Chomsky warns austerity policy has left European democracy in tatters

US linguist and political activist to give Frontline Defenders lecture in RDS, Dublin

Veteran US political activist and intellectual Noam Chomsky has warned that the European Union’s response to the economic crisis has left European democracy in a worse condition than that of the United States. Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Veteran US political activist and intellectual Noam Chomsky has warned that the European Union’s response to the economic crisis has left European democracy in a worse condition than that of the United States. Photographer: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

The veteran US political activist and intellectual Noam Chomsky has warned that the European Union’s response to the economic crisis has left European democracy in a worse condition than that of the United States.

Speaking ahead of a public lecture in Dublin this week, Prof Chomsky (84), a leading figure in the study of linguistics and a prominent critic of US foreign policy, said the European Central Bank was imposing unfair and counterproductive austerity measures on the people of Ireland and other EU member states hit by the debt crisis.

“I’m not a great admirer of the [Federal Reserve], but I think they’ve been much more constructive and thoughtful and progressive than the ECB has been. I mean, take Ireland. It was a crisis of the banks. It wasn’t the Government; it wasn’t the population. It’s fundamentally bank corruption,” he said.

“It’s the same in Spain. Spain had close to a balanced budget in 2007 and pretty good economic fundamentals. But the housing bubble, fuelled by Spanish and indeed German banks, you know they were the lenders, went way out and caused a great crisis for which the public is now paying.”

He warned that austerity policies were not only damaging democracy, but were stifling economic growth and failing to tackle the debt burden. “It’s been quite harmful everywhere it’s been applied,” he said.

Prof Chomsky is delivering the inaugural Frontline Defenders Annual Lecture at the RDS on Wednesday, which is being held in partnership with UCD School of Philosophy and TCD.

In an interview with The Irish Times today, he suggests that US president Barack Obama is more a representative of the traditional centre-right than of the left.

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