Thursday, May 27, 2004

I've Been Linked!

Many thanks to Amritas for being the first to link to this blog, as well as throwing some damn flattering compliments into the bargain. He's also an anti-Chomskyite in good standing, although mostly of the linguist variety. As I know absolutely nothing about linguistics, I will not be making a fool of myself trying to comment on it. It is fascinating stuff though, so go check him out.

Fisk on the Way

Am currently deep into Peace in the Middle East, and will be posting something on it soon. Very, very interesting stuff. Its clear that Chomsky's hatred of Israel has progressed over the years. This book is from 1974 and his rhetoric is very tame in comparison to his more recent stuff. His demonization of the US is very palpable, however, so perhaps its the prolonged nature of the US-Israel relationship that has driven him off the deep end. I've always personally felt that Chomsky's contempt for Israel stemmed more from his loathing for the United States than anything else. The footnoting is quite creative, by the way. I think he's the only writer in America with pretensions of being a historian who gets most of his sources from newspapers. I'm also surprised at how openly socialist the book is. No traces of anarcho-syndicalism here. Of course, socialism was not nearly as conclusively discredited back then as it is now, at least not in intellectual circles. More on the way...

We Have Them Here Too

Here's some information on Israeli Chomskyite Neve Gordon, whose father, Haim, is a good friend of Chomsky himself. Gordon shares Chomsky's pseudo-objectivity and moralistic affectation, not to mention a nasty habit of skirting the edge of his country's laws on high treason. I find the description of Gordon's lecture to the IDF fascinating, it underlines the extraordinary disengenuousness combined with shocking naivite which is displayed by so many Chomskyites. Two of his "good" leaders, Ghandi and MLK, were not leaders of a state and therefore were free from making any sort of decisions relating to war, domestic stability, or, in fact, any hard decisions whatsoever. As for Mandela, he's certainly done some extraordinary things, but as all real political leaders have, he's palled around with his fair share of shady characters and causes. He's hardly the angelic figure Gordon paints him as. No politician could be. Gordon's argument, as in all his other arguments, is a mixture of political mythology and emotional blackmail, dressed up as scholarship. He learned from the master.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Amnesty International Completes Its Descent Into Chomskyism

Amnesty International has issued a new human rights report which could have been culled, word for word, from Chomsky's recent writings:

"The global security agenda promulgated by the US administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," wrote Amnesty's secretary general Irene Khan in the report's introduction.

"Sacrificing human rights in the name of security at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses have neither increased security nor ensured liberty."

The notion of fighting a campaign against terrorism so as to support human rights, while simultaneously trampling on them to achieve this, was no more than "double speak", she said.

There is no difference between this point of view and Chomsky's. There is no attempt here to deal with the issue of terrorism in any substantial way, its as if it only existed in the minds of America's "bankrupt" administration. There is only the massive, evil, all powerful US endangering the world and running roughshod over the rights of all. The purpose of this report is not objective observation and scholarship but distortion and condemnation. Its clear that the descent of self-appointed "guardians" of human rights like Amnesty from objective reportage on human rights to fanatical anti-Americanism, and, like much of the rest of the Left, from active engagement to angry, indiscriminate, irresponsible slander, has been partially a result of the large and growing Chomskyite influence on the political culture of non-governmental human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations in general.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Deconstructing Zinn

There's an excellent article by Michael Kazin criticizing Chomskyite fellow traveler Howard Zinn over at Dissent Magazine. Kazin takes Zinn to task for creating a historiography in A People's History of the United States which allows for a disconnected and condemnatory politics which does not engage with Conservatism or with traditional Liberalism and thus leads to an embittered and angry marginalization. I have to say that I think Zinn's shortcomings go much farther then that.

Firstly, A People's History of the United States is bad history. Actually, its shockingly bad history. Particularly in its later sections, where any sort of factual basis gives way to innuendo and Leftist self-mythologization. There is, of course, no citing of sources whatsoever, which makes it difficult to judge the accuracy of Zinn's facts or their context. It is not difficult, however, to deal with Zinn's claims on a macro level, namely that an amorphous "elite" has been ruling America since the day of its founding and exploits all the rest of us in order to maintain its imperial domination over our country and the world. This is not history, but mythology. Former Leftist David Horowitz is absolutely right to compare it to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is a form of theological demonization, not a scholarly assessment of American history. Indeed, anyone who studies American history knows that American society is complex and that no single group or force could be described as ruling it in the omnipotent manner Zinn describes. Dominating groups and ideologies rise and fall, and the ruling trends now were most certainly not those which existed at the time of the country's founding. Or, for that matter, those which existed twenty or even ten years ago. Zinn's thesis is that of a preacher, not a historian. Preaching, of course, is an honorable profession, although I personally find Zinn's condescending rhetoric insufferable ("It was claimed ________, but it was hardly that." repeated ad infinitum). But we should not call theology history, any more then we should call a preacher a historian.

There are worse problems, however, than Zinn's incompetence as a scholar. Put bluntly, his book is pure totalitarianism. Zinn may claim to writing a critical history or to subscribe to anti-authoritarianism, but it is quite clear from reading his book the type of society he has in mind as a cure for his country's evils. Most horrifying of all is the book's closing section, which describes Zinn's vision of a Utopian America. A Utopia which includes, of course, no private property, the conscription of children and old people into slave labor gangs, and numerous other relics of the totalitarian past. He does not mention what might happen to conservatives, capitalists, liberals, property owners, or anyone else who doesn't get with the program, but one can make some guesses. This is Stalinism, pure and simple. This is the ideology that murdered twenty million people in the Soviet Union and millions more around the world. This is political evil at its finest. This is what Howard Zinn is teaching students all over America.

I was most disturbed and disappointed by Kazin's seeming need to defer to Zinn, spending an inordinate amount of time praising the man before criticizing him. For instance, playing into the "Zinn's book is surprisingly popular" myth. In fact, most copies of the book are sold to schools and/or to college students who are forced to buy it by their professors. (An interesting example of the kind of authoritarianism Zinn claims to disdain.) Kazin's criticism, moreover, never really gets to the essence of the issue: the totalitarian nature of Zinn's ideology. Its pretty obvious who has the upper hand in this argument. Kazin clearly considers Zinn a sacred cow who must be dealt with with the utmost care, lest one be accused of what the Stalinists called "ideological deviationism". It is this deference to mass Leftist opinion (such as it is), this fear of appearing to be batting for the other team, which so paralyzes the Left in the face of Chomskyite opposition, and makes Kazin's article into a brilliant missed opportunity. Much the same thing happened to Albert Camus when he published The Rebel. Favorable reviews in the Rightwing press led to his vilification by his former comrades. The fact that Camus was trying to open a conversation on the nature of rebellion and the excesses inbuilt into revolutionary thought, in the hopes of beginning an introspective process that might lead to a more democratic and effective Left, counted for nothing. He had crossed the party line, and this could not be tolerated. He was discredited in the eyes of his former colleagues for daring to question. This kind of intellectual repression leads inevitably to ossification, and, indeed, the French Left could certainly have benefited from an open discussion of the questions raised by Camus. So, indeed, could such questions open a regenerative process on the Left today. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anyone, even at Dissent, with the courage to start asking them.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Send Me Some Lies

I would love it if some of you would write in with your experiances of witnessing some really brazan lying by Chomsky or one of his acolytes. Just post them right to the comments page. Mine occurred when I heard him interviewed on a Boston radio station (kid gloves of course, he never allows himself to be questioned by anyone who might take a critical stance). He ran through a list of Israeli military attacks over the last few days that had attacked "civilian targets". He didn't mention, however, (and I only knew this because of my obsessive following of the news from Israel) that these "civilian targets" were empty buildings. Why were they empty? Because Israel had called beforehand to tell everyone to evacuate. In other words, Israel was trying to save civilian lives while also responding strongly to use of terror against its civilians. Fairly admirable if you ask me. Apparently, Chomsky was afraid the audience would have the same reaction. Shamelessly dishonest and utterly typical of the man.

(This blog should allow you to post anonymously if you don't want to set up a blogger accunt.)

The Wisdom of Werner Cohn

I imagine the best place to start would be Werner Cohn's excellent expose of some of the Good Professor's nastier connections. The fact that Chomsky claims that the whole thing is a pack of filthy lies leads me to believe that its probably 99% true (even a stopped clock is right twice a day, perhaps in Chomsky's case once a day).

Needless to say, Chomsky is quite well thought of by neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist groups in Europe (and America for that matter). This seems to confirm my opinion that Chomsky straddles the line between the extreme Left and extreme Right, combining elements of both. His closest mainstream political counterpart is proabably Pat Buchanan. In fact, a good argument can be made that Chomsky is essentially a paleo-Con. However, his longstanding support for communist and other Leftwing totalitarian regimes throws a bit of a wrench into the works. It does go a long way to explain how the politics of the Left and Rightwing extremes are merging more and more on issues like Israel, the War on Terror, and protectionism.

Why This Blog.

Why begin an anti-Chomsky blog now? Essentially two reasons. The first is the phenomenon of the Chomskyite. While I'm not sure one can reasonably claim that Chomsky's ramshackle amalgam of conspiracy theories actually amounts to something one could call Chomskyism, there is most certainly a phenomenon one could term the Chomskyite. At the extreme there are the boot licking cultists who consider the man the sole arbitrator of justice, truth and reality; and more towards the center are the legions of more or less reputable intellectual figures who revere him as a great scholar and moral voice. The second reason is the overall effect that Chomsky's work is having on the American and international Left, an influence which I believe is nothing less than tragic and dangerous.

While there can be no doubt that Chomsky remains a semi-fringe figure on the American intellectual scene, he cannot be easily dismissed offhand. He is not in the same category of the likes of Jim Marrs or Lyndon LaRouche, who are universally acknowledged as paranoid lunatics. This is unfortunate, because he should be. For both ideological and historical reasons, he remains semi-legitimate in certain circles and one can clearly see his influence on two very important and influential groups.

The first are the American soixante-huitards. Those who came of age in the sixties and whose defining generational experience was the battle against the Vietnam War and their attendant rejection of the United States as a good or moral country. Some of these folks remain in the streets as activists, social workers, political operatives, etc. Others have gained important positions in government, in the media, and especially in the universities. All of them, even those who may not consider themselves directly influenced by him, and even those(such as Paul Berman) who have openly repudiated him, find it difficult to completely dismiss Chomsky's enormous influence on their politics.

The second group is of a younger generation, the disaffected bourgeosie who subscribe to the culture of youth rebellion, i.e. punk rock, "direct action" (read: "controlled riot"), internet activism, the anti-war movement, proto-anarchism etc. This culture, based on a worship of both rebellion and celebrity, has found in Chomsky an unlikely totem, but a totem nonetheless. To put it simply, Chomsky may be the only intellectual in America who can reasonably be called hip, at least in the sense that Rolling Stone defines the term, i.e. that young white kids know who he is and think he's kind of cool.

Both of these groups are important slices of America's elite, and wield disproportionate cultural and political influence. The fact that they are more and more influenced by Chomsky and his ideas should be deeply disturbing to all of us. At best, it promises weakness and abdication. At worst, outright treason.

On the question of Chomsky's influence on the Left, there is no doubt that the results of this influence have been nothing less than catastrophic. As an ex-Leftist who grew up in a very Leftwing family of Jewish Bostonians, I can testify to how degraded the Left has become even in my lifetime. It has gone from an engaged and optimistic movement to a bitter, conspiratorial, semi-deranged mass of the hateful and the disaffected. Anti-semitism has become not only acceptable but practically required. There is no attempt whatsoever to develop an engaged and democratic politics of compromise. There is only semi-apocalyptic condemnation and the demand of total destruction and revision, as if nothing in America or the world could be changed unless everything that now exists is annihilated. This descent is one of the primary reasons for my disaffection from Leftist politics, as I believe it has been for many others. The reason for it, in my opinion, is the growing intellectual and political domination of the Left by its Chomskyites.

Now I realize that this cannot define the entirety of the Left in America or the world. There are groups within the Left (most notably at Dissent magazine) who are trying to create a decent and involved Leftist politics that can accept democratic compromise. My point is simply that the Leftist masses (if the members of a fringe movement can be so characterized), the people who march in the streets, sign the petitions, make the posters, hold the signs, and, yes, buy the books and the videos and the ten-cent pamphlets, are overwhelmingly Chomskyite in their outlook. I consider this, even as someone disillusioned with the Left, to be a disaster. In a democracy a viable opposition which agitates in patriotic good faith is a necessity. One of the major reasons for Conservatism's rise over the last twenty years has been the Left's abdication of this essential role. The blame can be laid at many doors, but there is no question that Chomsky is one of the major culprits.

And lastly, there is my own view of the man himself. Some intellectuals are gadflys. A few are downright lunatics. Chomsky is a monster. A testament to the worst intellectual atrocities of the twentieth century, to the astonishing ease with which great minds can embrace the most horrifying of political evil. For this alone, I consider his ideas well worth fighting.