Noam Chomsky: The problem with US politics is the spectrum is "center to extreme — way off the spectrum — right"

There's no such thing as American exceptionalism, he argued, it's just normal imperial practice

Published January 6, 2016 2:05PM (EST)


In an interview with Abby Martin, renowned linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky discussed the shift in American politics and its impact on the nation's foreign policy.

"The spectrum is broad, but in an odd sense," Chomsky said. "The spectrum is basically center to extreme right -- extreme right, way off the spectrum. The Republican Party about 20 years ago basically abandoned any pretense of being a normal political party."

"What happened is that, during the whole neoliberal period, both parties shifted to the right," he continued, "but the Republicans went way off the spectrum. They became so dedicated to the interests of the extreme wealthy and powerful that they couldn’t get votes. So they had to turn to other constituencies which are there, but were never politically mobilized: the Christian evangelicals, the nativists who are afraid that 'they’re taking our country away from us.'"

Chomsky noted that while the GOP's shift to the right has been more pronounced, it's important to note that "the Democrats have shifted to the right as well. Today’s mainstream democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. Somebody like Eisenhower, for example, would be considered way out on the left."

In particular, he took issue with the way that the label of "anti-war" is applied to politicians like Barack Obama, whose drone and assassination programs not only violate all the tenets of a legitimate anti-war movement, but which aren't even being criticized by the anti-war left.

"Take say the Iran negotiations," he said. "Virtually everyone, President, political leaders, commentators in the press, dove-ish commentators, almost universally say that if we unilaterally detect, think we detect, some Iranian violation of the agreements, that we have the right to use military force to attack them. That’s just outlandish in terms of international law and practice -- but it’s universal, virtually universal. You have to go way to the margins to find somebody that will question that."

Chomsky later added that there's nothing exceptional about "American exceptionalism," saying that "every imperial power has behaved the same way, sometimes worse, so it’s just normal imperial practice."

Watch Martin's entire interview with Chomsky below.

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