Challenges and Opportunities for Progressive Movements Post-911
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Chris Spannos
Through the framework of cause and effect, you can see the obstacles posed by the War on Terrorism. Militarization, globalization, and racism have accelerated; their intersections compounded. Chris Spannos discussed these intersections and prospects for social change after Sept. 11 with
Redeye: Hi Noam and welcome to Redeye.
Chomsky: Hi, how are you?
Redeye: I'm good, thanks. There seems to be a general understanding that the events of Sept. 11 have caused a consolidation of power. Can you begin by elaborating on it's characteristics?
Chomsky: The events of Sept. 11, first of all, were historic. There is no doubt about that. It was a terrible terrorist atrocity, but that, unfortunately, is not the reason it was an historic event. Unfortunately, it is not unique in scale, by any means. What's unique about it, is the victims. This is the first time in hundreds of years that what we call the west - Europe and its offshoots - have been subjected to the kinds of atrocities that they carry out all the time in other countries and that is unique. The guns are pointed in the other direction for the first time.
It doesn't lessen the nature of the atrocity. It is an atrocity. But, outside
Just last week I was in
But Sept. 11 was unique in that respect and it, as you say, lead to the strengthening forces, not only in the west, but throughout the world that want to exploit the opportunity exploit the atrocity as an opportunity to expand projects that are already under way, many of them quite brutal and repressive. For example,
The western countries themselves have - mostly the governments - have tried to push through what they sometimes call prevention of terrorism ordinances or something like that. [They] have nothing to do with terrorism but are a further way to try to discipline the population and impose obedience, to prepare the terrain for pushing through a program that they know the public is opposed to but will benefit wealth and power, and be implemented during this period in the guise of patriotism.
Patriotism is down to meaning you shut up and I'll relentlessly pursue my own goals. That is happening everywhere and it takes different form in different places. If it's a kind of consolidation, one doesn't know, but it sure is an intensification of repressive harsh efforts ranging from trying to discipline the populations to really serious atrocities.
Redeye: The War on Terrorism has opened doors: a door for further militarization, a further gap between rich and poor, and for escalating racism. How do these things intersect?
Chomsky: Pretty clearly there has been increasing racism that hasn't been as bad as some had anticipated. How bad it will get I do not know.
In the case of increased militarization, it is not even a question. The