Noam Chomsky’s Wide-Ranging Interview on a Donald Trump Presidency: “The Most Predictable Aspect of Trump Is Unpredictability”

in Current Affairs | November 28th, 2016

Last May, during the contentious presidential primaries, Noam Chomsky spoke about the mounting resentments in America, the opening they’ve created for a figure like Donald Trump, and the parallels to 1930s Germany. Six months later, Trump has apparently won the election. So what does Chomsky, one of America’s leading public intellectuals, make of it all now?

The MIT professor presciently warned back in 2010 that a Trump-like figure was coming. (See his comments pasted below.) But he couldn’t tell you how Trump will actually govern once he takes office. That’s because “The most predictable aspect of Trump is unpredictability. It’s dangerous, very dangerous.” He also adds, “It’s certainly extremely hazardous to have an ignorant, thin-skinned megalomaniac who sends off [tweets] at 3am if somebody angered him.”



If there’s room for some optimism, it’s because Trump might actually make good on his promise to deescalate tensions with the Russians.

We don’t know what’s in [Trump’s] mind. I suspect he doesn’t know what’s in his mind… But anything that would reduce the growing and dangerous and severe threat of nuclear war is to be welcomed. It would be a nice thing if humanity could survive.

A textbook definition of what’s called damning with faint praise.

But don’t worry Republicans, Chomsky doesn’t go easy on Democrats either. Continuing the line of thought above, Chomsky added “One of the presidents who worried me most was Kennedy. In fact Kennedy brought us closer to nuclear destruction than anybody.”

And asked about Democrat suspicions that the Russians possibly hacked the election, he retorts: “It’s a kind of a strange complaint in the United States. The U.S. has been interfering with and undermining elections all over the world for decades and is proud of it. So yes maybe they’re doing it here too.”

Around the 18:15 mark, Chomsky gets to chiding progressives who refused to stop Trump, and voted for Stein or Johnson instead. They simply made “a bad mistake,” he adds.

For me, the best part comes when the al Jazeera interviewer asks Chomsky how we should address the rise of fake news and the “post truth” climate we’re now living in, as some claim: “You combat it by being an educator, by trying to educate, organize, and bring people to understand that they should use their critical intelligence, to evaluate what they’re reading, whether it’s in the mainstream media or on some other site they are looking up.”

For more on that, see this item in our archive:

Noam Chomsky Defines What It Means to Be a Truly Educated Person

Daniel Dennett Presents Seven Tools For Critical Thinking

How to Spot Bullshit: A Primer by Princeton Philosopher Harry Frankfurt

chomsky-prediction

 

Related Content:

Noam Chomsky on Whether the Rise of Trump Resembles the Rise of Fascism in 1930s Germany

Free: Hear 24 Hours of Noam Chomsky’s Lectures & Talks on the Powers That Subvert Our Democracies

Philosopher Richard Rorty Chillingly Predicts the Results of the 2016 Election … Back in 1998

How Did Hitler Rise to Power? : New TED-ED Animation Provides a Case Study in How Fascists Get Democratically Elected

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Comments (7)

  1. Randy says . . .
    November 28, 2016 / 10:41 am

    I tried three times to submit my comment, and it vanished without any sort of error message. Yet I suspect this one will sail through…

  2. Randy says . . .
    November 28, 2016 / 10:43 am

    Therefore I’ll submit it in pieces to narrow down the offending part.

    (1)

    Due to an audio limitation, I can only address the written part…

    If your contention is that Trump is perceived as “honest” by any significant group, I think you’re wrong. Even Trump voters at the time acknowledged he was dishonest. They weren’t electing a solution. They were intentionally electing a much-deserved middle finger.

    I think by playing up the fringe, as the left has been doing in a froth for weeks now, before and after the election, you simply legitimize and encourage them.

  3. Randy says . . .
    November 28, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Well that wasn’t it. I’m going to censor a word here just to be extra safe…

    (2)

    Now for Noam…

    Adult illegal immigrants have no right to be in the USA. They’re not law-abiding. (When I worked in the USA, I followed the law… much to the shock of my lawyer and the desk clerks at the government office). The illegals are not citizens. But they ARE mostly documented, with documents they don’t like, by countries they have deserted. There’s nothing wrong with sending these would-be queue-jumpers packing, and indeed there is everything right with doing so. That doesn’t mean boxcars and beatings, house to house searches and all the other paranoia. It just means that when they’re found out, probably through some passive means, then they’re out. That’s it. The main thing I see is to de-legitimize the idea of sanctuary cities. Trump is not a person who follows-through. He’ll put up some wallpaper like that, and say the wall itself was just an idea.

    As for white males, not only are they a disadvantaged minority, but the larger groups (whites, and to an even greater extent males) are as well. These are the groups that it’s OK to degrade on television. These are the groups that can be ignored during an “equality” campaign. These are the people who CAN be denied jobs based on their skin color and gender. Heck, you can even make a celebration out of cutting a baby’s —–! And the people most likely end up shot dead, per encounter with police, are white… but we’re not allowed to even dare to say that ALL lives matter, as if something could actually be wrong with such a bland statement. What else could you call it, but discrimination and inequality, a sort of revenge on the sons of people deemed guilty?

  4. Randy says . . .
    November 28, 2016 / 10:48 am

    (3a)

    As to the beatings, It’s abundantly clear that no side has clean hands on this one. Of relevance here, there was the firebombing of the Trump campaign office, and the various beat-downs of Trump supporters at rallies (by people claiming to be Bernie supporters, typically) and after the election as well.

  5. Randy says . . .
    November 28, 2016 / 10:50 am

    I’m really at a loss what is triggering the censor, so …

    (3b)

    No vote for J——, S—-, or any other lesser candidate was a wasted vote, wrong vote, or “mistake”. The Democrats offered up an inept, corrupt, entitled candidate, running on an openly s—-t campaign, completely out of touch with rust-blue states, to the point she didn’t even bother to visit at least one of them. Who does that? No. The mistakes were all the votes for C——. A vote for Trump was successful at being that middle finger message they wanted to send. But a vote for C—— was, at best, just a vote for more global c———-, more war, more bias. There’s nothing progressive about that.

  6. Jonathan collins says . . .
    November 29, 2016 / 10:37 am

    Thank you Randy! Well said! As far as Chomsky goes, is this the same piece of excrement that celebrated the 9/11 attacks? Thought so. Needless to say, I won’t be taking any pointers from an old commie if there ever was one.

  7. Jamil says . . .
    December 1, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    Randy, you’ve got quite the revisionist perspective. One has to wonder whether you can make an argument based on the objective facts as compared to your baseless ad hominem attack on Noam as an “old commie” who “celebrated the 9/11 attacks”. You’re either stuck in the 1950’s, seriously misinformed, or both.

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