Robert Campbell

The Divided Legacy of Noam Chomsky (2000)

27 posts in this topic

Here's a talk that I gave at the TOC Summer Seminar in 2000.

http://hubcap.clemso...dlegacy2000.pdf

For several years, it was available at David Brown's site, The Daily Objectivist.

Robert Campbell

Nifty paper.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Peter Collier & David Horowitz did a collection of essays called "The Anti Chomsky Reader"

which came out in 2004. It has many great essays and is well worth reading.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Chris G,

Did Collier and Horowitz get into Chomsky's linguistics, or was their book strictly about his politics?

Robert C

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Chris G,

Did Collier and Horowitz get into Chomsky's linguistics, or was their book strictly about his politics?

Robert C

Robert here is a review from Reason on line

http://www.reason.com/news/show/36575.html

"The Anti-Chomsky Reader is a polemical broadside intended to slam Chomsky into oblivion. Reviewing his career and ideas, the discussion reaches back to the 1960s and his anti-war activism, then moves to the Cold War, the media, Israel, the Holocaust, 9/11, and, finally, Chomsky's linguistics. The editors, Peter Collier and David Horowitz, are active intellectuals in the Republican Party: Collier is the publisher of Encounter Books, a conservative press in San Francisco, and Horowitz, the editor of FrontPageMag.com, is a prolific writer who courts confrontation with the left. Other contributors also are experienced culture warriors. They include Ronald Radosh, a former Communist and SDS member who steered rightward after he researched the Rosenberg case and found evidence of guilt; Eli Lehrer, a former editor at American Enterprise magazine; and Stephen Morris, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute and long-serving anti-communist scholar.

Their aim is to topple Chomsky's standing--a task easier to conceive than to complete. Chomsky's unyielding anticapitalism tempts many critics into an equally strident anti-Chomskyism. The temptation is particularly strong for Collier and Horowitz, who have complex personal histories dating back to their days editing Ramparts, a leading leftist magazine in the 1960s and early '70s. Now staunch conservatives, they have renounced their former comrades, especially icons such as Chomsky."

This is from the review.

Adam

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Damn, I knew the name of that book rang a bell!

The basic Stalinist/Maoist mold:

Quote

Then, as the facts became more difficult to deny and he started looking worse as a result, things got more complicated. At some point, he must have realized that he was saying things that in all likelihood were false. My guess is that he justified it in two ways: First, by relativizing it. Something along the lines of “whatever the Khmer Rouge may have done, it can't be as bad as what America did in Vietnam, or Chile, or Indonesia, etc. Therefore, I am justified in continuing to defend the regime.” Second, by demonizing his opponents, by saying “whatever the Khmer Rouge may have done, it's more important not to allow my opponents to win, because they are evil, and it is morally wrong to allow evil to win.”

Then, when the really horrendous scope of the genocide became clear, he was faced with having to admit he'd been wrong and owning up to it publicly. That is something Chomsky has never done and will never do. Perhaps he has a very fragile ego under all the bluster. It certainly seems like it. In any event, blaming anything and everything bad that happens in the world on the United States has always been Chomsky's default position. So once he'd exhausted all other possibilities of escape, that's what he fell back on. And he'll keep doing it until his dying day. You will never get a mea culpa from him on anything, and certainly not on Cambodia, which is probably the biggest disgrace of his career.

What is truly sad is that if you look at the claims Chomsky attacked in his famous article on the subject, they turned out to be mostly accurate in terms of the number of dead, etc. Now, at the time (most people don't know or have forgotten this) there was a serious debate over possible military intervention to stop the killing. I could be wrong, but I think it was Paul Berman who said that Chomsky helped shift the debate from what to do about the genocide to whether it was even happening. I doubt any words I could write would constitute a more damning indictment than that.

There may have been another and much darker motive at work—and I want to emphasize that this is speculation on my part. The Khmer Rouge justified its violence by claiming it was wiping out the urban bourgeoisie and that this was a necessary use of force whose purpose was to achieve a more just society. In other words, the people they killed deserved it. Chomsky may have bought this argument. He certainly hasn't shied away from it in other cases. Remember, in terms of motive what the Khmer Rouge did wasn't hugely different from what most other radical Left regimes have done when they seized power. The major difference is one of scale. That is, in terms of the number of people dead and especially in terms of the percentage of the population that was annihilated, the Khmer Rouge was disproportionately bloodthirsty.

A...

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This was posted on a Facebook page:

Quote

Chomsky generally analyzes international relations from a geopolitical power point of view - he sees states as self interested actors doing their best to improve their position, and has little time for political rhetoric designed to obfuscate that self interest. It's a useful tool to use when analyzing politics, but I've increasingly felt that it has its limits. A reader, Laurin Suiter, left the following comment on Chomsky on our Facebook page that I think provides some of the most astute criticism I've seen:

As a linguist, he is a genius, on par with Einstein or Hawking in his chosen field. As a political analyst, I outgrew him some 5 years after college. Whatever gifts he has as a linguist only serve him in some kind of quasi-autistic-like capacity in sociopolitical analysis. After awhile, the formula becomes pat - he is a one-note song. You could practically write your own Chomsky Mad Libs based on this formula. It is certainly true that the U.S. is far from the good guys in white hats caricature drawn by most of the Right and the neocons, but he makes a fetish out of his contrarian deconstruction, to the point where the U.S. (and/or Israel) is the only abuser of power, the only hypocrite, the only nation committing human rights abuses. This plays perfectly into the Right-wing lie that all Leftists are knee-jerk anti-Americans or always critical of America. Chomsky is not anti-American, and not always critical of America, but he plys that turf enough to sell books and excite his fan base. His intellect gives him a pass that most would not have the luxury otherwise. To his credit, he is genuinely brilliant, and not a moronic demagogue like Limbaugh or Beck. Still, he is a one-trick pony, no matter how eloquent and pointed his arguments.

Not necessarily intentionally, he inflates the self-importance of the more incoherent factions of the Left/Occupy crowd (the doppelgangers of the incoherent Right/Teabagger crowd). His academic cred as a linguist gives him disproportionate weight as a spokesman for the Left (there is no one who speaks for the Left - it is perpetually torn by the usual factional squabbles - never mind that such a concept is antithetical to much of the Left), and therefore, he is given disproportionate opposition status by the Right for the same reason.

I always welcome his dissenting views to the debate, however, no matter my objections stated above. Dissent is always essential for civic health in a democracy.

http://thedailybanter.com/2013/09/some-astute-criticism-of-noam-chomsky/

A...

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Adam,

Is the first item you quoted ("Then, as the facts became more difficult to deny...") from the Anti-Chomsky Reader?

The only reason Chomsky's comments on China under Mao aren't a bigger scandal than his comments on Cambodia under Pol Pot is that he's said as little as possible about China under Mao.

Robert Campbell

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1 hour ago, Robert Campbell said:

Adam,

Is the first item you quoted ("Then, as the facts became more difficult to deny...") from the Anti-Chomsky Reader?

The only reason Chomsky's comments on China under Mao aren't a bigger scandal than his comments on Cambodia under Pol Pot is that he's said as little as possible about China under Mao.

Robert Campbell

Good point Robert.

He was considered so brilliant during the '60's, especially in the Speech/Communication Arts and Sciences field at my grad school.

Generally this was when he stayed close to his linguistic and semantic theories.

However, when he preached "libertarian socialism," my warning flags went up.  I used to run into this "idea" at the anarchist conferences we had in the '60's in NY City.

Quote

Libertarian socialism (sometimes called social anarchism,[1][2]left-libertarianism[3][4] and socialist libertarianism[5]) is a group of anti-authoritarian[6] political philosophies inside the socialist movement that rejects socialism as centralized state ownership and control of the economy,[7] as well as the state itself.[8] It criticizes wage labour relationships within the workplace,[9] instead emphasizing workers' self-management of the workplace[8] and decentralized structures of political organization,[10][11] asserting that a society based on freedom and equality can be achieved through abolishing authoritarian institutions that control certain means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite.[12] Libertarian socialists generally place their hopes in decentralized means of direct democracy and federal or confederal associations[13] such as libertarian municipalism, citizens' assemblies, trade unions, and workers' councils.[14][15] All of this is generally done within a general call for libertarian[16] and voluntary human relationships[17] through the identification, criticism, and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of human life.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism

Despicable man.

Nice to see you.  Trump did very well in your beautiful state.

A...

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Adam,

I saw a DVD of a Chomsky lecture (c. 2010) in which he claimed that Cuba, under the brothers Castro, has been the target of more terrorist attacks than any other country.  He's that shameless.

I don't buy the notion that Noam Chomsky was ever really an anarchist.  More like a Stalinist or a Maoist.  He and Edward Herman sound like Maoist apologists in their defense of the Pol Pot regime.

It just wasn't cool in the United States to be a Stalinist by the time Chomsky became famous (late 1950s).  Even less so by the time he was publishing about politics (late 1960s).

Linguistics is his strength, of course.  But even there he has become known for a style of arguing that, on many issues, substitutes aggressiveness for validity.

Robert Campbell

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4 minutes ago, Robert Campbell said:

Adam,

I saw a DVD of a Chomsky lecture (c. 2010) in which he claimed that Cuba, under the brothers Castro, has been the target of more terrorist attacks than any other country.  He's that shameless.

I don't buy the notion that Noam Chomsky was ever really an anarchist.  More like a Stalinist or a Maoist.  He and Edward Herman sound like Maoist apologists in their defense of the Pol Pot regime.

It just wasn't cool in the United States to be a Stalinist by the time Chomsky became famous (late 1950s).  Even less so by the time he was publishing about politics (late 1960s).

Linguistics is his strength, of course.  But even there he has become known for a style of arguing that, on many issues, substitutes aggressiveness for validity.

Robert Campbell

Agreed.

I always found him to be stridently effete. 

Moreover, Maoist works for me also.  I still think that Mao killed more than Hitler and Stalin combined.

As to the Castro co-thugs that have enslaved Cuba for the last 58 years, I still have burned into my mind the poor bastards that were lined up with their backs to ditches and executed.

When I worked my first summer at the Animal Medical Center on a research project, the Cuban nurse, by the name of Crespi-Luz, who was the daughter of a Doctor in Cuba pre-Castro, told me the story of her dad, who ran a clinic out in the back country and what he did because most of the folks in the village had no shoes.  

These outlying areas were not priorities for the power centralizing Communists in Havana.

She was only a teenager when her father, with his boots tied around his neck, walked down to the town hall with a crowd of "peasants" and his daughter, who held his hand and stood by his side as he asked for shoes from the regime. 

He was shot down in front of his daughter.  

She shared stories of life under Castro and was lucky enough to get out in time.

And now, our beloved President is going to hobnob with a murderous thug and his brother.

Charming.

A...   

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Mao probably did kill more than than Hitler and Stalin combined.  The death toll from the Great Leap Forward is hard to estimate.

Robert Campbell

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33 minutes ago, Robert Campbell said:

Mao probably did kill more than than Hitler and Stalin combined.  The death toll from the Great Leap Forward is hard to estimate.

Robert Campbell

We should add North Korea's numbers during Mao's regime to the total.

Interesting that we look at the total slaughter numbers when we analyze statist regimes, however, we look at GDP when we analyze capitalist regimes.

A...

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Fair enough.  Without Mao's sponsorship, the Kim Dynasty would have come to an end in 1951 or 1952.

Robert

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What a disgrace we have for a President...

CeFG5oDW4AEd55N.jpg

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4 hours ago, Selene said:

What a disgrace we have for a President...

CeFG5oDW4AEd55N.jpg

Wait 11 months and the disgrace will be gone.

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1 minute ago, Brant Gaede said:

Not the stain.

I find it difficult to look into the eyes of the elder Cubans that I know when they look at me with a fire in their opaque eyes and ask me why he did this?

A stain on our soul.

A...

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No collective guilt for me.

Chalk that one up to Rand.

--Brant

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On 3/21/2016 at 2:17 PM, Selene said:

I find it difficult to look into the eyes of the elder Cubans that I know when they look at me with a fire in their opaque eyes and ask me why he did this?

A stain on our soul.

Uri Friedman quotes Yoani Sanchez of 14 y medio (Cuban dissident website), in the Atlantic.

-- Obama's TV appearance with Cuba's prime-time comic, Pánfilo habla con Obama

-- The Friedman-cited 14 y medio article by Sanchez, "Obama se rodea de símbolos para ganarse el corazón de los cubanos," and Google translated, "Obama is surrounded by symbols to win the hearts of Cubans."

Bonus track: Donald Trump's policies toward Cuba, from the same dissident outlet:

-- And a couple of pictures from Cuba, the first self-explanatory, and the second I call Internet in the Park (where 'public' internet is available via wi-fi). If you are looking to book a private room or home in Cuba, and you use AirBnB, you can see the mention of public wi-fi as a boon (2 minutes to the Insurgentes Park wi-fi 'hotspot'). The internet is as pictured, accessed through your smart-phone , with an additional Cuba-only dodge around internet restrictions (like the blocking of 14 y medio by the dictatorship) - a kind of "internet on a stick," the stick being a thumb-drive ...

cuba3.jpg

cubainternet2a.jpg

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Cuba never had to be the miserable place that the Castro brothers made it into.

Not that our current president could even begin to fathom this.

Robert Campbell

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34 minutes ago, Robert Campbell said:

Cuba never had to be the miserable place that the Castro brothers made it into.

Not that our current president could even begin to fathom this.

Robert Campbell

Thanks to The New York Slimes, America's traitor newspaper.

--Brant

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2 minutes ago, Robert Campbell said:

Cuba never had to be the miserable place that the Castro brothers made it into.

Not that our current president could even begin to fathom this.

Robert Campbell

Robert:

You are quite kind in your evaluation of our President. 

Our President is not a nice person.  He is an idealouge with a serious inferiority [possible] complex and an essential hatred for this country.

I believe Mark Levin puts it clearly when he states that a person who states that he is going to "fundamentally transform this country," clearly does not like it. 

I am sure if I looked back on my posts here from 2007, I was more than likely warning about what he would be like.

Sorry that I was correct about this marxist.

A...

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Adam,

I see him as a vain and hollow man first, a Leftist second.

He's always wanted to be an Emperor, to make all the people he despises admire him, and, if they can't admire him, obey him.  The hard Leftism is what he was trained up in and what proved instrumentally useful in advancing him to power.

Results are effectively the same, whichever the order is.

Robert

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10 hours ago, Selene said:

Robert:

You are quite kind in your evaluation of our President. 

Our President is not a nice person.  He is an idealouge with a serious inferiority [possible] complex and an essential hatred for this country.

I believe Mark Levin puts it clearly when he states that a person who states that he is going to "fundamentally transform this country," clearly does not like it. 

I am sure if I looked back on my posts here from 2007, I was more than likely warning about what he would be like.

Sorry that I was correct about this marxist.

A...

Obama is the God-Child of (Old) Mayor Daley of Chicago  and Saul Ailinsky.  Being a follower of Saul the Troublemaker, we can assume that Obama hates America at the gut level. 

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