Monday, October 03, 2005

The wild man in the wings: Biographical essay on Chomsky points out that he supported "cultural zionism", but "opposed “the deeply anti­democratic concept of a Jewish state”, which would inevitably discriminate against non-Jews"; that at the time "Israel “had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of American Jewry”, and only two prominent American Jewish intellectuals openly identified with it: Noam Chomsky and Hannah Arendt"; that he "“reacted with virtually uncritical support for Israel” during the June 1967 war." (although his view on that war is different now); that the post-67 "‘supporters of Israel’ should more properly be called “supporters of the moral degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel”, which is now the most militarised society in the world, heavily dependent for its survival on the United States and therefore a reliable asset"; that Chomsky is a 'child of the enlightenment' in a time when those values are under attack by radical statists and militarists.

6 comments: said...

why spend even a moment of your life reflecting on Noah Chomsky?

Bernard said...

Surely I would not be alone in regarding Chomsky as one of the most important writers of the post war era. Several crucial contributions. Strongly recommended. said...

It is true. You would not be alone. Have you ever heard of lemmings?

"Post-war era". What war? The operation iraqi freedom war?

"Crucial." That is an interesting choice of words. I know of none of his contributions (since I haven't read him) yet he has made crucial ones.


I wonder what crucial thing is missing in my life that I am unaware of? Is it like a vital nutrient? Will I die early without it?
I am worried now.
I must read him to save myself. Must I read it all? Which book has the crucial stuff in it? Is there a clifs version or a digest somewhere?

Wait...Now I understand what you were meaning in the next post...His words, Chomsky's words, ARE more important than deeds. They are Crucial. Life itself is hanging in the balance.

Thank you for the enlightenment. said...

All joking aside.
Let me tell you about my only encounter with Chomsky.
I live in a very very very blue part of California. Before the last election, a friend of mine heard that Patch Adams (the real doctor that the movie was about) was going to give a talk at the local community center. She wanted to go and asked me along. I went. There were tables set up around the perimeter of the room with exhibits and sellers of various kinds. I browsed the tables before the speeches started. I could buy breast feeding aides, digereedoos, che guevara tee shirts, and ganja paraphenalia. There was an old man in very short shorts and no shirt walking around. He would stand close in front of pretty teenaged girls and just stare at them. It was as if he was exposing himself but he lacked a trench coat. In one corner there was a bookseller. She was a goth. She was selling various communist, anarchist, and revolutionary manifestos. She noticed my curiosity and quickly brought out her favorite. It was a coffee table book of all the year's "best protests". Full of pictures of burning effigies, molotov cocktails and mob violence at various World Trade Conferences around the world. She spoke with reverent tones about "the beautiful protests" and how much she wanted to be at one. But also in an excited quivering tone. She probably would have had sex with me if I'd said I was at one. But I wasn't interested in having sex with her.

There were children ranging from 5 to 12 running around through the chairs playing various tag, ball and frisbee games. Most were barely clothed. I suspect they were homeschoolers on a social studies field trip.

Then the meeting started. Patch Adams came out dressed like a clown and told us how horrible the world would become if Bush were elected. He made it clear that "REelected" was not the word because, of course, Bush was not elected in the first place. Bush stole the election in a vast conspiracy of the military industrial complex and oil oligarchy blah blah blah.

During the whole speech the children continued their wild games at full speed and full volume amongst the seated listeners. Their parents were being careful not to damage their self-esteem by giving them social clues.

When he finished. We all sang a song. I didn't know what it was. It felt like church. It felt like a church service of the Goddess of the Earth or something.

Then Julia Butterfly got up to speak. She is a local semi-celebrity who spent a year or two living several hundred feet up in a redwood tree in order to save it from the evil tree cutters. (I wonder if she knows she lives in a wooden house?) She has joined the speech-making circuit and apparently earns quite a bit doing so. Anyway, she attacked the usual suspects: oil, military industrial complex, big corporations, polluters, rich people, free trade, blah blah blah.

Oh yeah, Noam Chomsky. Well that Goth lady was selling Chomsky books. They were in amongst the Karl Marx and Save Mumia books. She had a special on Black Panther stuff too. And the federal conspiracy against Earth First.

So, I associate Chomsky with these folks. And I could tell that they really had their lives together.

Bernard said...

Jeff, I would hardly call that an 'encounter' with Chomsky. My own encounter consisted of attending a lecture by Prof Chomsky.

And may I suggest, dont judge a book by its cover. But you dont have to read it all - he has written nearly a 100 books and countless articles/interviews.

I could personally recommend (among others) the following texts:

Manufacturing Consent
Deterring Democracy
Fateful Triangle

Big Gav said...

I think everyone should me made to watch "Manufacturing Consent" at school (shortly after they've read "1984") just in the hope that they treat the information they get from the media in the future with a little more caution.

Unfortunately "think for yourself" seems to be frowned on as advice for the young in some circles.

On a related topic, "Outfoxed" and "Orwell Rolls In His Grave" are pretty good (and much more up to date) as well.