The US professor warns that the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war and rising authoritarianism mean the risk of human extinction has never been greater.
Noam Chomsky has warned that the world is at the most dangerous moment in human history owing to the climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war and rising authoritarianism. In an exclusive interview with the New Statesman, the 91-year-old US linguist and activist said that the current perils exceed those of the 1930s.
“There’s been nothing like it in human history,” Chomsky said. “I’m old enough to remember, very vividly, the threat that Nazism could take over much of Eurasia, that was not an idle concern. US military planners did anticipate that the war would end with a US-dominated region and a German-dominated region… But even that, horrible enough, was not like the end of organised human life on Earth, which is what we’re facing.”
Chomsky was interviewed in advance of the first summit of the Progressive International (18-20 September), a new organisation founded by Bernie Sanders, the former US presidential candidate, and Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, to counter right-wing authoritarianism. In an echo of the movement’s slogan “internationalism or extinction”, Chomsky warned: “We’re at an astonishing confluence of very severe crises. The extent of them was illustrated by the last setting of the famous Doomsday Clock. It’s been set every year since the atom bombing, the minute hand has moved forward and back. But last January, they abandoned minutes and moved to seconds to midnight, which means termination. And that was before the scale of the pandemic.”
This shift, Chomsky said, reflected “the growing threat of nuclear war, which is probably more severe than it was during the Cold War. The growing threat of environmental catastrophe, and the third thing that they’ve been picking up for the last few years is the sharp deterioration of democracy, which sounds at first as if it doesn’t belong but it actually does, because the only hope for dealing with the two existential crises, which do threaten extinction, is to deal with them through a vibrant democracy with engaged, informed citizens who are participating in developing programmes to deal with these crises.”
Chomsky added that “[Donald] Trump has accomplished something quite impressive: he’s succeeded in increasing the threat of each of the three dangers. On nuclear weapons, he’s moved to continue, and essentially bring to an end, the dismantling of the arms control regime, which has offered some protection against terminal disaster. He’s greatly increased the development of new, dangerous, more threatening weapons, which means others do so too, which is increasing the threat to all of us.
“On environmental catastrophe, he’s escalated his effort to maximise the use of fossil fuels and to terminate the regulations that somewhat mitigate the effect of the coming disaster if we proceed on our present course.”
“On the deterioration of democracy, it’s become a joke. The executive branch of [the US] government has been completely purged of any dissident voice. …read more
Source:: New Statesman