Friday, March 11, 2011

Vintage Chomsky: Wisconsin the same as Egypt; Obama worse than Bush

Noam Chomsky shows he hasn't lost his sense of perspective as he discusses events in the Middle East with Jeremy Paxman for the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Amid the boilerplate about the West's support for dictators, and the perfectly sensible suggestion that the West shouldn't get involved in Libya because it's a civil war, there are a couple of Chomskyesque gems.

At around the 2.30 mark Chomsky relates how an Egyptian labour/labor leader sent a message of solidarity to protestors in Madison, Wisconsin. "In Madison they're trying to preserve aspects of democracy that are under serious attack," he tells Paxman. "In Egypt they're trying to gain rights that have been denied them. The trajectories are crossing but they're going in opposite directions."

You heard it here first. In a few short years the workers of Egypt will be enjoying a 30-hour week and universal healthcare, and retiring on final salary pensions at 50. Meanwhile those workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere in America who are lucky enough to have a job will be eking out a living selling kebabs, collecting scrap metal or hand-crafting clay bricks, and living in constant fear of arrest should they even think about protesting against President-for-life Palin.

Chomsky then comes out (at around the five-minute mark) with an observation that conservatives can at least agree on, albeit for different reasons. Asked by Paxman if Obama has proved to be no better than Bush, Chomsky replies "In many ways he’s worse".

For some reason Paxman - who you’d think would be familiar with Chomsky’s off-the-reservation brand of leftism - is taken aback with this and asks him to elaborate. It’s predictably downhill for there: “escalating war in Afghanistan... supporting criminal acts by Israel... Nuremberg trials... yadda yadda...”

Paxman has a reputation for being a formidable interviewer, so his inability - or reluctance - to seriously challenge the worst of Chomsky's nonsense ("Turkey is a respected country" was another corker) is disappointing. There's a fuller version of the interview here, but it's probably not available outside the UK.


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