I Wanna Be Literated #183

I Wanna Be Literated #183

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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
BOOKS

Optimism over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change
by Noam Chomsky, C.J. Polychroniou

It should be evident by our almost-unanimous praise of the Chomsky books we’ve reviewed on this site that we’re admirers of the man’s work. I won’t say “fans,” because that sounds weird when you’re talking about a political figure in his late 80s.

Optimism Over Despair has the format we’ve enjoyed most in Chomsky’s books: a collection of brief interviews. One reason for this this is that these interviews are much more accessible for newcomers or for people who want a “lighter” Chomsky book. The other reason is that, at times, Chomsky’s analysis can get deep and dense, and it helps the reader reboot and pay attention when he starts a new topic. Of course, Chomsky has always warned against quick soundbites or summaries of topics that really should be explored in depth, but the format of the interview book, if anything, helps spark interest in readers who would want to explore issues further elsewhere and on their own time.

Optimism Over Despair covers the final years of the Obama administration onto the beginning of the Trump presidency. C.J. Polychroniou asks Chomsky about the US’ role as a global leader, the importance of organization of voters and their education, the legacy of the Obama administration, the threat of climate change and real-life capitalism, the abandonment by the Democrats of the working class and the full-on attack on the poor by the Republicans, and even a little bit about the status of socialism/communism/anarchism around the world. He repeats these questions a bit and Chomsky’s comments are remarkably consistent. Almost repeating his answers from previous questions word-for-word.

This is a quick and rewarding read and contains topics every citizen and voter should be thinking about.

Get it from Haymarket.

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