In an interview with Salon’s Natasha Lennard published on Sunday, Noam Chomsky discussed some of the shocking revelations of 2013 and looked forward to the possible end of the world in 2014.
With regards to the discovery of the depth and scope of the NSA’s spying programs, Chomsky noted that historians — like Alfred McCoy at the University of Washington — have long discussed how surveillance systems first employed abroad eventually reach U.S. shores.
In the Philippines, for example, “the U.S. used the most sophisticated technology of the day to develop a massive system of surveillance, control, disruption to undermine any potential opposition and to impose very tight controls on the population which lasted for a long time and many ways the Phillippines is still suffering from this.” McCoy, Chomsky said, “also points out the technology was immediately transferred home. Woodrow Wilson’s administration used it in their ‘red scare’ a couple years later.”
So, Chomsky claims, the NSA revelations came as no surprise to him. “Governments are power systems,” he said, “[t]hey are trying to sustain their power and domination over their populations and they will use what means are available to do this.” And, he continued, “[w]e’re developing technologies that will be used by our own governments and by commercial corporations and are already being used to maximize information for themselves for control and domination.”
“That’s the way power systems work.”
Chomsky then went on to downplay the importance of the Internet in disseminating information. “The availability of the Internet has offered a much easier access than before to a wide variety of information and opinion,” he said. “But I don’t think that is a qualitative shift. It is easier to go to the Internet than to go to the library, undoubtedly. But the shift from no libraries to the existence of libraries was a much greater shift than what we’ve seen with the Internet’s development.”
The interview concluded with Chomsky pessimistically discussing the “possibility of decent human survival.” We are “racing towards” environmental catastrophe and the growing threat of nuclear war, Chomksy claims, ” as if we were determined to fall off a precipice.” He does, however, see some hope in efforts by indigenous societies to avoid these disasters.
“It’s beyond irony that the richest most powerful countries in the world are racing towards disaster while the so-called primitive societies are the ones in the forefront of trying to avert it,” he said.