Please note that the text presented here was edited by Democracy Now before publication. Some details were changed. In particular, Noam Chomsky never brought the matter of elections, it was in response to one of the questions, which is omitted in this text.
I wish to thank Democracy Now for permission to quote what follows.
Thursday, October 21st, 2004
AMY GOODMAN: Last week I went to Cambridge to speak with Professor Noam Chomsky. I went to his offices at the Massachusetts institute of technology.
NOAM CHOMSKY: There are serious problems here. One problem is almost a total disillusion, disappearance of the basis for a democratic society. I mean, if we compare, say, this election with elections in, say, the second biggest country in the hemisphere, Brazil. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. They have actual elections where there are issues and where they can elect some mass popular organizations. They can elect, as presidents, one from their own ranks, a man whose background is a peasant, steelworker, union organizer, no higher education, very impressive figure. Against far higher barriers than exist here. I mean, here, we have a thing called an election, which is a choice between two men, both born to great wealth and political influence, and went to the same fancy private schools, same elite university, joined the same secret society where you train people to be members of the ruling class. They can run because they’re funded by pretty much the same concentrations for private power. Both understand that the election is supposed to keep away from issues. That’s — they are run by the PR industry, and in a way designed to keep the public out of it. They focus on what they call qualities. He is he a leader, a nice guy? Does he sigh, that kind of a thing. That’s what the campaign is. Very few people know where they stand. In fact, there was a Gallup poll about a week ago where voters were asked why they’re voting for Bush or Kerry. I thought it was quite striking. I mean, one of the choices of the many choices was their stand on the issues. You know, their agenda, policies. It was around 10%. If you had asked the people, they wouldn’t have known. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. This is a symbol of something extremely serious. In fact, on issue after issue — this is a very well polled country. We know a lot of about people’s attitudes and opinions. They’re mostly off the agenda. They are not discussed; they are radically different from the elite consensus. They just don’t enter into the political system. That’s a major problem. The attitude is not bad. There’s lots of — also alongside of this, there’s a very high level of activism, maybe higher than ever. It’s disorganized. It’s the way this country is, everything is broken up, disorganized, nobody knows what’s happening on the other side of town. But there’s plenty going on, way more than in the past.