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Forum Post: chomsky on occupy and socialism

Posted 2 years ago on March 12, 2012, 9:38 a.m. EST by flip (7101)
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Dada Maheshvarananda: The viral growth of the Occupy Movement, and the public support of it, is testament to the tremendous dissatisfaction with the inequities and abuses of corporate capitalism. The slogan “We are the 99%” has resonated with many people. What is your view of the potential strength of this type of mass protest and its possibility to effect social change?

Noam Chomsky: Well the Occupy Movement already has had a number of significant successes. One of them, as you say, is to kind of change the national discourse. These concerns and fears and so on were, of course, prevalent for a long time for perfectly objective reasons, having to do with changes in the socio-economic system in the last 30 or 40 years. But they weren’t crystallized very clearly until the Occupy Movement put them forward. And now they are kind of common coin. So the 99 percent and one percent, the radical inequality, the farcical character of purchased elections, the corporate shenanigans that led to the current crisis and have been crushing people for a long time, the overseas wars, and so on. That’s one major contribution.

The other one is not discussed so much, but I think it’s pretty important. This is an extremely atomized society. People are alone. It’s a very business-run society. The very explicit goal of the business world is to create a social order in which the basic social unit is you and your television set, in which you’re watching ads and going out to purchase commodities. There are tremendous efforts made, that have been going on for a century and a half, to try to induce this kind of consciousness and social order.

In fact if you go back say 150 years, in the early days of the industrial revolution, right here in Massachusetts, where it started, there was a very lively press at the time, probably the period of the greatest free press in the United States. All kinds of press – ethnic, labor, etc. And the labor press, which was extremely interesting, lively and participatory, had a great many harsh criticisms of the industrial system that was being imposed and to which people were being driven. One of the core criticisms was what 150 years ago they called the “New Spirit of the Age”: “Gain wealth, forgetting all but self,” which they considered savage and inhuman and was being driven into their heads. Well, 150 years later they are still trying to drive into people’s heads, “Gain wealth, forgetting all but s