Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
Menu
Menu
Open-uri20160929-140-hfgweo-f_medium
Optimism over Despair
On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change
Wide-ranging interviews on war, power, and politics with Noam Chomsky, the world's leading critic of US foreign policy.

This volume offers readers a concise and accessible introduction to the ideas of Noam Chomsky, described by the New York Times as “arguably the most important intellectual alive.”

In these recent, wide-ranging interviews, conducted for Truthout by C. J. Polychroniou, Chomsky discusses his views on the “war on terror” and the rise of neoliberalism, the refugee crisis and cracks in the European Union, prospects for a just peace in Israel/Palestine, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the dysfunctional US electoral system, the grave danger posed to humanity by the climate crisis, and the hopes, prospects, and challenges of building a movement for radical change.

Reviews
  • "The elder statesman of a resurgent left offers clear-eyed assessments of the US, past and present, and its role in the world. From meditations on human nature to strategic advice for the Trump era, Chomsky remains the thinker who shaped a generation, a beacon of hope in the darkest of times." —Sarah Jaffe,  Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt


    This book of interviews with Noam Chomsky is a must read in these troubling times. Divided into three parts, it begins with Chomsky’s razor sharp analysis of neoliberalism, imperialism, the EU, the role of religion in politics, and class polarization. In the second, it focuses on the Trump presidency and lays out the long history of US foreign policy, as well as other topics such as health care, global warming and education policy. Finally, it looks at various alternatives—anarchism, communism and socialism. This is an excellent collection of interviews that highlights Chomsky’s encyclopedic knowledge of the key issues of our day and his unwavering criticism of the regime of the global 1%." —Deepa Kumar, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire.

    “In this brilliant series of recent and wide-ranging interviews, Noam Chomsky combines an astounding breadth of knowledge, great depth of insight, clarity in explaining his ideas, and a relentless commitment to social and economic justice. The full package is simply exhilarating, especially in our current dismal era of Donald Trump. Optimism over Despair is a book to devour.”—Robert Pollin, Distinguished Professor of Economics and Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts-Amherst


    “…Chomsky argues that the choice between optimism and despair is really no choice at all. I have a great admiration for Chomsky’s combination of consistent critical moral perspective and sharp eye for the details of world politics…”—Heikki Patomäki, professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki, and a civic and political activist


    "In this series of highly informative conversations deftly organized by CJ Polychroniou, Noam Chomsky teaches us - yet again - so much on a huge range of issues - from economic globalisation through international politics to the linguistic foundations of humanity. If you haven't read Chomsky before, this book will open your eyes. Even if you have, reading this book will make you realize that you still have more eyes to be opened. This book is a beacon - or, rather a GPS - in this turbulent and darkening world."—Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of Bad Samaritans, 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism and Economics: The User's Guide

    "For all those of us who have always dreamed of spending a day with Noam Chomsky and getting his answers to all our questions and concerns about the (sorry) state of the world, here's the next best thing: a collection of interviews with our greatest living intellectual on capitalism, empire, and social change, fielded by C. J. Polychroniou of Truthout.  Especially valuable in helping us navigate the dreadful challenges of the Trumpian era."—Michael Klare, Professor of Peace & World Security Studies, Hampshire College and Defense Correspondent, The Nation


     

    “This fascinating series of interviews convincingly covers an astonishing range of fundamental and urgent issues of societal concern, demonstrating anew that Noam Chomsky is the world’s most humane, philosophically sophisticated, and knowledgeable public intellectual. I cannot imagine a better primer for anyone seeking a better, safer, fairer future.” —Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University

Other books by Noam Chomsky and C.J. Polychroniou

  • Turning the Tide

    US Central American policies project broader US economic, military, and social aims, impacting millions in Central America.
  • Powers and Prospects

    Chomsky lifts the veil of distortions that conceals the workings of history and social policy.
  • Rogue States

    Chomsky argues that the real 'rogue' states are the United States and its allies.
  • Culture of Terrorism

    This scathing critique of US political culture is a brilliant analysis of the Iran-Contra scandal.
  • On Power and Ideology

    This succinct series of lectures lays out the parameters of Noam Chomsky's foreign policy analysis.
  • Propaganda and the Public Mind

    Chomsky offers hope for the future and shows how ordinary citizens, working together, have the power to make change.
  • Rethinking Camelot

    Explores JFK’s role in US invasion of Vietnam and a reflects on the political culture that encouraged the Cold War.
  • Year 501

    Chomsky definitively shows how the United States developed into the world's most implacable and powerful empire.
  • On Palestine

    An informative and urgent discussion on the way forward for the justice in Palestine movement.
  • Pirates and Emperors, Old and New

    A brilliant account of the workings of state terrorism by the world’s foremost critic of U.S. Imperialism.
  • Fateful Triangle

    A comprehensive indictment of what Noam Chomsky calls the "disgraceful and extremely dangerous" policy the US has enacted towards Israel.
  • After the Cataclysm

    Dissects the aftermath of the war in Southeast Asia, the refugee problem, the Vietnam/Cambodia conflict and
    the Pol Pot regime.
  • The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism

    Analyzes U.S. policy in Latin America, Asia, and Africa media and the role of the media in misreporting these policies.
  • Masters of Mankind

    A brilliant indictment of US imperial power.
  • Gaza in Crisis

    As Israel continues its barbaric assault on Gaza, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe put the recent campaign against Gaza.
  • Hopes and Prospects

    Noam Chomsky examines political prospects in the Americas, North and South, in a new era.
  • Intervenciones

    Short, forceful commentaries on US politics from Latin America to the Middle East.