Amy Goodman from Democracy Now interviewed linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky and asked him to explain Donald Trump; in a mere 10 minutes, Chomsky explains where Trump came from, what he says about the GOP, and what the best response to Russiagate is.
Well, why did that happen? It happened because the Republicans face a difficult problem. They have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.
So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic. Sometimes called “the father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and laureate professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.
Born to middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. He began studying at the University of Pennsylvania at age 16, taking courses in linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. From 1951 to 1955, he was appointed to Harvard University’s Society of Fellows, where he developed the theory of transformational grammar, for which he was awarded his doctorate in 1955. Chomsky began teaching at MIT in 1957 and emerged as a significant figure in the field of linguistics for his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which remodeled the scientific study of language. From 1958 to 1959, he was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. Chomsky is credited as the creator or co-creator of the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. He also played a pivotal role in the decline of behaviorism, being particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.
Chomsky first rose to public prominence for his vocal opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism. In 1967, he attracted widespread public attention for his antiwar essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Becoming associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and U.S. President Richard Nixon placed him on his Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over the coming decades, he also became involved in the linguistics wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later co-wrote Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which articulated the propaganda model of media criticism, and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Additionally, his defense of freedom of speech—including Holocaust denial—generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the early 1980s. Since retiring from active teaching, Chomsky has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the War on Terror and supporting the Occupy movement.
One of the most cited scholars in history, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as a paradigm shifter who helped spark a major revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarly research, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. His ideas have proved highly significant within the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements, and have also drawn criticism, with some accusing him of anti-Americanism.
“With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order.”
“Concentration of executive power, unless it’s very temporary and for specific circumstances, let’s say fighting world war two, it’s an assault on democracy.”