Chomsky Classic: We Have the Means to End Civilization as WeKnow It—How Revolutionary Pacifism Can Preserve the Species
August 23, 2013
The following is the text of lecture given by Chomsky upon being awarded theSydney Peace Prize
,November 1, 2011. It remains one of the most powerful and persuasive arguments for recognizing the dangers that modern,industrialized warfare pose to the future of humankind.
] As we all know, the United Nations was founded “to savesucceeding generations from the scourge of war.” The words canonly elicit deep regret when we consider how we have acted tofulfill that aspiration, though there have been a few significantsuccesses, notably in Europe.For centuries, Europe had been the most violent place on earth,with murderous and destructive internal conflicts and the forgingof a culture of war that enabled Europe to conquer most of theworld, shocking the victims, who were hardly pacifists, but were“appalled by the all-destructive fury of European warfare,” in thewords of British military historian Geoffrey Parker. And [it] enabled Europe to impose on its conquests what AdamSmith called “the savage injustice of the Europeans,” England inthe lead, as he did not fail to emphasize. The global conquesttook a particularly horrifying form in what is sometimes called “the Anglosphere,” England and its offshoots, settler-colonial societiesin which the indigenous societies were devastated and their people dispersed or exterminated.But since 1945 Europe has become internally the most peacefuland in many ways most humane region of the earth — which isthe source of some its current travail, an important topic that I willhave to put aside.