For those of us who have been fans of the intellectual and linguist Noam Chomsky, seeing him talk with an icon like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz was a pinnacle moment. The two characters met on the Laura Flanders Show a few weeks ago and had what is undoubtedly one of the most important conversations of the moment.
“It’s a culminating moment to be able to engage with the one and only Professor Chomsky,” said AOC, after the intellectual admitted his admiration for her journey.
At 93, Chomsky is the most important left-wing intellectual in existence, whose work as a linguist, philosopher and historian has made him a major figure in analytic philosophy. Chomsky is also the founder of the field of cognitive science and the author of more than 150 books on topics such as war, politics, and the media.
Undoubtedly, Chomsky’s reflections form part of the ideological basis of the movement that Ocasio-Cortéz has spearheaded in U.S. politics, where social criticism and contestation have spawned a new progressive wing in the Democratic Party.
At a critical moment in the country’s history, where the social struggle continues to confront the immovable wall of the white, conservative right, left-wing writer and broadcaster Laura Flanders invited Chomsky and Ocasio-Cortéz to talk about markets, government, and the environment.
“I do think that there is a dam breaking, in electoral politics but also in organizing beyond our electoral system, like what we’re seeing with strikes, on a scale that really has not been seen in many years,” AOC said. “It’s a bit of an emperor-has-no-clothes type of situation for our political establishment and our capitalist system. People are beginning to realize that we can name these systems and describe them, that this water that people have been swimming in actually has a name, and that there are alternative ways of doing things.”
The congresswoman described this paradigm shift that Chomsky himself anticipated in his reflections, and he asserted that “the population is actually beginning to participate instead of just accepting the hammer blows.”
“We are now having a huge strike wave, in which workers are simply saying, ‘We’re not going to go back to the rotten, oppressive jobs, the precarious rotten circumstances, no health care…’ They’re just not going to accept it. That’s a major factor in the economy now,” the intellectual explained.
Outdated systems, white supremacy, and the emergence of a movement of and for the rights of people of color were among the topics discussed by the two personalities.
However, and after celebrating Ocasio-Cortéz’s efforts to introduce legislation such as the Green New Deal, Chomsky repeated his warnings: “The longer we wait, the harder it gets.”
“It is so important that we tell working-class people, ‘You have more power than you think you do. Your essential labor withheld has more of an impact than you think,'” Ocasio-Cortéz said, getting to the heart of the conversation: that another world is possible.