The US midterm elections of November 6, 2018, produced a divided Congress and essentially reaffirmed the existence of two nations in one country. But they also revealed, once again, the deep state of moral and political depravity that prevails in the country’s political culture — at least insofar as political campaigns go. In the exclusive interview below, world-renowned scholar and public intellectual Noam Chomsky discusses how the major issues confronting the United States and the world at large were barely addressed by the majority of candidates of both parties.
C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, with people still arguing about winners and losers from the 2018 midterm elections (and there is clearly a lot to say about what those elections mean), what do you consider to be the most striking features of the latest manifestation of American democracy in action?
Noam Chomsky: The most striking features are brutally clear.
Humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war. These were virtually ignored in the campaign rhetoric and general coverage. There was plenty of criticism of the Trump administration, but scarcely a word about by far the most ominous positions the administration has taken: increasing the already dire threat of nuclear war, and racing to destroy the physical environment that organized human society needs in order to survive.
These are the most critical and urgent questions that have arisen in all of human history. The fact that they scarcely arose in the campaign is truly stunning — and carries some important, if unpleasant, lessons about our moral and intellectual culture.
To be sure, not everyone was ignoring these matters. They were front and center for those who are constantly vigilant in their bitter class war to preserve their immense power and privilege. Several states had important ballot initiatives addressing the impending environmental catastrophe. The fossil fuel industry spent huge, sometimes record-breaking, sums to defeat the initiatives — including a carbon tax in the mostly Democratic state of Washington — and mostly succeeded.