Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Chomsky plays fast and loose

Peter Beaumont in Sunday's Observer on Chomsky's new one - Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (his titles, like his rhetoric, are becoming so predictable!)
"Reading Failed States, I had an epiphany: that by applying a Chomskian analysis to his own writing, you discover exactly the same subtle textual biases, evasions and elisions of meaning as used by those he calls 'the doctrinal managers' of the 'powerful elites'. The mighty Chomsky, the world's greatest public intellectual, is prone to playing fast and loose.
It is important to recognise this fact because the Chomskian analysis has become the defining dissident voice of the blogosphere and a certain kind of far-left academia. So a sense of its integrity is crucial. It is obsessively well-read, but rather famished in original research, except when it is counting how often the liberal media say this or that in their search for hidden, and sometimes not-so-hidden, bias. Crucially, it is not interested in debate, because balance is a ruse of the liberal media elites used to con the dumb masses. Chomsky is essential to save you, dear reader, from the lies we peddle."
But then there is an awful lot conveniently missing from Chomsky's account of the crimes of his own country. In attempting to create a consistent argument for America as murderous bully, going back to the Seminole Wars, he edits out anything that could be put on the other side of the balance sheet. I could find no mention of the Marshall Plan, although there is enough about American crimes in Guatemala, to which he returns repeatedly. He can find enough to say about America's misdemeanours during the Cold War; but nothing about the genuine fear of the Soviet Union, one of the most brutally efficient human-rights-abusing states in history.

And if you have absolutely nothing else to do you can read the 146+ comments at the Observer blog.


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