The Problem With Chomsky #NoamChomsky
I read the Noam Chomsky essay you suggested and I’m glad I did as it makes clear to me that my political disagreements with him are profound and foundational even while we share many opinions. His arguments are academic and prove themselves through their own logic while ignoring the pragmatic messiness of reality; it is easy to fix the world on a chalkboard. This isn’t to say that he makes bad points but rather that he is arguing from a perspective that holds to an ideal that I don’t agree with because I find it unrealistic.
Actually, he does make bad points. In comparing the behavior of the West regarding the Charlie Hebdo attacks, he recalls the NATO attack on Serb RTV (the Serbian National Radio and Television station) which killed 16 journalists and he complains that the only person prosecuted for their deaths was the station manager, a man named Dragoljub Milanović, who failed to evacuate the building. What Chomsky doesn’t mention is that it was documented in court that Milanovic ordered the journalists to stay in the building because they had been warned by NATO the building was a target; the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milosevic wanted their deaths to be used as propaganda against NATO action in Serbia. This is the problem I have with liberal academics who would rather win an obtuse argument than reduce actual human suffering; in order for Chomsky to be right, there can be no ethical difference between the NATO action against Serb RTV and the attack on Charlie Hebdo by what is apparently a terrorist cell backed by Al Qaeda in Yemen. This is a patently absurd position that can only be taken seriously by someone so in love with their own intellect that it never occurs to them that their pontifications may not actually be infallible.
This is not to say that he doesn’t have a point about the violence we wreak about the world in order to keep ourselves propped up as a superpower; however, he just wrings his hands and cites himself rather than offer any insight beyond the United States and the West are just terrible racists who are terrible, just terrible. Slobodan Milosevic and his gang were committing genocide against Bosnian Muslims and we intervened on the side of the Muslims; how does that figure into his narrative? It doesn’t, so he doesn’t mention it. He neglects to mention that Serb RTV was broadcasting propaganda and information that was directly leading to the rapes, mutilation, and mass murder of the civilian Muslim population that NATO was trying to protect; all Chomsky does is weep academic tears for poor Dragoljub, who ordered his employees to stay in a building he knew was going to be bombed so that Milosevic could carry out his genocide in peace. The act of sanitizing a fact can make for sloppy reasoning.
This is why Chomsky’s essay is nothing more than a contrarian cry for attention; he tries to sharpen his point by burying it in bullshit which admittedly has been shat out quite eloquently, regardless, it is still a very poor method of tempering an argument. Noam Chomsky is a very intelligent man but he cannot contain the entire world within his head; the world is contradictory and complicated and refuses to obey the theories of academics who insist they can explain it all with a clever enough thesis. While I am absolutely open to and happy to participate in a critique of the moral hypocrisy of the West, his assertion that ‘our’ terrorism is equivalent to ‘their’ terrorism is a timid cliche’ masquerading as a bold statement that should only be taken seriously by sophomores after their third bong hit. This is not to say that liberal academia is useless but rather this is how it makes itself useless.
And don’t even get me started on Anarcho-Syndicalism…
It’s funny, because this is definitely one of those cases where my liberal friends think I’m a closet fascist even as my conservative ones think that I’m ready to collectivize Wall St.
I look forward to hearing from you. I miss you.