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Noam Chomsky

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Chomsky at the World Social Forum (Porto Alegr...

Chomsky at the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre) in 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Noam Chomsky (1928 –  ) is an American intellectual, political activist, and professor Emeritus at MIT who initially distinguished himself in linguistics.

During the Vietnam war Chomsky became increasingly visible, criticizing those who believe the United States sets the standard as a moral and ideological leader for the rest of the world. Since then he’s never looked back.

He and others like Michael Moore figure prominently in the 2003 film, The Corporation. The film offers some insights into the nature of human hypocrisy, especially when connected to the profit motive. However, as one reviewer at http://www.imdb.com put it, “the film is useful but incredibly biased.”

The same could be said of Chomsky’s work. Specifically, Chomsky seems to downplay the positive aspects of corporate production. Chomsky’s critics say that the capitalist impulse and profit motive are necessary for technological social progress. And they note that human rights records and charitable donations are often weaker in communist countries than they are in capitalist countries.

Those sympathetic to Chomsky’s views would argue that more egalitarian, socialist-style systems could also be creative, progressive and humane. In fact, he’s become something of an inspiration for some leftist activists who are appalled by the shortcomings but perhaps not mature enough to fully appreciate the good in capitalist democracies.

A particularly vehement attack against Chomsky’s views on terrorism and the post 9/11 Iraq war is found in The Anti-Chomsky Reader by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, eds.

According to Chomsky, parroting his Marxist mentors-what Uncle Sam really wants is to steal from the poor and give to the rich. America’s crusade against Communism was not a battle for human freedom, but actually a war “to protect our doctrine that the rich should plunder the poor.” This is why, according to Chomsky, we have busied ourselves in launching a new crusade against what he regards as a fictive terrorism after the end of the Cold War.”¹

Despite his criticisms of the US, Chomsky still chooses to live and make his living there, which definitely says something.

¹ The Anti-Chomsky Reader by Peter Collier and David Horowitz (eds.), Encounter Books, 2004, p. 185.

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