obligation” to reciprocate. If you like a candidate and selflessly want to see them win — send them some money. But don’t think that you are buying access or special treatment.

      • bruce k. says:

        > Whether the “contribution” is $50 or $50million should make no difference as long as it is an anonymous contribution

        I am not so sure of that … there are other way of finding out who gave a contribution other than attaching a name or bank account number to it. That thought might be more valid if all candidates were the same, but all candidates have to do is to “signal” their beliefs, like Republicans and their dog whistles and they will get contributions that have no chance of going to the Democrats, and it doesn’t matter at all if they know who it is from.

  5. Bruce K. says:

    There is so much to say about this interview/discussion, I cannot even scratch the surface other than to say thank you, and thank you for trying to bring some light to what is a dark and fading time.

  6. bruce k. says:

    Oh, how did I know the conversation would eventually get maneuvered around to focus on the Middle East and Israel. Ralph lumping in Israel with Saudi Arabia without all the detailed thought and analysis he usually gives to every subject he take the time to mention.

    Taking a broad glance from the Arab Middle East through North Africa to the center of Islam around Arabia and Iran to two bases of the great sects of Islam and then down into Africa and across through Asia. I don’t understand why Ralph Nader is brilliant enough to comment on almost every other subject and yet somehow his critical thinking facilities are atrophied on the subject of Israel. Oh, and here to make it seem like he is being more objective he tosses in a mention of Saudi Arabia, but as I said … there is no comparison at all between Israeli society and its form of government and Saudi Arabia.

    To me this is one of the issues that breaks any community based on the Leftist, Progressive ideals supposedly espoused by Nader and Chomsky. It would not be a more perfect dis-unification operation to cleave the Left into pieces. Better to just ignore the whole issue for Americans who care about all these issues that get discussed here rather than get sucked down the rathole of this garbage discussion that comes up every time the heavy-hitters of the Left get together. In fact is is such a non-random event that I always wonder if this was a very brilliant MIT developed program for the CIA to completely disempower the Left. All you have to do is cleave the mass of people based on some distasteful emotional identity factor that cannot be fixed.

    A similar activity goes on about the criticism of Amazon. Amazon ( and Apple to some extent ) are somehow lumped into the fold of the propaganda-mind-control monoliths like Google and Facebook, because Amazon somehow is worse than the others since it uses the same pay schedules for workers. Amazon is one of the biggest and best companies in the world. Tell me the company that is better? Tell me the company that does more. Tell me why Amazon deserves to be prejudicially picked apart by media shepherds of the New Left because it is not perfect, while the actions of Google and Facebook are shielded from specific criticism.

    Would America and the world be better off without Amazon.Com … or would the World, especially the Middle East be better off without Israel?

    The big stumbling block to peace, as I understand it, and I am very far from an expert on this issue except as how I see it used to rip apart American culture and dog-whistle to anti-semites on the Left, is the Right-Of-Return. Tell me how having a bunch of hate-filled Palestinians, who are programmed by their TV to hate, are paid to hate, gain respect when they engage in terrorism to bring about this Right-Of-Return, moving in and living in Israel will help anyone?

    Why is there never any examination by Nader of Chomsky of the dysfunction in Palestinian society and how it comes about – past – it’s all Israel’s fault? They both have all these great ideas about how to help American society, that never happen, that never come about … why don’t they set their sights on trying to help the Palestinians? It is a rare thing to see so many countries in an area that have even worse inequality and worse equal justice under the law than America, but then again they never fall under the scope of examination.

    I have really appreciated Noam Chomsky’s writing about how the American economy is based on the Military Industrial Complex, and Ralph’s points about how most of these inventions and technologies are paid for by our taxes, and yet privatized to a elite few, out of the view and understanding of the masses. Well, what about all these countries that many of them are owned and controlled by a few families. Somehow they are all just victims of the West and there is never any reason to talk about them or dissect them in a one-sided way as they do with the US.

    As a thought experiment, I would love to see what would happen if the Kurds, who are Muslim as I understand it, were given their own country? Would the Kurds provoke a similar 90 years of total war on them as Israel? What is the real crux of the problem in the Middle East? Why has Syria, Iraq and Lebanon all been torn apart by terrorism, and then all of that blamed on Israel. While I see plenty of evidence of genius from both Ralph and Noam on the criticisms of America, their objectivity and teachings on what is going on in these other places that might contribute to the problem has never in the 20+ years I have followed them both ever surfaced for an objective discussion.

    Ralph especially just seems to live for taking these quickie shots at Israel; with never a hint of the long-term studied analysis he brings to bear on other subjects. What is it exactly that he wants to see happen over there that he think will help?

    Maybe this is exactly why you never make it into the mainstream media on your other more valid and appreciated works? Maybe your fracturing of the Left along Anti-Semitic lines is one barrier to unification and prioritization of mission on the Left, because you to always have to stir the pot on a small issue thousands of miles away that you approach and aggravate on a completely non-onjective manner. Does the CIA or the Republican Party cut you guys checks for doing this great service for them?

    • joe Wiltzen says:

      Imperialism is imperialism. You can be anti-imperialist without being antisemitic. Quit being an apologist for imperialism.

      • Margaret says:

        The USA, both it’s Federal Government and its private corporations, would know all about imperialism. Perhaps not quite as overt as the Roman, British and Spanish empires etc, but ‘behind the scenes’ much more powerful.

    • Margaret says:

      If I was an American, I would vote Democrat.. (Although, if the US had preferential or proportional voting, I’d vote Green first). I guess I’m centre left politically and very strong on environmental issues as well. Im not Jewish but it disturbs me when I see people on the left get stuck into Israel. It’s like thesevpeople are all sheep and can’t think deeply or be prepared to study and consider each issue individually. Israel, like most other developed countries is not perfect and many criticisms can legitimately be levelled at its actions.. But I’d rather live there any day than in any other Middle Eastern country, for reasons that should be obvious. People conveniently overlook the fact that many Arabs and Moslems living in Israel are generally much better off than they would be in a lot of neighbouring countries. Jews living in those countries are hardly tolerated at all. And it is other countries of the region that have constantly made clear their goals and desire to totally obliterate the State of Israel, not the other way around.
      I do see a lot of anti Semitic, anti Israel sentiment around the world today and it seems to be growing. It disturbs me very much that many people on the left stick up for the rights of Moslems to practice their religion with all its intolerances and anti science, anti modern views. Can’t they see the theory and practice of Islam for what it is – a totalitarian ideology that brainwashes its adherents? Much like Scientology in that regard.

    • Lotusborn1 says:

      The common denominator between Israel and Saudi Arabia is oil. A coincidence they both receive complete military support? I think not.

    • Paul Palmer says:

      To Bruce K. – We can get that you’re a rabid Zionist but why can’t you also be coherent? Say what you want in plain English, unless the flecks of foam dropping from your lips obscure the words. Ralph of course focuses on Israel because Israel is a special case. No other country gets the kind of automatic support that Israel does from American votes and its treasury. No other country had such an auspicious beginning in Jewish humanistic thought and then failed so miserably to live up to its promise. And few other countries are so dismissive of international law and the UN, imprisoning and slowly torturing a whole people for 70 years in order to slowly steal their land from under them. Yes, a special case indeed, no matter what evil other nations may also be up to.

  7. David Faubion says:

    Ralph, Noam, and a few others
    carry medicine of understanding what it means to be a citizen of empire in the industrial age.

  8. Hagbard Celine says:

    Thanks again Mr Nader for a wonderful show.

    To the person commenting above, Bruce K, stop conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. In fact you would be better off not using the term anti-Semitism at all as it has lost its meaning. The idea that the CIA and GOP pays Ralph Nader money to criticise Israel makes no sense on so many levels, that I can’t even begin to respond.

    You probably do not realise this but Palestinians are Semites as is Ralph Nader (Lebanese). In fact the horrific treatment of the Palestinians by the IOF (israeli Occupation Forces), may be construed as an horrific act of state sponsored anti-Semitism. Some would argue not very different from the way Germany treated Jewish people in the 1930s and 40s.

    Once again thanks Mrs Nader and Chomsky.

    Could you please interview Jeff Blankfort one of these days gentlemen?

    • bruce k. says:

      Hagbard Celine – looking up the name, suggest you are trolling.

      “Hagbard”, nearly every country in the world deserves more than a little criticism. It is not criticism of Israel I am writing about, it is unfair, unequal and non-objective “criticism” of Israel. I’ve never heard Ralph, or Noam Chomsky take a clear data-driven look at Palestinian society and give a clear idea of any process they think would work to bring peace to this area. It doesn’t even seem driven by just the Palestinians but by a super-rich jet-setting cabal of Arab oil oligarchs from all over the Arab/Islamic world using the Palestinians as a diversion.

      How about some investigation and light thrown on the other side of Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine? Never heard an examination of the participants in that sides of the struggle or what their goals are, and how they “manufacture consent” in the Palestinian state that leads to suicide bombers and terrorists.

      Might they compare the struggle for statehood of Israel to the struggle for statehood by the Kurds, and the losses, killings, terrorism and murder in that situation. But no, all we every get is relentless criticism and attacks on Israel, which is fairly easy to do because Israel is so open. There is no broader picture ever given or ever the hand taken off the scale, and that certainly does not give any incentive for the Palestinians to make peace, and indeed that is not even their goal.

      Trotting out the old bromide about Arabs being Semitic people is totally irrelevant. Words change their meaning over time. Everyone knows what anti-Semitic means since the end of WWII and playing around with words doesn’t make you sound knowledgeable.

      And, of course, anyone who trolls a big deal about the word Semitic usually follows up with this one too:

      > Some would argue not very different from the way Germany treated Jewish people in the 1930s and 40s.

      Really? That shows you have zero perspective on this issue. Do you even know anything about WWII or the Holocaust, or the Nazis solution to people they don’t want around? And were the Jews attacking the Germans trying to exterminate them and drive them into the sea? The Nazis certainly was not trying to live with the Jews, start peace programs, and defend themselves as humanely as possible – from a people who were not even attacking them! That just takes the cake Hagbard..

      In terms of the comment about the CIA, I was being flippant and sarcastic, because this is on the of the major issues that undermines the credibility of the Left. I think Bernie Sanders’ campaign shows that there are plenty on the Left that do not care for or do not want this connection with terrorists that always make them look bad, and they do not have a preference for a terrorist state to Israel, despite as I said there being plenty to criticize Israel about. But, it is possible that someone from MIT or of national stature would be recruited and used by the CIA to see what contacts they might have or who might approach them.

      Finally, I will repeat my opinion that the Israeli/Palestinian war is not a Progressive issue in any way that stands out over any of hundreds maybe thousands of global human rights issues, and that folding it in with the Progressive agenda is one very dastardly, toxic, and underhanded way the powers that be might undermine their opposition.

      We have heard terrible things about Israel, being the puppeteer behind the US, or spending so much money in US politics, it is only recently that Saudi influence even got mentioned with the cold-blooded murder of Kashoggi. In Gerald Pozner’s book “Secrets of the Kingdom” it was mentioned that there were historic conditions accepted by the US for Saudi Arabia to do business with us. I don’t know if that is true, but one of them was to classify the amount and type of investments Saudi Arabia makes in the US. Why would that need to be a state secret? The other was that the oil companies Saudi Arabia did business with were to guarantee that they would not have Jewish employees. We saw around the time of the aftermath of 9/11 when Saudis went to Crawford Texas that they were able to demand that all women be removed from the air traffic control tower. Putting just the facts we know about this situation together it is about time for some real balanced reporting on these issues, and I don’t mean FOX News’ type of fair and balanced.

  9. Dana says:

    Yes. America and the world would be better without Amazon. In every possible dimension.

  10. Stephanie Hay says:

    The most deeply interesting interview I have heard in years, and I listen to a lot of them…. Thank you!

  11. brian garnier says:

    never liked Feinstein, she is a republican and hasn’t got my vote for decades.. she is pure right wing.

    • bruce k. says:

      > she is a republican …… she is pure right wing.

      Well, maybe not 100% pure right wing, but how do you suppose that got to be the center of American politics over the decades? Why did the Left get discredited and do nothing about it to gain back their credibility? Who was helping with that? Who was helping make the Left seem unpalatable, dangerous and incoherent,

  12. The James says:

    As a Lebanese American, Ralph’s insights into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Middle East in general, are actually quite astute, contrary to Israel defender Bruce K’s unsubstantiated claims. No one stresses the “Israeli Peace Movement” as consistently as Ralph does. Yes, the CIA has played a role at MIT: they founded the Political Science Department! As for. Saudi monarchy, MIT’s President Reid warmly welcomed his benefactor, Mohammed Bin Salman, last spring, perhaps in anticipation of the need of the Saudi monarchy for innovation in new bio-mechanical technologies!

    • bruce k, says:

      > As a Lebanese American, Ralph’s insights into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the Middle East in general, are actually quite astute, contrary to Israel defender Bruce K’s unsubstantiated claims.

      > No one stresses the “Israeli Peace Movement” as consistently as Ralph does.

      And yet you eschew unsubstantiated claims?

      Then all blacks have insights into slavery, all Germans have insights into Nazism, all whites have insights into slave ownership??? … absurd!

      Ralph, who was born in Connecticut, may or may not know much about the Middle East, but however much he knows, my complaint is that he only every criticizes or lays out negative information about Israel.

      With Lebanese heritage it could also be logical that he would heartily object to the Palestinians ( with Iranian support ) moving in and destroying Lebanon. Beirut Was Once Known As ‘The Paris Of The Middle East’ before the Hezbollah civil war caused or at least aggravated by Palestinians and Muslim activists. I am not the expert in history of these things like Chomsky, but a similar thing happened in Jordan where Palestinian refugees tried to take over the country … Black September. In Lebanon, Hezbollah militarizing the border with Israel is certainly no move towards peace and eventually is going to be the cause of massive destruction, paid for in large part by Iran. Let me know if I am fundamentally wrong about any of that.

      James , maybe you should improve your reading comprehension and check your knee-jerk reactions. I am defending Israel only in raising the not unfair expectation that equal data and time be spent on explaining and vetting the other side. Invariably I notice that only one side is described and vilified – the strong implication is that all the wrong-doing is due to that side..

      The Palestinians claim they want a one-state solution with Israel, meaning they should have the right-of-return and can live side-by-side with Jews. That demand seems to clash with ongoing statements that their ultimate goal is the destruction of the state of Israel, not peace. This is why they refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Why not start there and pick that apart with its consequences and what probability it will lead to peace? Meanwhile the Palestinians who claims they are under genocide from Israel have one of the highest population growth rates of any “nation”.

      • Paul Palmer says:

        to Bruce K. – It seems your only point, like so many Zionists, is “why are you pointing a finger at poor Israel when there are so many other evildoers in the world?”
        Everyone on the left recognizes those other evildoers. And many criticize such as Saudi Arabia to the roots. But, in contrast to your position, that does NOT mean that you have to give Israel a pass. Israel commits horrible crimes routinely, often intended to sow terror among the indefensible.
        Speaking for myself, I have many problems with Palestinian and Islamic tenets and customs (I can’t stand hijabs for example) but NO PEOPLE should ever have to put up with the cynical, sneering, murderous oppression the Palestinians receive at the hands of Israel. Though I despise Israel (even though my parents were Jewish) it is not because I love Palestinians. It is because of the monster that Israel has become. The Zionists and Israel are digging their own graves. No one has to dig those for them. When American support fades away, as it surely will, Israel will become a pariah among nations, not because of classic anti-semitism, but because of their real, documented actions.

  13. The James says:

    That’s Reif. (Auto-“correct” run amok…)

  14. Jim Basil says:

    In my opinion. THE biggest issue is big money donors control elections and therefore Congress it leads to aggressive military spending and a manufacturing culture in which the state of Israel is one of the leading beneficiaries. To want to take big money out of politics reduce the money spent on unending wars, to start recognizing the US Constitution Article 6 on supporting major treaties and therefore International Law and the UN. Is not anti Semetic. It is anti military agression that will hurt us all.

    • bruce k. says:

      >> THE biggest issue is big money donors control elections and therefore Congress it leads to aggressive military spending

      ^THAT

      … but sadly then more Israel-aphobic stuff I disagree with.

      I agree that money and democracy, corruption and abuse of power is the number one issue.

      What is really happening has little to do with Israel and it only makes Democrats look bad and hurts their chances to hear people talking like this. The latest manifestation of the effect of money is how the big Democratic donors are starting to hint at first that they will not fund a campaign that is too far Left, and who knows where that tactic to wall off the Left will end? I have been saying for years, that the establishment owns and controls the opposition party. Do Noam Chomsky or Ralph express it that plainly?

      I am reminded of that movie “Planet of the Apes” where the American Earth astronauts have landed and found human life a planet, and then they are set up and netted by the predatory Gorillas. Democrats, Progressives or whatever never unify and strategize and they are always fooled and caught up by Republican dirty tricks.

      It is not just the Left that was unprepared and oblivious to this problem of our country being invaded and colonized by Global and Oligarch capital, it was everyone. This system helps those who survive on capital investment and comes down on those without it who labor.

      H.R.1 – For the People Act of 2019 — To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.

      https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1/text

      Mitch McConnell will not let H.R.1 which passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and addresses a lot of what should be long-standing voting concerns come up for a vote or even be debated.

      McConnell is like a the Unitary Executive Officer of the Congress, choking off legislation for his party, which is not his job and against this oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution. He is one guy from Kentucky, one of the most backwards states in the union and he can control the whole government. I can’t understand why we have almost all of our pundits on the Left talking about our democracy and that we could lose it … wake up, look around. Have we ever had it, and have we ever taken action to grab it and and use it like we value it?

      Oh, but boy can we bicker about side issues that are hot and get people at each others throats fighting.

  15. joe peer says:

    Thank u esteemed mr nader and noam…..
    ur unduly hysteria over things to come is disheartening …akin to chicken lil…..
    the future scare should b byond u 2 …..
    if ur so sure about the future go do the lotto and donate to the needy .
    really, ur species will cease to exist cause sea rise 30 ft and temp on average iz 10+ …..
    aint u got trust in the human mind ,,,,guys, we will figure something out …..
    concentrate on here and now ,,,,,pollution ,,,contamination ….inequality ….
    how can we make the world a better now ,,,,,,
    get real guys ,,,we iz all powerless ,,,u cant make anything happen but warn and complain ….
    thanks anyway .

  16. Jeffrey Wilson says:

    Read A. Huxley’s Brave New World revisited, we’ve been brainwashed all along.

  17. Stephen Dowd says:

    In the transcript for EP 260, Noam mentions a report from the “transportation bureau”: does anyone know the specific report? [TSAR-Full-2018-Web-Final.pdf]?

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