Friday, 16 April 2010

Chomsky raises spectre of fascism and conspiracists miss the point

Our Lord Noam Chomsky apparently picked up another gong the other day, from University of Wisconsin. In his speech it seems he raised the spectre of fascism returning to America.

I found this story at Rivero's WhatReallyHappened and doubtless it doing the rounds of other such conspiracy sites. Interestingly, and tellingly, Chomsky's point is being completely misunderstood. The conspiracists and far-right patriot cranks are imagining Chomsky is raising the spectre of a fascist, global government NWO blah blah blah, The conspiracists imagine Chomsky must be pointing out the same source of fascism as they themselves see. But that's quite wrong. Chomsky is saying these people themselves are a sign of creeping fascism ie it is conspiracism itself, the tea-partiers and the birthers and the patriots and the townhall meeting provocaters etc whom are causing Chomsky to worry about a rising fascism. It is the tone and content of these people that he mentions - not some NWO crap that Rivero, Alex Jones et al believe in.

I can't find a full transcript of what Chomsky said, but here's The Progressive article which is doing the rounds:
Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America
By Matthew Rothschild, April 12, 2010

Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.

“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.

Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship.

“The level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime,” he said.

He cited a statistic from a recent poll showing that half the unaffiliated voters say the average tea party member is closer to them than anyone else.

“Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error,” Chomsky said.

Their attitudes “are understandable,” he said. “For over 30 years, real incomes have stagnated or declined. This is in large part the consequence of the decision in the 1970s to financialize the economy.”

There is class resentment, he noted. “The bankers, who are primarily responsible for the crisis, are now reveling in record bonuses while official unemployment is around 10 percent and unemployment in the manufacturing sector is at Depression-era levels,” he said.

And Obama is linked to the bankers, Chomsky explained.

“The financial industry preferred Obama to McCain,” he said. “They expected to be rewarded and they were. Then Obama began to criticize greedy bankers and proposed measures to regulate them. And the punishment for this was very swift: They were going to shift their money to the Republicans. So Obama said bankers are “fine guys” and assured the business world: ‘I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.’

People see that and are not happy about it.”

He said “the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism” is what is fueling “the indignation and rage of those cast aside.”

“People want some answers,” Chomsky said. “They are hearing answers from only one place: Fox, talk radio, and Sarah Palin.”

Chomsky invoked Germany during the Weimar Republic, and drew a parallel between it and the United States. “The Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy,” he said.

And he stressed how quickly things deteriorated there.

“In 1928 the Nazis had less than 2 percent of the vote,” he said. “Two years later, millions supported them. The public got tired of the incessant wrangling, and the service to the powerful, and the failure of those in power to deal with their grievances.”

He said the German people were susceptible to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, and defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.”

When farmers, the petit bourgeoisie, and Christian organizations joined forces with the Nazis, “the center very quickly collapsed,” Chomsky said.

No analogy is perfect, he said, but the echoes of fascism are “reverberating” today, he said.

“These are lessons to keep in mind.”

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
Rivero didn't comment on the article, but the WRH post was by "politicaltheatrics." A quick visit to their site, and one finds "journalistic gems" like the following:
"This small nation [Israel] controls much of the world....a nation more likely than any other to use their nuclear weapons based on their deep religious ideology.....The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries.... etc.
The site is the usual obsessive and extreme anti-Israeli sort so fondly promoted by Rivero and other right-wing conspiracists. ie the sort of people Chomsky was warning about in the article.

Gee - are people dumb, or what?

I found a video of a Chomsky talk elsewhere, but he's touching on the same topic:

To be clear, Chomsky is on about the people of America somewhat resembling the public of Weimar Germany - he isn't making the more straightforward and oft-repeated claims about the government being fascist, nor is he saying that the media necessarily is: he's warning about the public themselves - what the public is thinking and feeling. He's saying that, like the Germans under Weimar, the public are legitimately angry and pissed off - but are falling for a load of fantasist tripe - just like Weimar Germany. He's saying that people are cynical towards government, that there's a belief goverment is incapable of producing answers, that wild conspiracy theory is rife. I think he's speaking of the same sort of things that I've tried to show are operating in 911 Troof.

Update: I found the full jobbie, apparently: