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Bedeutung interviews Noam Chomsky

December 1, 2009

by Alexandros Stavrakas
from Bedeutung Magazine

In the context of Bedeutung’s fourth and forthcoming issue, titled Intellectuals & Masses, editor Alex Stavrakas interviewed Noam Chomsky. The well-known linguist and vocal critic of capitalism speaks about American politics and Obama, the financial crisis, religious faith, the US’s role as a hegemonic power and, even, the move from ‘is’ to ‘ought’.


AS: Every society creates its institutions based on needs, values and ideas that are fictitious – as being based on arbitrary truths. The idea itself, however, that these institutions are a human creation does not exist in every society. Societies, for example, may rely on an external authority in order to legitimize their truths: Gods, gospels, etc. The question is: if American people were fully aware that they themselves are the creators of their own laws, would they respect them?

NC: First of all, the majority of American people today don’t accept the assumption that it is they who create their institutions and who run their country. The last time I looked at the poles, about 80% of the population felt that the government is made up of a few big interests looking out for themselves and not for the people. You could see this at the elections. Although I don’t have the exact figures at hand, there’s a very striking fact: opinions of Congress are extremely low – in the teens. Nevertheless, probably 98% of incumbents get re-elected. What this tells you is that, essentially, people are aware that they don’t have a choice and that they’re not taking part in running the country. In fact, you can see this in many other ways: take April 15th, the day when taxes are paid. In a democratic society, where people would feel that they are shaping their own lives, this would be a day of celebration. The spirit would be “We’re getting together as a community to put our resources into implementing policies that we have chosen”. What could be better than that? Well, that’s not the way it is here. Instead, it’s a day of mourning when some alien force which has nothing to do with us comes to steal our hard-earned money.

>>> Read the entire interview here

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