Professor Noam Chomsky : “Father of modern linguistics”

Mohammed Arifeen : Editor-at-Large: The Financial Daily

Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called “the father of modern linguistics”
Modi destroying remnants of secular India
US academic says any nuclear war between Pakistan and India will be terminal. Professor Noam Chomsky says that the world today faced an increasing and real threat of nuclear war. He says that the world today faced an increasing and real threat of nuclear war. India under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is destroying the remnants of secular democracy, crushing Muslim rights and placing Kashmir under a vicious brutal rule, Prof Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest intellectuals of our times.
India, according to the world’s leading academic, is a natural member of the “reactionary international” a phenomenon which has grown during US President Donald Trump’s rule and is led by the White House.”It is not formalized but it is taking shape with Trump in the White House and is led by the White House. It includes the most reactionary states in the world, the ones most bitterly attacking and destroying democracy,” Chomsky said, speaking at the 6th Yohsin Lecture at the Habib University.
Threat of Nuclear War
Chomsky warned that the world at the moment is at confluence of four severe crises. “The first, of course, is the threat of nuclear war which in fact is growing according to some senior analysts, like William Perry. It is greater than it has ever been in the past 75 years,” he said. He implied that a nuclear war between Pakistan and India is also possible and warned that any nuclear war among powers of any significance like the two neighbours will be essentially terminal.
“The effects on the country that strikes first will be lethal. The effects on the rest of the world will also be lethal, if only from a nuclear winter which is likely to result from a major nuclear strike.”
Major crisis
Threat of environmental catastrophe
The crisis, he said, is the threat of environmental catastrophe, which, he described as severe and increasing and will likely to reach an irreversible tipping point if not dealt with soon. “It is just a matter of waiting not very long till organized human society becomes impossible.”
He said one of the first regions to suffer severely from the ongoing catastrophe is South Asia. “It is already in a severe environmental crisis with drought, shortage of water, glaciers melting, and sources of main rivers declining and if matter continues on its present course, it will literally not be habitable by humans within not very long.”
Deterioration of democracy worldwide
Chomsky said the other major crisis is the deterioration of democracy worldwide. “At first it doesn’t sound that it belongs to the level of other two but it actually does. And the reason is that unless there is an engaged informed public committed to dealing with the crises that we face there is no chance of dealing with them.
“Autocrats and demagogues will not do it. It has to be engaged, informed public in a vibrant democracy [to address these crises],” he added. Enumerating the reasons for the decline of democracy, he said there has been a sharp shift to the right as a result of “the neo-liberal plague” which placed the business world in power to an unusual extent.
“This happens all over. It has become a plague. We have learned a little about it from leaks like the Panama Papers which show it is just colossal in scale and there have been other similar means,” he said.
“So, there has been an enormous robbery of the general public. It is not going to the 10%. Most of it is going to top 0.1% – a tiny fraction of the population, which has doubled their share of wealth in the last 40 years.”
He said this had had a very harmful effect on the functioning of democracy. “That is why the centralist political parties have collapsed. That is why they are getting demagogues like [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban, [French National Rally party Chief Marine] Le Pen, [former Italian deputy prime minister Matteo] Salvini, [former UK Independence Party leader Nigel] Farage and others.
“These are the results of 40 years of assault on the public. Now it is reaching an extreme form with the growth of reactionary international run by harsh and brutal autocrats,” he added.

Coronavirus pandemic crisis
According to Chomsky, the major crisis is coronavirus pandemic. “The world is suffering from it severely but in fact, it is least of the four crises. Severe though it is, and dominant though at the moment, we [US] will emerge from the pandemic at a terrible cost and needless cost. We can see that it is needless cost by the fact that some countries have dealt with it.”
US elections was a hollow victory
Chomsky said that the Democrats’ victory in last month’s US election was a hollow victory as the Republicans will make the affairs ungovernable for president-elect Joe Biden. “The Republican won the election at every level from state legislatures up to Congress; the only office they didn’t win was the presidency. That was just the hatred of Trump, not love of Biden.”
He said the signs suggest that President Trump will never concede that he lost the election. He will presumably leave office on January 20, the day of inauguration without conceding.
“The legal maneuverings that are taking place now are ridiculed by the liberals and the world because they are so ludicrous but they are missing the point. They are very successful. The point of all these legal maneuverings is to energies the popular base to try to show them that the election was stolen and we are not going to accept it,” Chomsky said.
“So, it doesn’t matter if they are thrown out by judges who make fun of them. All of that strengthens the feeling that our hero [Trump] is being cheated by an elite – so-called deep state – which is trying to take our country away from us. This is the purpose, [and] it is succeeding,” he added.
Trump might even set up an alternate government
The American intellectual feared that Trump might even set up an alternate government, “the valid true government, not the fake government” in Washington and his supporters would rally around it. He said the US Senate is finished as a deliberative body. Its sole function is to prevent the Democrats from doing anything-just to make the country ungovernable.
“With Trump out of office, it will go back to the phase where it was under Obama administration. Just prevent anything from happening, make the country ungovernable,” he said. He said “Mitch McConnell’s Senate” has had two goals: One to pass legislations that enriches the very rich and empowers the corporate sector and passes the burden over to the general public.
“The other is to stack the judiciary, top to bottom. Every post [to be filled] with young ultra-right lawyers who will be able to block any mildly progressive legislation from the generation, no matter what the public want.”
However, despite painting a bleak picture, Chomsky insisted that all these crises can be addressed. “None of this is inevitable. Take any of the crises that we face, they have solutions and we know the solutions. The solutions are feasible. They are in hand,” he said.
But, he added, it is not enough to just have academic knowledge of what to do. “Somebody has to take the knowledge and work with it. That is the burden that the generation is facing. It is a severe responsibility and an exciting challenge,” he said.

Iran attack
He said Trump before leaving the office might take step, including attacking Iran. However, he added, Iran in retaliation might target oil fields in Saudi Arabia, which would have global impact.
After the talk, Habib University president Wasif Rizvi, who co-hosted the event with Christopher Taylor, the university’s academy affairs president, put a question about the possibility of a strike on Iran. Prof Chomsky said it’s a possibility. The sanctions against Iran have absolute no legitimacy. So what’s the threat of Iran?
The threat is that it’s a possible deterrent. Countries that want to rampage freely in the region don’t want deterrents, and there are two of them – the US and Israel. The US doesn’t want the Israeli nuclear weapons to be inspected. It doesn’t even officially recognize that Israel has nuclear weapons.
“Will there be a strike? Nobody knows. The Trump administration is in a state where it is willing to do almost anything. If the US were to attack Iran it won’t be an invasion; it would be an attack from a distance. It’s possible that Iran could respond. It has ways to respond. Weak military, but they do have missiles. The missiles can reach northeast Saudi Arabia. If they attack, the results are extraordinary not just for Saudi Arabia but for much of the world. If that happens it will be a massive war and then we’re basically finished,” he added.
World will emerge from pandemic at terrible cost
This was said by internationally renowned scholar Professor Noam Chomsky in his talk titled ‘Reflections on the future of democracy: nuclear threat and the looming environmental catastrophe in a post-Trump world’ organized online by Habib University here.
Prof Chomsky said the election that took place in the United States recently was not over. He said eminent scientists and thinkers had tried to encapsulate their conception of the world security situation by a clock called the doomsday clock. When the clock reaches midnight that means termination of the species. The clock was set in motion shortly after the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945; then it was set on minutes to midnight.
Every year that President Trump has been in office the minute hand has moved closer to midnight. Two years ago, it moved to the closest that it has ever been. Last January the analysts abandoned minutes and moved it moved to seconds. They [scientists] mentioned three crucial issues – the threat of nuclear war, the threat of environmental catastrophe and the deterioration of democracy. The scholar then added a fourth – the pandemic.
Republicans are not that different from Trump
They have drifted off the political spectrum years ago. They are ranked alongside the parties in Europe with neo-fascist origins. They are a party of environmental denialists, ultranationalists, evangelical Christians, militarists, xenophobic, racist and white supremacists.

Mismanagement of the pandemic
Prof Chomsky said the world was suffering from it severely but it was the least of the four crises. “We will emerge from the pandemic at a terrible and needless cost. We can see that some countries have dealt with it. By Jan 10, Chinese scientists had identified the virus rapidly. By Jan 10, virologists all over the world knew what they’re facing, knew the kinds of measures that had to be taken. Some places the measures were taken, others not.
“We can see the difference. In China, life is pretty much back to normal. South Korea dealt with it expeditiously and effectively. Europe waited too long but finally most of Europe began to take significant measures. Others didn’t. India, Brazil, France and the US didn’t. These are the countries in the lead in facing the pandemic catastrophe.
US presidential election
Prof Chomsky said the Republicans won the election at every level; the only office they didn’t win was the presidency. That was just hatred of Trump, not love of Joe Biden. Signs suggest that Trump will never concede that he lost by six million votes. He will presumably leave office on Jan 20, without conceding.
Democracy under threat from reactionary
On the subject of democracy under threat from reactionary forces, the scholar said one of the developments in the past couple of years had been the growth of a reactionary international. It’s not formalized but is taking shape with Trump in the White House. It includes the most reactionary states in the world, the ones most bitterly attacking and destroying democracy. In the western hemisphere the leading member is Bolsonaro of Brazil. In the Middle East it includes the most reactionary states – the Gulf emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Israel has gone very far to the right. It is maybe the only country in the world where Trump’s popularity was overwhelming. It’s maybe the only country where the younger population is more reactionary than the older one.
Panama papers
With reference to the Panama papers, he said there’s been an enormous robbery of the general public. It’s not going to the top 10 per cent, most of its going to the top 0.1pc tiny fraction of the population which has doubled the share of their wealth over the last 40 years. This has had a harmful effect on the functioning of democracy.
Chomsky regrets Pakistan drifting away from science in lecture to Karachi students
Chomsky also lamented that Pakistan was drifting away from science. .He urged that science be incorporated into academics and the outlook of the world for the sake of the country’s future.

Chomsky’s warning
In a recent interview with the ‘New Statesman’, the 91-year-old American academic listed the climate change crisis, the looming threat of a nuclear conflict, and rising authoritarianism as the most daunting threats that are capable of leading mankind to extinction.
Among the factors that are shaping the reality of our world is the increasing absence of global leadership. The US, under President Trump, has presided over the weakening of whatever was left of the rule-based global system.

Trump precipitated the process of undermining, if not completely disintegrating it, by pulling out of international pacts such as the Paris climate accord. He has framed his populist slogan of ‘Making American great again’ as an antithesis to globalization.
Likewise, not content with the ‘response’ of the World Health Organization, the Trump administration cut the funding of the international body at the height of the corona pandemic. This happened at a time when there was a massive need for global cooperation, not just in terms of availability of resources but also sharing the knowledge, information, and data to fashion a collective response to the pandemic.
Likewise, the US’ dismantling of the Iran nuclear deal smashed whatever hope was left of a possible return of normalcy in the West’s relations with Tehran. The message that Iranian leadership got was that without developing nuclear deterrence, they would not be taken seriously by the American political and strategic community.
In the broader South Asian context, given the fraught situation arising out of the illegal annexation of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the subsequent armed clashes between Chinese and Indian forces at the LAC, there is a real possibility that a tactical mistake can lead to a full-scale war between nuclear-armed Islamabad and New Delhi. For all practical purposes, IOK has become South Asia’s biggest nuclear flashpoint.
Likewise, the meteoric rise of Narendra Modi on the Indian political landscape is owed to the power of right-wing religious nationalism, often described in ideological terms as Hindutva. From being known as a butcher of Gujarat in 2002, he has emerged as an unquestioned and absolute leader of India who is seen as a larger than life figure by his followers, someone who symbolizes centuries-old yearning to make India a Hindu-only country.

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