Noam Chomsky: Coronavirus – what is at stake? | DiEM25 TV

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A conversation with philosopher and co-founder of DiEM25, Srecko Horvat.

The coronavirus crisis is revealing that the powers that be of the European Union have learned nothing from the Eurocrisis.

They are currently betraying the interests of the majority of Europeans in the same way that they have done so in 2010 — by failing to mobilise existing money and public financial instruments in the interests of the many. With their current decisions, they are jeopardising public health, public goods and the interests of Europeans.

We call it TV because we like retro-futurism. But it’s much more than TV. In times of global pandemics, DiEM25 is launching a special online and completely free program to understand the current crisis and offer tools and hope to get out of it stronger and more united in building the World After Coronavirus. Everyone will be able to join and pose questions, suggest next topics and next guests!

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Transcript

Welcome to another 'World After CoronaVirus'. I am really happy and honoured forthis special episode, because there is aspecial guest, joining us today.And that special guest is, not only minebut a hero of many generations.Both of us are unfortunately in self-isolation, so this is also very a specialoccasion, but without further introductionI think most of you, who are watching thisknow who is Noam Chomsky and I amso glad that Noam is joining us today.Hello Noam, could you just tell us,where are you, are you already in self-isolation and for how long?Well, I am in Tucson, Arizona inself-isolation.So, you wrote, you were born in 1928And you wrote your first essay, as far asI know, when you were only ten years old,which was an essay on the Spanishcivil war. Actually just after the fallof Barcelona and so that was 1938,which looks very far away, formy generation. You survived the secondworld war, Hiroshima, you were a witnessto Hiroshima, you were a witness to manyvery big important political, historicevents, from the Vietnam War, to the oilcrisis, to the fall of the Berlin wall.Before that, you where a witnessto Chernobyl, after that in the 90s,you where a witness to a historical momentwhich was leading to 9/11, which was alsoa global event and most recently, I meanI am trying to really shorten a longhistory of a lifetime of someone like you,but the most recent event was thefinancial crash of 2007 and 2008.So in this background, of such a rich lifeand being a witness and also an actor inthis major historical processes, 'how doyou look at the current corona viruscrisis? Is it an unprecedented historicalevent, is it something which surprisedyou? How do you look at it? That wouldbe my question.I should say that my earliest memorieswhich are haunting me now, are from the1930s, the article that you mentionedon the fall of Barcelona was acting mainlyabout the, apparently, inexorable spreadof the fascist plague all over the,all over Europe and how it was gonna end.I later, did much later discovered, wheninternal documents came out, that theanalyst of the U.S government, at the timeand the following years expected, that thewar would end with, the end of the warwas coming, that the war would end with,the world divided into U.S dominated airregions and a German dominated region.So my childhood fears were not entirelyout of place. And these memories come backnow. I can recall, when I was a child, ayoung child listening to Hitler's Nurembergrallies over the radio, I couldn'tunderstand the words but you could easilyunderstand the mood and the threat andso on, and I have to say when I listen toDonald Trump's rallies today, it resonates.It's not that he's a fascist, he doesn'thave that much of an ideology,he's just a sociopath, but an individualconcerned with himself, but the mood andthe fears is similar and the idea that thefate of the country and the world is inthe hands of a sociopathic buffoon, isshocking. The coronavirus is serious enoughbut it's worth recalling that there is amuch greater horror approaching, we areracing to the edge of disaster, far worsethen anything that's happened in humanhistory. And Donald Trump and his minionsare in the lead, in racing to the abyss.In fact there are two immense threats thatwe are facing. One is the growing threatof nuclear war, which has exacerbated it bythe tearing what's left of the armscontrol regime and the other of course isthe growing threat of global warming.Both threats can be dealt, but there isn'ta lot of time and the corona virus is ahorrible can have terrifying consequencesBut there will be recovery, while theothers won't be recovered, it's finished.If we don't deal with them, we're done.And so the childhood memories are comingback to haunt me, but a differentdimension. The threat of nuclear wardidn't get a sense of where the worldreally is, by looking to early,to this January, as may you knowevery year the doomsday clock is set, setwith the minute-hand at certain distancefrom midnight, which means termination.But, ever since Trump was elected, theminute hand has been moving closer andcloser to midnight. Last year it was twominutes to midnight. The highest, matchingthe highest it ever reached. This year theanalysts dispensed with minutes, startedmoving to seconds, 100 seconds to midnightThat's the closest it's ever been.Sighting three things: The threat ofnuclear war, threat of global warming andthe deterioration of democracy, whichdoesn't quite belong into herebut it does, because that's the only,hope that we have,for overcoming the crisisand in for [inaudible] public takingcontrol of their fate, if thatdoesn't happen, we are doomed.If we are leaving our fate tosociopathic buffoons, we're finished.And that's coming close, Trumpis the worst, that's because ofUS Power, which is overwhelming.We are talking about U.S decline,but you just look at the world,you don't see that when the U.Simposes sanctions, murderers,devastating sanctions, that's theonly country that can do that,but everyone has to follow.Europe may not like, in facthate actions on Iran, butthey have to follow, theyhave to follow the master, or else theyget kicked out of the internationalfinancial system. Thats not a law ofnature it's a decision in Europe to besubordinate to the master inWashington, other countriesdon't even have a choice.And back to the Coronavirus,one of the most shocking,harsh aspects of it, is the use ofsanctions, to maximize the pain,perfectly consciously, Iran isin a zone, enormous internal problems.By the stranglehold of tighteningsanctions, which are consciously designed,openly, to make the suffer and sufferbitterly now. Cuba has been sufferingfrom it, from the moment, where it gainedindependence, but it's astonishing,that they survived but they stayedresilient and one of the most ironicelements of today's virus crisis, is that Cubais helping Europe. I mean this is soshocking, that you don't know howto describe it. That Germany can't helpGreece, but Cuba can help the Europeancountries. If you stop to think aboutwhat that means, all the words fail,just as when you see thousands of peopledying in the Mediterranean, fleeingfrom a region, that has been devastatedfor centuries and being sent to the deathsin the Mediterranean, you don't knowwhat words to use.The crisis, the civilizational crisis ofthe West at this point is devastating,to think of them and it does bringup childhood memories of listening toHitler raving on the radio to raucous crowdsit makes you wonder if this speciesis even viable.You mentioned the crisis of democracy,At this moment I think we find ourselvesalso in a historically unpresedentedsituation, in the sense that almost2 billion people, that's a figure I foundtoday, are in one or the other wayconfined at home, whether it is isolation,self-isolation or quarantine.Almost 2 billion people in the world areat home, if they are lucky enough to havea home. At the same time what we canwitness is that Europe, but also othercountries, closed their borders,not only internal ones but outer borders.There is an estate of exception in all thecountries we can think of, which meanscurfew in many countries,such as France, Serbia, Spain, Italy andother countries, army on the streetsand what I want to ask you as a linguist,Is the length language which is now,circulating around. If you listen not justto Donald Trump, if you listen toMacron, also some other Europeanpoliticians, you will constantly hear thatthey speak about, war.And even the media speak aboutdoctors who are on the first "frontline" and the virus is called an enemy.Which reminded me of course also,not of childhood memories, luckily buta book which was written at that time,Victor Klemperer, "Lingua tertii imperii"the book which, which is a book aboutthe language of the Third Reich andin which way through the language,the ideology was imposed, so fromyour perspective, what does this discourseabout war, tell us and why do they presenta virus as an enemy, is it just tolegitimize the new state of exception oris there something deeper in thisdiscourse?protect the rhetoric, but I think it'snot exaggerated. It has some significance.The meaning is, that if we want to dealwith the crisis, we have to moveto something like wartime mobilization.So if you think of, take a rich country,like United States, it has the resourcesto overcome the immediate economicThe mobilization for the SecondWorld War, led the country into fargreater debt than is contemplated todayand was very a successful mobilization,practically quadrupled the U.Smanufacturing, ended the depression, leftthe country with [inaudible] instead, but acapacity to grow. That's less than we needprobably, not on that scale it's not likethis in a world war, but we need thementality of the movement, of a social ???is to try to overcome the short-runcrisis, which is severe. Also here we,can recall the swine flue epedemicin 2009, to originated in the U.S.Couple hundreds thousand people,at the first sight recovered fromworst, but it has to be dealt with,That's a rich country like the States.Now there's two biillion people,the majority are in India. What happensfor Indian, they live from hand to mouth,who's isolated, starves to death.What's gonna happen?In a civilized world, the rich countrieswould be giving assistance, after thosewho were in need, instead of stranglingthem, which is what we are doing,particularly in India but in much of theworld. The kind of crisis, you knowwhether the crisis can be within acountry like India, I don't know, bear inmind that the, with current tendenciesif they persist South Asia, is going tobe unlivable in a few decades.The temperature reached a 50 degrees,in Rajasthan this summer and it'sincreasing. The waters right now,could get even worse, there's two nuclearpowers, they're gonna be fighting overrestricting reduced water supplies.I mean the corona virus is very serious,we can't underestimate it, but we have toremember that it's a fraction, smallfraction of major crisis, that are comingalong. They may not disrupt life to theextent, that the corona virus does today,but they will disrupt life to the point ofmaking the species unsurvivable and notin the very distant future.So we have many problems to deal with,well, immediate ones, corona virus isserious, has to be dealt with andmuch larger ones, vastly larger ones,they're looming. Now, there is thecivilizational crisis, we have to timepossibly good side of the corona virus,as it may, might bring people to thinkabout what kind of a world do we want?Do we want the kind of world that leadsto this? We should think aboutthe origins of this crisis, why is there acorona virus crisis? Its a colossal marketfailure, it goes right back to the essenceof markets, exacerbated by the neoliberal,savage, neoliberal intensification ofdeep social economic problems.It was known for a long time,that pandemics are very likely and it wasunderstood, very well understood, thatthere likely to be corona virus pandemicslight modifications of the SARSepidemic, 15 years ago it was overcome,the viruses were identified, sequenced,vaccines were available, labs around theworld, could be working right then ondeveloping protection for potentialcorona virus pandemics.Why didn't they do it?The market signals were wrong.The drug companies, we have handed overour fate to private tyrannies, holdcorporations, which are unaccountableto the public, in this case, big Pharmaand for them they make new body creams,it's more profitable, than that of findinga vaccine that will protect people fromtotal destruction. It's impossible for thegovernment to step in, going back towartime mobilization, that's what happenedPolio, at the time, I can remember verywell was a terrifying threat, it was endedby the discovery of the Salk vaccine, bya government institution, set off by theRoosevelt administration. No Patents,available to everyone. That could havebeen done this time, but the neoliberalplague has blocked that.We are living under an ideology, for whicheconomists have a good bit ofresponsibility, so which comes from thecorporate sector. An ideology, which istypified by that Ronald Reagan readingthe script haded to, by his corporatemasters with his sunny smile, sayinggovernment is the problem. Let's get ridof government, which means, let's handover decisions to private tyrannies,that are unaccountable with the public.On the other side of the Atlantic,Thatcher was instructing us, that there isa society, just individuals thrown intothe market to survive somehow andfurthermore, there is no alternative.The world has been suffering underthe rich, years and it's now at the pointwhere things, that could be done,like direct government interventionon the scope the invention of the Salkvaccine, but that's blocked forideological reasons, coming out of theneoliberal plague and the point is thatthis corona virus epidemic could havebeen prevented, the information was thereto be read, in fact it was well known inOctober 2019, just before the outbreak.There was a large scale simulation,by level simulation in the United States,in the world of the possible pandemic ofthis kind. Nothing was done, now thecrisis was then made worse by thetreachery of the political systems.We did't pay attention to the informationthat they were aware of, on December 31st,China informed the World HealthOrganisation of pneumonia, like symptomswith unknown etiology. A week later,they identified, some Chinese scientists,identified it as a corona virus,furthermore they sequenced it and gavethe information to the world, by thenvirologists, others who were botheringto read World Health Organization reportknew, that they were Corona Virus andthey knew how to deal with it.Did they do anything, well yes, some did.The countries in the area, China,Soth Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, began todo something and they have sort ofpretty much it seems contained, at leastthe first surge of crisis.In Europe to some extent, that's happened.Germany which had, which hadn'tmoved, just on time, it has the hospitalsystems under the liberalism,did have spare diagnostic capacity andwas able to act in a highly selfishfashion, not helping others but for itselfat least, to have a reasonable containmentOther countries just ignored it, the worstof them the United Kingdom andthe worst of all was the United States,which happens to be led by [inaudible]who says, you know one day there's nocrisis, it's just like flu, the next dayit's a terrible crisis, I knew itall along, the next day we have to give itfor business, because I have to win theelection. The Idea that the world is inthese hands, is shocking, but the point isthat it started with it, again, a colossalmarket failure by pointing to fundamentalproblems the social economic order,made much worse by the neoliberalplague and it continues, because of thecollapse of the kinds of institutionalstructures, that could deal with it, ifthey were functioning.These are topics that we ought to bethinking about seriously and thinkingin more depth about, as I said,what kind of world do we want to live in?If we overcome somehow, therewill be options. The options range fromthe installation of highly authoritarianbrutal States all the way over to radicalreconstruction to society and morehumane terms, concerned with human needsof private profit. That we should bear inmind, that highly authoritarian viciousstates are quite compatible with neo-liberalism, in fact, the [inaudible] ofneo-liberalism from [inaudible] to Hayekthe rest, were perfectly happy withmassive state violence, as long as itsupported what they called soundeconomics. Neo-liberalism has it's originsin 1920s Vienna, from [inaudible]could barely contain in his delight, inthe proto-fascist of the Austrian stateand smashed the labor unions andAustrian social democracy and joined theearly proto-fascist government, praisedit. praised fascism, in fact, because ofhis protecting sound economics.When Pinochet installed a murderer'sbrutal dictatorship in Chile, they allloved it, they all fought there, [inaudible]helped out of this marvelousmiracle, that was bringing soundeconomics, great profit to it, for hanessup some small part of the population.So, it's not out of line to think, ofa savage neoliberal system might bereinstalled by self-proclaimedlibertarians with a powerful stateviolence, imposing, that's one part,one nightmare, that might come about.But it's not necessary, there is thepossibility that people will organize,become engaged, as many are doing,and bringt about a much better world,which will also confront the enormousproblems, that were facing right downthe road, the problems of nuclear war,which is closer than it's ever been andthe problems of environmentalcatastrophe from which there is norecovery once we've gotten to that stage,that it's not far in distance, unless weact decisively.So it's a critical moment of humanhistory, not just because of the coronavirus, but to bring us, should bring us toawareness of the profound flaws theworld flawed not strong enough, the deep,dysfunctional characteristics ofthe whole socio-economic system,which has to [inaudible], ifthere's going to be a survivable future.So this could be a warning sign anda lesson to deal with it today or preventit from exploding, but thinking of it'sroots and how those roots are going tolead to more crisis, worse ones than this,extra pay right away.And since we don't have much time,I'll just pose one last question, yes, so,I think many people are interested andalso us, who are active in socialmovements and mobilization andorganized for decades, using physical andsocial closeness between people, butnow suddenly we are all gettingaccustomed to what is now being called'Social-distancing', so my questions is,how do you see the future of socialresistance, in times of social distanceand if this takes a few more months,not to mention maybe a year to two,and we are mainly in self isolation athome, what would be your advise toprogressives around the world, activists,also intellectuals, students, workers,how to organize in this new situation?And could you perhaps tell us wether yousee a hope , that instead of going intoa global authoritarianism, this openhistoric situation might go in a radicaltransformation of the world, which wouldbe green, equal, just and fullof solidarity?First of all, we should bear in mind that,in the past few years, there has been aform of social isolation, which is verydamaging. Now you go into aMcDonalds and take a look at a bunch ofteenagers, sitting around the table,having a hamburger, what you see is,two conversations going. One sort ofshallow discussion among them,another the one, that each one is havingon his cellphone, with some remoteindividual, who with friend.This has atomized and isolated people toan extraordinary extent.The Thatcher principle, there was nosociety, has escalated, the misusedsocial media, that has turned people intovery isolated creatures, especially youngpeople. There are actually universities,now in the United States, where thesidewalk have plaques on them, saying,look up. Because every kid is walkingaround, is glued to itself. That's a formof self induced social isolation, whichhas been very harmful. We're now on asituation of real social isolation. It hasto be overcome by recreating, social bondsin whatever way can be done , whoneed if whatever kind that can be helpingpeople in need. Contacting them,developing organizations, expandinganalyzation, like before I'm getting themto be functional and operative,making plans for the future,bringing people together as he can in theinternet age, to join, consult deliberateto figure out answers to the problemsthat they face and work on them,which can be done, it's not face to-facecommunication which for human beings isessential. But it'll be deprived of it fora while, you can put it on hold find otherways and continue with the, andin fact, extend and deepen the activitiescarried out, can be done, it's not goingto be easy, but humans have faced problemCan I pose a question, since we are bothin self-isolation?My dog is trying to have a conversation?Was that before a parrot? You have abird as well or a parrot? Or a bird,there was a sound of a bird, yes?Yes, a ????? Parrot, it can say:Sovereignty to all the people inPortuguese.

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