In 2007, we requested Chomsky to sign the Europe for Peace declaration and to support the campaign to prevent the construction of the US Space Shield in the Czech Republic, a project strongly opposed by the vast majority of the Czech population. Chomsky immediately joined in, quoting in his message the appeal that Russell and Einstein had written to all the peoples of the world “to face the fact that we are faced with a stark, terrifying and inevitable choice: ‘Will we put an end to the human race or will humanity renounce war?
That appeal is the most important denunciatory document ever written on the threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons and reminds us that “any agreement reached in peacetime not to use H-bombs will no longer be considered binding in wartime”.
“The threats,” Chomsky wrote at the time, “are increasingly serious and Europe is well placed to undertake the historic mission of saving the human race from self-destruction”.
But now that Europe finds itself experiencing a devastating war on its own soil, would Noam still stand by that assertion? That is why we are writing to ask him if it is possible for Europe to change course or if Europe is now so subservient to the United States that it has definitively lost its chance to save the human race from self-destruction, to quote his own words.
“As I said recently,” Chomsky responds, “Putin has given Washington the greatest gift the United States could imagine. Europe is now in Washington’s hands and, in some respects, even crazier than the U.S. Has the opportunity for an independent ‘Common European House’ already been lost? For the moment I fear it has, but the benefits for Europe are so enormous that the common house may be able to rise again, with another victory like the one it achieved with the US base”.
His assertion that a common European house could re-emerge sheds new light on the situation. We then ask him if he believes that change can come from above or if it can only come about through mass protest by ordinary people. What steps need to be taken to end a military confrontation whose outcome will inevitably be disastrous for all sides? Is it still possible to turn the rejection of war into a mass movement, even if the old ways have failed and the disintegration of the social fabric seems to preclude any common action?
“I agree that change can only come about through mass protest by ordinary people. Small groups of committed activists can work to increase understanding and inspire activism,” Chomsky says, “but it is mass movements that count. It’s hard to think of an exception. Could it happen? One never knows. We can only try.
Yes, it is worth trying, because there is still time to bring about a radical change.
So, on April 2nd, all over Europe and the world, let’s turn off our televisions and social media, let’s switch off the war propaganda and manipulated information. Let’s put aside our differences and converge in a myriad of different activities but with the same goal: peace and with a clear methodology: active non-violence, because war is not stopped with weapons but with peace.
“I am very happy to know what you are doing. It’s very important,” Chomsky responds when we inform him of this initiative, because if the will is there, it is possible to avoid catastrophe and move towards a much better world.