There’s no one quite like Noam Chomsky. An academic who did ground-breaking work in linguistics, Chomsky always approaches politics with a steady, dispassionate and detailed review of factual information, breaking down the areas in which normal people get screwed and detailing the ways in which the Powers that Be get away with it — and how they do it. Every morning over coffee, Chomsky starts his day by burning through a half dozen or so of all the major papers, reading them cover to cover with what must be a photographic memory because when he starts talking, it’s like the Energizer Bunny reading the Encyclopedia: Noam keeps going and going and going.
Whenever I’m done listening to Chomsky, I’m not quite sure what to think. On the one hand, I’ve just heard the bare bones truth about the world. On the other hand, I always think, “Crap. We are so fucked.” I don’t know whether to take pleasure in knowing the truth or to just sort of cry it out. But getting the truth is always the first step, and in this 8 minute YouTube vid (see below), Chomsky nails Trump’s balls to the wall: all of Trump’s Twitter vulgarity, constant contradictions and outrageous actions serve one purpose, to create chaos and distraction while the Republicans take a wrecking ball to the institutions that serve the good of the common people:
Think about it as a two-level wrecking ball…Whether this is conscious or not, I don’t know. Trump’s role is to ensure that the media and the public attention always concentrates on him..He’s a conman, a showman, and in order to maintain public attention you have to do something crazy..So everyday there’s one insane thing after another..And while this show is going on in public..In the background, the wrecking crew is working… [from YouTube vid, see below]
This is nothing new for Trump, it’s his m.o. Recall that during the Republican primary in 2016 Trump deliberately said the most outlandish things he could think of. He talked about his penis size and personally attacked all of the Republican frontrunners giving them nicknames like “Little Marco” or “Lyin’ Ted.” He said everything outrageous that came to mind and broke all protocols of decency — and everyone dismissed Trump as the demagogue that his is.
But then Trump won. And he won because what Trump was doing was simply creating chaos so as to confuse the professional politicians and the pundits and pollsters.
Within this chaos, Trump was able to distract from the issues and control the discussions. With all the attention on himself he then ramped up hysteria from his base: look at how the liberals persecute me! But I’ll keep fighting!! For a paranoid right-wing that has been trained to take all criticism personally and who believe that their way of life is under attack, this strategy gave Trump street cred: Trump’s the guy who will “tell it like it is” and take on the liberals.
So it’s a shell game, of sorts: Trump creates the chaos, controls the discussion, then presents himself as the savior for the chaos that he himself has caused.
You can see it working right now, with Trump’s brutal policy of separating migrant children from their families. Trump creates a humanitarian crisis, blames it on liberals for not protecting the border (miraculously, Obama is still to blame), and then Trump says he’s willing to “compromise” on border security.
This is bigger than Trump, though. Trump is simply getting the Republican agenda done, an agenda whose primary purpose is to protect traditional socio-economic privilege and, ultimately, to give more wealth and power to the class of elites who control our fate. This has dire, consequences, however, within a capitalist system that works only for profit with no substantial checks and balances to corporate power:
Since the 1970s, scientists at Exxon Mobile have been — we now know they’ve been made public, forced to be made public — they’ve been producing severe warnings to the leadership about the effect of the use of petroleum on destroying the environment. So they all know about it, but they’re not doing anything about it, which is a level of criminality that is almost hard to find words to describe. I mean here are educated well-off, rich people, upper elite, who know that what they’re doing is destroying the prospects for organized human life and do it anyway because they make more profits tomorrow. Can you think of an analog for that in human history? I really can’t.
So now you probably see what I mean. Chomsky has a way of explaining things so that we can understand them, but brace yourself, because the truth is more than a little terrifying.