Noam Chomsky on Globalization, Inequality and Political Alienation

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By James Resnick, E-International Relations
Saturday, 2 July 2016

Noam Chomsky is Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Seen by many as "the father of modern linguistics", his work as a theoretical linguist from the 1950s revolutionized the field of linguistics by treating language as a uniquely human, biologically based cognitive capacity. Through his contributions to linguistics and related fields, including cognitive psychology and the philosophies of mind and language, Chomsky helped to initiate and sustain what came to be known as the "cognitive revolution." Chomsky has also gained a worldwide following as a political dissident for his analyses of the pernicious influence of economic elites on U.S. domestic politics, foreign policy, and intellectual culture.

The author of more than 120 books, Chomsky is widely recognized as a paradigm shifter who helped spark a major revolution in the human sciences, and is one of the most cited scholars in the last few decades. His most recent documentary, Requiem for the American Dream, focuses on the defining characteristic of our time -- the deliberate concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few.

James Resnick: How has the way you understand the world changed over time and what (or who) has prompted the most significant shifts in your thinking?

Noam Chomsky: For better or worse, I've pretty much stayed the same throughout my life. When I was a child in elementary school I was writing articles for the school newspaper on the rise of fascism in Europe and the threats to the world as I saw them from a 10-year-old point of view, and on from there. By the time I was a young teenager, I was very involved in radical politics of all kinds; hanging around anarchist bookstores and offices. A lot concerned what was happening during the Second World War: the British attack on Greece and the atomic bomb I thought was shattering.

The things I consider inspiring is seeing people struggling: poor suffering people, with limited resources, struggling to really achieve anything. Some of them are very inspiring. For example, a remote very poor village in southern Colombia organising to try to prevent a Canadian gold-mining operation from destroying their water supply and the environment; meanwhile, fending off para-military and military violence and so on. That kind of thing which you see all over the world is very inspiring.

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