With #OccupyWallStreet, the linguist and political critic sees a reason for hope that lies closer to home.
By **Noam Chomsky**
When Guernica interviewed Noam Chomsky in 2009, it seemed notable that he was emphasizing “hopes and prospects.” This was the title of his book and to be hopeful, Professor Chomsky was having none of it when it came to the newly elected President Barack Obama. Aside from the credit he gave to protest movements in the sixties for electing a black president, much of the hope he saw in the 21st century world he had to find to the south, in Latin America, among the presidents of the “pink tide” movement there who initially fought as true populists and union leaders (Lula in Brazil), rose from poverty, and beat back privatization (Evo Morales in Bolivia).
But in the #OccupyWallStreet movement, Professor Chomsky apparently now sees a reason for hope situated a little closer to home. Here is his statement to the protestors occupying Wall Street, New York City and cities around the nation. It was posted on the #OccupyWallStreet Facebook page:
“The #OccupyWallStreet initiative and the efforts it has spawned throughout the country are among the rare really hopeful signs that we might find a way to escape very dark times, not just the criminality and thuggishness that Wall Street has come to exemplify, but also the vicious cycle that has been gaining strength for over 30 years, undermining the prospects for decent life for the large majority while spectacular riches are pouring into very few pockets, and the remnants of real democracy are being shredded by highly concentrated wealth and power. Ominous times, and it will become worse if people just watch passively. What you are doing is an inspiration, and desperately needed.”
Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He is the author of numerous best-selling political works. His latest books are a new edition of Power and Terror, The Essential Chomsky (edited by Anthony Arnove), a collection of his writings on politics and on language from the 1950s to the present, Gaza in Crisis, with Ilan Pappé, and Hopes and Prospects, also available as an audiobook. This piece is adapted from a talk given in Amsterdam in March.