Monday, May 29

‘The Neoliberal Order Is Visibly Collapsing’ – Noam Chomsky

Author and activist Noam Chomsky. (jeanbaptisteparis / Flickr)
Author and activist Noam Chomsky. (jeanbaptisteparis / Flickr)

Since early Tuesday morning, when it became clear that the Iowa Democratic Party would not immediately release its 2020 caucus results, a range of conspiracy theories have bloomed on social media about the Democratic National Committee and Shadow Inc.,  the tech firm it enlisted to build its tabulating app. The simplest  explanation remains the most plausible: Through a combination of  incompetence and fealty to the consultant class, Democrats hired a  for-profit company grossly ill-equipped to handle the demands of a  byzantine, statewide contest.

If supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., remain skeptical, they are not without reason. Setting aside Shadow Inc.’s apparent ties to the Buttigieg campaign, the Democratic establishment has openly plotted against the Vermont senator, while corporate media have signaled they will pull out all the stops to prevent him from securing the nomination. For Noam Chomsky, none of  these developments should come as a surprise; Sanders challenges not  just the power structure of the Democratic Party but that of the country  itself. As he tells Truthout’s C.J. Polychroniou:

“Even more threatening than Sanders’s proposals to carry forward New Deal-style policies, I think, is his inspiring a popular movement that is steadily engaged in political action and direct activism to change the social order — a movement of people, mostly young, who have not internalized the  norms of liberal democracy: that the public are ‘ignorant and meddlesome  outsiders’ who are to be ‘spectators, not participants in action,’  entitled to push a lever every four  years but are then to return to their TV sets and video games while the  ‘responsible men’ look after serious matters.
This is a fundamental principle of  democracy as expounded by prominent and influential liberal 20th–century  American intellectuals, who took cognizance of ‘the stupidity of the  average man’ and recognized that we should not be deluded by ‘democratic  dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.’…  Inspiring a popular movement that violates these norms is a serious  attack on democracy, so conceived, an intolerable assault against good  order.”

Chomsky also draws parallels between Sanders and British Labour’s  Jeremy Corbyn, offering a theory as to why both are subject to such  widespread attack by corporate media and their country’s major parties.  Again, he points to elites’ fundamental disdain for democracy and a  larger politics of inclusion:

“As in the case of Sanders, I suspect that  the prime reason for the bitter hatred of Corbyn on the part of a very  wide spectrum of the British establishment is his effort to turn the Labour Party into a participatory organization that would not leave electoral politics in the hands of the Labour bureaucracy and would proceed beyond the narrow realm of electoral  politics to far broader and constant activism and engagement in public  affairs.”

The author and activist ends his interview, fittingly, with an allusion to the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci.

“As the neoliberal order is visibly collapsing, it is giving rise to  ‘morbid symptoms’ (to borrow Gramsci’s famous phrase when the fascist  plague was looming),” he concludes. “Among these are the spread of  authoritarianism and the far right. … More generally, what we are  witnessing is quite understandable anger, resentment and contempt for  the political institutions that have implemented the neoliberal assault —  but also the rise of activist movements that seek to overcome the ills  of global society and to stem and reverse the race to destruction.”

Read the interview in its entirety at Truthout.  

Jacob Sugarman is the managing editor at Truthdig. He is a graduate of  the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared  in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other publications.

Copyright © Jacob Sugarman, Truthout.

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