At The Stone, the philosophy blog of the New York Times, George Yancy interviews Noam Chomsky about the role of philosophy is social transformation, and the state of the US under Trump. In a surprisingly optimistic note, Chomsky says that the popularity of Bernie Sanders, and the activist that his supporters have spearheaded since the end of the election, has the potential to drastically transform the political landscape in the US over the long term. In the short term, however, Chomsky express the dire concern that the reckless Trump Administration has made nuclear war more likely now than even during the Cold War. Read an excerpt from the interview below, or the full text here:
G.Y.: Returning to Trump, I take it that you view him as fundamentally unpredictable. I certainly do. Should we fear a nuclear exchange of any sort in our contemporary moment?
N.C.: I do, and I’m hardly the only person to have such fears. Perhaps the most prominent figure to express such concerns is William Perry, one of the leading contemporary nuclear strategists, with many years of experience at the highest level of war planning. He is reserved and cautious, not given to overstatement. He has come out of semiretirement to declare forcefully and repeatedly that he is terrified both at the extreme and mounting threats and by the failure to be concerned about them. In his words, “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War, and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”
In 1947, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists established its famous Doomsday Clock, estimating how far we are from midnight: termination. In 1947, the analysts set the clock at seven minutes to midnight. In 1953, they moved the hand to two minutes to midnight after the U.S. and U.S.S.R. exploded hydrogen bombs. Since then it has oscillated, never again reaching this danger point. In January, shortly after Trump’s inauguration, the hand was moved to two and a half minutes to midnight, the closest to terminal disaster since 1953. By this time analysts were considering not only the rising threat of nuclear war but also the firm dedication of the Republican organization to accelerate the race to environmental catastrophe.
Perry is right to be terrified. And so should we all be, not least because of the person with his finger on the button and his surreal associates.
Image of Noam Chomsky via thelittle.org.