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Tue Sep 22, 2015, 12:38 PM

History Doesnít Go In a Straight Line

Noam Chomsky on Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and the potential for ordinary people to make radical change.
by Noam Chomsky ~ 9/22/15

For radicals, progress requires puncturing the bubble of inevitability: austerity, for instance, ďis a policy decision undertaken by the designers for their own purposes.Ē It is not implemented, Chomsky says, ďbecause of any economic laws.Ē American capitalism also benefits from ideological obfuscation: despite its association with free markets, capitalism is shot through with subsidies for some of the most powerful private actors. This bubble needs popping too.

In an interview a couple of years ago, you said that the Occupy Wall Street movement had created a rare sentiment of solidarity in the US. September 17 was the fourth anniversary of the OWS movement. What is your evaluation of social movements such as OWS over the last twenty years? Have they been effective in bringing about change? How could they improve?

Theyíve had an impact; they have not coalesced into persistent and ongoing movements. Itís a very atomized society. There are very few continuing organizations which have institutional memory, that know how to move to the next step and so on.

This is partly due to the destruction of the labor movement, which used to offer a kind of fixed basis for many activities; by now, practically the only persistent institutions are the churches. So many things are church-based.

Itís hard for a movement to take hold. There are often movements of young people, which tend to be transitory; on the other hand thereís a cumulative effect, and you never know when something will spark into a major movement. Itís happened time and again: civil rights movement, womenís movement. So keep trying until something takes off ...

The neoliberal policies are certainly a regression. For the majority of the population in the US, thereís been pretty much stagnation and decline in the last generation. And not because of any economic laws. These are policies. Just as austerity in Europe is not an economic necessity ó in fact, itís economic nonsense. But itís a policy decision undertaken by the designers for their own purposes. I think basically itís a kind of class war, and it can be resisted, but itís not easy. History doesnít go in a straight line.

Much more here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/noam-chomsky-bernie-sanders-greece-tsipras-grexit-austerity-neoliberalism-protest/

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