“With the sharp deterioration of protection of elementary civil rights in the United States no one should be extradited to the country on charges related to alleged terrorism. The constitutional lawyer in the White House has just made it clear that the due process provisions of the U.S. Constitution going back to the Magna Carta in 1215 can be satisfied just by an internal discussion in the executive branch, so essentially eliminating them. And that’s hardly the only example. Furthermore the prisons and the incarceration system in the United States are an international scandal. The shallow and evasive charges in this case strongly reinforce that conclusion. I wish you the best success in your campaign to block extradition for Talha Ahsan.” - Noam Chomsky
Talha Ahsan was extradited to the United States on October 5th, 2012.
(1 min 7 sec)
(13 min 20 sec)
“Something else that must have been obvious to everyone who bothered to look at the newspapers Wednesday morning was the maps. It had to strike everyone who looked at them that this is the Civil War. …
…there’s been an enormous rise of racism, extreme racism, and it shows up in the demography of the voting. So as you know I’m sure, to a very substantial extent it was a white versus nonwhite vote. You can tell that in the statistics, not a hundred percent but substantially and in fact much more than before, which is not a good thing for the country.
Furthermore you see it in other ways. If you look closely at polling results, at public attitudes, there’s a lot of evidence that the racism is deep and it’s based on - a lot of it’s based on fear. Fear which is sometimes articulated that they’re taking our country away from us. ‘They’ being you know who. We, the whites, especially the white protestants, we’re losing our country. We’re becoming a minority. And people know that, and they’re terrified. The hatred of Obama goes way beyond any rational explanation. It’s amazing when you look at it. So half of Republicans think that he intends to impose Islamic Sharia law, not on just the United States but on the entire world. And about twenty-five percent of Republicans think he might be Antichrist. Forty percent of Americans, all Americans, think he wasn’t born in the United States. Now that means practically all Republicans think that. Well you know these are divides that raise very serious problems. …”
Some of Noam Chomsky’s remarks on the election, recorded at a benefit for Encuentro 5 at the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 8th, 2012. Vijay Prashad and Sam Christiansen also spoke. This is part 2. See also: part 1.
(5 min 15 sec)
“There are two good things about Tuesday, in my opinion. One is that the worst didn’t happen. It came close. And the second is that it’s over. For one thing I can stop getting annoying phone calls. But more significantly, it means that activists can go back to what they should always be doing.
As far as the election is concerned the right attitude towards it in my opinion was to take about 5 minutes to think about what to do and then forget about it and go back to what has to be done. And what has to be done - you all know - is to work to change the conditions that allow extravaganzas like this to go on. And insofar as there are elections, make them meaningful. But meanwhile change the society so that it really does work for the people. As we just heard that’s a big task.
Now there are a couple of interesting observations about the election. Some have been discussed. Some not much. There were, I think, some good things. So personally at least I’m glad that Elizabeth Warren got in. I think that could be very helpful. … [Also s]ome unpleasant things. One of them which didn’t get a lot of publicity is a referendum in Michigan which was voted down overwhelmingly. It was a referendum guaranteeing the right of collective bargaining, that is, guaranteeing the right of workers to organize. The fact that that was defeated and defeated substantially is a kind of illustration of the work people like us have to do. It’s a reflection of the extreme effectiveness of the huge propaganda campaign against working people. That’s been going on for a long time but has really peaked substantially in the last couple years and it’s basically bipartisan. And it has reached the working class, substantially, which is a very dangerous phenomenon. And that goes to something else that is barely discussed.
One of the most important things about the election, I think, is what didn’t happen. What didn’t happen is that almost half the population didn’t even bother to vote. Now if you look at the correlation between voting and income, you find it’s extremely close. So what that means is that roughly the lower half of the income level didn’t bother to vote. Those people have been carefully studied. Their attitudes are social democratic. If they were to vote, overwhelmingly they would vote democratic, by probably a factor of maybe 3-to-1 or something like that. Their votes, if they did effect policy, would change the country significantly.
So the question is why they didn’t vote. Well, a lot of possible reasons. One reason is just that the contemporary version of the old poll tax, which goes back to the constitution, was enough to inhibit lots of people without resources from voting. You’ve read about all the efforts that have been made by the republican party to prevent voting - for quite good reasons: they know who they’re gonna vote for. And surely that had some kind of effect. But my guess is that a bigger effect came from something that people intuitively understand even if they don’t know the data. The topics have been quite well studied in academic political science, with a lot of work on public attitudes and public policy and the relation between them. And it turns out that about 70% of the population, the lower 70% on the income level, have no influence at all on policy. So it doesn’t matter what they think. So they’re effectively disenfranchised. And if you move up the income/wealth level you get more influence on policy. And when you get to the very top, the 1% in the imagery of the Occupy movement, more accurately the one tenth of one percent where the real concentration of wealth is, they essentially get what they want. And even if people haven’t read the academic studies they know it in their bones. And I presume that that’s a major reason why almost half the population doesn’t even try to participate, knowing that it’s not gonna make any difference what they think anyway. Well that’s another major task that has to be addressed. They’re not wrong, incidentally, but we have to change the conditions in which they’re right. And that’s no small task. …”
Some of Noam Chomsky’s comments on the election, recorded at a benefit for Encuentro 5 at the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 8th, 2012. Vijay Prashad and Sam Christiansen also spoke. This is part 1. See also: part 2.
(5 min 46 sec)
‘Who Owns the World? Resistance and Ways Forward’
Noam Chomsky lecture at the University of Massachusetts on September 27th, 2012.
(1 hr 2 min 54 sec)
Noam Chomsky Q&A at AUC (American University in Cairo) on October 23rd, 2012. (32 min 6 sec)
See also: Chomsky’s prepared remarks.
‘Noam Chomsky on forgotten methodologies in artificial intelligence’ (6 min 10 sec)
Video posted to Yarden Katz’s YouTube channel on November 1st, 2012.
‘Noam Chomsky on David Marr’s approach to neuroscience’ (6 min 14 sec)
Video posted to YouTube by Yarden Katz on November 1st, 2012.
‘Noam Chomsky on applying Marr’s computational approach to biology’ (6 min 38 sec)
Video posted to Yarden Katz’s YouTube channel on November 1st, 2012.