Chomsky raises alarm, pushes justice

Noam Chomsky
January 29, 2011

Hopes & Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
Haymarket Books, 2010
US$16
www.hopesandprospects.org

Noam Chomsky requires little by way of introduction.

Eminent professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Chomsky has been one of the world’s leading public intellectuals for the past 50 years. His advocacy and activism for countless causes, and his many books, have long been a source of courage and inspiration for those fighting for a more just, democratic and peaceful world.

In Chomsky’s latest work, Hopes and Prospects, his ideas sound out like alarm bells cutting through the thick fog of an ideologically-induced slumber. This condition has allowed governments to prescribe cautious, incremental solutions at best to the crises humanity faces — even as our world peers over the brink.

Major concerns in Hopes and Prospects are global warming, the ongoing devastation and political instability caused by the United States’ unilateral use of violence, the subversive and anti-democratic nature of US foreign policy, world food shortages, the growing disparity in wealth between rich and poor, capitalism’s systemic failure, and the continuing disintegration of democratic processes both in the US and throughout the world.

These issues, and many more, are described by Chomsky in clear and compelling language that avoids cliches and technical terms. Instead, Chomsky relies on the force and persuasiveness of his arguments, buttressed by a huge trove of evidence.

Hopes and Prospects is comprised of a series of lectures, talks and articles delivered in South America and Britain in recent years. These are updated and expanded upon to be current as of early 2010.

Part one concentrates on Latin America, tracing the development of struggles for justice and democracy in the region in recent years. Chomsky also discusses recent moves toward greater Latin American and Caribbean unity.

He also analyses the contribution to the region by the people and governments of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Part two looks at the current state of politics, society and the media in North America.

Chomsky provides a devastating critique of the ideologically-driven neoliberal economic and foreign policies that continue to dominate the US and the world. These diminish the mechanisms of democracy and deepen the gulf between the will of the US people and the reality of a society dominated by a wealthy, powerful ruling class.

Hopes and Prospects represents a profound contribution to the global conversation that has emerged between the millions of ordinary people of all backgrounds, religions and countries working against oppression and speaking out for positive change.

This contemporary phenomenon can trace its roots back to the activist movements of the 1960s, when popular protests helped end the Vietnam War and won gains for the civil rights and women’s liberation movements — among other important political and social changes.

Chomsky’s writings serve to increase the volume of protest around the world by supporting the struggles of ordinary peoples with intellectual ferocity, insight and understanding.

Hopes and Prospects is truly a book for, and of, our times.

Issue 

Comments

YAH GO CHOMSKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FROM EYGPT WITH LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is indeed a great book, but I was pretty disappointed to see Chomsky praise so-called "clean coal" initiatives in China.
He writes: 'China, though it remains a very poor country with enormous internal problems, is dedicating substantial resources to a “green revolution” and may soon surpass them. It already makes one-third of the world’s solar cells, is in the lead in mass production of electric cars and the latest generation of “clean coal” power stations, and is predicted to surpass the United States as the largest market for wind turbines.'
But as one advisor to the Chinese government told the ABC's Four Corners program in 2009, carbon capture and storage is not commercially viable and probably won't be for 20 years.
As the ABC put it: "China believes it will have a fully operating "clean coal" fired power plant in place by the middle of the next decade, but it just doesn't know quite where or how it will store the captured carbon dioxide."
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2009/s2676520.htm
Last year, scientists said clean coal will never be feasible, as Renfrey Clarke reported in Green Left Weekly.
http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/43403
Chomsky also says: 'China is also providing the most successful model for financial institutions, Martin Wolf concludes: “China has emerged as the most significant winner from
the financial and economic crisis”.'
China’s “economic miracle”, however, is a lie. In 2007, the World Bank estimated the annual cost of pollution in China at 5.8% of its gross domestic product, cutting its growth to the same rate as Western economies. “Adding the costs of desertification, erosion, soil decline and environmental degradation raises the figure to 8-12% of GDP, which would push China’s economy into reverse gear,” says Jonathan Watts, the Guardian's Asia Environment Editor and the author of When A Billion Chinese Jump.
http://site.whenabillionchinesejump.com/
Watts also says China remains locked into coal production because of its belief that a “clean coal” solution will eventually be found. Nearly 70% of its energy still comes from coal.
In Ordos, China is pouring money into coal liquefaction, in which black carbon is “cracked” with hydrogen extracted from water to produce clear diesel. The diesel, intended as a back-up for when oil starts to run low, is the world’s dirtiest fuel. For each ton of the end product, more than three tons of CO2 are released into the air and 6.5 tons of water are pumped from an aquifer 70km away. The project produced 1million tons of diesel in its first year.