Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speaking of Truth and Power

The folks at underclassrising have an interesting interview with Noam Chomsky in which he discusses, among other things, his recent book Hopes & Prospects:

Your latest book is called Hopes and Prospects. What are the hopes?

The first part of the book is about South America, and in South America there are many quite hopefu developments. For the first time in 500 years, since the Conquistadors, South America is beginning to move towards some degree of independence and integration and at least facing some of its severe internal problems. The colonial structure is extreme in South America, where there is a very narrow concentration of wealth in a mostly Europeanised, sometimes white elite, surrounded by an awful tragedy and some of the worst inequality in the world, in a region that has a lot of resources and a lot of potential. Some steps are being taken to deal with this.

In the US itself there also are changes. Whether they are fast enough to overcome the major problems I don’t know, but just take Israel and Palestine. Not many years ago, if I wanted to give a talk on this I had to have police protection at a university, because the meetings would be broken up violently. I can remember when the police insisted on accompanying me and my wife back to our car after a talk at a university. That’s not completely changed, but it’s been changing over the years, and it changed radically after Gaza. Now there are enthusiastic audiences, very much engaged, very involved, very much wanting to do things.

It hasn’t affected the media, and it hasn’t affected the political class, or the intellectuals, but it’s changing around the country, and sooner or later those things do have effects. In a way it was diverted by the Obama phenomenon, because that did bring about a lot of expectations and it diverted a lot of activism. But now disillusionment has set in. If the changes continue to develop, they can eventually bring about significant change, as they did in the case of South Africa.

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