Noam Chomsky On Fascism, Showmanship And Democrats’ Hypocrisy In The Trump Era

Noam Chomsky 

After 18 months of Trump in the White House, American politics finds itself at a crossroads. The United States has moved unmistakably toward a novel form of fascism that serves corporate interests and the military, while promoting at the same time a highly reactionary social agenda infused with religious and crude nationalistic overtones, all with an uncanny touch of political showmanship. In this exclusive Truthout interview, world-renowned linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky analyzes some of the latest developments in Trumpland and their consequences for democracy and world order.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, I want to start by asking for your reading of what took place at the Singapore summit, and the way this event was covered in the US media.

Noam Chomsky: It’s reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and the dog that didn’t bark. What was important was what didn’t happen. Unlike his predecessors, Trump did not undermine the prospects for moving forward. Specifically, he did not disrupt the process initiated by the two Koreas in their historic April 27 [Panmunjom] Declaration, in which they “affirmed the principle of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord” (repeat: on their own accord), and for the first time presented a detailed program as to how to proceed. It is to Trump’s credit that he did not undermine these efforts, and in fact made a move toward facilitating them by cancelling the US-South Korean war games, which, as he correctly said, are “very provocative.” We would certainly not tolerate anything of the sort on our borders – or anywhere on the planet – even if they were not run by a superpower which not long before had utterly devastated our country with the flimsiest of pretexts after the war was effectively over, glorying in the major war crimes it had committed, like bombing major dams, after there was nothing else to bomb.

Beyond the achievement of letting matters proceed, which was not slight, no “diplomatic skills” were involved in Trump’s triumph.

The coverage has been quite instructive, in part because of the efforts of the Democrats to outflank Trump from the right. Beyond that, the coverage across the spectrum illustrates quite well two distinct kinds of deceit: lying and not telling relevant truths. Each merits comment.

Trump is famous for the former, and his echo chamber is as well. Liberal commentators exult in totting up and refuting Trump’s innumerable lies and distortions, much to his satisfaction since it provides the opportunity for him to fire up his loyal — by now almost worshipful — base with more evidence of how the hated “Establishment” is using every possible underhanded means to prevent their heroic leader from working tirelessly to defend them from a host of enemies.

A canny politician, Trump surely understands well that the base on which he relies, by now almost the entire Republican Party, has drifted to a surreal world, in part under his influence. Take the major Trump-Ryan legislative achievement, the tax scam — “The US Donor Relief Act of 2017,” as Joseph Stiglitz termed it. It had two transparent aims: to enrich the very wealthy and the corporate sector while slamming everyone else, and to create a huge deficit. The latter achievement — as the main architect of the scam Paul Ryan helpfully explained — provides the opportunity to realize the cherished goal of reducing benefits that serve the general population, already very weak by comparative standards, but still an unacceptable infringement on the prerogatives of the 1%. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the law will add $1 trillion to deficits over the next decade. Virtually every economist generally agrees. But not 80 percent of Republican voters, of whom half believe that the deficit will be reduced by the gift their leader has lavished upon them.

Or consider something vastly more significant, attitudes toward global warming (apologies for the obscenity: climate change), which poses a severe threat to organized human life, and not in the distant future.

Half of Republicans believe that what is plainly happening is not happening, bolstered by virtually the entire leadership of the Party, as the Republican Primary debates graphically revealed. Of the half who concede that the real world exists, barely half think that humans play a role in the process. Read more

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Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken & Darek M. Haftor (Eds) ~ Reason, Faith And Practice In Our Common Home – Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos ~ Content & List of Contributors


List of Contributors
Biography of Dr. Sytse Strijbos
Bibliography of Dr. Sytse Strijbos

Sytse Strijbos – Social Change in our Technology-Based World
Gerald Midgley – Reflections on the CPTS Model of Interdisciplinarity
Andrew Basden – A Dooyeweerdian Critique of Systems Thinking
Carolus J. Reinecke – The Quest of Metabolomics
Gerrit Glas – Public and institutional aspects of professional responsibility in medicine and psychiatry
Roelien Goede – Preparing data warehousing students to be responsive practitioners
Suzanne Kane & Andrew Basden – Multi-Aspectual Interview Technique (MAIT); an alternative approach towards interviewing students in further and higher education
Henk Jochemsen – Food security, agriculture and food systems
Attie van Niekerk – Reason, faith and practice in our common home, South Africa
Rob Nijhoff – Three secular seductions: one nation, one government, one science
Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken – Relationships as basis for understanding social structures – an enriched theory of enkapsis
Natallia Pashkevich, Volha Pashkevich & Darek M. Haftor – Ethical Reflections on Consequences of Technological Displacement
Fabian von Schéele – An Ethical Perspective on Cognitive Time Distortion (CTD) in Business Systems
Anita Mirijamdotter – Celebration of Sytse Strijbos’ Academic Achievements
Lucius Botes & Willem Ellis – Sytse Strijbos – Man of Reason… and Action!
Information about the IIDE Annual Working Conferences  Read more

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Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken & Darek M. Haftor (Eds) ~ Reason, Faith And Practice In Our Common Home – Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos ~ Introduction

Juni, 1 2018 – Reason, Faith and Practice In Our Common Home – Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos – Will be online within a few weeks


This book is devoted to Dr. Sytse Strijbos, in our appreciation of his unique, devoted, and selfless efforts and contributions to the betterment of the world we live in.
The present age, often understood as either late modernity or postmodernity, seems to have manifested a developmental paradox. The invention and use of science and technologies has brought material well-being never experienced in human history. Much of the modern world is characterized by economic growth and reflected in advanced housing, schools, healthcare systems, transportation and communication infrastructure, safe and secure workplaces, social insurances of various types, pharmaceuticals that save the lives of millions—all bringing human comfort and fueling a consumption economy. Normatively regarded, however, there seems to be a blurred image. The development of societal institutions, based on some form of democratic rationality, is important in its striving for human equality and participation as well as the elimination of coercions and oppressions.
Yet, we witness constant news about social, religious, political, and economic polarizations, with terrorist attacks and local wars killing innocent civilians, with global warming effects and microplastics in the oceans, with so-called “alternative truths” and challenges democratic institutions, including at its very heart the elections. More people than ever are consuming antidepressant pharmaceuticals and committing suicide. This imbalance between material development and normative advancement can be understood as the paradox of modernity and was brought to the surface eloquently by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno in their seminal “Dialektik der Aufklärung” (Eng. “Dialectic of Enlightenment”). They challenge the myth of enlightenment and its progress, based solely on human reason, as reflected in rational bureaucratic organizations, science, and technology.

Raised in Dutch society during the World War II recovery effort, Strijbos is part of this paradox of modernity. He has witnessed the economic and material developments of his country and Europe, and the normative challenges of their societies. Strijbos has been exposed to several influences: a version of the Christian faith that promotes love and compassion, the power of intellect in science and technology, and the importance of action in entrepreneurship and businesses. Unlike most engaged people, he does not assume a stand for one of these three poles. Drawing on the intellectual tradition of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Dooyeweerd, he seeks and formulates an integrative vision and approach that can be characterized in terms of three poles, where each pole interacts with the other two and in that manner aims toward human dignity and justice. His message is that only in that manner can we firstly understand the roots of modernity and its paradox and then redirect our societies.
Strijbos characterizes this integrative approach as disclosure, understood as “a process in which norms take shape that do justice to human life and society in its diversity. Disclosure accordingly goes together with recognition of the distinctive character and intrinsic normativity of the various terrains of life.” This concept is founded on the view that “human actions and interventions must be a positive response to a normative order that is itself anchored in the world.” [1]

Over nearly three decades, after changing his career from developing new technologies through advanced applied research at Philips laboratories into an academic career based at the Department of Philosophy at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Strijbos’ integrative visions and approach are manifested in his unique leadership. While occupied with his devotion to family life and university lecturing, he has managed to conceive of, initiate, establish, and govern several independent organizations (e.g., “the Centre for Technology and Social Systems” and “International Institute for Development and Ethics”)
that aim to advance this integrative vision. The uniqueness of these efforts is that without any granted external resources, he motivates people in various parts of the world (e.g., the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden, and South Africa) to pursue intellectual and practical activities also aimed at advancing this integrative vision, where attempts are made to relate faith and conviction to thinking and intellect, and to actions and practices. These efforts have formulated tentative bridges of several kinds. One kind is in the academia among the various specialized disciplines, typically isolated from each other, and with philosophy and theology. The other kind of bridges are between the academic world of thinking and the world of practices and actions, be it firms, entrepreneurship, hospitals, or aid agencies.

In the course of three decades, Sytse Strijbos has provided organizational and intellectual leadership that has contributed uniquely to the development of young people and scholars, several of which are today full professors and a university rector. In this book, students and colleagues of Strijbos have taken time to author a text with a message that in one way or another relates to the integrative vision proposed by Strijbos. These contributions are diverse, which only reflects the multidisciplinary impact of Strijbos’ work and efforts and one of its underlying messages: the root cause of modernity and its paradox can neither be understood in terms of one or a few aspects only, nor in terms of the assumptions held by modernity. Rather, an integrated view is needed where faith should be related to thinking and science, which must be related to actions and practices – any separated approach is deemed to produce a partial diagnosis and thus a faulty remedy. Therefore, the title of this Festschrift that celebrates Sytse Strijbos is “Reason, Faith and Practice in Our Common Home.”
Thank you, Sytse!

Spring 2018,
Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken, The Netherlands
Darek M. Haftor, Sweden

[1] Both from: Strijbos, S. (2003). Systems Thinking and the Disclosure of a technological Society: Some Philosophical reflections. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 20, 119-131. (p.128)
[2] The editors are grateful for the contributions of Harma Strijbos and dr. Carools Reinecke who provided many details about Strijbos’ life and career.
[4] Some data can be found in manuals on ceramic technology: R.J. Brook (ed.) Concise Encyclopedia of Advanced Ceramic Materials, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1991, page 113-117 and page 383-384. And also in: M.N. Rahaman, Ceramic Processing,Taylor & Francis, London/New York, 2007.

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Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken & Darek M. Haftor (Eds) ~ Reason, Faith And Practice In Our Common Home – Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos ~ Biography Of Dr. Sytse Strijbos

Dr. Sytse Strijbos was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on March 28, 1944. He is the seventh child in a family of eight children, where the eldest and youngest were girls. His father was a hardworking tailor, and his mother worked as a nurse before she married. When Strijbos was about one year old, he stayed temporarily with relatives outside Rotterdam to recover from the effects of the Dutch famine winter at the end of the World War II. Strijbos was raised in the Calvinist faith, and in his youth, was shaped by the postwar Dutch mentality that emphasized citizens’ contribution to the reconstruction of society, and an attitude that disciplined work is central in life.

In September 1961, after finishing high school, the young Strijbos moved to Delft, where he started his studies in applied physics at Delft University of Technology. He defended his master’s dissertation at the Department of Physical Transport Phenomena, in April 1967. During his years as a student, the young Strijbos was an active member of the student society Civitas Studiosorum Reformatorum, where he was the president of the board from 1964 to 1965. Still, each year, he meets former board members and colleague students. Those younger years shaped Strijbos’ thinking and attitude. This shaping would later influence Strijbos to search for an integrative approach, where the Christian faith’s tenets of human dignity and compassion are combined with the human intellectual capabilities to reason and the human intentional action that transforms and intervenes in our reality – the crucial step from thinking and believing to action and the consequences thereof.

Philips Years
After his graduation in 1967, Strijbos started his career as a researcher at Philips Natuurkundig Laboratorium Eindhoven. [i] About one year later, in December 1968, Strijbos married Harma Bosker, whom he met in the Reformed Church in Delft. They started their married life near Eindhoven, first in Heeze and later in Aalst-Waalre. The first three of their four children were born there. During his studies in Delft, Strijbos was strongly inspired by the philosophy classes of Professor Hendrik van Riessen. Shortly after his marriage, he decided to enroll as a student of philosophy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He studied almost all evenings and on his days off, in addition to his fulltime job at Philips. About five years later, in the spring of 1975, he received his master’s degree in philosophy.

At Philips Research Laboratories, Strijbos conducted applied research in the research group on “ceramic materials” led by Professor Stuijts. One of the topics he worked on was compaction of powders, that is, one of the stages in the fabrication process of advanced ceramic materials.[ii] Initially, he planned to write a doctoral dissertation on this topic; however, he abandon this plan without much hesitation when he was unexpectedly invited to apply for a job at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Strijbos left Philips Eindhoven after ten years and took up the position as assistant professor in the Department Systematic Philosophy and Cultural Philosophy, led by Professor Van Riessen. In the summer of 1977, the family moved to Maarssen, a small city near Utrecht. Read more

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Christine Boshuijzen-van Burken & Darek M. Haftor (Eds) ~ Reason, Faith And Practice In Our Common Home – Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos ~ Bibliography Of Dr. Sytse Strijbos


Strijbos, S. (1972) Motion and distribution of large particles suspended in a fluidized bed, Powder Technology, 6 (6), 337-342.
Strijbos, S. (1973) Burning-out of a carbonaceous residue from a porous body, Chemical Engineering Science.
Strijbos, S. (1974) Pressure filtration of permanent magnetic powders. Proceedings of the Conference on Hard Magnetic Materials, 102-105.
Strijbos, S. (1977) Powder-wall friction: The effects of orientation of wall grooves and wall lubricants, Powder Technology.
Strijbos, S., Rankin, P.J., Klein Wassink, R.J., Bannink, J., Oudemans, G.J. (1977) Stresses occurring during one-sided die compaction of powders. Powder Technology.
Strijbos, S. (1977) Friction between a powder compact and a metal wall. Journal of Powder & Bulk Solids Technology, 1(1), 83-88.
Strijbos, S., & Knaapen, A. C. (1977) Mechanical properties of a ferrite powder and its granulate. Science of Ceramics, 9, Proceedings of the 9th International Conference held Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, November 13-16, 1977. K. J. de Vries. Rijswijk, Netherlands Keramische Vereniging, 477.
Strijbos S., Vermeer P.A. (1978) Stress and Density Distributions in the Compaction of Powders. Palmour H., Davis R.F., Hare T.M. (eds) Processing of Crystalline Ceramics. Materials Science Research, (11). Boston, MA: Springer.
Strijbos, S.       (1978) Powder-Wall Friction: The Effects of Orientation of Wall Grooves and Wall Lubricants. Powder Technology.
Strijbos, S., Van Groenou, A.B., Vermeer, P.A. (1979) Recent Progress in Understanding Die Compaction of Powders, Journal of the American Ceramic Society.
Strijbos, S. (1980) Phenomena at the powder-wall boundary during die compaction of a fine oxide powder, Ceramurgia International, 6(4), 119-122.
Strijbos, S. (1980) Particle technology 1980: comminution, classification, powder mechanics : preprints, 5th European Symposium on Comminution, 2nd European Symposium on Mechanical Properties of Particulate Solids, 224th Event of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering, Amsterdam, June 3–5, 1980, (2), 931.
Strijbos, S. (ed). (1981) Systeemdenken en samenlevingsproblematiek. Proceedings of Congres: Systeemdenken en samenlevingsproblematiek (19-10-1979 ; Amsterdam).
Strijbos, S.(ed) (1985) Nieuwe medische ethiek. Amsterdam : Buijten & Schipperheijn.
Strijbos, S. (1988) Het technische wereldbeeld. Een wijsgerig onderzoek van het systeemdenken. Amsterdam: Buijten & Schipperheijn.
Strijbos, S. (1990) Computer and World Picture: A Critical Appraisal of Herbert A. Simon. Broad and Narrow Interpretations of Philosophy of Technology. Dordrecht: Springer, 67-86.

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Social Change In Our Technology-Based World. Festschrift for Dr. Sytse Strijbos

The following text was written as an introduction to the proceedings of the annual conference of the Centre for Philosophy, Technology, and Social systems, an international and interdisciplinary research cooperation cofounded by Strijbos. The chief motive for the inclusion of this text in this Dr. Sytse Strijbos Festschrift is to provide the reader with a short illustration of the kind of thinking that occupied Strijbos, and the research collaboration that he coestablished and governed.

Integrative framework
With slight exaggeration, one can say that change is the only constant factor in today’s society, where everything is in flux – continuing change seems to be a basic condition for living in modern times. These extreme dynamics and fluidity of society (Bauman 2000) have been directly related to the complex of Science, Technology, and Economy since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century in Europe. In past decades, the study of this complex has become a vast field of interdisciplinary research with many ramifications and approaches (see e.g., the Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics.)

To understand social change in a technology-based society first requires a conceptualization of the main terms “technology” and “society”. One should realize, however, that both terms are container concepts or collective names and do not refer to a specific object. Furthermore, one must be aware that by distinguishing between such a thing as “technology” on the one hand and “society” on the other, one might already start from a false view of technology, namely, as something separate from society. Aiming for an integrative vision of technology and society, one should consider that technology is about people and thus a part of society, not unlike a meteorite that impinges from outside on our human lives and society. “We know that technology does not determine society: it is society. Society shapes technology according to the needs, values, and interests of people who use the technology.” (Castells and Cardoso 2005: 3) Read more

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