By Lara Carim, on 14 March 2011
This year the Rickman Godlee lecture hosted Noam Chomsky, writes Jay Stone, UCL PhD student. He is inspirational to many and the event on 9 March had sold out quickly… I was running late and acutely aware that I needed to get there sharpish to get a seat!
With masses of people still piling in behind me I quickly made my way up into the rafters and settled in. A few moments later the audience erupted into deafening applause, everyone on their feet, with smiles on their faces and awe in their eyes. Noam Chomsky had made his way onto the stage.
The topic up for discussion was the ‘Contours of Global Order: Domination, Stability, Security in a Changing World’. As you can imagine this is a vast area. We began by looking back to 1939 during World War II when the United States had devised the ‘Grand Area’ for post-war dominance. Chomsky talked about how the US wanted to gain unquestionable power and maintain fierce loyalty from their allies. He remarked that this was still true of today, saying ‘The US presidents may have changed name or “style” but their substance is still very much the same’.
He suggested America sympathized with Stalinist principles, their public support for democracy hiding the fact that they would not want certain countries to gain independence if it threatened America’s international dominance. He gave the ‘disobedience’ shown by Turkey as an example of this, saying that when they supported 95% of their population’s opinion and refused to accompany Britain and America into the Iraq war, the US had advised them it would be best to show their loyalty to the west.
Chomsky discussed global warming, the reality of its seriousness and his dismay at the people denying its existence. He raised his concern over the efforts to destroy the public educational system and the results it would produce to keep us all ill informed, compliant and distracted from the problems surrounding us.
This lecture was not a light-hearted one. There were times when you could feel the audience squirm in their seats, as if Chomsky had lifted the veil and shown them the way the world really works. Despite all the worries and power struggles Chomsky discussed he also reminded us all that we have been through it all before and we were still here; that it is that time again when we need to fight but will emerge stronger for it.