Sunday, November 11, 2007



Now Molly has to admit that she doesn't like Noam Chomsky very much. This dates back to a six month exchange in the early 90s when Molly learned exactly what Chomsky was all about in terms of the 'Third World'. It began as a "little" doubt about his support for the Kymer Rouge dictatorship and his attempts to denigrate the atrocities attributed to same. Never mind that his methods of "analysis" could be equally applied to his own "heroes" in East Timor. In other words he accepted "sources" in East Timor that were of the same veracity as those he rejected from Cambodia. At the time he was on the same side as the US government and the government of China in denying atrocities under the Kymer Rouge, though it must be admitted that that the Chinese government never engaged in the sort of lying campaigns that Chomsky and the US government did at the time. This exchange went over six months in the pages of Freedom in which Molly noted Noam complaining and whining that criticism of his pro-Chinese and pro-American view had not been censored out of their pages. Note that this was at the same time that he was complaining about how the New York Times would not publish EVERYTHING that he wrote to them, including insults directed towards the paper itself. To say the least this six months led me to lose ALL respect for Chomsky and his cats-paw and graduate student Milan Rai (who is probably happily ensconced in a $80,000 academic job by now and disavowing his earlier bullshit unless it is part of his CV).

All that being said, as one of the few anarchists on earth who has actually had real experience about what Chomsky is like, I have to commend him in his comments in his 78th year about Venezuela. Watching Chomsky over the decades I expected nothing more than cheerleading for Chavez and the usual childish leftist excuse for everything the dictator-to-be wants to do while blaming everything up to Chavez' hemorrhoids on the machinations of the USA. To say the least I was pleasantly surprised by a recent interview with Chomsky on Z-Net.Yeah, some of the interview was actually quite bizarre, shading into Chomsky's view of the discontent in America today as a "pre-revolutionary" situation. That's fine. Noam hasn't had more than a "street passing" connection with ordinary Americans for almost 40 years, and his opinions are not exactly the best informed in the world. Mostly he's chummy with his academic and leftist friends and very few other people.

What is interesting is not Chomsky's many failings but how he has decided to return, at the age of 78, to the attraction that libertarian socialism held for him in his youth. No doubt Chomsky would claim, as he always has, that his efforts to build a right wing social democratic party in the USA-over and over- were not evidence of any "different opinion" as compared to his "core opinions". Chomsky may be the WORST example of a leftist who can never admit that they were wrong or that they have changed their opinion, but I know from personal experience how much he can lie.

What is not lies is his present comments on the situation in Venezuela as set forth in an interview with him on Z-Net. No doubt the editors of Z-net, good vague leftists as they are, let this "go by" in hopes that very few would read it or see how it contradicts their general cheerleading efforts for the aspiring dictatorship in Venezuela. Chomsky makes some very salient points about how self-management as initiated from below such as what happened in the Spanish Revolution is very different from a top-down process such as what as has been initiated by the Venezuelan government. No doubt Chomsky knows all about the theory of a new ruling classe that can (or have already in Molly's view) replace the "capitalists" as a ruling class. He is, after all, buddy-buddy with Z-net who uphold their idea of a "coordinator class" with no reference as to how this class was described before they came up with this idea-nor any reference to as how it has been described outside of their circles since.

But anyhow, see this interview for at least a "mild" criticism" of how Venezuelan 'Bolivarian Socialism' is far from libertarian. Hardly the hissing and spitting that Molly would do as she recognizes the class aspirations of the managers, even when they hide themselves under the guise of leftism. But still, very worthwhile for a person who can describe the truth while holding back from a shift in perspective that would invalidate too much of their life.

1 comment:

Rolfe said...

Interesting post. I've enjoyed reading Chomsky and some of his work has really influenced my perspective.

But I've always had a nagging discomfort, and you nailed it here: I don't trust his choice of heroes. This largely comes from the fact that I know scores of people (including my wife) who fled Vietnam. Their stories are horrific, especially those who left later. I hear nothing about the broad public support for the Viet Cong that Chomsky can seem so proud of.

I know that my sample is skewed. I'm certain that there are plenty of people who feel exactly the way Chomsky described. I also believe that American actions made the Viet Cong more ruthless. But at some point you have to consider the welfare of masses of ordinary people living in terror of your heroes.