Noam Chomsky, one of the world's most most famous political theorists, is warning that the European Union's panicked response to the economic crisis has left European democracy in a much worse condition than the United States.
Speaking in advance of his public lecture in Dublin, Professor Chomsky, 84, a leading figure in the study of linguistics and often 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 hardest 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 European Central Bank 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 explained.
'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.'
According to the Irish Times, Chomsky 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.
Professor Chomsky will deliver the inaugural Frontline Defenders Annual Lecture in Dublin on Wednesday, which is being held in partnership with University College Dublin School of Philosophy and Trinity College Dublin.
In an interview with The Irish Times today, he suggests that US president Barack Obama is more a representative of the traditional centre-right economic and political policy than of the left.