When Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha met Noam Chomsky
“A friend of ours said if the same laws were applied to U.S. Presidents as were applied to the Nazis after WWII, that every single one of them, every last rich white one of them, from Truman on would be hung to death and shot. And this current administration is no exception. They should be hung and tried and shot as war criminals.”
The friend in Zack de la Rocha’s speech during Rage Against the Machine’s first reunion concert at the 2007 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is none other than the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist radical intellectual genius Noam Chomsky. It is only predictable that a left-wing activist and musician like Rocha would find inspiration in Chomsky. In fact, back in 1999, Rocha got to live his dreams when he met the MIT professor of linguistics and discussed their political views.
At the beginning of the video Rocha acknowledging Chomsky’s role in shaping his ideals says, “Noam Chomsky is the most…intellectual alive today. His books have made me understand the nature of globalisation and its effects on people and societies throughout the world.” A meeting between two politically conscious and revolutionary individuals is exactly what one expects it to be; Weighty and enlightening.
The conversation kick-started with Rocha’s question about NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement that was signed by Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and came to force in January 1994. The trilateral trade block created in North America promised a greater good by allowing free trade of cheap products from Mexico to America and thereby creating jobs and increasing living standards in Mexico. In truth, these reforms were just an excuse that allowed foreign infiltration in Mexico.
It wasn’t particularly a surprise when the agreement failed to fulfil its aims. The conditions, instead of improving, worsened, affecting the commoners the most. Simply put, it made the rich richer and the poor poorer. People lost their jobs and lands, their salaries were cut down and so on.
Chomsky traces back the origin of this plan to the Washington DC meeting of Latin-American strategies where they saw the inevitable change of the Mexican government into a democratic one as a threat. The conversation then organically shifted to the abolition of article 27 in Mexico prior to the signing and the emergence of The Zapatista Army of National Liberation on the day of signing.
The ease and transparency with which Chomsky explained such complex ideas revealed why he is the most go-to intellectual. Talking about a more recent event, the 1999 Battle of Seattle, Chomsky pointed out how the specific method of globalisation chosen by the world leaders tends to their interests only and how they sidetrack all the possible alternatives that could have brought greater prosperity for a more significant number of people.
The final topic of discussion was the state of free education in Mexico post-NAFTA. Chomsky lucidly deducted the reasons behind the privatisation of educational institutions as the means of controlling what people learn so that they wouldn’t be in a position to question the government. He brings out the ugly face of capitalism that brainwashes people to believe what’s happening is for their own good, whereas the reality is just the opposite.
Watch Rocha and Chomsky unveil some eye-opening grave socio-political-economic situations, below.