Chomsky: We Must Not Let Masters Of Capital Define The Post-COVID World

Noam Chomsky

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has many thinking that a new economic and political order is inevitably under way. But is that so? In the U.S., the moneyed class, which has thrived under Donald Trump, won’t go down without pulling all stops to make sure that popular pressures for radical reforms will be blocked, says world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky. Chomsky also reminds us that overt racism has intensified under Trump, and that police violence is a symptom of the underlying white supremacy that plagues U.S. society. Meanwhile, Trump’s anti-environmental policies and his trashing of arms control treaties are bringing the world ever closer to an environmental and nuclear holocaust.

C.J. Polychroniou: It’s been argued by many, from various quarters, that COVID-19 has been a game changer. Do you concur with this view, or are we talking of a temporary situation, with a return to the “business as usual” approach being the most likely scenario once this health crisis is over?

Noam Chomsky: There is no way to predict. Those who have primary responsibility for the multiple crises that imperil us today are hard at work, relentlessly, to ensure that the system they created, and from which they have greatly benefited, will endure — and in an even harsher form, with more intense surveillance and other means of coercion and control. Popular forces are mobilizing to counter these malign developments. They seek to dismantle the destructive policies that have led us to this uniquely perilous moment of human history, and to move toward a world system that gives priority to human rights and needs, not the prerogatives of concentrated capital.

We should take a few moments to clarify to ourselves the stakes in the bitter class war that is taking shape as the post-pandemic world is being forged. The stakes are immense. All are rooted in the suicidal logic of unregulated capitalism, and at a deeper level in its very nature, all becoming more apparent during the neoliberal plague of the past 40 years. The crises have been exacerbated by malignancies that have surfaced as these destructive tendencies took their course. The most ominous are appearing in the most powerful state in human history — not a good omen for a world in crisis.

The stakes were spelled out in the setting of the Doomsday Clock last January. Each year of Trump’s presidency, the minute hand has been moved closer to midnight. Two years ago, it reached the closest it has been since the Clock was first set after the atomic bombings. This past January, the analysts abandoned minutes altogether and moved to seconds: 100 seconds to midnight. They reiterated the prime concerns: nuclear war, environmental destruction and deterioration of democracy, the last of these because the only hope of dealing with the two existential crises is vibrant democracy in which an informed population is directly engaged in determining the fate of the world.

Since January, Trump has escalated each of these threats to survival. He has continued his project of dismantling the arms control regime that has provided some protection against nuclear disaster. So far this year, he has terminated the Open Skies Treaty, proposed by Eisenhower, and imposed frivolous conditions to block the re-negotiation of New Start, the last pillar of the system. He is now considering ending the moratorium on nuclear tests, “an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The military industry can scarcely control its euphoria over the flood of gifts from the public to develop new weapons to destroy us all, encouraging adversaries to do likewise so that down the road, new grants will flow to try to counter the new threats to survival. A hopeless task, as virtually every specialist knows, but that is not pertinent; what matters is that public largesse should flow into the right pockets.

Trump also has continued his dedicated campaign to destroy the environment that sustains human life. His FY 2020 budget proposal, issued while the pandemic was raging, called for further defunding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health-related components for government, compensated by increased support for the fossil fuel industries that are destroying the prospects for survival. And, as usual, more funding for the military and for the [border] wall that is a central part of his electoral strategy. The corporate leaders Trump has installed to supervise environmental destruction are quietly eliminating regulations that somewhat constrain the damage and that protect the population from poisoning water supplies and the air they breathe. The latter reveals sharply the malevolence of the Trump phenomenon. In the midst of an unprecedented respiratory pandemic, Trump’s minions are seeking to increase air pollution, which makes COVID-19 more deadly, endangering tens of thousands of Americans. But it doesn’t much matter. Most have no choice but to live near the polluting plants — [those] who are poor and Black, and who vote the “wrong” way.

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The Initiative For Fair Open Access Publishing In South Asian Studies ~ The 2020 Manifesto

The 2020 Manifesto for Fair Open Access Publishing in South Asian Studies

Profiteering and restricted access have led to a crisis in academic publishing. The Fair Open Access movement is best promoted by mobilizing individual disciplines. With this manifesto, we, an open group of scholars of classical and modern South Asian Studies, declare our support for Fair Open Access publishing.

§1  As is well known, the impact of publications is very often contingent on factors independent of the quality of the research or the competence of the authors. This includes that the research is published in a renowned journal (or other publication medium), by a renowned editor, or – and this has become a major problem – by a prestigious publishing house.

§2  Most of the prestigious publication media are nowadays controlled by a small number of profiteering international publishers. These companies often sell their products at unjustifiably high prices. Much of the editorial work, on the other hand, is outsourced to researchers (or their co-workers, assistants, employees, secretaries etc.). Because they depend on the prestige capitalized on by the publishers, they generally do this without payment. This situation has led to a real crisis in academic publishing.

§3  The Open Access (OA) movement is a reaction to this development: the advance of digitization has made it easy to make the results of research freely available on the internet. OA publishing offers free access to research, regardless of an individual’s financial means or affiliation with a subscribing institution. In the OA model, the individual reader does not pay (except, of course, in the case of printed works). Instead, the publication costs are borne by universities, libraries, scholarly societies, professional associations or other scholarly institutions. While in the wake of this development a number of institutions have founded in-house publishing projects, some commercial publishers have started to offer OA as well.

§4  In order to compensate for the revenue losses resulting from the free availability of OA publications, however, some profiteering publishers have begun to calculate special fees – imposed on the authors or their institutions. Most often, these fees are unjustifiably high and overcompensate for the production costs. As a growing number of academic institutions nowadays demand that the publications of their employees be OA, they are willing to pay these fees. They even regularly schedule a special budget to finance the publishers.

§5  Ultimately, however, it is the tax payers who have to pay, often several times: funding for research and researchers, library budgets for subscription fees, acquisition of overpriced books, processing costs charged by the publishers for OA publications etc. The only reason this system functions is that researchers and their institutions are dependent on the prestige that profiteering publishers have capitalized on for commercial benefit.

Go to (incl. List of Publishers & Journals): https://foasas.org

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James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965)

 

The legendary debate that laid down US political lines on race, justice and history

In 1965 at the University of Cambridge, two of the foremost American intellectuals were challenged with the question: ‘Has the American Dream been achieved at the expense of the American Negro?’ From William F Buckley’s highly stylised posturing and pointing, to James Baldwin’s melodious rhetorical flourishes and memorable scowls, what’s become known as the ‘Baldwin-Buckley Debate’ now stands as one of the archetypal articulations of the dividing line between US progressives and conservatives on questions of race, justice and history. Baldwin, the famed African-American writer, whose reputation as a progressive social critic and visionary Civil Rights activist has only risen in the intervening decades, argues that the very foundation of US society is built on the dehumanisation of its African-American population. Meanwhile, Buckley, the leading US conservative intellectual of the period, argues that African Americans would be best served by exploiting their country’s many freedoms and opportunities, rather than pointing a collective finger at discriminatory structures and institutions. In both cases, their positions presage contemporary divisive debates in the US, though one wonders whether such an event could happen in today’s political environment.

While usually reduced to short clips, the full hour-long debate – presented here in its entirety – is a remarkable historical document in its own right. Conducted in front of a large, almost entirely white and predominantly male audience at the Cambridge Union, the encounter offers a sense of campus intellectual life in the mid-1960s through the atmosphere in the room, the things that made people laugh, and the particular references made by the debaters. After the always eloquent Baldwin evokes his personal experience to describe a perpetually disorienting and demeaning existence for African Americans, Buckley responds with facts and figures – as well as an ad hominem shot at Baldwin’s speaking voice – to argue that there’s an American Dream available to all those who would pursue it. In the end, Baldwin prevailed, earning an ardent standing ovation and a landslide victory in the Union’s vote on the motion raised.

From: https://aeon.co/the-legendary-debate-that-laid-down-us-political-lines-on-race-justice-and-history

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De Berchrede fan it Flakke Lân

Fryslân DOK
De Berchrede fan it Flakke Lân.

Tinkers formulearje in perspektyf foar de maatskippij nei de Coronacrisis. Hokker ynsjoggen kinne wy meinimme nei de takomst?

Sjoch bygelyks: De Berchrede fan Theunis Piersma:
https://www.demoanne.nl/de-berchrede-fan-theunis-piersma/

“Sa lang’t ik biolooch bin, al wer 40 jier, libje ik mei it besef dat ús wrâld ekologysk nei de barrebysjes giet. Ik wie my tige bewust dat, lang om let, ek de minsken út rike lannen dat fiele soene. Ik frege my ôf, wat sil ik der sels noch fan meimeitsje? Ik haw my de ôfrûne 20 jier geregeldwei yn ’t fel knypt en my fernuvere dat it eins sa goed giet, dat wy allegearre sa blier en blynwei trochlibje. Fansels, de ‘wanden’ hongen grôtfol mei ‘tekens’, mar wat gie it de measten fan ús dochs goed, wat koene wy lekker en goedkeap de wrâld oer reizgje om sa, nei in ritsje Schiphol en in dei of wat ‘langparkeren’, geregeldwei te ûntsnappen nei plakken mei mear romte en mear lânskip as thús.

No is it dan safier. In krisis as dy fan corona is al withoefaak troch firologen oankundige, mar ynienen komt er ús oer it mad en ynienen liket dat ‘it nei de bliksem gean’ him yn fleanende faasje ûntjout. Soks giet dus net stadich, soks rôlet oer jin hinne! Soks is as de see dy’t nei in dyktrochbraak it doarp ynienen yn it klotsende wetter set.

Ik sit thús, en folgje mei ynhâlden siken it nijs. Ik strún it ynternet ôf op syk nei ferstannich praat. It reint moaie, djippe bespegelingen. Want yn in krisis is neitinke en nij tinken nedich, en it moaie is dat sok frij tinken dan ynienen mei! Miskien wol oanmoedige wurdt. Kin ik dan einliks sizze wat ik op myn hert haw? En soe der no wol lústere wurde?”

Of De berchrede fan Oeds Westerhof:
https://www.demoanne.nl/de-berchrede-fan-oeds-westerhof/

“De flinter is in flearmûs wurden. As in orkaan fljocht it coronafirus oer de wrâld. Wa’t sûn is wurdt siik, wa’t swak is ferstjert. Dat jildt foar minsken en likegoed ek foar bedriuwen. It binne ûnwisse tiden foar elk, behalve dan foar ûnheilsprofeten, wûnderdokters, predikers fan het eind der tijden, synisy, utopisten en oare selskroane keningen fan de wissichheid.

Ik wit net wat dizze coronakrisis foar ús betsjutte sil. Ik ha in krisis fan dizze omfang nea meimakke. Myn gefoel komt it tichtst by de tiid fan Tsjernobyl en de útbraak fan aids. Dat wiene ek fan dy ûnsichtbere meunsters. De ynternasjonale spanning liket wat mear op dy fan 9-11, wylst de ekonomyske panyk wat mear oan de bankekrisis tinken docht. Eins komme al dy dingen gear yn de coronakrisis. Hoe’t it komt, dat witte we net, mar we binne yn gefaar.”

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Philip Roth ~ The Plot Against America

About The Plot Against America
Set in Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s, The Plot Against America tells the story of what it was like for the Roth family and Jews across the country when the isolationist aviation hero Charles Lindbergh was elected president of the United States. Roth’s richly imagined novel begins in 1940, with the landslide election of Lindbergh, who blamed the Jews for pushing America toward war with Nazi Germany. Lindbergh’s admiration of Hitler and his openly anti-Semitic speeches cause increasing turmoil in the Roth household, and in nine-year-old Philip, as political events at home and abroad overtake their daily lives. Alvin, the orphaned nephew the family has taken in, runs away to Canada to fight the Nazis. Sandy, Philip’s older brother, ascribes his parents’ fears to paranoia and embraces Lindbergh’s Just Folks program, which sends him and other Jewish children to live in the “heartland” for a summer. Philip’s mother, Bess, wants the family to flee to Canada before it is too late to escape. But his fiercely idealistic father, Herman, refuses to abandon the country where he was born and raised as an American. Overwhelmed by the tensions around him, Philip tries to run away. “I wanted nothing to do with history,” he says. “I wanted to be a boy on the smallest scale possible. I wanted to be an orphan.” But history will not let go, and as America is whipped into a deadly frenzy by demagogues, the Roths and Jews everywhere begin to expect the worst. In The Plot Against America Philip Roth writes with a historical sweep and lyrical intimacy that have rarely been so skillfully combined. As the novel explores the convulsive collision of history and family, readers take a chilling look at devastating events that could have occurred in America–and consider the many possible histories existing beneath the one that actually happened.

About Philip Roth
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005 Philip Roth has become the third living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.

Source: http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/

The Plot Against America – PDF-format: https://m.reddit.com/theplotagainstamericabyphiliproth/

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Walking Stories

Cover 'Walking Stories'Lisa, a fragile Indonesian woman, walked along the paths of Saint Anthony’s park. Saint Anthony is a mental hospital. Lisa was dressed in red, yellow and blue; I was looking at a painting of Mondriaan, of which the colours could cheer someone up on a grey Dutch day. She had put on all her clothes and she carried the rest of her belongings in a grey garbagebag. She looked like she was being hunted, mumbling formulas to avert the evil or the devils. I could not understand her words, but she repeated them with the rustling of her garbage bag on the pebbles of the path.

When she arrived at an intersection of two paths where low rose hips were blossoming, she stopped and went into the bushes. She lifted all her skirts and urinated; standing as a colourful flower amidst the green of the bushes and staring into the sky. A passer-by from the village where Saint Anthony’s has its headquarters would probably have pretended not to see her, knowing that Lisa was one of the ‘chronic mental patients’ of the wards. Or, urinating so openly in the park may be experienced as a ‘situational improperty’, but as many villagers told me: ‘They do odd things, but they cannot help it.’ The passer-by would not have known that Lisa was a ‘walking story’, that she had ritualised her walks in order to control the powers that lie beyond her control. Lisa was diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ and she suffered from delusions. When she had an acute psychosis, she needed medication to relieve her anxiety. Her personal story was considered as a symptom of her illness. That was, in a nutshell, the story of the psychiatrists of the mental hospital. Her own story was different. Lisa was the queen of the Indies and she had to have offspring to ensure that her dynasty would be preserved. She believed at that day that she was pregnant and that the magicians would come and would take away her unborn baby with a needle. To prevent the abortion, she had to take refuge in the park and carry all her belongings with her.

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