1. Newman: Mr. Chomsky, that impotence of voters, that angry impotence as you talk about, presumably you’d say that is what is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump.
2. Chomsky: It’s pretty clear what is responsible for the rise of the support for Trump and there’s general Agreement about it. If you take a simple look at economic statistics, the primary support for Trump is coming from mostly white, Working Class, poor People who’ve been cast by the wayside during the liberal period. They’ve lived through a generation of Stagnation or Decline. Real Wages are about what they were in the 1960s, but it’s also been a Decline in functioning Democracy. Overwhelming evidence reveals that even their own elected representatives barely reflect their interest and concerns. Contempt for Institutions, especially Congress, has just increased, skyrocketed. It’s down in single digits often. These are People who. Meanwhile there has, of course, been Wealth, Wealth created. It’s gone into very few hands, mostly into a fraction of the top 1%, so there’s enormous opulence.
3. Newman: Yes, indeed. How dangerous do you think this all is in terms of Donald Trump, for example? I mean, he has been toning down some of his most extreme pronouncements recently. He may, if he ever got anywhere near Power, he could be held in check by congressmen. How dangerous do you think he is to America?
4. Chomsky: Well, the greatest danger that he, and indeed every Republican candidate poses is barely mentioned. It’s kind of reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ dog that did not bark. The greatest danger is that there are two huge dangers that the human Species faces that we’re now in a situation where we have to decide whether the Species survives in a decent form. One is the rising danger of nuclear War, which is quite serious, and the other is environmental catastrophe. On these issues, Donald Trump and the other Republican candidates are basically uniform.
5. Newman: Do you believe that Hilary Clinton, the Democratic front runner, would champion those issues in a way that would satisfy you?
6. Chomsky: Not in any way that would satisfy me, but at least she recognises that climate change is going on and that we have to do something about it. Every single Republican candidate denies that it’s happening with the sole exception of Casey, who says, "Sure, it’s happening, but we shouldn’t do anything about it." That’s having an impact.
7. The Paris negotiations last December were aiming at a treaty. They couldn’t reach it for a simple reason, the Republican Congress would not accept it. It’s a voluntary Agreement which means even the weak standards that were proposed will be ... It undermines the likelihood that even they will be met. Every Republican candidate, including Trump, wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and Richard Nixon’s legacy to cut back Regulation, to restore the precipices as quickly as possible.
8. On militarism, every one of them wants to raise the huge military budget. It’s already over half of discretionary spending leading right now is one factor leading to Confrontations, which could be extremely hazardous. This, again, is not being discussed.
9. Newman: Indeed, well I suggest one thing perhaps that you might agree with Donald Trump on would be about the EU. He talks about the fact that the UK may leave the EU. You’ve railed against European Union Bureaucracy. Could you agree with him on that?
10. Chomsky: No, I don’t. In fact, I actually have no real strong opinion on Brexit, but my concern about it would be that it would weaken the European Union, but it would also probably leave Britain even more, don’t want to use too strong a word, subordinate to US Power than it is today, which I don’t think would be a good thing for the World or Britain.
11. Newman: What, in a nutshell, is the answer to who rules the World now?
12. Chomsky: As I try to discuss in the book, there is no simply answer. We usually think of States when that question is raised and with regard to States, there’s no doubt that the United States, despite its decline for many, many years, is still overwhelmingly more powerful than any State or Group of States. That’s only one factor. States have internal structures and internal distribution of Power. In the United States, Power is overwhelmingly, and increasingly in recent years, in the hands of a very narrow sector of corporate Wealth, private Wealth and Power. They have counterparts elsewhere who agree with them, who interact with them largely, and that’s another dimension that rules the World.
There’s also the Public. The Public can have, sometimes does have, enormous Power. We can go back to David Hume, first major modern Work on Political Philosophy, Foundations of the Theory of Government, pointed out that Force is on the side of the governed. Those who are governed have the Force if they are willing to and eager to and recognise the possibility to exercise it. Sometimes they do. That’s a major Force in who rules the World.
13. Newman: When it comes to State Power, you don’t buy the idea of China is the next Superpower, the imminent Superpower?
14. Chomsky: China? China plays a very important role in the World, undoubtedly. If you take a look at, say, per capita Income, it’s far behind the United States and other developed States. It has enormous internal problems like demographic, ecological, resources, and so on. It’s undoubtedly going to play an important. In military terms, it’s not even a fraction of the United States and Western Power. Yes, economically it’s significant, but bear in mind that a good deal of Chinese Production is actually foreign-owned. Apple, World’s major Corporation, happens to produce in China largely, but that’s US Production, which happens to use Chinese facilities, Labour and other facilities.
China is a growing, developing Power in some domains. In fact, it’s gone quite far even in high technology industries. For example, in Production of solar panels, China’s in the lead, not just in mass Production but also in innovation and high tech Development. All of this is significant, but is by no means a Power on the scale of the United States.
In fact, take a look at the Confrontations between China and the United States now. There are serious Confrontations. Are they in the Caribbean? Are they off the coast of California? No, they’re in Waters around China where China and others have territorial claims. That’s a symbolic reflexion of the nature of State Power.
15. Newman: Well, you described your scathing about the United States. No one would be surprised to hear that. You describe it as a leading terrorist State. I’m just interested how you describe Russia.
16. Chomsky: How do I describe Russia? Authoritarian, brutal, and harsh. Carrying out ugly actions in its own region. The United States, on the other hand, Carries out such actions all over the World. In fact, again, look at. There are serious Confrontations between Russia and the United States. Once again, are they on the Mexican Border, the Canadian Border? No, they’re on the Russian Border. In fact, right at the point of the traditional invasion route through which Russia has been virtually destroyed several times in the past century, also earlier History, again it’s no apologetics for what Putin may be doing, but it should lead us to have a rational perspective on the Relationship between these Forces in the World.
As for the US being the leading terrorist State, I should say that’s hardly just my opinion. For example, when I was introduced, the person who introduced me said that how I regard the United States is the gravest Threat to World Peace. That’s not exactly, that misrepresents the situation. There are international polls run by the leading US polling agency, Gallop. It’s international affiliated. One of the questions they ask is: Which [Nation] is the gravest Threat to World Peace? The United States was first by a huge margin. Far behind, in second place, is Pakistan. That’s undoubtedly inflated by the Indian vote, and others have slight mention. That’s global opinion. I should mention that this was not even reported in the United States. It happened to be reported by BBC. It wasn’t reported in the United States.
As for being a terrorist State, President Obama’s global Assassination Campaign is an extreme terrorist War. I mean, if Iran, let’s say, was Carrying out a Campaign to assassinate People around the World who it thought might be planning to harm Iran, we would regard it as Terrorism. For example, if they were bombing the editorial offices of The New York Times and The Washington Post, which publish op-eds by prominent figures saying we should bomb Iran [fucking] right now, not wait, so obviously they want to harm Iran. Suppose Iran was assassinating them and anybody who happened to be standing around all over. Would we regard that as Terrorism? I think we would.
17. Newman: Well, let me put a few questions to you from People online who are sending in questions via Facebook. First, Gary says, what are the dangers of TTIP?
18. Chomsky: Of Putin?
19. Newman: No, no, no, sorry. What are the dangers of tee-tee-eye-pee? The Transatlantic Trade Partnership? Tee-tee-eye-pee. Tee-tee-eye-pee.
20. Chomsky: Tee-tee-eye-pee. Yeah, they’re pretty extreme, in fact. Chuckle of Newman. GreenPeace a couple of days ago released 280 pages of internal documents on this so called Trade Agreement, and they spell out details of what all of us should know. The so called Free Trade Agreements are not Free Trade Agreements. In fact, to a large extent they’re not even Trade Agreements. These are Investor rights Agreements. There’s a reason why they’re kept secret from the Public. As soon as you look at them, you see why. Notice I say secret from the Public, not secret. They’re not kept secret. They’re not secret to the corporate lawyers and lobbyists who are writing the detailed Regulations. Of course, in the interests of their constituents. It doesn’t happen to be the Public of the World or their own Countries. These are highly protectionist for the benefit of a private Power. So called intellectual property rights effectively raise Tariffs, they’re called Patents, which have an enormous impact on Economies. Wonderful for pharmaceutical and media conglomerates and others.
The Investors at Corporations are given the right to sue Government, something you and I can’t do but a Corporation can, to sue Government for harming their potentially future Profits. You can figure out what that means. Such cases are already in the courts. They’re not in the courts, they go to private adjudication Groups made up largely of corporate representatives. They’re already with NAFTA. We can expect more of them. There are provisions that undermine efforts at Regulation, including incidentally a Regulation of environmental dangers. Rather strikingly, the phrase climate change does not appear in these 280 pages, which are illustrative of the whole structure.
They have almost no. I should say these Agreements, so called Pacific and Atlantic, have virtually no effect on Tariffs. Tariffs are already quite low among the major trading partners. When you read the propaganda about it, it says, oh yeah, sure, Vietnam’s going to have to lower its Tariffs. Almost no effect on Trade. The major trading partners already have Agreements that have reduced the Tariffs very substantially with a few exceptions, not many. We should disabuse ourself of the illusion that these are Free Trade Agreements. Anything but. And to a large extent, not even Trade Agreements. We have the Experience of others like NAFTA, many years of Experience. Take, say, NAFTA, it has all of the aspects that I just described but even more, consider even what is called Trade Interactions across the US/Mexico Border. They’ve increased substantially since NAFTA. Economists will tell you Trade has greatly increased, but have a look at them. For example, suppose that General Motors that produces parts in Indiana sends them to Mexico for Assembly and sells the Car in Los Angeles. That’s called Trade in both directions, but it’s not. It’s Interactions internal to a command Economy. It’s as if during the days of the Soviet Union, parts were made say in Leningrad, sent to Warsaw for Assembly, then sold in Moscow. We wouldn’t call that Trade. That’s Interactions internal to a command Economy.
21. Newman: Well, Noam Chomsky, thank you very much for being so generous with your time and for staying on to have that live online discussion. Thank you.