Noam Chomsky on Fascism: Could It Happen Here?

Noam Chomsky on Fascism: Could It Happen Here?

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, your first
article, you wrote when? In February of 19—was it 39? How old were you? NOAM CHOMSKY: Ten. AMY GOODMAN: Ten years old. So I want to go back to this first article. It was on the fall of—
NOAM CHOMSKY: First one I remember. There maybe have been others. AMY GOODMAN: The fall of Barcelona to Franco. NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. AMY GOODMAN: So you were talking about fascism
and fascist forces. NOAM CHOMSKY: [inaudible] fascism. I remember—I’m sure it was not a very
memorable article. I hope it’s been destroyed. But—
AMY GOODMAN: Do you see— NOAM CHOMSKY: But if I remember, the part
of it—it began by concern about the apparently inexorable spread of fascism—Austria, Czechoslovakia,
Toledo in Spain, Barcelona, which was quite significant. That’s the end of the Spanish Revolution. That took place in February 1939. And it looked like it was just going to go
on. It was very frightening at the time. AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it’s accurate
to use the word “fascism” or talk about the rise of fascism in the United States? NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, you know, “fascism” has
become a kind of a scare word. But many of the aspects of fascism are not
far below the surface. You go back to, say, the 1940s. Robert Brady, great political economist, Veblenite
political economist, wrote a book called Business as a System of Power, in which he argued that
in all of the state capitalist economies—so-called capitalist economies, really state capitalist—there
were developments towards some of the institutional structures of fascism. He was not thinking of concentration camps
and crematoria, just the nature of the institutional structures. And that was not entirely false. Could you move towards what Bertram Gross,
around 1980, called “friendly fascism”? So, fascist-type structures without the crematoria,
which is not a core, necessary part of fascism. It could happen. We should recall that through the 1930s the
fascist regimes had pretty favorable attitudes towards them in the West. Mussolini was called, by Roosevelt, “that
admirable Italian gentleman,” and who was maybe misled by Hitler. In 1932, one of the main business magazines—I
think Forbes—had an article with the headline—front-page story where the headline was “The wops are
unwopping themselves.” Finally the Italians are getting their act
together under Mussolini. The trains were running on time, that sort
of thing. The business community was quite supportive. As late as the late 1930s, the U.S. State
Department was—can’t actually say “supporting” Hitler, but saying we ought to tolerate Hitler,
because he’s a moderate standing between the extremes of right and left. We’ve heard that before. He’s destroying the labor movement, which
is a good thing; getting rid of the communists, the socialists, fine. There’s right-wing elements, ultranationalist
elements at the other extreme. He’s kind of controlling them. So we should have a kind of a tolerant attitude
toward him. Actually, the most interesting case is George
Kennan, great, revered diplomat. He was the American consul in Berlin. And as late as 1941, he was still writing
pretty favorable comments about Hitler, saying you shouldn’t be too severe, there are some
good things there. We associate fascism now with the real horror
stories of the Holocaust and so on. But that’s not the way fascism was regarded. It was even more strongly supported by the
British business community. They could do business with them. There was a—largely business-run regimes,
which were—there was a lot of support in Germany, because of the—it did create something
like full employment through indebtedness and military spending, and it was winning
victories. Could we move in that direction? It’s been recognized. You can read it right now in mainstream journals,
asking, “Will the—will the elements of Gross’s friendly fascism be instituted in a country
like the United States?” And it’s not new. Maybe 10 years ago, there was an interesting
article in Foreign Affairs, main establishment journal, by Fritz Stern, one of the major
German historians of Germany. It was called “Descent into Barbarism.” And he was discussing the way Germany deteriorated
from what was, in fact, maybe the peak of Western civilization in the 1920s into the
utter depths of history 10 years later. And his article was written with an eye on
the United States. This was the Bush administration, not today. He was saying—he didn’t say we’re—Bush
is Hitler, wasn’t saying that. But he was saying there were signs that we
should pay attention to. He said, “I sometimes have concern for the
country that rescued me from fascism, when I see what’s happening.” AMY GOODMAN: And do you see the—Donald Trump’s
attack on the press as part of that trend toward fascism, his calling the press the
enemy of the people? NOAM CHOMSKY: It’s dangerous, but Nixon
did the same thing. You remember the—Agnew and so on. Yes, it’s dangerous, but I think it’s
well short of what we regard as fascism. But it’s not to be dismissed. And I think we can easily see how a—if there
had been a charismatic figure in the United States who could mobilize fears, anger, racism,
a sense of loss of the future that belongs to us, this country could be in real danger. We’re lucky that there never has been an
honest, charismatic figure. McCarthy was too much of a thug, you know? Nixon was too crooked. Trump, I think, is too much of a clown. So, we’ve been lucky. But we’re not going to be lucky forever
necessarily. AMY GOODMAN: MIT professor Noam Chomsky. To see the full interview, go to I’ll be doing a public interview with Noam
Chomsky on Monday, April 24th, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This Friday, April 7th, I’ll be speaking
in Denver at the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center on Santa Fe Drive. Then, on Saturday, April 8th, I’ll be speaking
in Castlegar, British Columbia in Canada. Check our website for details.

49 thoughts on “Noam Chomsky on Fascism: Could It Happen Here?

  1. Amy, If and when full-bore fascism comes to the USA, it will be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes, in a Green Postmodernist package.

  2. 'Trump is too much of a clown to become a fascist' As much as that line made me chuckle, it made me worry for the future. This is the same guy who was busy talking about his shock election victory as other nations banded together to denounce Assad's attack. The same guy who said military action in Syria should never occur, and blamed Obama's inaction on what happened to those innocent people. And almost a day later, finally commented on the attack. Let's remember that Obama put that to a vote and the result was a loud 'do not take action in Syria!' This is the guy who was called an idiot by ISIS. Jesus Christ let that sink in… and the same guy who is being tested by North Korea as he's burying his head in sand and looking for backup on his tweets, just to save face.

    And then you look at his approval rating… the important figure in all of this, in my opinion. What can any leader do to boost the public opinion of himself? WAR. It's hard to criticise the relatively smaller shortcomings and perversions of morality by him and his team when there is a war going on.

    If you had asked me 6 months ago if nuclear war was likely in my lifetime I would have laughed at you. Now, it's a completely different reaction. Just hoping North Korea does not take their threats to another level. That madman, surrounded by his family and yeasayers, that attacks any criticism and despises the free press, with access to nuclear weapons. Am I talking about Kim Jong-Un or Donald Trump? Correct answer gets you a place in a nuclear bomb shelter.

  3. Speakers being no-platformed from universities across America or Europe would be an example of fascism. I'm left wing and often my own tribe is responsible for this, a group that preaches liberal tolerance but are intolerant of opinions that they find offensive, "dangerous", or even fascist lol. homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic etc etc. In this day and age people need to be open to opinions they don't agree with, especially at a university.

  4. Ok, we'll exempt DN from the blanket condemnation, but the main stream press is clearly the enemy of the people.

  5. It's Already Here… Ine Volk Ine Reich Ine Fuhrer… Narcissistic Totalitarians, Oligarchs, Plutocrats & Anarchistic of the Roll-Back Gov… Destroy the Environment & Exterminate the Underclasses.. The Plunder & Greed For the Sake Of Extremism…. The Rise of the Anti-christ & Destroyers of the World.. Love Self, Protect Life, Stay Focus, Breathe Happy, Peace…!!!

  6. In Hitler's Germany came to fascism, militarism. Which ended in the second World War. Fascism is not a German phenomenon and can occur anywhere. The Trump government makes small steps, but they makes them.

  7. America went through its fascist stage in the 19th century – as did Britain a century earlier  So in that respect, perhaps what we call fascism is just primitive accumulation – the embryonic stage between feudalism and capitalism. 

    The intersection of feudal barbarism and modernity is a particularly volatile compound – a combination we are presently seeing in the Arab World, India, China, the Philippines, Turkey etc which could lead to many catastrophic outcomes in the 21st Century.

  8. Chomsky has Zionist beliefs -he can call himself anything he wants, but he definitely on the left. He is talking fascism to try and scare the heck out of Americans–the guys calls himself a libertarian–baloney. He is a left wing guy- don't be fooled.

  9. The USA is most definitely fascist. Fascism by definition is belligerent nationalism; hatred and intolerance of labor unions; rule by authoritarianism; anti-communism/anti-socialism; large spending and top priority to militarism and and militarized culture; and often has a targeted scapegoat group to unify by hatred a common enemy. Nazi Germany had all of these characteristics, and most definitely USA of today does as well. Where Jews were the scapegoat for the Nazis, Muslims are America's scapegoat now.

  10. Around 4:50 he mentions it eliminated unemployment with indebtedness and military spending, that's true another way was banning women from having jobs and counting them in unemployed census creating sudden demand for unemployed men and massive road work programs

  11. For others who may be curious:
    The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism
    11 Steps to Fascism
    Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps

  12. It is said "scratch a liberal and you'll get a Tory. Scratch a Tory and you'll get a fascist. Scratch a fascist and you'll end up in hospital.

  13. So Chomsky supports the mainstream media? What an absolute joke. Can't believe I once listened to this old establishment stooge.

  14. My father once told me that in the 1920s people used to go to Munich to listen to "that clown" (Hitler) and amuse themselves.

  15. Two points:
    1. We need to see the actual article Chomsky wrote in 1939, to see exactly what it says, and
    2. We need to remember that for all of Chomsky's intelligencia, and his criticisms, which all have the great benefit of exploiting 20/20 Hindsight, he is in reality still just a Linguistics Professor, with ZERO Real Word Experience in Government, Foreign Policy, National Security, Military, or anything else outside of Linguistics.

  16. Trump is this fiction of fascism 6:34 right out of the 30's as Noam described and I think he is afraid of Trump! Look at the fear being created from the divide that suppresses the poor…! You are keeping their 1% dream alive when your 3rd eye is calcified from fluoride so that the elephant is invisible. Confusion. fear and lack… while believing a false power such as the dicktater-tweeting president creates when posting his falsely assuring image to a dumbed down society full of every man for themselves, what do you have… measuring-minded blame oriented unhappy people… who then rush to their group of so-called friends to hide/share what they think they feel… c'mon people, wake-up! Help create a world of love enough to give a care that heals the hungry and no longer fees the corporate starmuck mind of one-upism. Please!

  17. I don't get all this talk of Fascism. It certainly wasn't the biggest threat to the world, that would be communism. Or authoritarianism.

  18. A tidbit about a lot of conventionally conservative Germans in the early 30s (landed aristocrats, wealthy industrialists, tradition-and-convention oriented middle class). When the Nazis won a lot of seats in the Reichstag (their parliament), they saw Hitler as an crackpot and an ignorant fool. The conservative powers-that-be thought they could manipulate him. Think about that one.

  19. Have the children separated from their parents at the border of the United States of America been reunited after weeks of detention ?

  20. Yeah leave abstract philosophers out of politics. This guy is an unironic ancom. He clearly hasnt given any real thought to politics.

  21. Have You ever Listened to Consolidated's song "Friendly Fascism" released back in 1991?

  22. "Fascism is an open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionist elements of financial capital"
    – Georgi Dimitrov, 1943

  23. In 1907 american writer Jack London wrote a fiction novel about rise of fascism in post-war USA as a result of 1913 World War and 1912 Economic Crisis.
    It is noteworthy that in the novel, fascist elites of USA blew up The US Gongress at Capitol Hill and blamed communists – just like actual German fascists (aka Nazis) did in 1933 by setting Reichstag on fire creating an excuse to establish a dictatorship.
    This novel was in school literature programm in USSR during all period of his existance (1922-1991).

  24. Ah yes, the britisch invention of the concentration camp in South Africa to imprison the Boers.
    National socialism protects labor from capital, and the nation from monopoly rule.
    So either you work or produce something Society needs without it being to it’s detriment, or become part of the administration.

  25. This Historian argues that Facism (not National Socialism) grew out of Socialism can't imagine Trump nationalizing any industries.

  26. US ultranationalism, xenophobia, Western Chauvinist perspective and mythology of American Exceptionalism as well as the general culture that permeates the nation as a whole ensured that all the elements and groundwork has already been laid. We've stood on that ledge for the better part of a century. It is happening here and it's inherent to the system thanks to our infallible "founding fathers".

  27. Chomsky should spend more time elaborating linguistically on how he thinks Trump "falls short of Fascism" when Trump says and does some fascist things. Perhaps his opinion is based on the definition that a government is Fascist only when it has total control, and that any politician or president that only acts like Mussolini but does not have as much support or legal control to impose more martial law is therefore not 100% Fascist and therefore only partly fascist does not deserve the label.

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