There are two parts to Noam Chomsky’s book, “Hegemony or Survival.” There’s the bulk of the book, in which he gives a scathing analysis of American foreign policy. And then there is the tantalizing opening and disappointing conclusion, in which he touches on and skates over the deepest questions of human existence.
Chomsky begins by musing on the frequency and fate of so-called intelligent species in the universe. He cites biologist Ernst Mayr, who estimated the average lifespan of species with “the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilization” at 100,000 years. Chomsky adds that humans are refuting the notion that it’s “better to be smart than stupid.” Humankind, he says, looks like a “biological error.”
The rest of “Hegemony or Survival” is devoted to an