Noam Chomsky – Institutional Irrationality

Noam Chomsky – Institutional Irrationality

September 11, 2019 11 By Kody Olson


you say there is something about us our intelligence that were capable of acting in ways that are rational within a narrow framework but our irrational in terms of other long-term goals do you see any optimism well I think there that we have to make a distinction here between individual rationality and institutional rationality individual stupidity and institutional stupidity so for example recently at Davos there was a poll of CEOs when they were asked to rank risks and I think they had 19 risks that they thought were serious climate change was not among them the top risk was regulation the one possibility of eliminating the disaster now that’s institutional stupidity if you act if you would ask those individuals what do you think about climate change they’d probably say I’m contributing to the Sierra Club as individuals they may be perfectly rational and sensible but in their institutional role they have there are certain requirements that they must meet if you’re the CEO of say Exxon Mobil and you’re not trying to maximize the use of fossil fuels you’re out and somebody else is in because that’s the nature of the institution in these kind of quasi market systems in which we live transactions ignore externalities like if I sell you a car we make a deal for ourselves we don’t care about the effect on them and there’s an effect more pollution more traffic jams and so on and it adds up in the case of extraction of fossil fuels the externality happens to be survival your grandchildren but in the institutional framework that’s not considered that’s a footnote like in an economics test ok but that’s institutional irrationality individual rationale is different which means that we as individuals have the capacity to modify and overcome the institutions that are driving us to disaster that’s the element of hope