[Mb-civic] Noam Chomsky on Differences between Bush & Kerry
ean at sbcglobal.net
ean at sbcglobal.net
Sat Sep 4 16:46:21 PDT 2004
Published in the September/October 2004 issue of The International Socialist
War Crimes and Imperial Fantasies
Excerpt of an interview of Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian
David Barsamian: Every four years Americans, those who vote, are faced
with what is often called the lesser of two evils as their presidential options.
Dave Dellinger, who passed away in May, used to call it "the evil of two
lessers." You say that there is "a fraction" of difference between George
Bush and John Kerry. And this raised some eyebrows. I heard, "It sounds like
Chomsky is coming out for Kerry." Could you expand on your position.
Noam Chomsky: There are differences. They have different constituencies.
There are different groups of people around them. On international affairs I
wouldnt expect any major policy changes. It would probably be more like
back to the Clinton years, when you have sort of the same policies, but more
modulated, not so brazen and aggressive, less violent. And I would expect a
kind of return to that.
On domestic issues there could be a fairly significant differenceits not
hugebut different in its outcomes. The group around Bush are real fanatics.
Theyre quite open. Theyre not hiding it; you cant accuse them of that. They
want to destroy the whole array of progressive achievements of the past
century. Theyve already more or less gotten rid of progressive income tax.
Theyre trying to destroy the limited medical care system. The new
pharmaceutical bill is a step towards that. Theyre going after Social Security.
They probably will go after schools. They do not want a small government,
any more than Reagan did. They want a huge government, and massively
intrusive. They hate free markets. But they want it to work for the rich. The
Kerry people will do something not fantastically different, but less so. They
have a different constituency to appeal to, and they are much more likely to
protect some limited form of benefits for the general population.
There are other differences. The popular constituency of the Bush people, a
large part of it, is the extremist fundamentalist religious sector in the country,
which is huge. There is nothing like it in any other industrial country. And they
have to keep throwing them red meat to keep them in line. While theyre
shafting them in their economic and social policies, youve got to make them
think youre doing something for them. And throwing red meat to that
constituency is very dangerous for the world, because it means violence and
aggression, but also for the country, because it means harming civil liberties
in a serious way. The Kerry people dont have that constituency. They would
like to have it, but theyre never going to appeal to it much. They have to
appeal somehow to working people, women, minorities, and others, and that
makes a difference.
These may not look like huge differences, but they translate into quite big
effects for the lives of people. Anyone who says "I dont care if Bush gets
elected" is basically telling poor and working people in the country, "I dont
care if your lives are destroyed. I dont care whether you are going to have a
little money to help your disabled mother. I just dont care, because from my
elevated point of view I dont see much difference between them." Thats a
way of saying, "Pay no attention to me, because I dont care about you."
Apart from its being wrong, its a recipe for disaster if youre hoping to ever
develop a popular movement and a political alternative.
Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned MIT professor, practically invented
modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been
a leading voice for peace and social justice. He is in such demand as a public
speaker that he is booked years in advance. And wherever he appears, he
draws huge audiences. The New Statesman calls him, "The conscience of
the American people." He is the author of scores of books, his latest is the
bestseller Hegemony or Survival. He has done a series of books with David
Barsamian. The most recent one is Propaganda & the Public Mind. David
Barsamian is the director and producer of the award-winning Alternative
Radio in Boulder, Colorado. He interviewed Noam Chomsky at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge on June 11, 2004.
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