Chomsky spent much of his talk looking backwards, wistfully. He stated that the postwar economic growth of the 1950s and 1960s was “egalitarian,” leaving one to wonder whether he would be satisfied with a reformed capitalism wherein the gap between rich and poor is controlled, but not eliminated. His speech was full of “could haves” and “might haves,” as in his reference to a failed Ohio factory in the 1970s that “could have” been worker-owned “with enough popular support.”
Similarly, he argued, the institutionalization of “corporate personhood” cannot be ended “without a large, popular, active base.” In Chomsky’s opinion, however, “the population” is too ignorant to handle these matters now, and the anger of the Occupy protests must be channeled into reformist measures.
As for “things you can do,” he told the protesters to turn the US into a leader in attempts to “mitigate” global warming, and to pressure Congress to prevent the deficit commission from dealing a “lethal blow” to the future of the US government. He argued that the US federal deficit could be eliminated with the implementation of a health care system similar to those in “other industrialized countries,” ignoring the fact that Britain and other countries are dismantling their health care systems so that capital can bleed them for profit.
While advancing these reformist solutions, Chomsky did not explain how they could be implemented or by whom. Although he has been quoted recently saying “Obama is a man of absolutely no principles,” he in fact advocated a vote for Obama in 2008, justifying this by saying, “There is nothing wrong with picking the lesser of two evils.” He similarly supported Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
Chomsky has long been an opponent of Marxism, with his attack focusing above all on the struggle to build an independent political party of the working class. Elsewhere, he has praised the "no leadership" position of some of those involved in the protests. Chomsky's opposition to politics invariably translates into an adaptation to the politics of the political establishment.