When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Chomsky On Coronavirus: Why Neoliberalism And Big Pharma Can't Respond

In two recent interviews, iconic left-wing activist Noam Chomsky says the COVID-19 crisis reveals the inherent weakness of the profit-driven to confront a global pandemic.

Chomsky in 2017 in Mexico City
Chomsky in 2017 in Mexico City
Alejandro Acosta/El Universal via ZUMA
Carl-Johan Karlsson

For many long-time critics of global capitalism, COVID-19 is a glaring new example of how our prevailing economic system no longer serves the common good. Among those is the 91-year-old public intellectual and self-described anarcho-syndicalist Noam Chomsky, who shared his thoughts on the crisis in two recent interviews.

Speaking last week with the Chilean news site El Mostrador, Chomsky pointed out how the crisis is shining a light specifically at the pharmaceutical industry, a.k.a. Big Pharma, and more generally at the neoliberalism system in place in many parts of the world. "Like climate change, the pandemic is another case of massive market failure," Chomsky told the Spanish-language site. "For private pharmaceutical companies, the market signals were clear: Don't waste resources preparing for a pandemic ahead of time."

Chomsky, a lifelong social activist and a renowned MIT professor of linguistics, argues that the U.S. government could have intervened to stem the crisis, as in South Korea, but that it would have "conflicted with neoliberal ideology that centers on the sacred rights of concentrated private power. The government's role is to subsidize and provide exorbitant patent rights — ensuring colossal profits — but not to interfere with privilege and wealth."

Is the species even viable?

Speaking Saturday with Democracy in Europe Movement 2025"s Croatian-born co-founder Srecko Horvat, Chomsky said the current health pandemic is just one of many looming crises facing humanity, including climate change, threats of nuclear war and migration.

"The coronavirus could have terrifying consequences, but there will be recovery," Chomsky said. "The others there won't be: it's finished. If we don't deal with them, we're done."

The activist noted the "irony" of recent reports that Cuba, which has suffered Western sanctions for decades, is sending doctors to help European countries to fight the coronavirus.

"I mean this is so shocking that you don't know how to describe it. Germany can't help Greece: but Cuba can help European countries," he said. "Just as when you see thousands of people dying in the Mediterranean, fleeing from countries Europe has devastated for centuries and being sent to their deaths in the Mediterranean, you don't know what words to use."

Chomsky, who was born in 1928, says the response of certain leaders conjures "childhood memories of listening to Hitler raving on the radio to raucous crowds adoring him at the Nuremberg rallies ...One begins to wonder if the species is even viable."

Chomsky said the only hope is more democratic participation: "If we're leaving our fate to sociopathic buffoons, we're finished," he said. "An informed, engaged, involved public taking control of their fate — if that doesn't happen, we're doomed."

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch is delivering a concise, once-a-day global update on the coronavirus pandemic from the best international news sources, regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily brief in your inbox, sign up here.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Make No Mistake, Israel Is Ready To Restart This War

The Israel-Hamas temporary ceasefire may not end today, but it will end. But when the war in Gaza resumes, the Israeli offensive against Hamas may be different.

photo of ​Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with IDF troops on Sunday

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with IDF troops on Sunday

Pierre Haski


PARIS — It's been six days since the war between Israel and Hamas was put on hold. And yet, no conditions have been met for this truce to become a formal ceasefire.

Indeed, there are no serious proposals on the table for a more lasting solution, and the truce has failed to address any issues beyond the release of hostages.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Thus the question we're facing is when the Israeli government will decide to resume its military operations in Gaza: tomorrow, when the two-day truce expires? Or after a new extension to allow the release of hostages, men included this time? The bosses of the CIA and Mossad are busy in Qatar trying to negotiate this point.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest