Friday, August 24, 2012

Chomsky

Something that has bugged me for ages is the hero worship of Noam Chomsky. In my most memorable (not because it was good, it wasn't unfortunately) post I dismissed Chomsky as having lost his mind. I think it's obvious that he's lost his mind, but people, especially young clever people still adore him and it really irritates me.

Anyway, I came across this exchange the other week between Chomsky and another annoyingly liberal columnist George Monbiot. I imagine there are many (like literally hundreds of thousands) people who are big fans of both men, so I found this hilarious. I hope it made Chomsky fans squirm a bit.

Inspired, I decided to actualy check out one of the disputes for myself. In 2005 Chomsky was voted the worlds greatest public intellectual in a Prospect poll. They also published articles for and against Chomsky. In the against article Kamm quote Chomsky from his first book, “what is needed [in the US] is a kind of denazification.”

Chomsky likes to reply to his critics and had this to say in his response, "Proceeding further to demonstrate my “central” doctrine, Kamm misquotes my statement that “We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the US is dissent – or denazification.”"

This struck me a weird thing for Chomsky to do because it was pretty high profile (as far as these things go I guess) and is easy to check. So I did. Kamm's quote is correct and Chomsky's is "not even wrong", since he just quotes another part of the page.The bit Kamm quoted is right there on the page. So Chomsly misquotes his own book in a high profile exercise in moaning about people misquoting him.

Now obviously denazification could be exactly what Americans need, and he does kind of suggest it even as he moans about the misquote, but there is no possible way that he is not deliberatly trying to mislead his readers into believing that he didn't actually say that. It took me less than 5 minutes to check, but I guess he knows that hans fans don't do that kind of thing, and those that do don't care because his genaral point "still stands", or something.