Chomsky responds to me on the BBC

It’s not everyday you see something you’ve written on the BBC website. Last month I wrote a post about the chance to ask Noam Chomsky a question on the BBC’s HardTALK program. Well, like hundreds of others, I sent in a question in and the BBC decided to use it – the very first question in fact!

It’s a testimony to the man’s popularity that such was the interest in his appearance, the BBC saw fit to allow him to respond to further questions online and credit to them for that. So thanks Noam and thanks a lot BBC. The question I asked is below and you can read all the viewer questions answered by him here.

Q: What is the “liberal elite” that you have referred to and what defines their morals and ideas? Nicholas Mead, UK

A: The terms of political discourse are vague and obscure, including these, but also virtually all others: ‘capitalism,’ ‘market’, ‘socialism’, ‘conservative’, etc. I was using the term in the conventional manner, with ‘liberal’ understood in the American sense, something like ‘mildly social democratic’, roughly ‘New Labour’ in the British context.

The term elite refers to those with more privilege and opportunity, hence who dominate decision-making in the economic, political, and ideological spheres. There are no sharp boundaries, no club to belong to. To discover their morals and ideas we investigate what they say but more significantly what they do.

Also polls, which reveal that corporate executives tend to share the views of ‘liberal elites’ on social and cultural issues, though they tend more towards what’s called ‘conservative’ (a much abused term) on economic issues. Impossible to spell it out here, but I’ve written reams about the matter, as of course have many others.