Did Donald Trump ever work hard
Noam Chomsky: "The Trump administration was the most dangerous in history"
DEFAULT: Donald Trump is no longer President of the United States. How does that feel?
Noam Chomsky: It feels good to be rid of this malignant tumor that could have destroyed us. Another four years of Trump might have brought us to an irreversible tipping point. The Trump administration was the most dangerous administration in world history.
DEFAULT: More dangerous than Hitler?
Chomsky: Hitler was terrible, no question about it. He embodied perhaps the lowest point mankind has ever sunk to. But did Hitler work to destroy the possibilities for human life on earth? Trump did it!
There is no other political figure in history who has devoted his main efforts to attempting to destroy the prospects for human life on earth. Not Genghis Khan, not Attila the Hun - no one I can think of. Trump was unique. He has worked very hard to maximize fossil fuel use and remove the regulations that have somewhat mitigated their effects. It was a race to catastrophe. And the Trump administration knew exactly what it was doing. This is insane!
DEFAULT: Trump probably did not care about the consequences of his policies. But was it his goal to wipe out humanity?
Chomsky: I think he didn't care. He knew what was going to happen. We have little time left to contain global warming. Four years accelerating the crisis is an unprecedented crime.
DEFAULT: Is everything going to be all right now with new President Joe Biden?
Chomsky: Biden's first steps are encouraging. But there are many problems to be tackled - and its own programs are nowhere near enough to deal with the two main problems that can threaten the very survival of our species: the growing threat of nuclear war and the environmental disaster.
Basically, nothing else is important if these issues are not addressed. And they need to be addressed soon. The threat of nuclear war has increased dramatically in recent years. That's why the Doomsday Clock, the doomsday clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, has moved closer to midnight every year.
DEFAULT: What Made Nuclear War More Likely?
Chomsky: There was an arms control regime that had been painstakingly built over almost 60 years. But Trump dismantled it. It's almost completely gone! In addition, Trump and other initiatives have launched to develop new and far more dangerous nuclear weapons. Combined with provocative actions in many parts of the world and a series of unjustified attacks on Iran - assassinations, sabotage, cyber war, sanctions - this has greatly increased the risk of nuclear war.
DEFAULT: Has the world become safer again after Trump?
Chomsky: She's probably gotten a bit safer because Trump was unpredictable. Surely it would have been possible that in a fit of psychotic anxiety he suddenly said, "Okay, I'll do it!" I am sure that the top military leadership is very relieved that the situation is now more predictable.
DEFAULT: Do you think Republicans will be able to reinvent themselves after Trump?
Chomsky: The party is now very torn. One is the voter base, which is largely controlled by Trump. His support at the base even increased after January 6th (storm on the Capitol, note). He controls that part of the party. Then there is the other part: the donor class, the wealthy. They didn't like Trump - but they were willing to tolerate him as long as he filled their pockets properly.
But January 6th was too much, they told him: It's over! Something was happening in the Senate too. Some leading Republicans began to drift away as influential donors distanced themselves from Trump. Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader, note) now has to decide: does he go for the electorate or the bigwigs he serves and who fund him? As simple as that! It is still unclear how the party will deal with this.
DEFAULT: What will happen to Trump?
Chomsky: Trump could set up some kind of alternative shadow government. I think that is very likely. He will present himself as the legitimate president, supported by a very large segment of the Republican electorate. I suspect he will work with McConnell, who is a genius at making the country ungovernable. The Republicans want to blame the resulting problems on the Democrats in order to come back to power. This is a bad dream, but it is not an impossible nightmare. It's a very conceivable scenario.
DEFAULT: Couldn't impeachment proceedings prevent this?
Chomsky: I don't think the chances of success for impeachment are particularly high. And the only thing that a completed impeachment would achieve would be that Trump would no longer be allowed to hold public offices. That's something, after all - but if it isn't Trump, then it will be someone similar to Trump.
DEFAULT: Will Biden manage to reunite the country?
Chomsky: I wish, but I can't see any signs of it. Republicans are so extreme these days. There was a time when there were moderate Republicans. But that part of the party has almost disappeared. Before Biden, Democrat Barack Obama tried to unite and reconcile the country, but failed completely. Biden is also likely to fail because the Republicans don't want reconciliation. You want power.
DEFAULT: In your new book "Rebellion or Fall" you describe the erosion of democracy as the third major threat to humanity. What role does Trump play in this?
Chomsky: At first glance, the erosion of democracy does not sound as dangerous as the danger of nuclear war or environmental catastrophe. But it is dangerous because only a living democracy can deal with the first two problems. But Trump gutted the government and turned it into a personal fiefdom. The government used to be a functioning system with multiple voices. But Trump has turned it into an incredible swamp of corruption.
We have just seen the most extreme example. He didn't accept the election because he didn't win it. What more extreme erosion of democracy can there be? He swept the electorate with him. A majority of Republican voters believe the election was stolen because Trump said so. These are all symptoms of fascism.
DEFAULT: In "Rebellion or Doom," you call for civil disobedience. When Trump's supporters marched to the Capitol, they also spoke of civil disobedience ...
Chomsky: It wasn't civil disobedience, it was an attempted coup! Overthrowing an elected government and replacing it with another is a coup. And that's what they tried. It wasn't the kind of coup we know from the US-led banana republics. It wasn't that violent and brutal. The military did not come in and put in another government. It wasn't the kind of coup we support all over the world. But it was an attempted coup. Many historians researching fascism compare the storming of the Capitol with the attempted Hitler coup in 1923. Trump tried to instigate the coup.
DEFAULT: Despite the threat of nuclear war and global warming, most people are currently more afraid of the coronavirus. How dangerous is the pandemic?
Chomsky: The US state of Arizona has just won a title: world champion in corona cases per capita. Arizona is part of the richest country in the world, but the pandemic cannot be dealt with. I'm 92 years old and I have no idea when I can finally get my vaccination. I'm on a list. But every time I call they say, "Wait for us to call you, okay?"
There are profound reasons why the world's richest country is coping so badly with the pandemic. In his first days in office in 2009, Obama convened the Presidential Scientific Advisory Council. He asked scientists to create a program to combat pandemics. They worked out a program that was implemented by January 2017, when Trump took office. Trump's first act was to dismantle the entire program. Every year he slashed the Center for Disease Control's budget. Even after the pandemic started in February 2020! There were programs by American scientists who worked with Chinese colleagues to identify coronaviruses. But Trump has deleted it.
DEFAULT: Is Europe doing better?
Chomsky: Europe had the first wave fairly well under control. Then the Europeans decided: I want my vacation, I want to go to the beach. They were on vacation and the numbers were skyrocketing. So it is with irresponsibility! It's not just the institutions. A lack of collective consideration and a lack of solidarity lead to disaster.
DEFAULT: According to your analysis, we are very close to the end of the world. Have you given up hope?
Chomsky: No, I never give up hope! Last January, according to the assessment of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, we were 100 seconds away from the end of the world. I suspect it will likely go back to two minutes this year because Trump is gone. Turning back the doomsday clock is possible. (Philipp Hedemann, January 25, 2021)
Noam Chomsky (92) is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He revolutionized modern linguistics and is considered one of the best-known left-wing intellectuals and political activists of our time.
New book release: "Rebellion or Fall. A Call to Global Disobedience to Save Our Civilization". Westend-Verlag, Frankfurt 2020
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