Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chomsky on Obama

I'm not a big fan of Noam Chomsky. His patter - incensed allegations delivered in the dullest of deadpan - can easily lull the listener into a state of bitter numbness. Hearing him go on and on about how nefarious and hypocritical everything is (and we are) makes one yearn to ask: well, Noam, what exactly would you suggest? How would you proceed if you were running it all? But, in the answer to that question, he jumps the shark.

Very smart people (and no one's smarter than Chomsky) excel at spotting problems, but often believe in the most naive solutions. Karl Marx, for example, noticed the subjugation of workers at a time when few were paying attention to such things. His solution, though, was so patently silly, so only-on-paper effective, so obviously the sort of fatuous pie-in-sky brewed up by cloistered intellectuals groupthinking in cafes, that only a sheltered genius could deem it viable. Have a look at 
Libertarian Socialism and Anarcho-Syndicalism to learn what Chomsky deems viable.

That said, I do like to check in from time to time to hear what Chomsky has to say. His perspectives are always unique, and he can often shed light on things, even if I don't always buy his conclusions. And so I was wondering how he feels about the Obama victory. Would it shock you to learn he's not real heartened?

Watch a two minute
YouTube video of Chomsky's appearance on Al-Jazeera(!), and/or check out this lengthy speech presented by Democracy Now! (download the MP3, or read the transcript just below the scroll).


Anonymous said...

A lot of people complain that Chomsky doesn't provide them solutions to the problems he lectures about but I do not find this to be the case. To me Chomsky has always been very clear: The solution to problems has to do with individuals making rational and compassionate choices- changing their minds about long held beliefs and rejecting dogma. It's this very thing that enabled America to elect an African American president last November.

Jim Leff said...

Not sure you read all the way through. I didn't say Chomsky offered no solutions. Quite the contrary, my posting is about the solutions he favors: Libertarian Socialism and Anarcho-Syndicalism.

Those solutions are indeed as "rational" as can be...as in "works-on-paper" rational. As to whether they'd work in the real world, I'll leave it to each reader to decide.

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