It was just seven years ago that Mother Jones ran an article by Noam Chomsky titled “Destroying a Planet Without Really Trying.” In his sights: “dangers like pandemics.” He saw epidemiological and environmental threats as intertwined, on top of oil profiteering, labor exploitation, Indigenous rights violations, and institutional inaction and obstacles. “That’s what the future historian—if there is one—would see,” he wrote.
“If you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture. Unless people do something about it. We always can.”
That last bit—we always can—is the takeaway not just of his 2013 article, but of his life’s work. If there’s a throughline in his canon of criticism of imperialism and capitalism’s wreckage, it’s that idea. Action is takable. Solutions are available. “It’s not that there are no alternatives. The alternatives just aren’t being taken.”
Chomsky marks his 92nd birthday today with a livestream on “the future of democracy, nuclear threat, and the looming environmental catastrophe in a post-Trumpian world.” The video is here. His 2013 article is here. Chomsky sipping coconut water through a straw is here. If you’re a glutton for archival punishment, his 1969 autopsy of William F. Buckley Jr. is here.