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In this video, world-renowned linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky speaks with Fabian Scheidler, author of the book “The End of the Megamachine. A Brief History of a Failing Civilization” (https://www.end-of-the-megamachine.com). The conversation, moderated by Nermeen Shaikh, focuses on the destructive forces that are threatening human survival and the future of life on earth.

The topics include: state violence, from its inception in antiquity to our days; structural violence and property relations in early history and today; ideological power and the media; the “tyranny of linear thinking” and the destruction of the biosphere; the need for a new internationalism that can overcome the nation state system and borders; US attempts to destroy internationalism (WHO, Paris climate agreement, Iran nuclear deal); the US facing a possible civil war; the misconstruction of the European Union, the neoliberal plague and the rise of the “reactionary international”; the climate crisis and climate refugees; the convergence of social movements and prospects for a post-capitalist world.


Noam Chomsky, linguist and author of more than 100 books, University of Arizona

Fabian Scheidler, co-founder of Kontext TV, author of "The End of the Megamachine. A brief History of a Failing Civilization"

Hosted by Nermeen Shaikh, co-host of Democracynow


Timeline and topics:

0’14”: Nermeen Shaikh: Introduction.


Fabian Scheidler:

2’05: The crisis of life on Earth. Demystifying the history of states, “civilization” and modernity/capitalism.

3’20: Formation of states and “civilization” 5000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Surge of violence due to militarization and land privatization

5’20 The Four Tyrannies: physical power; structural violence (e.g. property relations); ideological power; “The Tyranny of Linear Thinking”.


Noam Chomsky:

10’00: Pre-state phase of human existence was less violent than life in state systems.

11’05: Europe the most violent place in the world for the last 1000 years until 1945, due to warring states.

13’50: Imposed state structures in the Middle East and Africa.

14’35: Erosion of state system and borders necessary in the face of global crises: pandemics, global warming, the threat of nuclear war demand internationalism.

15’55: US state-building: endless wars since 1783.

16’20: American Revolution and war of extermination against Native Americans

18’25: The thousand years’ war of European states against the Muslim world, brutal imposition of nation states.

19’25: New internationalism. Covid-19 vaccines needed for everyone.

21’00: US destroys internationalism: WHO / Cofex. Paris climate agreement. Iran agreement.


Nermeen Shaikh:

24’00: Crumbling of the nation state system in the US, the EU?


Noam Chomsky:

24’25: US face possible civil war and breakdown. War games for the case that Trump loses the election.

28’35: EU, reasons for its failure: economic system run by unelected bodies (European commission, IMF, ECB). Neoliberal plague. Anger, bitterness, ascent of demagogues.

31’40: Root causes for Brexit: de-industrialisation of Britain

33’00: Progressive international: Bernie Sanders movement plus Diem25.

33’55: International class war. Reactionary international based in the White House.

34’10: Agreements between Israel and Arab dictatorships: forging a reactionary international in the Middle East.

35’50: Progressive international: struggle about post-pandemic world.

36’50: US constitution: James Madison: government “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”


Fabian Scheidler:

39’10: Response to Chomsky. Climate refugees key topic for progressive internationalism.

40’05: The myths of modernity: torture, inquisition, witch hunts reached climax not in the “dark” Middle Ages but in modernity. Slavery and genocides as “monsters of modernity”.

41’00: War, militarization and the emergence of capitalism. Private capital and states.

44’10: Corporations enforcing endless expansion.

45’25: Capitalism based on monopolies, not free markets.

46’55: The corporate nanny state. Subsidies and bail-outs: fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, car industry, aviation industry. Taxpayers financing the industries that destroy the planet.

48’55: Transformation of the state: money for decentralized economic institutions that work for the common good. Cooperatives.


Noam Chomsky:

51’05: State capitalism and corporations.

52’10: The neoliberal plague.

54’55: After WW II: Egalitarian growth, no financial crises, no tax havens. Different varieties of state capitalism.

56’05: Climate change: “With 3 or 4 degrees centigrade warming, we are probably finished.”

56’35: Different time scales for stopping climate havoc and overcoming capitalism.

57’20: Green New Deal proposals: Congress version. Proposal by Robert Pollin.

58’40: Government should buy up fossil fuel industry, hand it over to the workforce, shift to renewables: “Perfectly feasible tomorrow.”

1h 00’ 00”: Capitalism to be overcome in the long run, by self-managed industries, cooperatives, localism.

1h 01’ 15”: “Refugee crisis” a “moral crisis of the West”.


Noam Chomsky:

1h 02’ 33”: Climate crisis as an international class struggle. Fridays for Future / Greta Thunberg, indigenous people, first nations.

1h 04’ 30” Green New Deal. Sunrise Movement. AOC.

1h 05’ 25” Democratic Party: Biden climate proposal killed by Clintonites/DNC.


Fabian Scheidler:

1h 10’ 00”: Climate/energy transition. Car industry. Living better with less production.

1h 12’ 30”: Ecological class struggle: taking away the resources from the richest 20 % and redistributing it.

1h 13’ 20”: Social movements: getting prepared for future crises. Convergence of Sanders movement, Black Lives Matter, climate movement.