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Friday, November 04, 2005

Chomsky Unplugged

This interview in the Guardian of Noam Chomsky has some very illuminating quotes from the crank himself. Despite the Guardian's target audience it's amazingly cutting in places.

The bit in bold here just sums him up wonderfully:
This is, of course, what Chomsky has been doing for the last 35 years, and his conclusions remain controversial: that practically every US president since the second world war has been guilty of war crimes; that in the overall context of Cambodian history, the Khmer Rouge weren't as bad as everyone makes out; that during the Bosnian war the "massacre" at Srebrenica was probably overstated. (Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)
Next, he tells us that his opinion of the average pleb so low he thinks they believe everything they read on the internet.
One of the good things about the internet is you can put up anything you like, but that also means you can put up any kind of nonsense. If the intelligence agencies knew what they were doing, they would stimulate conspiracy theories just to drive people out of political life, to keep them from asking more serious questions ... There's a kind of an assumption that if somebody wrote it on the internet, it's true."

Is there? It's clear, suddenly, that Chomsky's opinion can be as flaky as the next person's; he just states it more forcefully. I tell him that most people I know don't believe anything they read on the internet and he says, seemlessly, "you see, that's dangerous, too."
Dangerous how? If that makes no sense to you, then this "fake but accurate" moment probably won't either.
As some see it, one ill-judged choice of cause was the accusation made by Living Marxism magazine that during the Bosnian war, shots used by ITN of a Serb-run detention camp were faked. The magazine folded after ITN sued, but the controversy flared up again in 2003 when a journalist called Diane Johnstone made similar allegations in a Swedish magazine, Ordfront, taking issue with the official number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. (She said they were exaggerated.) In the ensuing outcry, Chomsky lent his name to a letter praising Johnstone's "outstanding work". Does he regret signing it?

"No," he says indignantly. "It is outstanding. My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough. It may be wrong; but it is very careful and outstanding work."
Then, not wanting to disrupt the interview's incoherence theme, Noam tells us that computers and the internet come from the "state sector" of the economy.
Seeing as we have entered the bad-tempered part of the interview, I figure we may as well continue and ask if he finds it ironic that, given his views on the capitalist system, he is a beneficiary of it. "Well, what capitalist system? Do you use a computer? Do you use the internet? Do you take an aeroplane? That comes from the state sector of the economy. I'm certainly a beneficiary of this state-based, quasi-market system; does that mean that I shouldn't try to make it a better society?"

OK, let's look at the non-state based, quasi-market system. Does he have a share portfolio? He looks cross. "You'd have to ask my wife about that. I'm sure she does. I don't see any reason why she shouldn't. Would it help people if I went to Montana and lived on a mountain? It's only rich, privileged westerners - who are well educated and therefore deeply irrational - in whose minds this idea could ever arise. When I visit peasants in southern Colombia, they don't ask me these questions."
I'm hardly the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but are these really the words of the pinnacle of modern intellectual achievement?
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Posted by RightWingDeathBeast | 11/04/2005 11:48:00 AM

4 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

I think it was NewsMax that reported a wee while ago about Chomsky's stocks in companies that he rails against. The same goes for Michael Moore; it claimed that he has at one time or another owned shares in Halliburton, among others.

11/04/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Wanderlust said...

Poor Noam. As smart as he claims himself to be, you'd think he would understand the old maxim of lies being progressively more difficult to defend, the longer one lies...

As others have stated here before, Noam and his ilk are nothing more than pretend-Communist whores. I make this statement because he rails against the system that allows him to rail against it, and for profit at that.

I have a NZ acquaintance (in Auckland) who was very active in Communist party circles years ago, and is still interested in such things now, albeit to a lesser degree due to his age. Although he and I disagree on a number of political issues, I do have to give him credit for trying, to wit: some years ago, he proposed to his Communist friends (who had an informal group of sorts) that they all give up their individual salaries, and let themselves be supported collectively as a group, equally.

Guess how many others in his group supported that idea (and btw, his personal income at the time was somewhere in the middle to upper third of salaries for all members)...?

No one. Not a single person agreed with the idea.

When he told me about this situation, I couldn't resist a good laugh. Funny how easy it is to espouse such ideas, until one is presented the opportunity to actually live by them...

11/04/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger RightWingDeathBeast said...

LOL wanderlust, that's a great story.

If it's unworkable for even a small enthusiasic group you'd think that would give them a clue that it might not work so well for the entire world. Though having absolutely no concept of practical difficulties is the main prerequisite for becoming a communist I suppose.

Roger, I'm not suprised, I vaguely remember reading that Michael Moore has a very expensive holiday house on the records. When asked about it he called it a "log cabin". Hmm...

11/04/2005 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger noizy said...

Have you seen the Guardian has retracted the article, and published an apology?

11/18/2005 11:13:00 AM  

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