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Noam Chomsky: Coronavirus – What is at stake? | DiEM25 TV

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Welcome to another 'World After Corona Virus' I am really happy and honoured for this special episode, because there is a special guest, joining us today

And that special guest is, not only mine but a hero of many generations Both of us are unfortunately in self- isolation, so this is also very a special occasion, but without further introduction I think most of you, who are watching this know who is Noam Chomsky and I am so glad that Noam is joining us today Hello Noam, could you just tell us, where are you, are you already in self- isolation and for how long? Well, I am in Tucson, Arizona in self-isolation So, you wrote, you were born in 1928 And you wrote your first essay, as far as I know, when you were only ten years old, which was an essay on the Spanish civil war Actually just after the fall of Barcelona and so that was 1938, which looks very far away, for my generation

You survived the second world war, Hiroshima, you were a witness to Hiroshima, you were a witness to many very big important political, historic events, from the Vietnam War, to the oil crisis, to the fall of the Berlin wall Before that, you where a witness to Chernobyl, after that in the 90s, you where a witness to a historical moment which was leading to 9/11, which was also a global event and most recently, I mean I am trying to really shorten a long history of a lifetime of someone like you, but the most recent event was the financial crash of 2007 and 2008 So in this background, of such a rich life and being a witness and also an actor in this major historical processes, 'how do you look at the current corona virus crisis? Is it an unprecedented historical event, is it something which surprised you? How do you look at it? That would be my question I should say that my earliest memories which are haunting me now, are from the 1930s, the article that you mentioned on the fall of Barcelona was acting mainly about the, apparently, inexorable spread of the fascist plague all over the, all over Europe and how it was gonna end I later, did much later discovered, when internal documents came out, that the analyst of the U

S government, at the time and the following years expected, that the war would end with, the end of the war was coming, that the war would end with, the world divided into US dominated air regions and a German dominated region So my childhood fears were not entirely out of place And these memories come back now I can recall, when I was a child, a young child listening to Hitler's Nuremberg rallies over the radio, I couldn't understand the words but you could easily understand the mood and the threat and so on, and I have to say when I listen to Donald Trump's rallies today, it resonates

It's not that he's a fascist, he doesn't have that much of an ideology, he's just a sociopath, but an individual concerned with himself, but the mood and the fears is similar and the idea that the fate of the country and the world is in the hands of a sociopathic buffoon, is shocking The coronavirus is serious enough but it's worth recalling that there is a much greater horror approaching, we are racing to the edge of disaster, far worse then anything that's happened in human history And Donald Trump and his minions are in the lead, in racing to the abyss In fact there are two immense threats that we are facing One is the growing threat of nuclear war, which has exacerbated it by the tearing what's left of the arms control regime and the other of course is the growing threat of global warming

Both threats can be dealt, but there isn't a lot of time and the corona virus is a horrible can have terrifying consequences But there will be recovery, while the others won't be recovered, it's finished If we don't deal with them, we're done And so the childhood memories are coming back to haunt me, but a different dimension The threat of nuclear war didn't get a sense of where the world really is, by looking to early, to this January, as may you know every year the doomsday clock is set, set with the minute-hand at certain distance from midnight, which means termination But, ever since Trump was elected, the minute hand has been moving closer and closer to midnight

Last year it was two minutes to midnight The highest, matching the highest it ever reached This year the analysts dispensed with minutes, started moving to seconds, 100 seconds to midnight That's the closest it's ever been Sighting three things: The threat of nuclear war, threat of global warming and the deterioration of democracy, which doesn't quite belong into here but it does, because that's the only, hope that we have, for overcoming the crisis and in for [inaudible] public taking control of their fate, if that doesn't happen, we are doomed If we are leaving our fate to sociopathic buffoons, we're finished

And that's coming close, Trump is the worst, that's because of US Power, which is overwhelming We are talking about US decline, but you just look at the world, you don't see that when the US imposes sanctions, murderers, devastating sanctions, that's the only country that can do that, but everyone has to follow Europe may not like, in fact hate actions on Iran, but they have to follow, they have to follow the master, or else they get kicked out of the international financial system

Thats not a law of nature it's a decision in Europe to be subordinate to the master in Washington, other countries don't even have a choice And back to the Coronavirus, one of the most shocking, harsh aspects of it, is the use of sanctions, to maximize the pain, perfectly consciously, Iran is in a zone, enormous internal problems By the stranglehold of tightening sanctions, which are consciously designed, openly, to make the suffer and suffer bitterly now Cuba has been suffering from it, from the moment, where it gained independence, but it's astonishing, that they survived but they stayed resilient and one of the most ironic elements of today's virus crisis, is that Cuba is helping Europe I mean this is so shocking, that you don't know how to describe it

That Germany can't help Greece, but Cuba can help the European countries If you stop to think about what that means, all the words fail, just as when you see thousands of people dying in the Mediterranean, fleeing from a region, that has been devastated for centuries and being sent to the deaths in the Mediterranean, you don't know what words to use The crisis, the civilizational crisis of the West at this point is devastating, to think of them and it does bring up childhood memories of listening to Hitler raving on the radio to raucous crowds it makes you wonder if this species is even viable You mentioned the crisis of democracy, At this moment I think we find ourselves also in a historically unpresedented situation, in the sense that almost 2 billion people, that's a figure I found today, are in one or the other way confined at home, whether it is isolation, self-isolation or quarantine Almost 2 billion people in the world are at home, if they are lucky enough to have a home

At the same time what we can witness is that Europe, but also other countries, closed their borders, not only internal ones but outer borders There is an estate of exception in all the countries we can think of, which means curfew in many countries, such as France, Serbia, Spain, Italy and other countries, army on the streets and what I want to ask you as a linguist, Is the length language which is now, circulating around If you listen not just to Donald Trump, if you listen to Macron, also some other European politicians, you will constantly hear that they speak about, war And even the media speak about doctors who are on the first "front line" and the virus is called an enemy Which reminded me of course also, not of childhood memories, luckily but a book which was written at that time, Victor Klemperer, "Lingua tertii imperii" the book which, which is a book about the language of the Third Reich and in which way through the language, the ideology was imposed, so from your perspective, what does this discourse about war, tell us and why do they present a virus as an enemy, is it just to legitimize the new state of exception or is there something deeper in this discourse? protect the rhetoric, but I think it's not exaggerated

It has some significance The meaning is, that if we want to deal with the crisis, we have to move to something like wartime mobilization So if you think of, take a rich country, like United States, it has the resources to overcome the immediate economic The mobilization for the Second World War, led the country into far greater debt than is contemplated today and was very a successful mobilization, practically quadrupled the US manufacturing, ended the depression, left the country with [inaudible] instead, but a capacity to grow That's less than we need probably, not on that scale it's not like this in a world war, but we need the mentality of the movement, of a social ??? is to try to overcome the short-run crisis, which is severe

Also here we, can recall the swine flue epedemic in 2009, to originated in the US Couple hundreds thousand people, at the first sight recovered from worst, but it has to be dealt with, That's a rich country like the States Now there's two biillion people, the majority are in India What happens for Indian, they live from hand to mouth, who's isolated, starves to death

What's gonna happen? In a civilized world, the rich countries would be giving assistance, after those who were in need, instead of strangling them, which is what we are doing, particularly in India but in much of the world The kind of crisis, you know whether the crisis can be within a country like India, I don't know, bear in mind that the, with current tendencies if they persist South Asia, is going to be unlivable in a few decades The temperature reached a 50 degrees, in Rajasthan this summer and it's increasing The waters right now, could get even worse, there's two nuclear powers, they're gonna be fighting over restricting reduced water supplies I mean the corona virus is very serious, we can't underestimate it, but we have to remember that it's a fraction, small fraction of major crisis, that are coming along

They may not disrupt life to the extent, that the corona virus does today, but they will disrupt life to the point of making the species unsurvivable and not in the very distant future So we have many problems to deal with, well, immediate ones, corona virus

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is serious, has to be dealt with and much larger ones, vastly larger ones, they're looming Now, there is the civilizational crisis, we have to time possibly good side of the corona virus, as it may, might bring people to think about what kind of a world do we want? Do we want the kind of world that leads to this? We should think about the origins of this crisis, why is there a corona virus crisis? Its a colossal market failure, it goes right back to the essence of markets, exacerbated by the neoliberal, savage, neoliberal intensification of deep social economic problems It was known for a long time, that pandemics are very likely and it was understood, very well understood, that there likely to be corona virus pandemic slight modifications of the SARS epidemic, 15 years ago it was overcome, the viruses were identified, sequenced, vaccines were available, labs around the world, could be working right then on developing protection for potential corona virus pandemics Why didn't they do it? The market signals were wrong

The drug companies, we have handed over our fate to private tyrannies, hold corporations, which are unaccountable to the public, in this case, big Pharma and for them they make new body creams, it's more profitable, than that of finding a vaccine that will protect people from total destruction It's impossible for the government to step in, going back to wartime mobilization, that's what happened Polio, at the time, I can remember very well was a terrifying threat, it was ended by the discovery of the Salk vaccine, by a government institution, set off by the Roosevelt administration No Patents, available to everyone That could have been done this time, but the neoliberal plague has blocked that We are living under an ideology, for which economists have a good bit of responsibility, so which comes from the corporate sector

An ideology, which is typified by that Ronald Reagan reading the script haded to, by his corporate masters with his sunny smile, saying government is the problem Let's get rid of government, which means, let's hand over decisions to private tyrannies, that are unaccountable with the public On the other side of the Atlantic, Thatcher was instructing us, that there is a society, just individuals thrown into the market to survive somehow and furthermore, there is no alternative The world has been suffering under the rich, years and it's now at the point where things, that could be done, like direct government intervention on the scope the invention of the Salk vaccine, but that's blocked for ideological reasons, coming out of the neoliberal plague and the point is that this corona virus epidemic could have been prevented, the information was there to be read, in fact it was well known in October 2019, just before the outbreak There was a large scale simulation, by level simulation in the United States, in the world of the possible pandemic of this kind

Nothing was done, now the crisis was then made worse by the treachery of the political systems We did't pay attention to the information that they were aware of, on December 31st, China informed the World Health Organisation of pneumonia, like symptoms with unknown etiology A week later, they identified, some Chinese scientists, identified it as a corona virus, furthermore they sequenced it and gave the information to the world, by then virologists, others who were bothering to read World Health Organization report knew, that they were Corona Virus and they knew how to deal with it Did they do anything, well yes, some did The countries in the area, China, Soth Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, began to do something and they have sort of pretty much it seems contained, at least the first surge of crisis

In Europe to some extent, that's happened Germany which had, which hadn't moved, just on time, it has the hospital systems under the liberalism, did have spare diagnostic capacity and was able to act in a highly selfish fashion, not helping others but for itself at least, to have a reasonable containment Other countries just ignored it, the worst of them the United Kingdom and the worst of all was the United States, which happens to be led by [inaudible] who says, you know one day there's no crisis, it's just like flu, the next day it's a terrible crisis, I knew it all along, the next day we have to give it for business, because I have to win the election The Idea that the world is in these hands, is shocking, but the point is that it started with it, again, a colossal market failure by pointing to fundamental problems the social economic order, made much worse by the neoliberal plague and it continues, because of the collapse of the kinds of institutional structures, that could deal with it, if they were functioning These are topics that we ought to be thinking about seriously and thinking in more depth about, as I said, what kind of world do we want to live in? If we overcome somehow, there will be options The options range from the installation of highly authoritarian brutal States all the way over to radical reconstruction to society and more humane terms, concerned with human needs of private profit

That we should bear in mind, that highly authoritarian vicious states are quite compatible with neo- liberalism, in fact, the [inaudible] of neo-liberalism from [inaudible] to Hayek the rest, were perfectly happy with massive state violence, as long as it supported what they called sound economics Neo-liberalism has it's origins in 1920s Vienna, from [inaudible] could barely contain in his delight, in the proto-fascist of the Austrian state and smashed the labor unions and Austrian social democracy and joined the early proto-fascist government, praised it praised fascism, in fact, because of his protecting sound economics When Pinochet installed a murderer's brutal dictatorship in Chile, they all loved it, they all fought there, [inaudible] helped out of this marvelous miracle, that was bringing sound economics, great profit to it, for haness up some small part of the population So, it's not out of line to think, of a savage neoliberal system might be reinstalled by self-proclaimed libertarians with a powerful state violence, imposing, that's one part, one nightmare, that might come about

But it's not necessary, there is the possibility that people will organize, become engaged, as many are doing, and bringt about a much better world, which will also confront the enormous problems, that were facing right down the road, the problems of nuclear war, which is closer than it's ever been and the problems of environmental catastrophe from which there is no recovery once we've gotten to that stage, that it's not far in distance, unless we act decisively So it's a critical moment of human history, not just because of the corona virus, but to bring us, should bring us to awareness of the profound flaws the world flawed not strong enough, the deep, dysfunctional characteristics of the whole socio-economic system, which has to [inaudible], if there's going to be a survivable future So this could be a warning sign and a lesson to deal with it today or prevent it from exploding, but thinking of it's roots and how those roots are going to lead to more crisis, worse ones than this, extra pay right away And since we don't have much time, I'll just pose one last question, yes, so, I think many people are interested and also us, who are active in social movements and mobilization and organized for decades, using physical and social closeness between people, but now suddenly we are all getting accustomed to what is now being called 'Social-distancing', so my questions is, how do you see the future of social resistance, in times of social distance and if this takes a few more months, not to mention maybe a year to two, and we are mainly in self isolation at home, what would be your advise to progressives around the world, activists, also intellectuals, students, workers, how to organize in this new situation? And could you perhaps tell us wether you see a hope , that instead of going into a global authoritarianism, this open historic situation might go in a radical transformation of the world, which would be green, equal, just and full of solidarity? First of all, we should bear in mind that, in the past few years, there has been a form of social isolation, which is very damaging Now you go into a McDonalds and take a look at a bunch of teenagers, sitting around the table, having a hamburger, what you see is, two conversations going

One sort of shallow discussion among them, another the one, that each one is having on his cellphone, with some remote individual, who with friend This has atomized and isolated people to an extraordinary extent The Thatcher principle, there was no society, has escalated, the misused social media, that has turned people into very isolated creatures, especially young people There are actually universities, now in the United States, where the sidewalk have plaques on them, saying, look up Because every kid is walking around, is glued to itself

That's a form of self induced social isolation, which has been very harmful We're now on a situation of real social isolation It has to be overcome by recreating, social bonds in whatever way can be done , who need if whatever kind that can be helping people in need Contacting them, developing organizations, expanding analyzation, like before I'm getting them to be functional and operative, making plans for the future, bringing people together as he can in the internet age, to join, consult deliberate to figure out answers to the problems that they face and work on them, which can be done, it's not face to-face communication which for human beings is essential But it'll be deprived of it for a while, you can put it on hold find other ways and continue with the, and in fact, extend and deepen the activities carried out, can be done, it's not going to be easy, but humans have faced problem Can I pose a question, since we are both in self-isolation? My dog is trying to have a conversation? Was that before a parrot? You have a bird as well or a parrot? Or a bird, there was a sound of a bird, yes? Yes, a ????? Parrot, it can say: Sovereignty to all the people in Portuguese

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