Monday 11 November 2013

Chomsky on Existential Risks

Count Noam Chomsky among those who see the relationship between media and culture as a possible contributor to and defence against existential risks.

Chomsky cites two x-risks that he thinks "literally threaten species survival":
  1. Environmental disaster
  2. Nuclear warfare
As causes of these x-risks, Chomsky blames:
  1. The propaganda machine
  2. The system that allows stupid people to have power
Although both threats are legitimate, neither is a major focus area among effective altruists. This could be because those that focus on these two issues tend to be on the far left, while effective altruists tend to be closer toward the political center. The two source problems that Chomsky blames are also legitimate issues but I think those same factors can be blamed for even more x-risks, and maybe for more serious ones.


  1. I don't see how those causes are Leftist issues. Could you clarify?

    1. Philosophically, there's no reason for them to be leftist, but in practice it seems like liberals put more attention on them. Preserving the environment should theoretically be a conservative ideal but in the USA it's associated with Democrat ideology.

      Maybe I was wrong about the fear of nuclear warfare. Both Democrats and Republicans probably fear nuclear warfare equally, but they have very different approaches to dissolving that threat. Democrats place more emphasis on de-proliferation and pacification, while Republicans place more emphasis on overthrowing enemies that might do the West harm.