Monday, May 21, 2007

Noam Chomsky: Prophet

Noam Chomsky

One of the most important public intellectuals of the last generation has been Prof. Noam Chomsky of MIT.

The fact he gets so many out there, their blood boiling is proof that what he says hits home.

Basically Noam Chomsky is a Old Testament Prophet castigating the wickedness of his society. What makes him worth reading is his disconcerting ability to resurrect, find, the "forgotten" fact.

Like a Old Testament Prophet Chomsky is not interested in whether or not others are worst but in the wickedness of his own society which he castigates for its sins.

What is interesting is the truly hysterical responses he gets from so many.

The society that Chomsky condemns is the United States of America, ignoring patriotic shibboleths he castigates and condemns .

If much of what Chomsky says can be castigated as unfair: a prophet is not in the business of being "fair".

But then given Chomsky's precept that you try to change things that you can change not go on endlessly about the atrocities of "official enemies" that you can do very little about while doing nothing about atrocities you can do something about. "Unfairness" is built into how Chomsky looks at the world.

The classic example for Chomsky is Cambodia and East Timor. In the case of Cambodia their was much hand wringing and detailed accounts in the media about the (truly spectacular) atrocities. Of course virtually nothing could have been done at the time too stop the atrocities by the west. But then that was not the purpose of the massive hand wringing. The purpose was to score points in the battle against the enemy.

Regarding East Timor, not only could action by the west have done something to stop the atrocities, but western action allowed the invasion to happen. (Indonesia invaded in 1975) And then relative silence descended over the truly vast atrocities that happenned at least in much of the West.

Chomsky is far from perfect and definitely not the last word but he has a truly different perspective and definitely not "politically correct". Thoughtful, less than hysterical "PC" critiques of Chomsky are virtually non-existent.

Some of Chomsky's Books.

Deterring Democracy, 1992
The Chomsky Reader, 1987
Year 501: The Conquest Continues, 1993
At War With Asia, 1970
Necessary Illusions,
Manufacturing Consent, (With Edward S. Herman), 1988
Towards a New cold War, 1982

Pierre Cloutier