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Transcript: Noam Chomsky On China, Artificial Intelligence, & The 2024 Presidential Election

Here is the audio, transcript, and summary of a Through Conversations Podcast conversation with Dr. Noam Chomsky titled “China, Artificial Intelligence, & The 2024 Presidential Election”.

Listen to the audio version here:


Alex Levy: Hello, everyone, and welcome to this very special edition of Through Conversations Podcast. I am joined for a third time in this show by Professor Noam Chomsky. He does not need any introduction, and he’s a previous guest in this show, so our listeners are very excited about this conversation, and so am I. So, Professor, thank you again for joining me.

Dr. Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you.

Alex Levy: I’m very excited and very grateful with you because this conversation comes at a time where there’s a lot of moving parts in our society, and your voice has always been one that can steer us into a more thoughtful conversation and more engaged discussion into how to improve our society.

Chomsky’s Perspective on the 2024 Presidential Election.

Our listeners were very interested in hearing your thoughts on the upcoming 2024 election — presidential election, Professor Chomsky, which may be one of the most pivotal moments in our history, not for our country, but perhaps for the entire globe. What are your thoughts in the upcoming presidential election, and what do you think are the key issues that will shape this election?

Dr. Noam Chomsky: There are two key issues that shape everything, including the election. One is, are we going to destroy organized human life on Earth? There are two ways in which we are now racing to do that. One is the increasing threat of nuclear war, both in Europe and in Asia. The second is by heating the globe to the point where much of it will be unlivable. We just heard a couple of weeks ago from the IPCC, the International Scientific Monitors, their most dire report cutting few corners about where we now stand. Overwhelming scientific consensus, if anything’s solid, that is. They say we have to radically cut the use of fossil fuels, beginning now, aiming for termination a couple of decades from now. If not, we pass irreversible tipping points where there will be a steady decline to essentially destruction of organized human life on Earth. The other possibility is we do it quickly with a nuclear war.

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Well, going back to the 2024 election, as in every other major decision in our lives, these are the top issues of concern. There are other issues. Will American democracy survive in any form? Rather serious question. It’s not a joke. Other democracies are in deep trouble. Read the newspaper this morning. In India, the head of the opposition party, Rahul Gandhi, was just tossed into jail as part of Prime Minister Modi’s effort to dismantle India’s democracy and install a racist Hindu ethnocracy in its place. It’s one case.

Talk about others. The United States is plainly the most important because of its extraordinary power and influence in the world. So that’s at stake. And we can continue. There are lots of other things. So I think we could have said for each of the recent elections that it’s the most important. Yet, that was correct. It will be also true of the next one.

The State of American Politics

Alex Levy: Yeah, it’s really interesting. And you touch on many crucial points that I want to get into our conversation today. And in terms of electing someone, there’s a lot of names that are coming around more in the angle of the Republican Party, which are Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Donald Trump, and some that are potentially running, which are DeSantis and Mike Pompeo.

And also, in terms of the Democratic Party, it seems that there’s speculation that Biden may not run or perhaps he’s not leaning towards running or maybe he will run. But these are all of the questions that I have for you. What are your thoughts in the Republican candidates? Is there anyone that really you would be interested in in having as the next president? And also, what are your thoughts in a potential re-election of President Joe Biden?

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Dr. Noam Chomsky: The Republican organization is not a political party in the traditional sense, but it has been turning into something quite different for several decades. In fact, I agree with the comments of the political analysts of the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, that the Republicans have become what they call a radical insurgency that has abandoned the procedures of normal parliamentary politics.

If you look at international rankings, its attitudes and commitments, it ranks alongside the far-right parties in Europe with neo-fascist origins. The popular base of the party is pretty much in the pocket of Donald Trump. You look at polls, overwhelmingly popular. That’s the end result of a long period, you can trace it back to Richard Nixon, in which the party recognized, back at that time, it was an authentic political party.

The Republicans and the Democrats, whatever you thought of as them, they pretty much overlapped in modes of procedure, attitudes, and so on. The Republicans were the more pro-business of the two business parties in the United States. The United States is basically a one-party state. The business party has two factions called Democrats and Republicans. The Republicans were the more dedicated pro-business party.

Richard Nixon, the strategist, understood that the Republicans cannot win elections on their actual programs. Their programs of strong support for the business world, for the ownership class, for investors, banks, and so on, can’t get votes that way. So he recognized that what the Republicans ought to do is to shift attention away from their social economic policies to something else, what are now called cultural issues. With Nixon, it was what was called the Southern Strategy. Let’s draw Southern Democrats to the Republican Party by barely concealed racism.

By the mid-1970s, Republican strategists, Paul Weirich in particular, recognized that if the Republicans pretended, I stress pretend, to be opposed to abortion, they could pull in the huge evangelical vote, then being politicized for the first time, and the Northern Catholic vote. So they all switched on a dime. George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, had been strongly what’s now called pro-choice, suddenly became what’s now called pro-life, almost instantly other leaders too. So that became a plank of the Republican Party.

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