Saturday, June 12, 2021

Why Does A 92 Year Old Man "Serve" As Gatekeeper Of The Left Or Talk To Ana Kasparian?

jacobin | In 1967, Noam Chomsky emerged as a leading critic of the Vietnam War with a New York Review of Books essay critiquing US foreign policy’s ivory tower establishment. As many academics rationalized genocide, Chomsky defended a simple principle: “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”

A groundbreaking linguist, Chomsky has done more to live up to this maxim than almost any other contemporary intellectual. His political writings have laid bare the horrors of neoliberalism, the injustices of endless war, and the propaganda of the corporate media, earning him a place on Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” and in the surveillance files of the CIA. At ninety-two, Chomsky remains an essential voice in the anti-capitalist movements his ideas helped inspire.

Ana Kasparian and Nando Vila interviewed Chomsky for Jacobin’s Weekends YouTube show earlier this year. In their conversation, Chomsky reminds us that history is a process of continuous struggle, and that the working-class politics needed to secure universal health care, climate justice, and denuclearization are out there — if we’re willing to fight for them.

AK  Let’s start with a big question — why does Congress continuously tell the American people that it will not deliver on policies that have overwhelming public support?

NC Well, one place to look always is: “Where’s the money? Who funds Congress?” Actually, there’s a very fine, careful study of this by the leading scholar who deals with funding issues and politics, Thomas Ferguson. He and his colleagues did a study in which they investigated a simple question: “What’s the correlation over many years between campaign funding and electability to Congress?” The correlation is almost a straight line. That’s the kind of close correlation that you rarely get in the social sciences: greater the funding, higher the electability.

And in fact, we all know what happens when a congressional representative gets elected. Their first day in office, they start making phone calls to the potential donors for their next election. Meanwhile, hordes of corporate lobbyists descend on their offices. Their staff are often young kids, totally overwhelmed by the resources, the wealth, the power, of the massive lobbyists who pour in. Out of that comes legislation, which the representative later signs — maybe even looks at occasionally, when he can get off the phone with the donors. What kind of system do you expect to emerge from this?

One recent study found that for about 90 percent of the population, there’s essentially no correlation between their income and decisions by their representatives — that is, they’re fundamentally unrepresented. This extends earlier work by Martin Gilens, Benjamin Page, and others who found pretty similar results, and the general picture is clear: the working class and most of the middle class are basically unrepresented.