Hopes & Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
Haymarket Books, 2010
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.