Noam Chomsky, who turned 93 on December 7, 2021, has lived through everything from World War II to the Vietnam War to Watergate to 9/11. The left-wing author, born in 1928 near the end of Calvin Coolidge’s presidency, has experienced crises ranging from the Great Depression to the Great Recession — and in 2022, he believes that American democracy has reached a turning point and is in danger of sliding into fascism.
Truthout’s C.J. Polychroniou interviewed Chomsky around the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Chomsky didn’t mince words during the interview, laying out some reasons why this is such a dangerous time in U.S. history.
When Polychroniou asked Chomsky “how should we understand what happened on January 6, 2021,” he responded, “Participants in the assault on the Capitol doubtless had varying perceptions and motives, but were united in the effort to overthrow an elected government — in short, an attempted coup by definition. It was furthermore an attempt that could have succeeded if a few prominent Republican figures had changed their stance and gone along with the coup attempt, and if the military command had made different decisions. (President Donald) Trump was making every effort to facilitate the coup, which would surely have been applauded by a large majority of Republican voters and by the Republican political leadership, which, with a few exceptions, grovels at his feet in a shameful display of cowardice.”
Chomsky continued, “Implications for the future are all too clear. The Republican organization — it’s hard to regard them any longer as an authentic political party — is now carefully laying the groundwork for success next time, whatever the electoral outcome may be. It’s all completely in the open, not only not concealed, but in fact, heralded with pride by its leaders. And regularly reported, so that no one who is interested enough to pay attention to the American political scene can miss it. To mention just the most recent discussion I’ve seen, the Associated Press describes how the GOP is carrying out a ‘slow-motion insurrection’ and has become ‘an anti-democratic force’ — something that has not happened before in American politics.”
Chomsky, born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928, was a kid when Benito Mussolini, a.k.a. Il Duce, ruled Italy with an iron fist and when Adolf Hitler seized control in Germany — and when Francisco Franco, a.k.a. El Generalíssimo, came to power following the Spanish Civil War. Fascism is a subject that he has spent much of his analyzing, and he views Trump’s MAGA movement as a movement inspired by fascism and white nationalism.
The author told Polychroniou, “Even the tattered system that still survives is intolerable to GOP wreckers…. In the not-too-distant background are calls to ‘save our country’ by force if necessary, where ‘our country’ is a white supremacist Christian nationalist patriarchal society in which non-white folk can take part as long as they ‘know their place’ — not at the table. (white people’s) fear of ‘losing our country’ is (in part a response to) demographic tendencies that are eroding white majorities, resisting even the radical gerrymandering that is imposed to amplify the structural advantages of the scattered conservative rural vote. Another threat to ‘our country’ is that white supremacy is increasingly rejected, particularly by younger people, as is devotion to religious authority, even church membership.”
Chomsky warns that a fascist government in the U.S. would make climate change even more dangerous, as the MAGA movement doesn’t consider climate change a threat.
“When Hungary, the current darling of the right, descends towards fascism, it’s bad enough,” Chomsky told Polychroniou. “If the U.S. does, long-term survival of human society is a dim prospect…. The limited political democracy that still exists is hanging by a delicate thread.”
Chomsky sees a definite parallels between the MAGA edition of the GOP and far-right authoritarian parties like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fisesz.
“Election subversion is not merely a threat (in the United States) — it’s happening in the ‘soft coup’ that is underway right now,” Chomsky told Polychroniou. “As is the drift toward a form of fascism. There is evidence that general attitudes of Trump voters on a range of issues are similar to those of European voters for far-right parties with fascist origins, and these sectors are now a driving force in the GOP. There’s also substantial evidence that this drift to the far right may be driven in part by blind loyalty to Trump.”