Noam Chomsky Course on the Consequences of Capitalism Goes Virtual

Dec. 9, 2020
black and white photo of protests


In 2018, Thomas Saupique and Aurelie Viotto moved from Lyon, France, to Tucson, Ariz., to take the course “What is Politics,” co-taught by Noam Chomsky at the University of Arizona. They were not alone in their determination to take a class from the world-renowned linguist and social critic. Lydia Griffith moved to Tucson from Ireland for the seven-week course, and Joe Coughlin made a 12-hour commute from Bakersfield, Calif., twice a week for the class, two years in a row.

This spring, students from all over the world can take a class from Noam Chomsky from the comfort of their own homes. The revamped course, now named “Consequences of Capitalism," is being offered online for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The politics course has a 90% approval rating (excellent or very good), and student comments have included, “These lectures were the intellectual highlights of my life” and “Imagine being able to say you took a class with Einstein. It's like that.”

“Whether you agree with Chomsky’s views or not, the course is a rare opportunity to discuss politics with one of the most influential thinkers of the past century,” says John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Missing file.

The seven-week Community Classroom course costs $300 and is offered by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The course runs Jan. 14 to Mar. 4, 2021. Go the event page for details and to register.

The course is both a general education course for UArizona undergraduates and open to lifelong learners from the public. Connecting students from multiple generations and political outlooks, the course is designed to stimulate ideas, debate and dialogue.

Chomsky is laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics and the Agnese Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. Considered the founder of modern linguistics, Chomsky is also famous for his political commentary and is one of the most cited scholars in modern history. Chomsky co-teaches the course with Marv Waterstone, professor emeritus of geography and former director the Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies.

Chomsky and Waterstone are co-authors of the new book Consequences of Capitalism: Manufacturing Discontent and Resistance, which will be released on Jan. 5, 2021, and will provide essential background material for this year’s course.

Missing file.

The course “Consequences of Capitalism” will examine how a “capitalist realism” worldview – the idea that there is no realistic alternative to industrial state capitalism – has come to dominate the way we organize the political economy to satisfy human needs and wants. The instructors will explore salient consequences of this orientation, including income inequality, the climate crisis, and the country’s response to the pandemic.

“While the next several months promise tremendous uncertainty and unpredictability, we will undoubtedly still be facing the longer-term ramifications of the pandemic, whose most dire effects are connected tangibly to the underlying logics of capitalism’s prioritization of profit over people and preparedness,” Waterstone said.

The course will consist of two weekly, pre-recorded lectures (available for viewing at participants’ convenience), as well as weekly live online Q & A sessions with the instructors and with social change practitioners.