In the darkest of times we have to imagine that a world of equality and environmental and social justice is possible. Are we dreamers? Not practical? Out of touch with reality? Perhaps. But throughout history it has been small groups of visionary activists who ignite the flame and light up the darkness and show us the way forward. Progressive change happens when people rise up and struggle for it. In Howard Zinn’s masterwork, A People’s History of the United States, he closes with these lines from the poet Shelley which were recited by women garment workers to one another in New York sweatshops a century ago:
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many; they are few!”
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The legendary MIT professor practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” At 88, he still gives lectures all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda & the Public Mind, How the World Works, and Power Systems with David Barsamian.