Noam Chomsky: Trump’s love of ‘wealth and corporate power’ played a key role in country’s staggering coronavirus death toll
Noam Chomsky (WGBH)

President Donald Trump has been widely criticized on the left — as well as by centrist Democrats and Never Trump conservatives — for failing to take the threat of coronavirus seriously back in January and February. But left-wing author Noam Chomsky, in an interview with The Guardian, asserts that Trump’s culpability goes way beyond downplaying COVID-19’s severity: as Chomsky sees it, Trump’s love of corporate power is a fundamental reason why he has handled the crisis so badly.

The 91-year-old Chomsky told The Guardian that Trump’s cutting federal government funding for research on infectious diseases is “something that Trump has been doing every year of his term, cutting it back more. So, (his plan is): let’s continue to cut it back, let’s continue to make sure that the population is as vulnerable as we can make it — that it can suffer as much as possible, but will, of course, increase profits for his primary constituents in wealth and corporate power.”

Chomsky told The Guardian that for Trump, not doing enough to help governors who are tirelessly battling the pandemic in their states is “a great strategy for killing a lot of people and improving his electoral politics.”

When The Guardian asked Chomsky if he blamed Trump for the staggering number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S., he responded, “Yes, but it’s much worse than that, because the same is true internationally. To try and cover up his criminal attacks against the American people — which have been going on all of this time — he’s flailing about to try and find scapegoats.”

According to Chomsky, one is seeing two very different responses to the pandemic — one very positive and one very negative.

“One is: let’s take the savage Reagan/Thatcher approach and make it worse,” Chomsky told The Guardian. “That’s one way. The other way is to try to dismantle the structures, the institutional structures that have been created — that have led to very ugly consequences for much of the population of much of the world (and) are the source of this pandemic. To dismantle them and move on to a better world.”

As part of the “better world” approach,” The Guardian’s Richard Partington notes, Chomsky is part of the launch of the Progressive International — whose other participants include Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister in Greece). Partington describes the Progressive International as a “global initiative to unite, organize and mobilize progressive forces around the world.”

But Chomsky, who compares the rise of far-right nationalist movements in a variety of countries to the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the late 1920s, warns that building and advancing a new progressive movement will take a lot of hard work.

“It’s not easy,” Chomsky told The Guardian. “There are forces fighting back. The International is going to be facing similar attacks. To overcome them, it depends on the peasants with the pitchforks.”