June 9, 2016

Noam Chomsky: Trump voters are the Sanders people, only older

The discussion about the recent Ralph Nader interview got me thinking about another staple of the anti-globalization movement of the early 2000s, Noam Chomsky (who like Nader has been involved in movements for a lot longer). Heading over to a website that grew big during that same anti-globalization period, ZNet, there's an interview of him from Counterpunch in which the elections come up.

After expressing their exasperation with Bernie for not taking Hillary to the mat over her warhawk foreign policy, they give credit to Trump for his fundamentally defensive rather than offensive foreign policy stance:

Noam Chomsky: I mean I suspect [Sanders is] not going to be president. But if he were, he’d probably be a little less adventurous but I think the same is really true of Trump. Crazy as he is, he seems to wants a kind of America first, a huge military but only to protect us from all of them.

Saul Isaacson: He seems so unpredictable, Trump.

Noam Chomsky: He seems very unpredictable.

Saul Isaacson: Oddly to the left of Clinton on some issues.

Noam Chomsky: On some issues like the Social Security, Medicare. He kind of vacillates.

Both the Sanders and Trump supporters overlap a good deal, only with one group being older and whatever else that entails, like being more conservative. I can't be the only former Nader 2000 voter who's been all-in for Trump, now that I'm not a college sophomore anymore. (I've never voted other than 2000 and 2016, so my conscience is clean.)

Dan Falcone: The support that Sanders is generating in the domestic issues is coming from the young people, younger citizens, I would say that indicates a good sign. Would you agree?

Noam Chomsky: I agree.

Dan Falcone: It is often where it comes from anyway, the students.

Noam Chomsky: Well, in fact if you look at the Trump voters, you take a look at their attitudes it’s not all that different. In some respects they’re similar. They’re an older version of the Sanders people. So a lot of it is racist and you have that sort of thing, but if you look at their views on say health, education, and so on, it’s kind of the same as Sanders.

What a bizarre political climate, where a dissident on the Left blows off the mainstream attacks about Trump voters being bigoted etc. -- "Yeah, they may be casually racist, BUT..." Chomsky is from the old school, where the focus is primarily on class and power, rather than culture and identity politics.

Contrast that to the cuckservative response that Trump voters are fools for wanting to keep entitlements, and also are evil racists who must be brutally ostracized from the political sphere.

Read through the rest and be surprised at how much you find yourself agreeing with a couple of urban Jewish leftist intellectuals -- the education system is geared toward credentialism for strivers, postmodern nonsense may help academics score fashion points but it's destructive, political participation means more than touching a screen every four years, and so on.

Not that we'd agree with everything -- "state" terrorism as a concept, climate change as the ultimate danger facing us, all that the problem kids in school need is a candy bar in the morning to get normal glucose levels, etc.

But we're closer to them than either of us is to the Clinton network (globalist Establishment) and their voter base (identity politics voters). In a better world, they would be the Left, and we would be the Right, instead of the neoliberals and neoconservatives.

We're doing the best we can on our side -- and we ought to give the non-interventionist populists whatever boost we can on the other side. Otherwise, suppose worst case scenario that our Trump-like candidate loses -- do we want the winner to be like Crooked Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? We can put the same question to them, to desensitize them to the prospect of a Trump presidency vs. Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, etc.

Related post from 3 years ago: "The Left in the 1980s: What did they focus on, if not stuff white people like?"


  1. Was it Sam Francis that talked about the middle American radical? I remember a line about them being much more ideologically loose. This seems to follow along the same line.

  2. "Was it Sam Francis that talked about the middle American radical?"

    Francis leaned a little too much on the idea of social conservatism and culture being a major plank in the platform of his ideal movement. His ideal base included working-class social conservatives.

    But that was back in the '90s, and by now we can see that it was the class orientation that was paramount, with social/cultural conservatism playing a minor role at most.

    "Bikers for Trump" is not what most people would think of as paragons of social conservatism. And you could tell how many free spirits there were at his Southern California rallies.

    I imagine that his rabid fans in Long Island are no strangers to tattoos and watching pornography. Ditto his supporters in Texas, who will be sporting even more tattoos.

    He did better among the non-religious than the religious, particularly in the Cuck Belt, but also back East where he still won the evangelicals, though with a smaller share than among the non-religious.

  3. Roseanne Barr endorses Trump:



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