Monday, January 10, 2005

Chomsky and Academic History: "Noam Chomsky has written more than 30 books over the last three decades. Yet neither the Journal of American History, nor the American Historical Review, nor Reviews in American History has reviewed them. If the journals had overlooked one or two of Chomsky's books, then the omissions might not rise to the status of a problem, and could be attributed to a combination of reasons each of them incidental to Chomsky himself. If the journals had in fact devoted attention to him, but the preponderance of the attention had been hostile, then they might stand accused of harboring a bias. This is the most respectable way to disagree about such matters. But the journals have not done enough to deserve the accusation. They have not reviewed a single one of his books. Chomsky is one of most widely read political intellectuals in the world. Academic history pretends he does not exist. Why is this so?"

Chomsky is surely the most important political writer of the post-war era. One (of a number) of his achievements is to essentially write the history of the post war era, at least in terms of the dominant global power, the US. The author of this article suggests that Chomsky is ignored because of "the plain fact that liberal and Marxist historians [Chomsky is not one of these] have conquered institutional power and prestige across the country, and have effected a virtual monopoly on serious intellectual discussion." That is a damning and no doubt all too accurate indictment of 'Marxism' and 'liberalism', but perhaps the real reason for Chomsky's plight is simpler: as Chomsky himself said when advising a young writer (Finkelstein) to be cautious about pursuing a line of research "you're going to expose the American intellectual community as a gang of frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they're going to destroy you." Except that Chomsky cant be destroyed or refuted, the only option is to treat him with complete silence.

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