Noam Chomsky tells Julian Assange: Humanity ‘like lemmings going over the cliff’

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:07 EDT
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Noam Chomsky appearing on Russia Today. Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
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Despite being shut inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London while his appeal for diplomatic immunity is considered, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has published another episode of his show for Russia Today, featuring interviews with two of the world’s foremost revolutionary thinkiers: Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali.

At the conclusion of a wide-ranging discussion on the nature of today’s revolutions, the state of the world’s workers and indigenous poor, the viability of empirical culture and the possibility of a more hopeful tomorrow, Chomsky concluded that even a seemingly less complex issue like climate change makes him believe that humanity is, increasingly, “like lemmings going over the cliff.”

But it wasn’t an entirely hopeless statement.

“A lot of things have changed over the years, and they’ve changed often to the better,” he said. “They’ve changed because lots of dedicated people have committed themselves to it, and that history hasn’t ended. There’s changes ahead and we can do something about them. In fact, there are very serious problems. In fact, if the species continues on its present course, we probably will be facing destruction of the possibility for decent survival from things like fossil fuel use. That’s an extremely serious issue. It’s kind of like lemmings going over the cliff.”

Responding to Assange, Ali said something similar.

“I try to avoid giving advice to younger generations, because generations are so different from each other. Given the world has changed so much, the only universal advice to be given is, don’t give up. You’ll live through bad times, and you’ll feel that everything is lost. Many people become passive. But passivity usually leads to despair. I think it’s extremely important for young people growing up today to be active. Activity is something that leads to hope. Unless they’re active themselves, no one is going to hand them anything on a plate. That’s the lesson of the last few years with this new radicalization. Don’t give up. Have hope. Remain skeptical. Be critical of the system that dominates us all and sooner or later — if not in this generation, then in generations to come — things will change.”

This video is from Russia Today, broadcast Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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