This is the penultimate episode of "The World Tomorrow", which has been a fascinating and informative series of interviews with controversial people worldwide. All other episodes can be accessed from the links at the bottom of this article and one more is to be available on July 3.
This week Julian Assange interviews Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali, both well-known activists of the intellectual left, and discussions are held about the Arab Spring, protests that have erupted in Western countries in the last year and also new hope in Latin America.
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and a major figure of analytic philosophy. His work has influenced fields such as computer science, mathematics, and psychology.
Ideologically identifying with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism, Chomsky is known for his critiques of U.S. foreign policy and contemporary capitalism, and he has been described as a prominent cultural figure. His media criticism has included Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), co-written with Edward S. Herman, an analysis articulating the propaganda model theory for examining the media.
According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992, and was the eighth most cited source overall. Chomsky is the author of over 100 books. He is credited as the creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy, the universal grammar theory, and the Chomsky–Schützenberger theorem.
Tariq Ali is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso, and regularly contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, and the London Review of Books.
He is the author of several books, including Pakistan: Military Rule or People's Power (1970), Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (1991), Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope (2006), Conversations with Edward Said (2005), Bush in Babylon (2003), and Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity (2002), A Banker for All Seasons (2007), The Duel (2008) and The Obama Syndrome (2010).
Both Chomsky and Ali agree that the unexpected revolts in the Middle East, the protests in the United States, Europe and Russia are all stemming from a profound economic disparity and the feeling of being oppressed by their respective governments.
Ali says, “We are witnessing that democracy is becoming more and more denuded of content. It's like an empty shell, and this is what is angering young people, who feel 'Whatever we do, whatever we vote for, nothing changes', hence all these protests.”
Liberal thinkers say that when it comes to Middle Eastern turmoil, Western powers, currently dominating the world, try to limit the damage to their oil-exporting dictatorial allies.
“In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates, the major oil producing regions, it never got off the ground. The intimidation of the security forces, backed by the West, was so enormous that people were literally afraid to go into the streets in Riyadh,” Chomsky explained.
However, the so-called Arab Spring took everyone by surprise, which resulted in the fall of several key figures in the region. But that would not permanently damage western interests in the region, they argue.
“The West – mainly France in Tunisia, the United States and Britain in Egypt – are following a very traditional pattern. There's a playbook that you pursue that gives you a kind of a game plan when some favorite dictators lose the capacity to rule. What you do is support them until the last possible minute, when it's impossible any longer – maybe the army turns against them – you get your intellectual class to issue ringing declarations about democracy, and then you try to restore the old system, as much as,” says Chomsky.
But the uprisings do carry important lessons to be learned for all freedom-loving people in the world, not just the Arabs, Chomsky and Ali say.
“Sometimes people say: 'But nothing much has changed'. This is true. But one thing that's changed is that the people, the masses, have realized that in order to bring about change they have to move and become active. And that is a big lesson from these uprisings,” believes Ali.
On a more global scale, the growing protest movement shows that the current system of world governance is unbalanced, and a replacement should be found sooner rather than later. The answer may be coming from the Latin America, which is experimenting with models which differ from a western state capitalism increasingly running amok.
“They're developing models… take Bolivia [for example]. One of the most striking things that's happened there is that the most repressed part of the population in the hemisphere, the indigenous population, has moved into the political arena. It's also happening in Ecuador, and to an extent in Peru. Well, they're developing new and significant models and some of the aspects of those models the West had better pick up pretty soon, or else fall and be over,” Chomsky says.
The full interview can be viewed above.
Previous episodes are as follows:
Episode 1: Julian Assange 'The World Tomorrow' Episode 1 — Hassan Nasrallah
Episode 2: Assange — 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep. 2: Zizek & Horowitz (Video)
Episode 3: 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep 3: Assange & Tunisian president (video)
Episode 4: 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep 4. Rajab & El-Fattah: Arab Spring (video)
: Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep. 5: Surviving Guantanamo Bay
: Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep. 6: Ecuador fights its media
: Julian Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep. 7: Occupy movement
Episode 8: Assange 'The World Tomorrow' — Ep 8: Cypherpunks Part 1
Episode 8: Assange 'The World Tomorrow' Ep 8: Cypherpunks part 2 — Privacy
Episode 9: Assange 'The World Tomorrow' - Pakistan a hired gun to kill US enemies