Noam Chomsky blames the breakdown of society for the rise of Trump.
In a recent interview with Aaron Williams from Alternet, Noam Chomsky discussed his opinion on the influence social media has on young audiences today and how it affects readers’ views on politics.
Chomsky is an outspoken American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, logician, social critic, and political activist. His academic career alone has garnered him a significant amount of respect, as he is one of the most cited scholars in academic citation indices on a wide array of topics. Chomsky’s background in political activism has been nothing short of radical but well-grounded in facts and reason. In his 87 years, he has lived through many of the contemporary dilemmas America has been involved in and certainly protested many controversial actions.
In his interview with Williams, Chomsky said that social media’s portrayal of the current political happenings “tend to be quite superficial, and they appear to encourage what some young people call ‘skim reading.'” This skim reading, paired with misleading or misinforming headlines, can be “useful for organizing” grassroots movements, as Chomsky puts it, but makes for a highly-influenced but ill-informed group of readers without the full background of information needed to make important decisions on political stances.
When asked about the surprising progress of Donald Trump and whether he believes it could be attributed to the climate of fear, Chomsky replied,
“Fear, along with the breakdown of society during the neoliberal period. People feel isolated, helpless, victim of powerful forces that they do not understand and cannot influence. It’s interesting to compare the situation in the ‘30s, which I’m old enough to remember. Objectively, poverty and suffering were far greater. But even among poor working people and the unemployed, there was a sense of hope that is lacking now.”
Chomsky’s remarks certainly raise an interesting point. The breakdown of not only society but of family, which has sharply decreased since the 1960’s, has led to an overwhelming amount of Americans feeling lonely. Studies on this loneliness have indicated that this lack of physical, emotional, or spiritual bond with others leads to a lack of responsibility in caring for others and freedom to do as one pleases. However, this freedom comes at the cost of developing a careless attitude towards the needs of others, towards selflessness, and towards general human dignity and rights.
Ultimately, a nation filled with isolated people can lead to careless individuals that become willing to vote for a candidate who uses nasty stereotypes and fear to rally supporters. If so many Americans are feeling hopeless, it makes sense that they are responding by yearning for something radically different but filled with hatred. This is by no means an excuse for those people, as millions of Americans are likely just as isolated but still aren’t senseless enough to vote for Trump, but it offers an interesting insight into how America has gone crazy enough to support such a candidate.
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