Never one to pull punches, linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky remains as vigorous as ever at the age of 84.
His popularity – or notoriety as some would say – endures because he is still criticising politicians, business leaders and other powerful figures for not acting in the public’s best interest. At the heart of Chomsky’s work is examining the ways elites use their power to control millions of people, and pushing the public to resist.
In this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Noam Chomsky sits down with Rosiland Jordan to talk about the two main tracks of his life: research and political activism.
And it is his activism that keeps this US scholar engaged in the public discourse well into his ninth decade.
“The activism for me long antedates the professional work,” Chomsky says. “I grew up that way. So I was a political activist as a teenager in the 1940s before I ever heard of linguistics.”
Discussing US politics, he attributes the growing popularity of the Tea Party movement, and the fanatical opposition to President Barack Obama in some quarters, to what he calls “pathological paranoia”.
“It’s something that exists in the country. It’s a very frightened country, always has been,” he says.
At the same time, Chomsky sees Obama himself as a man without a “moral centre”.
“If you look at his policies I think that’s what they reveal. I mean there’s some nice rhetoric here and there but when you look at the actual policies … the drone assassination campaign is a perfectly good example, I mean it’s just a global assassination campaign.”