Bringing the Third World Home

A quote from Noam Chomsky
from Chomsky Interview 1993

By David Cogswell

Noam Chomsky: Very important things are happening in the United States and other countries. It's not a big secret that the economy is moving very fast, in fact, from what used to be mainly national economies to an increasingly internationalized economy.

So take say the United States, 30 years ago the question of international trade was not a big issue because the national economy was so huge in comparison with trade that it didn't matter all that much. You didn't have big debates about trade policy. Now that's changed. The international economy is enormous. In fact it's not really trade, so about 40 percent of US trade, as it's called, is actually internal to big transnational corporations. It means like one branch of the Ford Motor Company moving things to another branch which happens to be across a border. Forty percent is not a small amount, and it's the same worldwide.

The economy's becoming much more internationalized, it's much easier to move capital abroad. The effect of that is that production can be shifted much more easily to low-wage/high-repression areas elsewhere. And the effect of that is to bring the third world model home to the United States and other rich countries. It means that these countries themselves are drifting toward a kind of a third world model in which there's a sector of great wealth and privilege and a growing mass of people who are basically superfluous. They're not necessary for a profit either as producers or consumers. You can produce more cheaply elsewhere and the market can easily become the international wealthy sectors.

You end up with south-central Los Angeles and that's happening more and more. That's going to create very big changes and what's more that's going to continue as long as decisions over investment are in private hands. It's not a law of nature that says that....the private enterprise system, which is of course a state-subsidized, publicly subsidized private enterprise system, that is deeply anti-democratic by its very nature. It means that the basic decisions of human life are out of the framework of popular influence and control, and that's not a law of nature.

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