What's wrong with Chomsky?

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gypsy
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Nov 15 2009 17:13

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKRPIiMhqV4

Chomsky may not be perfect but I love the way he does Marr in that little clip.

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jesuithitsquad
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Nov 15 2009 18:12
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we'll see about that next time.

but see petey, she'll never get elected because chomsky will come out and tell people to vote the other way.

(actually, in all fairness were palin the republican nominee in 2012, i think i would have to agree and vote for obama as a matter of basic public safety. wink )

petey
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Nov 15 2009 21:20
jesuithitsquad wrote:
Quote:
we'll see about that next time.

but see petey, she'll never get elected because chomsky will come out and tell people to vote the other way.

grin grin
she'll never be nominated. i was thinking of huckabee or romney.

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communal_pie
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Nov 15 2009 22:40

Chomsky has some very odd and non-'anarchist' positions. Just take a look at this for example: link. If that isn't typical 'anti-imperialist realpolitik' I don't know what is. He's praised Chavez on many occasions (link) and in all fairness, he earns a large sum of money in his position at MIT as a linguistics professor yet funnily decided he wanted to be unionised with the IWW, pure political posturing of course.

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Tarwater
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Nov 15 2009 23:30
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and in all fairness, he earns a large sum of money in his position at MIT as a linguistics professor yet funnily decided he wanted to be unionised with the IWW, pure political posturing of course.

Well, if there were some purpose for the IWW beyond a historical/amateur singing society then I'm not aware of it, so it's weak posturing if so. What does his income have to do with it, I bet he pays more dues than...any other member in the whole organization?

Boris Badenov
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Nov 16 2009 00:23

Chomsky is one of the first "radical authors" I read, and I agree that most of his theoretical stuff (minus the linguistics stuff, which is by contrast to his politics, fairly conservative) is useful and interesting, but it is pretty fucking depressing to think that he sees Chavez' Venezuela as a "new and better world."

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communal_pie
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Nov 16 2009 01:59
Tarwater wrote:
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and in all fairness, he earns a large sum of money in his position at MIT as a linguistics professor yet funnily decided he wanted to be unionised with the IWW, pure political posturing of course.

Well, if there were some purpose for the IWW beyond a historical/amateur singing society then I'm not aware of it, so it's weak posturing if so. What does his income have to do with it, I bet he pays more dues than...any other member in the whole organization?

For the most part I agree with you, I am quite sure that the starbucks workers' section of the IWW holds some sway though, it has a lot of members. There is some kind of press factory it operates largely within too so I have heard, but yes, other than that, being in it is pretty much just political posturing. I'm not a syndicalist or an IWW legacy nut anyway so I don't really support 'rebuilding' it per se.

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 16 2009 03:23

What are you talking about? Surely you know the IWW has:

-15,000 members in Scotland
-complete control of the Rotterdam port
-a Nazi-like military discipline in intergalactic warfare?

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back2front
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Nov 16 2009 09:30

Chomsky's analysis of US foreign policy has been central to the left since the Viet Nam debacle. Chomsky is a lifelong IWW member as was his father before him and noteably on his current tour he finishes with the old Joe Hill quote "Don't mourn, organize!" and that is likely a reply to all the people who say "Wow America is bad, You're so smart Noam, what do we do now"? As he says in "Manufacturing Consent" we should become participants rather than spectators.

Essentialy his position is based on anarcho-syndicalism but, along with Rocker, he suggests there isn't a single cohesive strategy that can fit in everywhere and that struggle is entirely relative. Hence his viewpoints are often liberal or reformist in character because in his analysis that is what he deems useful in that scenario. I think he latched onto Chavez because he stood up to the US, though he does seem to turn a blind eye to Chavez the wannabe dictator. He sees a strong horizontal current throughout Latin America which he deems 'significant'.

There's a good interview with Barry Pateman from Kate Sharpley library which is largely about Chomsky's 'anarchism' which is on Stuart Christie's excellent film archive here:
http://www.christiebooks.com/ChristieBooksWP/?page_id=2

His work "On Anarchism" from AK Press is a good introduction to his overview.

There's certainly a liberal aspect and he's loved by liberals as their 'celebrity'

However he is also probably a multi-millionaire by now (he probably keeps IWW afloat and IWW does still do some significant work for those who care to look btw) and I think the 'celebrity' aspect is dreary. Having listened to 100's of his speeches over the years and lamented about a some of his positions (but in that I often don't understand the complete background so perhaps I'm unfair) I think the positives far outweigh the negatives.

gypsy
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Nov 16 2009 12:29

He also has the most boring voice- ever.

N
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Nov 17 2009 17:47

Interviewing Chomsky would only feed his star status.

His only use is as a source of facts about US foreign policy. After all, he's paid loadsamoney to do the research. What is utterly conformist about him is him doing endless lectures monologuing to an adoring audience who then ask him for his autograph, then getting into his chauffeur-driven posh car at the end of it (I've seen this in a film about him). It's easy to attack US foreign policy whilst having not even a minimal critique of your own daily life as a celebrity.

I remember him giving an interview with Peter Jay (who shortly afterwards became Britain's US ambassador) on TV in the mid-70s in which he claimed to support worker's councils in Spain in '36. So what? The fact that this utterly respectable anarchism can be treated politely by a representatative of the bourgeoisie and in the British mainstream media, whilst being cheered by endless lefty liberals, merely shows how being an 'anarchist' means fuck-all. His writing is his job - as such he's a great advert for 'the land of the free' ("the greatest country in the world"), which tolerates and pays academics to criticise aspects of the State as long as there are no practical consequences. He's certainly good publicity for the 'freedom' of the media and of academia.

What real risks has he ever taken or inspired?

When I read this thread I'm reminded of Khayati's comment in "The Poverty of student life" about the anarchists of "Le Monde Libertaire" - "Since they tolerate each other, they would tolerate anything." How people with claims to a radical critique of class society can find ways to justify this muti-millionaire, this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam (he couldn't have been unaware of the mass slaughter of the peasants by Ho Chi Minh in 1956), this celebrity with the chauffeur, this guy who finances the IWW which has not so long ago signed a no-strike deal is beyond me. Someone – please explain...

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 17 2009 17:56
N wrote:
His only use is as a source of facts about US foreign policy.

while he's pretty good with his footnotes on foreign policy, i think 'the propaganda model' is probably his most significant contribution

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jesuithitsquad
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Nov 17 2009 18:05

I never did say it, but I do think a critical interview is a fantastic idea. More so, I would suggest turning it into a series of such things with various well-knowns which, in addition to the pure value of interesting debate and information, could possibly boost traffic as well.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 17 2009 18:10

Imagine if 'N' and Marsella had a love child, it would come out the womb denoucing all those phoney radical anarchists. Such deep critique and penetrating analysis, it is a joy. Spread the good news, celebrate the creative contribution of contrarian

petey
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Nov 17 2009 18:19
N wrote:
this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam

true, i'd forgotten about that. iirc he said he would never criticize an enemy of the united states, referring to the postwar boat exodus.

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D
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Nov 17 2009 18:54
N wrote:
Interviewing Chomsky would only feed his star status.

His only use is as a source of facts about US foreign policy. After all, he's paid loadsamoney to do the research. What is utterly conformist about him is him doing endless lectures monologuing to an adoring audience who then ask him for his autograph, then getting into his chauffeur-driven posh car at the end of it (I've seen this in a film about him). It's easy to attack US foreign policy whilst having not even a minimal critique of your own daily life as a celebrity.

I remember him giving an interview with Peter Jay (who shortly afterwards became Britain's US ambassador) on TV in the mid-70s in which he claimed to support worker's councils in Spain in '36. So what? The fact that this utterly respectable anarchism can be treated politely by a representatative of the bourgeoisie and in the British mainstream media, whilst being cheered by endless lefty liberals, merely shows how being an 'anarchist' means fuck-all. His writing is his job - as such he's a great advert for 'the land of the free' ("the greatest country in the world"), which tolerates and pays academics to criticise aspects of the State as long as there are no practical consequences. He's certainly good publicity for the 'freedom' of the media and of academia.

What real risks has he ever taken or inspired?

When I read this thread I'm reminded of Khayati's comment in "The Poverty of student life" about the anarchists of "Le Monde Libertaire" - "Since they tolerate each other, they would tolerate anything." How people with claims to a radical critique of class society can find ways to justify this muti-millionaire, this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam (he couldn't have been unaware of the mass slaughter of the peasants by Ho Chi Minh in 1956), this celebrity with the chauffeur, this guy who finances the IWW which has not so long ago signed a no-strike deal is beyond me. Someone – please explain...

This is a pretty poor critique. While I agree with others that there are things to critizise many of the things you have written are either inaccurate or not relative.

What would a 'critique' of his celebrity lifestyle exactly consist of? The fact he may be a millionaire and was driven off by some chaffeur hardly discredits his politics. Many 1st world workers live relatively luxirious lives in comparison to those in the 3rd world, does that make 1st world workers' opinions invalid or rightfully mocked as in "those home - owning car driving, people on 20,000 ponds a year blah blah blah'?

"He's certainly good publicity for the 'freedom' of the media and of academia." His best work IMO focuses on exactly how unfreee and bias US academia and the media is

"What real risks has he ever taken or inspired?" How many 'risks' have most anarchists taken? I know I haven't taken any major risks and I would imagine the vast majority on here haven't either

"this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam" any evidence for this?

petey
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Nov 17 2009 19:12
D wrote:
"this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam" any evidence for this?

N already offered this:

Quote:
(he couldn't have been unaware of the mass slaughter of the peasants by Ho Chi Minh in 1956)

wiki substantiates, sort of:

Quote:
At the 1967 New York forum he acknowledged both 'the mass slaughter of landlords in China' and 'the slaughter of landlords in North Vietnam' that had taken place once the communists came to power. His main objective, however, was to provide a rationalization for this violence, especially that of the National Liberation Front then trying to take control of South Vietnam.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Noam_Chomsky
he was a great defender of north vietnam (i'm old enough to have heard this myself) and has spoken often enough in defense of third world states regardless of politics, as long as they're anti-american.

Quote:
Chomsky was also impressed with socialism as practiced in Vietnam. In a speech given in Hanoi on April 13, 1970, and broadcast by Radio Hanoi the next day, Chomsky spoke of his "admiration for the people of Vietnam who have been able to defend themselves against the ferocious attack, and at the same time take great strides forward toward the socialist society." Chomsky praised the North Vietnamese for their efforts in building material prosperity, social justice, and cultural progress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Noam_Chomsky

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Choccy
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Nov 17 2009 19:12
weeler wrote:
He also supports a two state solution in palestine; "the only feasible and minimally decent solution is along the lines of the international consensus that the US has unilaterally blocked for the last 30 years: a two-state settlement on the international border (green line), with "minor and mutual adjustments."

I can hardly remember, but wasn't his justification for this that it would create room for class struggle politics to grow within workers, the type of politics that would be forever smothered under the current borders?
Correct me if I'm wrong.

And yeah, in addition to the explicit stuff from Understanding Power and Manufacturing Consent, hasn't he also authored a preface to Rocker's AnarchoSyndicalism?

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D
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Nov 17 2009 19:14
petey wrote:
D wrote:
"this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam" any evidence for this?

N already offered this:

Quote:
(he couldn't have been unaware of the mass slaughter of the peasants by Ho Chi Minh in 1956)

i don't like guessing what other people know, but we don't need to impute, he was a great defender of north vietnam and has spoken often enough in defense of third world states regardless of politics, as long as they're anti-american.

Quote:
Chomsky was also impressed with socialism as practiced in Vietnam. In a speech given in Hanoi on April 13, 1970, and broadcast by Radio Hanoi the next day, Chomsky spoke of his "admiration for the people of Vietnam who have been able to defend themselves against the ferocious attack, and at the same time take great strides forward toward the socialist society." Chomsky praised the North Vietnamese for their efforts in building material prosperity, social justice, and cultural progress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Noam_Chomsky

I'm not saying its a lie, just for evidence. If possible something he has said rather than from someone else (like the wiki article)

"and has spoken often enough in defense of third world states regardless of politics, as long as they're anti-american."

I feel this comes across, at least often, because of his subject matter, he constantly says he does not need to document horrors commited by americas enemys because they are already well documented

not that I'm denying that he does sometimes do this

petey
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Nov 17 2009 19:17

in the meantime i added to that post of mine

Samotnaf
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Nov 17 2009 19:21

Interviewing Chomsky would only feed his star status.

His only use is as a source of facts about US foreign policy. After all, he's paid loadsamoney to do the research. What is utterly conformist about him is him doing endless lectures monologuing to an adoring audience who then ask him for his autograph, then getting into his chauffeur-driven posh car at the end of it (I've seen this in a film about him). It's easy to attack US foreign policy whilst having not even a minimal critique of your own daily life as a celebrity.

I remember him giving an interview with Peter Jay (who shortly afterwards became Britain's US ambassador) on TV in the mid-70s in which he claimed to support worker's councils in Spain in '36. So what? The fact that this utterly respectable anarchism can be treated politely by a representatative of the bourgeoisie and in the British mainstream media, whilst being cheered by endless lefty liberals, merely shows how being an 'anarchist' means fuck-all. His writing is his job - as such he's a great advert for 'the land of the free' ("the greatest country in the world"), which tolerates and pays academics to criticise aspects of the State as long as there are no practical consequences. He's certainly good publicity for the 'freedom' of the media, of academia and of bourgeois democracy.

What real risks has he ever taken or inspired?

When I read this thread I'm reminded of Khayati's comment in "The Poverty of student life" about the anarchists of "Le Monde Libertaire" - "Since they tolerate each other, they would tolerate anything." How people with claims to a radical critique of class society can find ways to justify this muti-millionaire, this guy who can justify the horrific Stalinism of North Vietnam (he couldn't have been unaware of the mass slaughter of the peasants by Ho Chi Minh in 1956), this celebrity with the chauffeur, this guy who finances the IWW which has not so long ago signed a no-strike deal, is beyond me. Someone – please explain...

Samotnaf
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Nov 17 2009 19:27

Sorry about the double post. Didn't see that my last post had already been posted under a different name - 'N', as there seems to be something strange going on with my connections to libcom (it didn't appear on my screen 2 minutes ago). N is me, 'Samotnaf'; I changed to N because I was having problems with my password. From now I'll revert back to 'Samotnaf'.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 17 2009 19:42

Well all you Chomsky bashers might enjoy
http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_26814.shtml
Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institute, in an article called Noam Chomsky, Closet Capitalist states that Chomsky, who has criticized tax havens and concentration of wealth, has himself (with a net worth of $2,000,000) used a trust to avoid taxation. "Chomsky favors the estate tax and massive income redistribution—just not the redistribution of his income." Schweizer argues that Chomsky has criticized the concept of intellectual property, a position Schweizer maintains is hypocritical in light of the fact that much of Chomsky's own material is copyrighted and distributed for a fee

Jason Cortez
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Nov 17 2009 19:49
Joseph Kay wrote:
his focus on international relations means he's really popular with people without or hostile to class analysis, and he does sometimes come off as soft on 'anti-imperialist' governments (Sandinistas, Chavez). but i think that's partly just a reflection on his subject matter and position that he only addresses the crimes of 'his' government since the crimes of the official enemies are already well publicised.

he has a classical liberal view on free speech, which may put him at odds with no platform practices and often seems to have a similarly liberal deference to international law - althought to be fair a lot of the things proscribed by international law are things we'd oppose anyway. but again i think he stresses breaches of international law to emphasise the law is a tool of the powerfuul ignored at will, rather than to present equality before the law as something to fight for.

JK and Zerzan state that Chomsky's focus, almost exclusively, has been on U.S. foreign policy, a narrowness that would exert a conservative influence even for a radical thinker.
In an interview with Evan Solomon, Chomsky explained his focus.

Quote:
A hypocrite is a person who focuses on the other fellow's crimes and refuses to look at his own. That's the definition of hypocrite by George Bush's favorite philosopher. When I repeat that I'm not taking a radical position. I'm taking a position that is just elementary morality. . . . What honest people are saying seems to be incomprehensible: that we should keep to the elementary moral level of the gospels. We should pay attention to our own crimes and stop committing them.
Jason Cortez
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Nov 17 2009 19:52
Wikipedia wrote:
"The Threat of a Good Example"

Chomsky has argued that an important explanation for US interventions in poor countries is fear that these nations may become good examples as alternatives to a claimed exploitative US hegemony. As examples of this threat of "contagious example" policy, Chomsky has used US opposition to popular movements in Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, and Nicaragua.[31] David Horowitz responds that there are many examples of socialist nations but none have been good examples. Instead all have failed economically and have been repressive politically. "Chomsky seems to have missed this most basic fact of twentieth-century history: socialism doesn't work, and to the extent it does work, its results are horrific."[32] Horowitz makes his case largely by comparing pairs of economies like North and South Korea, assuming the former to be a failed socialist economy and the latter a successful capitalistic one.[33] Chomsky responds to such comparisons by pointing out that many of the supposedly "socialist" economies that have failed are in fact not genuinely socialist but totalitarian[34] and that many of the "capitalist" success stories - including the United States[35] - are due to protectionism rather than genuine free market capitalism [36]. Other supposed failures of socialist economies, such as Cuba, Chomsky has explained by pointing to the severe economic, political, and military sanctions imposed upon them by the US.[37] Finally, Chomsky has shown that the fear of a "contagious example" has in fact been clearly expressed in internal US government documents.[38]

Jason Cortez
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Nov 17 2009 19:53

So we are all agreed, how much more radical we are than Noam.

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jesuithitsquad
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Nov 17 2009 19:54
Jason Cortez wrote:
Well all you Chomsky bashers might enjoy
http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_26814.shtml
Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institute, in an article called Noam Chomsky, Closet Capitalist states that Chomsky, who has criticized tax havens and concentration of wealth, has himself (with a net worth of $2,000,000) used a trust to avoid taxation. "Chomsky favors the estate tax and massive income redistribution—just not the redistribution of his income." Schweizer argues that Chomsky has criticized the concept of intellectual property, a position Schweizer maintains is hypocritical in light of the fact that much of Chomsky's own material is copyrighted and distributed for a fee

For all of the valid criticisms of Chomsky, respectfully, I don't think it is helpful to use or pass on right-wing propaganda. The Hoover Institution are teh baddies.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 17 2009 20:06

I was just watching a documentary on Ethel MacDonald, the Scottish anarchist, and Chomsky was in it, and one of the things he said sounded kind of dodgy:

Chomsky wrote:
Anarchism is not a doctrine. I think it should best be looked at as kind of a tendency in human thought, in human action, a tendency that is certainly based on principles... a principle certainly that authority is not self-legitimated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOOMakqjjgE&feature=related (4:22)

So anarchism is just a tendency of opposing authority? this sounds very simplistic.
I haven't read Chomsky in quite a while now, and I don't remember ever reading anything by him describing his own notions of anarchism. Does anyone know of such material? I would be interested to know in more detail what kind of anarchism Chomsky actually subscribes too

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 17 2009 20:15

He appears on this week's Hardtalk on BBC World Service.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0053d4n/Hardtalk_Noam_Chomsky/

Only caught the end of it, but he's asked about violence and he says that violence should only be an option when "the majority of a nation's people have decided that there are no more reforms to be gained". He also praises the anti-war movement in Iraq.

radicalgraffiti
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Nov 17 2009 20:19

although i don't think chomsky is a proper anarchist, more like a liberal or a liberal anarchist, wikepedia is a vary bad source for this kind of thing, as it has a significant right wing bias, apart from is general inaccuracy.