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Chomsky warns Democrats of need to reconnect with working-class people

VETERAN US professor and political activist Noam Chomsky issued a sharp warning to the Democratic Party, urging it to reconnect with working-class people to stand a chance of defeating Republican incumbent Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.

Speaking in an interview with actor and playwright Wallace Shawn, whom he befriended in Nicaragua during the 1980s, he accused the Democrats of having “abandoned the working class decades ago.”

“These are people who have just been cast aside, nobody does anything for them. The Democrats abandoned the working class decades ago. Republicans may take a populist line but they are much more opposed to working people than even the Democrats in policies,” he said.

The academic recalled his experiences of the 1930s, the Depression era marked by deep poverty but also a high point of community and trade-union organising, in which communists played a key role.

“The Depression was much worse than the current recession. In fact, it [the US] was a much poorer country than it is now. 

“I was very hopeful. My own family, many of them were unemployed working class; most workers were unemployed but they were hopeful.

“They had a sense that things are going to get better. There were labour actions, there were left political parties, the unions were providing real services: a couple of weeks in the country, educational groups, workers’ education, ways for people to get together — ‘somehow we’ll get out of all this’.”

Society is now “very atomised,” but this can be overcome by organisation and activism, he insisted.

As reported in today’s Star, the Service Employers International Union (SEIU) is seeking to reconnect with voters in such a way, having pledged $150 million (£117m) in an organising drive that will last until the election.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic nomination has been characterised by grassroots community organising as opposed to the billionaire-backed campaigns of Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden.

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