In an enlightening and engrossing lecture delivered to attendees as part of Habib University’ flagship Yohsin Lecture Series, world-renowned linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky talked about everything from COVID-19 to the impending environmental catastrophe. Naturally, he focused on Pakistan as well, stating that the country that used to have an advanced scientific establishment and Nobel Laureates was now drifting away from science.
Having last visited Pakistan almost two decades ago, Noam Chomsky is “arguably the most important intellectual alive”, as The New York Times puts it. At the ripe age of 92, the American linguist, philosopher, scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist has had tremendous influence on a wide variety of fields.
Attending a virtual session yesterday as part of the aforementioned lecture series, Chomsky delivered a memorable lecture entitled Bullet Dodged or Merely Delayed: Reflections on the Future of Democracy, Nuclear Proliferation and the Looming Environmental Catastrophe in a Post-Trumpian World. He declared that today’s generation was faced with some very important questions that have never come up in our history.
“These questions are a burden and a challenge,” he admitted.
He talked about the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, saying that the world would come out of it “at a very terrible and unnecessary cost”.
While on the subject, he praised South Korea for its inspiring struggle against the COVID-19 challenge, and noted that the United States, India, and Brazil had failed to hold their own against the deadly viral disease.
“The American people fell victim to right-wing propaganda,” the social critic said, before going on to note that China, on the other hand, was now in the critical stages of testing the coronavirus vaccine.
“The Chinese vaccine may become available earlier,” he commented. “The US government is undermining the measures China is taking.”
Chomsky then turned his attention to Pakistan, and expressed his disappointment at the fact that the country which used to have a solid scientific establishment and a world-renowned Nobel Laureate was drifting away from science. He expressed his belief that there was no future for the country if it was going to live in a world of religious superstition. The scholar went on to stress the importance of incorporating science into academics and the outlook of the world for the sake of the country’s future.
Chomsky also highlighted four terminal threats to humanity: nuclear war, the environmental catastrophe, deterioration of worldwide democracy, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he termed the coronavirus as the “least of the four crises”.
“We are in an extraordinary situation in human history. Survival is hanging by a thread,” the distinguished scholar warned.
You can watch the full lecture here.