In an interview with The Guardian’s Gary Younge, veteran activist Noam Chomsky expressed his thoughts about the Occupy movement and whether it can be expected to have any impact on United States politics.
“It was a great surprise,” said of Occupy Wall Street’s explosion on the scene last fall. “There was plenty of ferment and concern and anger all over the country, but it hadn’t crystallized in any specific way. The Occupy movement just lit a spark.”
He went on to suggest that beyond any specific policy proposals, the greatest effect of the movement has been its influence upon the human level of our “very atomized society.”
“From the point of view of power systems,” Chomsky explained, “the perfect social unit is a dyad, a pair consisting of you and your television set, not talking to anyone else. And the end result is you have a society of people who are pretty much separated from one another. The Occupy movement changed that.”
He went on, however, to bemoan the lack of institutional memory among American dissidents. “It’s a problem for popular democracy,” he said.. “It’s not a problem for the 1%. That’s what they want.”
When asked about the U.S. presidential election, Chomsky replied, “You can pretty well predict the policies of an administration just by looking at the distribution of campaign financing.”
He noted that many of Obama’s wealthy donors preferred him to McCain in 2008 because “they thought he’d do the job for them better, and he didn’t disappoint them. Now of course, if you’re rich and powerful, you never have enough, and they can get even more, they think, from the far right, so my guess is we’ll continue to see more heavy financing for Romney than Obama from this group.”
Chomsky admitted ruefully that the Occupy movement “can’t materially affect the presidential election. To run for president of the United States, as things now stand, you have to have a couple of billion dollars in your pocket, and the Occupy movement is not going to have that. They’re not going to be able to compete with massive corporate propaganda.”
He added, however, that the movement is “reaching out in what I think are sensible directions and we have to see whether it works.”
A longer version of this interview can be seen here.
This video is from The Guardian, July 6, 2012.