Monday, 20 February 2012

Looking for the Magic Answer

From Looking for the Magic Answer, interview with Noam Chomsky, 17 years ago:
The question that comes up over and over again, and I don't really have an answer still -- really, I don't know any other people who have answers to them -- is, "It's terrible, awful, getting worse. What do we do? Tell me the answer." The trouble is, there has not in history ever been any answer other than, "Get to work on it."

There are a thousand different ways to get to work on it. For one thing, there's no "it." There's lots of different things. You can think of long-term goals and visions you have in mind, but even if that's what you're focused on, you're going to have to take steps towards them. The steps can be in all kinds of directions, from caring about starving children in Central America or Africa, to working on the rights of working people here, to worrying about the fact that the environment's in serious danger. There's no one thing that's the right thing to do. It depends on what your interests are and what's going on and what the problems are, and so on. And you have to deal with them. There's very little that anybody can do about these things alone. Occasionally somebody can, but it's marginal. Mainly you work with other people to try to develop ideas and learn more about it and figure out appropriate tactics for the situation in question and deal with them and try to develop more support. That's the way everything happens, whether it's small changes or huge changes.

If there is a magic answer, I don't know it. But it sounds to me as if the tone of the questions and part of the disparity between listening and acting suggests -- I'm sure this is unfair -- "Tell me something that's going to work pretty soon or else I'm not going to bother, because I've got other things to do." Nothing is going to work pretty soon, at least if it's worth doing, nor has that ever been the case.

No comments: