Chomsky on Confronting “Ultranationalist, Reactionary” Movements Across Globe

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Boston. Today we spend the hour with Noam Chomsky, who visited his hometown of Boston this week, where he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for more than 50 years. He now teaches at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Over 700 people packed into the Old South Church Thursday to hear the world-renowned dissident and father of modern linguistics speak about threats to democracy, from the issue of Israel-Palestine to the arrest of Julian Assange, from nuclear war to climate change. After viewing part of a new film about him called Internationalism or Extinction, Noam Chomsky talked about the past two years under President Trump.

NOAM CHOMSKY: If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to start with a brief reminiscence of a period which is eerily similar to today in many unpleasant respects. I’m thinking of exactly 80 years ago, almost to the day, happened to be the moment of the first article that I remember having written on political issues. Easy to date: It was right after the fall of Barcelona in February 1939.

The article was about what seemed to be the inexorable spread of fascism over the world. In 1938, Austria had been annexed by Nazi Germany. A few months later, Czechoslovakia was betrayed, placed in the hands of the Nazis at the Munich Conference. In Spain, one city after another was falling to Franco’s forces. February 1939, Barcelona fell. That was the end of the Spanish Republic. The remarkable popular revolution, anarchist revolution, of 1936, ’37, ’38, had already been crushed by force. It looked as if fascism was going to spread without end.

It’s not exactly what’s happening today, but, if we can borrow Mark Twain’s famous phrase, “History doesn’t repeat but sometimes rhymes.” Too many similarities to overlook.

When Barcelona fell, there was a huge flood of refugees from Spain. Most went to Mexico, about 40,000. Some went to New York City, established anarchist offices in Union…

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