Episode 84: Interview with pioneering linguist, social critic, and political activist on the environmental crises we are facing
Described by the New York Times as “arguably the most important intellectual alive,” Noam Chomsky is a pioneering American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, social critic, and political activist.
Sometimes called “the father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. Chomsky has been a hugely influential figure in the international anti-war movement –and an unrelenting critic of international power. In Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky, together with Edward Herman, skilfully analyse the way in which the marketplace and the economics of publishing significantly shape the news.
He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Laureate Professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of more than 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media.
In this fascinating and timely interview, Professor Chomsky shares his views on the urgent environmental crises we are facing today—and says, following the recent IPCC report, that it is indeed “time to panic” about climate change (he is also very worried about growing nuclear challenges). He talks about the disastrous impact of the U.S Republican Party over decades, a denialist organisation, and discusses the emergence, and dangers, of growing climate nationalism and fascism in the US.
Chomsky argues that the US urgently needs a Green New Deal, a theme at the heart of his recent book with Robert Pollen, The Political Economy of Climate Change and the Green New Deal. He notes the way the Green New deal is discussed in the media is a continuation of a massive propaganda to demonize the work of government over several decades.
While acknowledging the impact we can have as individuals by modifying our personal consumption, Chomsky argues that these personal choices don’t measure up against the massive decisions on a national and global level, for example, stopping fossil fuel companies relentlessly developing new production facilities. Chomsky sees great potential for social protest, noting the recent impact of Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise movement in the US.