The US is facing uncertain times. While it remains the only global superpower, it is no longer able to influence events and outcomes to its liking, at least not for the most part. Frustration and worry about the risk of upcoming disasters seem to far outweigh US voters’ hopes for a more rational and just world order. Meanwhile, Noam Chomsky argues, the rise and popularity of Donald Trump is occurring due to the fact that US society is breaking down.
In this exclusive interview with Truthout, Noam Chomsky addresses contemporary developments in both the United States and around the world and challenges prevailing views about class warfare, neoliberalism as the outcome of economic laws, the role of the US as a global power, the status of emerging economies and the power of the Israel Lobby.
CJ Polychroniou: Noam, you have said that the rise of Donald Trump is largely due to the breakdown of American society. What exactly do you mean by this?
Noam Chomsky: The state-corporate programs of the past 35 or so years have had devastating effects on the majority of the population, with stagnation, decline and sharply enhanced inequality being the most direct outcomes. This has created fear and has left people feeling isolated, helpless, victims of powerful forces they can neither understand or influence. The breakdown is not caused by economic laws. They are policies, a kind of class war initiated by the rich and powerful against the working population and the poor. This is what defines the neoliberalism period, not only in the US but in Europe and elsewhere. Trump is appealing to those who sense and experience the breakdown of American society — to deep feelings of anger, fear, frustration, hopelessness, probably among sectors of the population that are seeing an increase in mortality, something unheard of apart from war.