Like beauty, fundamentalism is in the eye of the beholder. That's according to noted public intellectual and philosophical pot-stirrer Noam Chomsky, who recently remarked that the United States is “one of the most fundamentalist countries in the world” in an interview with The Wire.
Chomsky’s comment was made in relation to his views on the 2016 U.S election cycle, which reflect in his view a combination of widespread anger and distrust of the current system. In particular, Chomsky was referring to Trump’s seemingly anomalous popularity. By seizing on the religious right and adopting his tone of Old Testament proportions, Trump is simply the flouncy-haired litmus for the country’s current state.
“It is a reflection of depression, hopelessness, concern that everything is lost—nothing is in our lives, nothing is in our futures, then at least show your anger,” said Chomsky, who added that Trump’s propagandist strategy was in line with a history of focusing anger on a straw man such as “immigrants, ‘welfare cheats,’ trade unions and all kinds of people who somehow you think are getting what you are not getting.”
Conversely, Bernie Sanders has also managed to find his footing in what Chomsky views as the economy’s current democratic miasma. “The impact of the neoliberal programs of the past generation almost everywhere has been to undermine democratic participation, to impose stagnation or sometimes decline on the majority of the population and to concentrate wealth very narrowly, which of course then in turn affects the political system and how it works.”
Given these conditions, Chomsky believes people's need to feel the Bern reflects a natural response to a global political shift to the right. “Today’s Democrats, Clinton-style Democrats, are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. And the Republicans just went way off the spectrum. They are so dedicated to service to wealth and the corporate sector that they simply cannot get votes on their own programs.