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Chomsky’s Unearned Prestige

Eric Zuesse

A large part of Noam Chomsky’s public image as an intellectual is derived not from his role in the field of linguistics, but instead from his having co-authored with Edward Herman Manufacturing Consent. The first matter to be discussed here will therefore be Chomsky’s contribution to that work; and, more broadly, that work’s contribution to human understanding — the actual significance of the book.

Chomsky’s contribution to that 1988 book was to describe the selling of specifically the wars in Vietnam and in adjoining Indochinese nations, according to that book’s main author, Herman’s, theory. That theory was called the “Propaganda model of communication”. It’s the book’s theory, or “model,” of manufacturing consent for wars. According to their book, the practitioners of this model are the public relations or PR profession that sell, to the domestic American public, invasions and military occupations of foreign lands. This is a specialized field of PR.

Herman’s theory (or “model”) of political PR (commonly called “propaganda”) for the invasion and control of foreign countries, had, itself, actually already been presented 66 years earlier in almost full form in Walter Lippmann’s 1922 introduction of that concept, “the manufacture of consent,” but Lippmann focused there more broadly, on the selling of all types of governmental polices, and not only on the selling of invasions and military occupations of foreign lands. Lippmann had introduced this broader concept of “the manufacture of consent,” in his 1922 book Public Opinion.

Chomsky’s theoretical contribution to the concept — that is, to the theory (manufacture of consent) — was nil, and even Herman’s additions to Lippmann’s theory (Herman’s model of it, that is, for selling wars) were only minor, and certainly not as deep as Lippmann’s broader theory is. Lippmann’s analysis of the subject was the foundation of Herman’s “Propaganda Model.” Herman’s “model” of Lippmann’s theory was merely the application of “the manufacture of consent” to specifically the selling of foreign invasions and military occupations.

In any case, as Edward Herman’s biographer said, “Ed was the primary author. Ed developed the Propaganda Model and wrote the chapters before the Indochina wars, and Noam wrote the Indochina chapters.” This would mean that Chomsky wrote pages 169-296 (127 pages) of the 330-page work. He applied there Herman’s model, to analysis of the media-coverage of the wars in three countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Chomsky was the co-author who also gave the public speeches and most of the interviews on the book, because he was its famous author. Chomsky was therefore constantly generating new sales and income for both of the authors. He was the book’s main salesman. And this was Chomsky’s main contribution, outside of linguistics. Of course, his speeches and interviews about mainly-Herman’s book also helped considerably to increase Chomsky’s fame beyond his narrow technical field of linguistics.

Chomsky’s chief non-linguistic contribution to the world has thus been his marketing Herman’s model of the sales-promotions (the propaganda) for wars; and that model, in turn, was based upon Lippmann’s theory of the manufacture of consent. Here is how he marketed it:

In a 2002 interview, Chomsky said:

The term “manufacturing consent” is not mine, I took it from Walter Lippmann, the leading public intellectual and leading media figure of the twentieth century, who thought it was a great idea. He said we should manufacture consent, that’s the way democracies should work. There should be a small group of powerful people, and the rest of the population should be spectators, and you should force them to consent by controlling, regimenting their minds.

That’s not true. Lippmann instead had said the manufacture of consent happens, and throughout history has happened, in each and every nation, of every type. He didn’t say it “should” happen, but that it always does happen. He said a very different thing than what Chomsky said that Lippmann had said. What Lippmann had said is also far less heinous than Chomsky’s smear of Lippmann made it appear to be. It wasn’t heinous at all.

Here is the key part of Lippmann’s actual presentation on the matter:

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough.

The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power.

Within the life of the generation now in control of affairs, persuasion has become a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government. None of us begins to understand the consequences, but it is no daring prophecy to say that the knowledge of how to create consent will alter every political calculation and modify every political premise. Under the impact of propaganda, not necessarily in the sinister meaning of the word alone, the old constants of our thinking have become variables. It is no longer possible, for example, to believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. Where we act on that theory we expose ourselves to self-deception, and to forms of persuasion that we cannot verify.

Nowhere in all of Lippmann’s published writings did he ever say anything like: “We should manufacture consent, that’s the way democracies should work. There should be a small group of powerful people, and the rest of the population should be spectators, and you should force them to consent by controlling, regimenting their minds.”

Elsewhere, Chomsky asserted, which likewise was misrepresenting Lippmann’s views:

He [Lippmann] said this is useful and necessary because the common interests, the concerns of all people, elude the public. The public isn’t up to dealing with them, and they [“the concerns of all people”] have to be the domain of what he called a specialized class.

Notice that that’s the opposite of the standard view about democracy. There’s a version of this expressed by the very respected moralist and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. … His view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer, but because of the stupidity of the average man …, “necessary illusions” [are needed]. …

It’s not the case as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy, rather as this whole line of thinker observes, it’s the essence of democracy.

Lippmann’s view was instead that it’s not “the essence of” any type of government, but that it is an unfortunate part of every type of government. Instead of being portrayed as “the essence of democracy,” it was portrayed as something that’s in every sort of government.

The closest that Lippmann had said, to Chomsky’s version of it, was:

In the absence of institutions and education by which the environment is so successfully reported that the realities of public life stand out sharply against self-centered opinion, the common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality. This class is irresponsible, for it acts upon information that is not common property.

Lippmann there essentially defined what he had otherwise called “the sinister meaning of the word [propaganda]” as being the “irresponsible” type of it. Lippmann was not saying that this is what should be — much less that it’s the way any country ought to function. He was even, on the contrary, warning against it.

Lippmann went on to say “The democratic theory by failing to admit that self-centered opinions are not sufficient to procure good government, is involved in perpetual conflict between theory and practice.” His warning was prophetically important. He was pointing out the difference between the way things are (lacking some democratic regulations — democratic governance — that are needed in order to serve and protect individuals), and the way things must become, if the future isn’t to go the wrong way (as it has done, and still is doing). In any “non-sinister meaning” of the word “propaganda,” “the environment is so successfully reported [by practitioners of the propaganda professions] that the realities of public life stand out sharply against self-centered opinion.” Only to the extent that PR is entirely truthful, informing the public in such a way that “the realities of public life stand out sharply against self-centered opinion” and not at all deceiving or misleading people, can it even possibly avoid being “sinister.” And whenever it is “sinister,” it is “irresponsible.” He was clear.

Lippmann was (especially as seen now, in historical retrospect) both true and wise. The misrepresentation of him by Chomsky presents Lippmann instead as having been sinister.

Misrepresentations such as those described above, are common in Chomsky’s public statements. In the above examples, the topic happened to be one (“Manufacturing Consent”) regarding which Chomsky had gained a significant portion of his fame as being a supposed expert and authority. He supposedly understood this subject, and was supposedly an expert speaker about it, who wouldn’t distort and lie about the matter, such as he routinely does. (The examples cited here are not anomalous, they are typical.)

In 2005, the trade-newspaper for college and university professors, the Chronicle of Higher Education, headlined “Chomsky as the world’s top public intellectual”. It reported that in the first-ever poll taken by Britain’s Prospect magazine, Chomsky “has been voted the world’s leading public intellectual from a list of 100 prominent thinkers compiled by the British magazine.” Prospect also “holds the annual Think Tank Awards, which celebrate and reward the work of think tanks on a national and global scale. The awards are supported by Shell” and by other international corporations. Each one of them has a PR department, lobbyists, and other members of what Chomsky said that Lippmann had said was the “specialized class” “that’s the way democracies should work,” “because the common interests, the concerns of all people, elude the public. The public isn’t up to dealing with them.”

Perhaps academics, and the owners of international corporations, want the public to think that that’s the way things are — that the aristocracy (who control the corporations and endow the colleges, etc.) aren’t the cause and source and boss of the propaganda-business, and that instead the public’s own stupidity and gullibility are the cause and source of that business. That’s blame-the-victim thinking. However, that view of the matter came actually from Chomsky, not at all from Lippmann.

So, perhaps people who are gullible enough to be reading magazines such as Prospect, or the Chronicle, believe Chomsky is a wise man, but people who understand the propaganda-business, know better. They hire and promote organizations such as Prospect magazine and individuals such as Chomsky, to “force them [the public] to consent by controlling, regimenting their minds” (via such PR agencies and professors) so as to blame the public, instead of to blame the people who actually hire the people who manipulate the public: the aristocracy.

How exquisite a deception is this? Is Chomsky really so skilled an example of this “specialized class,” of persons who possess “that rationality,” which “belongs to the cool observer,” and not to “the naive” masses? Perhaps Chomsky has deceived himself to think so. Obviously, his many admirers think so and view him as being a paradigm of these ‘truths’ — but they’re lies. Chomsky’s ‘paraphrases’ of Lippmann are not statements of Lippmann’s actually expressed views, which are, if anything, the exact opposite. Chomsky’s statements about the person who was actually the originator of the concept of the manufacture of consent were a fraudulent caricature of Lippmann, as if Chomsky had greatly improved upon Lippmann’s original presentation of the “manufacture of consent.” Consequently, Chomsky misrepresented both the person, and that person’s concept and intention.

There are many, many, other examples of Chomsky’s deceptions. For one, his championing of America’s invasion of Syria is, itself, terrific propaganda for the manufacturers of US weapons such as Lockheed Martin, and for America’s and its allies’ international oil and gas giants, and it’s propaganda for criminal US invasions and military occupations of sovereign foreign lands. Until recently, America’s invasion and occupation of Syria were relying mainly upon the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda to train and lead ‘our moderate rebels’ there to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government by one that would be selected by the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia and are the key foreign ally of America’s aristocracy. The Sauds are the people who, by selling their oil only in dollars, prop up the value of the US dollar no matter how big the US Government’s debts and trade-deficits are.

But more recently, the US military has been relying instead upon Syria’s separatist Kurds to take over in northeast Syria. Either way, it’s America’s invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Syria — an extreme violation of a nation’s sovereignty over its own territory. However, Chomsky and many other leading scholars and intellectuals (and war-industry-funded think-tanksters) encourage this international aggression by the US Government. Here’s a specific example of that, from Chomsky:

On 23 April 2018 was published in the New York Review of Books, “A Call to Defend Rojava: An Open Letter”. Chomsky was one of its signers. His name there added prestige and ‘authority’ to the proposal.

Rojava is the projected name for a breakaway Kurdish region to be taken from the existing nation of Syria, by the US and its anti-Syrian allies, and to be ruled then by the U.S.-established “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) of the most-ethnocentric Kurds. That “Open Letter” was urging continued US military arming and training of Kurdish fighters, the SDF, to achieve this goal of a Kurdistan for Kurds, which would be like the existing Israel for Jews — that is, everyone else in the given territory would be second-class citizens; they’d be ruled by Kurds there, like in Israel by Jews. Rojava would be an apartheid state, like Judaic Israel is, and White South Africa was.

This letter, signed by Chomsky, demanded that the US “continue military support for the SDF,” and the letter asserted that “the Kurdish-led forces had established an oasis, unique in Syria, of local self-government, women’s rights, and secular rule.” That’s false. Secular rule and women’s rights wouldn’t be “unique in Syria,” but instead the same as under Syria’s present Government. The two links in that demand within the letter, are links that are in the letter itself, and both links are to articles that were written by neoconservatives — proponents of American conquest of foreign lands.

Syria’s Government already provides, and has long-established (not only in its customs but in its laws), both women’s rights and secular rule. However, a Western (US-allied, in this case Jordanian) poll of Syrian women found that four fifths of women said that “the social norms in Syria truly impede women’s success.” The same percentage might be found in Kurdish areas of Syria. The “social norms” in Syria were not established by the Government but by tribal and religious traditions that go back for centuries, and even for millennia.

Syria’s Constitution, however, asserts that

The state shall provide women with all opportunities enabling them to effectively and fully contribute to the political, economic, social and cultural life, and the state shall work on removing the restrictions that prevent their development and participation in building society.”

It also says:

Citizens shall be equal in rights and duties without discrimination among them on grounds of sex, origin, language, religion or creed.”

Although some Syrians (including some Kurdish ones) want Islamic (Sharia) law, and most of the fighters who have been backed by the US Government to overthrow Syria’s Government are of that religious type (jihadists — fighters based on religious reasons and favoring religion-based laws), Syria is the most secular of all Arabic countries; and even the polling in Syria by Western polling organizations has shown consistently that the secular Bashar al-Assad would easily win any free and fair election there.

Furthermore, Table 26 of the July 2015 Orb International poll of Syrians asked Syrians for “the reason that explains the presence of ISIL?” (“ISIL” is synonymous with ISIS and Daesh.) And 82% of Syrians said “ISIL is US foreign manufacture.” That was the highest percentage for any explanation. In Table 20, the other options were also shown, and the closest ones were 59% for “widespread sectarian politics in the Arab countries and in Turkey,” and then 55% for “ISIL is some Arab regimes manufacture” — presumably referring in that case to the Sauds, especially since Turkey wasn’t included in that particular option (it’s not Arab) and yet 55% is nearly as high as the 59% (which did include Turkey — along with “the Arab countries” — as being a cause for ISIL’s being in Syria).

So, Syrians apparently know the truth about that matter, even if Americans (such as Chomsky) don’t. The US Government is the main source of their war, and “sectarian politics in the Arab countries and in Turkey” also contributed to it. In other words: the US Government has taken advantage of those local “sectarian politics” in order to conquer Syria. The US is even more unpopular among Syrians than is the Saud family, and this is the reason why the US Government was trying to get the Sauds to run Syria. The US Government has a bad reputation in almost every Muslim-majority land, but especially in Syria and in Iran (neither of which that US Pew poll even sampled), both of which the US Government hopes to conquer.

In a 26 September 2018 interview with The Intercept, Chomsky said of “the Kurdish areas — Rojava” that “They have the one part of Syria which is succeeded in sustaining a functioning society with many decent elements. And the idea that they should be subjected to an attack by their bitter enemies the Turks, or by the murderous Assad regime I think anything should be done to try to prevent that.” Chomsky there certainly disrespects Syrian national sovereignty, and despises the non-sectarian President of that country, who shares the view (which repeated polling in Syria has shown to be the view of the vast majority of Syrians), that Syria is and must remain a secular and multi-ethnic country. The goal of breaking Syria up into ethnic enclaves has circulated ever since at least the 1950s within the CIA, RAND Corporation, and Israel. However, Obama’s goal was instead to have the royal Saud family control Syria. But that plan had already failed even before Trump became the US President.

As to the reality regarding the Kurds versus the Government, it’s tragic. Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s highly secular ruling Baath Party (which existed long before the Assad family rose to its leadership) have faced only bad options there. Propagandists of the sinister type (such as Chomsky) take advantage of that fact. The northwest Syrian city of Afrin is the best example of this reality. On 7 June 2018, Britain’s pro-US-empire (or “neoconservative”) Guardian newspaper headlined “‘Nothing is ours anymore’: Kurds forced out of Afrin after Turkish assault: Many who fled the violence January say their homes have been given to Arabs”.

The article was true, except that it ignored the key fact, that the Arabs whom Syria’s Government had transferred into the Kurdish-rebel-run city of Afrin and who now were taking it over, were jihadists who had been defeated by the Government, around the city of Ghouta, and the Government chose to offer those jihadists this relocation to Afrin in preference to the Government’s killing everyone in the pro-Sharia-law enclaves around Ghouta simply in order to destroy those jihadists there. (Syria’s Government wanted to minimize civilian casualties, and so offered jihadists this alternative, which would free non-combatant Ghoutans from their captors instead of killing them, but there was this inevitable down-side to doing that.)

So, the Government was now letting the fundamentalist-Sunnis who rejected Syria’s Government, fight in Afrin against the tribalist Kurds there who controlled that area and rejected Syria’s Government. Unfortunately, tragically, the non-tribalist Kurds likewise became dispossessed there. Wikipedia has a brief but broadly accurate description of the background of this tragedy:

Syrian Civil War
Main article: Afrin Canton

During the Syrian Civil War, Syrian government forces withdrew from the city during the summer of 2012. The Popular Protection Units (commonly known as YPG) took control of the city soon afterward.

Afrin Canton as a de facto autonomous part was declared on 29 January 2014, the town of Afrin being the administrative center. The assembly elected Hêvî Îbrahîm Mustefa prime minister, who later appointed Remzi Şêxmus and Ebdil Hemid Mistefa to work as deputies.

Between 2012 and 2018, the YPG, the official [that term ‘official’ is, however, just a CIA lie, because it was instead only de facto, which even the CIA-edited and written Wikipedia recognizes to mean non-official – EZ] defence force of the canton, was criticized for recruiting child soldiers, committing arbitrary arrests and failing to address unsolved killings and disappearances. According to the reports, the YPG and Asayish were also accused of forcibly recruiting civilians, arresting political activists and displacing more than 150,000 Arabs whose homes were later stolen and looted. Displaced Arabs accused the Kurdish security forces of imposing taxes and restrictions on the population in order force them to leave, and change the demography.

Propagandists take advantage of such tragedies, in order to deceive the public. Chomsky, a co-author of Manufacturing Consent, is an example of that — in this case manufacturing consent for US imperialism. What he has been saying about Syria is propagandizing for America’s invasion and occupation of that country. The means by which this immensely destructive invasion and occupation are done are not merely US troops training and arming the fighters, but are especially the fighters themselves, first mainly jihadists, but more recently and increasingly ethnocentric Kurds.

The results of this ‘civil war’ have been horrific. “Gallup measured negative emotions in 138 countries in 2013 by asking people whether they experienced a lot of stress, sadness, anger, physical pain, and worry the previous day, … [and found that Syria] is the only country in the world whose Negative Experience Index score exceeds its Positive Experience Index score.” Iraq was found to be almost as bad — still, even ten years after the US regime’s destruction of that country, in 2003, by an invasion based on lies.

An extraordinary journalist at a mainstream ‘news’-medium, William Arkin, quit NBC and MSNBC on January 2nd, and the independent columnist Caitlin Johnstone, headlined then “Reporter Quits NBC Citing Network’s Support For Endless War”. She linked to Arkin’s email resigning from those networks. It had mentioned such unmentionables as “I’m alarmed at how quick NBC is to mechanically argue … in favor of policies that just spell more conflict and more war. Really? We shouldn’t get out Syria?” But it’s not only the directly mega-corporate ‘news’-media that shape the ‘news’ this way. Johnstone aptly noted:

A journalist with NBC has resigned from the network with a statement which highlights the immense resistance that ostensibly liberal mass media outlets have to antiwar narratives, skepticism of US military agendas, and any movement in the opposite direction of [from] endless military expansionism. … Another way to say it would be that plutocrat-controlled and government-enmeshed media networks hire reporters to protect the warmongering oligarchic status quo upon which media-controlling plutocrats have built their respective kingdoms, and foster an environment which elevates those who promote establishment-friendly narratives while marginalizing and pressuring anyone who doesn’t.

The enormous success of that manufacturing of consent for our nation’s military, has been proven conclusively, by Gallup’s constant polling of Americans on our degrees of respect, or disrespect, for the nation’s various institutions. Each and every year, the one institution that Americans respect by far the most is the military. The American institution that’s the worst of all (an engine of misery even within the United States), is also the most respected of all. That’s how enormously successful the manufacturing of consent is, in America. Can such a country be a democracy at all, or only a dictatorship? Does it resemble 1984’s “Big Brother,” and perpetual war for perpetual ‘peace’?

On 18 March 2011, a blogger at Huffington Post, David A. Love, headlined “A State of Perpetual War”, and opened:

In the George Orwell classic 1984, there is a state of perpetual war between the nations of Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The enemy in the conflict is ambiguous, and the battlefield exists in an elusive and distant land. The enemy could be Eurasia one day, and Eastasia the next, but that location is really insignificant. … Before, it was the Cold War, and now it is the War on Terror. And the boogeyman du jour is Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism rather than Communism. And it doesn’t seem to matter whether the government is controlled by Democrats or Republicans.

And now, the ‘enemies’ are, yet again, Russia, and China, and North Korea, and Iran — but always anything, in order to keep the tax-money flowing to firms like Lockheed Martin, in order to provide the muscle, for firms like ExxonMobil, to be able to extract resources more profitably, from around the world.

What Chomsky is doing is in accord with the theory for selling foreign invasions and military occupations, as was set forth in his co-authored 1988 book. Chomsky has been practicing what he has become famous for condemning. (Instead of training and arming Vietnamese and other fighters, the US now is training and arming jihadist and ethnocentric fighters, such as ones led by Al Qaeda and by separatist Kurds.) And few, if any, of Chomsky’s admirers have even noticed this. His admirers have been oblivious.

Readers who may wish to explore more deeply the current and very sinister ways in which the US Government is manufacturing consent, will see an especially potent example of that, here.

Originally posted at strategic-culture.org

218 Comments

  1. Antonym. says

    The present US is definitely the super bully right now but it is naive to think that the mentality only exists in Anglo minds around Washington DC, Arlington, Manhattan or Dallas.

    The new kid on the block is Xi from Beijing and his (state Capitalist) comrades: stupid to ignore the next one…

  2. Antonym. says

    Walter Lipmann died in 1974, so long before the rise of the wired Internet and wireless communication. He lived in a world of a few newspapers and TV channels, easier to control. Today we have Internet, Twitter, Whats-app, Facebook, Off Guardian etc., impossible to control apart from hundreds of TV channels. Therefore domestic mass-spying was needed by the Establishments and 9/11 was an excellent fig leaf.
    Orwell and Lippmann were right in their interpretation of the intentions of any Establishment, but could not foresee the new info channels of the general population.
    Chomsky outlived them and has therefore more of space to speak unchallenged but with “authority”.

  3. Frankly Speaking says

    I could have never believed that Maureen Lipman could have caused so much controversy and debate here.

  4. David Eire says

    I think this article misrepresents Chomsky whom I continue to respect even if he sometimes has views I cannot support. Walter Lippmann was an elitist intellectual who characterised the civilian population as a ‘bewildered herd’ which needed to be managed by propaganda. I guess propaganda, or persuasion, is preferable to martial force and gulags.

    A conservatist realist would probably agree with Lippmann. A moralist progressive might say It ought not to be that way. But the illusions of personal independence and freedom we all believe and cherish are really only myths. We are all products of our environments and utterly dependent. We have the capacity to engage real intelligence and get beyond our induced nature to some limited extent; but very few ever get very far with it; and it can get you in a lot of trouble with the people you live and work with.

    There are some excellent comments on this article.

    • This could also be seen as a demand for unconsciousness. (In the masses).
      Or a refusal or incapacity for self-responsibility.

      I don’t stress one side of a coin to exclude the other.

      Guilt that is projected so as to mitigate its pain will still demand punishment.

      And guilt is protected and valued as the core means of manipulating ourselves or others.

      A sense of lacking control gave rise to the idea of power OVER life.
      the experience of being denied, deprived, rejected, abandoned, betrayed (by life or by others), generates a sense of defence, opposition and reaction in like kind – as the right to live – in such terms as the trauma set.

      The action-reaction of fragmentation that I see as our personified paralysis or powerlessness v blind power is reaching a dead end or at least a deadening ending of the dream of an Embrace of Life on Earth.

      Managing dissonances in the system is blind to their true nature and gift – when no longer demonised, regulated or medicated out of existence.

      Life will ‘out’.

      The denials that are now stored up over millennia are perhaps almost as far out as we can go (but we all have different breaking points and thus capacity to adapt to insane conditions).

      My sense is that the bewildered and armoured people I meet or see, are carrying parts of me that I have lost the capacity to recognize excepting through seeing them differently. This becomes a capacity for releasing my version of them to an active moment or relationship that has a quality of acknowledged presence that shares.

      Very different from persisting as if my ‘superior’ judgement of my version of them is in fact true and therefore justifying my withholding of relationship and recognition behind a social masking substitution. But that is the learned or acquired and conditioned identity-habit.

  5. Makropulos says

    For what it’s worth, here’s my theory about Chomsky: I don’t think he’s a “spook” or a “mole”. I just think he’s a good example of that old adage that it’s hard to get someone to see the truth when his livelihood depends on him NOT seeing it. I think the JFK thing was the turning point. He realised there was something odd going on but the implications disturbed him – as indeed they would anyone.

    The quote from his associate Selwyn Bromberger is probably a signal of Chomsky’s own feeling: “If they are strong enough to kill the President, and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly . . . if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule”

    However, that there’s a bit of swaggering self-deception going on there. Would the forces behind the assassination really “feel sufficiently threatened” by anything Chomsky & co. would do? Of course – if these forces would kill a president, they would certainly not agonise over the life of an academic. But they hardly need to go that far. Chomsky can say what he wants technically but if he were to depart from the Oswald version, he’d instantly be relegated to the “nutty fringe” and huge amounts of media channels would no longer be open to him. He may rationalise his retreat from sincere enquiry by saying it would effectively make him disappear and that wouldn’t benefit anyone. However, the least he could have done was to remain agnostic on the “conspiracy” issue. That he joined the tedious anti-conspiracy mantra has the effect of invalidating all he says – or at least renders it suspect.

    • Hugh O'Neill says

      I think you are being too kind to Chomsky. What price integrity? What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but suffers the loss of his own soul? (It is interesting – to me – that John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness, still ended up with his head on a plate).
      On the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, John Pilger told Amy Goodman that many more shots were fired than the seven allegedly fired by Sirhan; she simply ignored this crucial eye-witness testimony, and Pilger let her. One would have thought that at some point in their careers, these journalists might find the courage to finally speak truth to power.

      • “(It is interesting – to me – that John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness, still ended up with his head on a plate)”

        The faith in the light, calls on or attracts the (awareness of light), preparing the way by the repentance and sweeping out of dark arts or habits of a mind set in secrets and lies; (darkness).
        But while recognising and welcoming the light (in Jesus) John could not accept it fully but only see it OUTSIDE himself while the presumption of self as sin (unworthiness of light) was so fearfully predicated to disallow or deny awareness of light within and AS the true self.

        And so the specialness framed in separation of the ‘head and the heart’.

        John was a ‘populist’ amidst a time in which the ruling class were systemically corrupt, such that the learned or priests and ruling class were masked of their use of the letter of the law as a weapon against the spirit of the law, for the Law is for Man. Man is not for the Law.

        Thus – despite a stirring or recognition within his own heart, Herod Antipas, was tricked by his (illegitimate and fearful) wife to kill John via his appreciation and offering of gift to Delilah’s dancing – among his peers.

        The symbolic nature of ‘losing our head’ can of course manifest literally.

        The pattern is not dissimilar to the Emperor’s new clothes; a fear of losing face or exposure in illegitimacy and thus penalty and pain of loss, chooses (or succumbs to accepting) captivity under the mask of social dictates) over the true movement of being.

        The denial of the true for a masking mind is enacted in secret – that is the denial is itself denied. When we notice the persistent crowing of the cock, light will dawn of itself.

        Noticing is within the grace or gift of being – while the subjugation to self and world in image operates a mis-taken identity.

        The recognition of a pervasive or systemic dis-integrity is associated with betrayal, hate and rage that can run both hot and cold. The temptation to see this exclusively in others, is rooted in the feared denial or attack on such evils in our self. It takes one to know one.

        But truly recognizing the light in another is of the Same, and not an adulation or idolising of a ‘separate’ or special self.

        Self specialness is as reinforced in grievance as it is in self-inflation or aggrandisement.

        When we see more that we did before, why do we invalidate or denigrate all that brought us to this moment?

        Gatekeeping serves purpose in its timing for those who share a similar sense of self-protective blindness.

        Some thought John the Baptist possessed of a demon – as they did of Jesus. But Jesus didn’t appeal to fear, hate and guilt as a means to ‘become morally acceptable’ and so seemed to have the power to cast them out by opening a PRIOR recognition in the willingness to share it.

        • Hugh O'Neill says

          Binra. Quoting JtB, I am not fit to tie the straps of your sandals. I understand that one sees in others what is within oneself and thus the truly good will find the good in others etc. Every man has a free will to choose between right and wrong, but only unblemished by Original Sin could see the good in Everyman, a necessary prerequisite for Forgiveness.
          There must be good in both Lippmann and Chomsky but there is a strong injunction against those who bear false witness e.g. if Chomsky were deliberately inverting Lippmann. I know nothing about either one, but there seems to be truth in the insight of the masses as easily malleable (Free Barabas!).

          • The ‘I’m not fit to…’ presentation… is a presentation.
            Your worth is not in question if you do not create yourself.
            But what you make by believing it true (reacting to as true) is real for you and of course we do nothing alone nor exist in isolation but in relation – within a whole that can be extended and shared or blocked and withheld.

            I hold that truth is not mocked by illusions regardless their apparent intensity – but our awareness of truth is fragile while we are in a world of sin – which is easiest to describe as a world of unforgivable and irrevocable guilt.

            So while Jesus had no time for ‘hypocrites’ (actors) – he gave full attention to the spark of willingness for truth, including in those who were socially outcast, diseased or considered morally repugnant. His heresy was in the undoing of guilt as the god of terror and sacrifice within himself by the capacity to receive truth of another instead of giving attention to the witnesses for guilt.

            True innocence is not a contrast with guilt – but an unconflicted quality of awareness that fear covers and guilt locks in.
            That is to say it is prior to the ‘mind of thinking and perceiving’ and so invisible and inconceivable TO such a mind.
            However truth can and does leak through the filters, distortions and defences set against it. In this ‘world’ it may be simpler to see in terms of our willingness for truth – as distinct from the a-tempt to make or control or use it for private agenda.

            If I read anyone anywhere I will listen through an inner willingness or NOT really listen at all – but only run my own thinking AS IF I am in relationship of communication. The true nature of communication is shared purpose (relational willingness) else nothing is really shared. So much of what passes as currency is mutually reinforcing self-illusion that operates as if saved FROM relationship that is interprets as a loss or limit or threat to its freedom to have its OWN reality experience or ‘self-creation’.

            As I said I read the first part of Lippman’s work from a link on this page and enjoyed a shared journey of considering and watching how the mind and its image or model of itself in its world operates as if or instead of reality – and the demand then for adjustments and etc. This does not mean I ‘trust’ Lippman, so much as trust myself to discern and value what is true or resonates worthy of alighting in in terms of the desire or willingness that I am abiding in.
            I have read some Chomsky in the past and watched videos of him and noticed where he doesn’t go – but he hasn’t attracted or held my interest perhaps because I don’t feel to make identity from what is wrong or terrible or horrifying in others – as if to become ‘relatively’ innocent, or ‘less guilty’. He has to live the consequences of his choices and actions, as i mine and yet in some sense what we think say and do never affects our self alone – because we exist in relation.
            The murdered will not leave the murderer until recognised and released. But the world is made to hide the consequence by denials and subterfuges of ingenious ‘fig-leaf’ thinking. Or rather while we use our brother or sister to hide our own sins in and attack them or assign penalty there, we are locking ourself into an impossible and intolerable situation from which there is no escape. But there is the willingness to release another of our own self-certainties and be willing to know of him anew. Nothing I said is justification for hateful or criminal behaviour, but it is opening the way to bring its cause into awareness instead of hiding and protecting the lie and the father of it by taking vengeance as a private self vindication.

            ‘Don’t know mind’ is not stupid, nor unreceptive to the prompting or awareness of the movement of being that is gifted rather than manufactured. There is a world of difference – and therefore growing in willingness for a different world than anything we can make alone, apart and as if set over life.

            So yes – there is the issue of giving false witness – and that is a disintegrity that calls for correction. Firstly I release investment of allegiance in the false so as NOT to to join in (reinforce) the error, and notice my judgements – because there is that which I hate in myself. This I can notice and bring into ownership. It is mine and therefore mine to bring to awareness rather than hide by hating or deriding another.

            I really do not know the details of why others act as they do excepting that fear is often masking as love or concern in ways that hide in a sense of self-justified blindness. Fear can also be leveraged as a means of control. And documenting an evil can become a fascination or inverted worship of it – that finds reward – but a reward that entraps or compromises.

            Another simple idea is to consider the personae of your own experience and recognize the casting manager is within your mind. You have made your version of everyone in your life and these are changeable and constantly change.
            In mind control methods, the fracturing of the mind to different personalities operates an extension of something already running. To such a personality, the dissociation is a self-protection against reliving a fearful, terrifying or shameful experience. At the level of identification IN personae, the idea of original sin can be seen as a hidden denial that must not be allowed open disclosure – and kept hidden by the belief it is done TO us as a rejection or judgement and penalty by life, by another. Those who know not what they do – are deeply committed to keeping it so – until a light shines into a darkened mind as a grace of self recognition from which a seed grows to question and challenge its reality.

            We may grieve when an idol falls, but in truth we are freer even if we don’t appreciate that immediately – and nothing truly shared is truly lost. Negative idolatry is no less deceiving – but operates the hate or terror symbol against which to make a self. If love turns to hate – it never was love, but only a condition in which hate seemed more attractive and so relatively ‘joyful’. Stockholm syndrome captives feel ‘loved’ by NOT being hurt. A tyrannous mind is hidden and protected by its captive.

    • Ari Paul says

      Thanks Makropulos for the thoughtful comment. But I think your point can be summed up very simply:

      Chomsky is clearly part of the establishment because the establishment does not make any forceful propaganda against him; he’s prominent but not vilified.

      • Part of the established order does not mean part of an organisation.
        I may be wrong but I feel he is essentially ignored or walled out of any real effect insofar as he speaks critically.
        Is that so?
        And so does he willingly or not occupy the place designated for him by the fact that what he says has no real effect.

        I see it that those who break the unspoken rules or step out of line who for whatever reason cant just be disappeared, bought, compromised and smeared or intimidated to retract, retire or revise their stance, are walled out or ignored.

  6. Frankly Speaking says

    Hmmm.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, the rest of us are having to work 12 hours a day to make ends meet.

    We pay our taxes and hope that they are spent wisely, not on academic wafflers and their tortuous analysis, circular arguments, mud slinging between themselves ( this article and most comments on it) etc, but all of which is entirely fine by “us” if it’s self-funded by these types.

    We try and keep it simple and down to Earth, just hoping for the traditional Labour Party to return one day, not the one stuffed to the brim with warmongering Bliarites (sic) on one side, or student politicians or Trotskyists or Bolsheviks on the other side.

    We also believe that our rights are better protected from utterly evil neoliberals by teaming up with others via Trade Unions and the European Union.

    Failing all those simple aspirations, we pray for the quick return of the Messiah to save us from what’s rapidly becoming a hell on Earth. I also look forward to a return to more relatable articles on OG.

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      • Frankly Speaking says

        I’m not actually too sure! I’d just woken up and tried to read the article and posted my thoughts, unfiltered. Wishing for edit and delete buttons here one day very soon.

        • bevin says

          “Wishing for edit and delete buttons here…”
          You make a very convincing argument.

          • Frankly Speaking says

            Apologies m’Lord Bevin, some of us serfs had to make do with Comprehensive education and might not be quite as eloquent as thou self. Humbly apologise, I know my place m’Lord, I will promise to use the edit and delete button generously.

        • Benge says

          I thought your comment made perfect sense.
          Sometimes academic squabbling and quibbling seems a bit of an indulgence.
          The present, in the UK, is a shining example of such a time.

          • Frankly Speaking says

            Thank you Benge, that’s what was on my mind: academic over indulgence. Meanwhile, Rome is burning.

          • Everyone perceives their own version of this article/comment thread.
            The reason this is so is well illuminated by Lippman very near the beginning of his book.
            If there is one world ‘out there’, everyone has their own particular version or perspective.
            Because we can only engage or relate in it through the definitions and beliefs and agreements that – in any given moment – are accepted ‘reality’.
            Competing narrative identities reinforce identity in the model.
            Identifying underlying issues opens the currently believed and acted out beliefs and presumptions to the possibility of revision within a wider perspective.
            To the invested identity this is simply ‘threat’ and so will be blocked, sidetracked, evaded and subverted or distorted to serve the identity reinforcement.

  7. Paul says

    To give Zuesse the benefit of the doubt he has clearly not understood what Lippmann is trying to say about ‘manufacturing consent’. Chomsky very ably cuts through the rather tortuous prose Lippmann uses. What his position boils down to is that the modern world is too complex for the average voter to understand and that in a modern democracy a specialized class is needed who study the problems and see to it that the right decisions are made. Chomsky lays out in Lipmann’s position very clearly in his essay ‘Force and Opinion'(in Deterring Democracy from 1991) and places him within a longer tradition of thinkers who dealt with the issue.

    For those who are in a hurry just check this: https://historicalunderbelly.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/the-roar-of-a-bewildered-herd/

    • “To give Zuesse the benefit of the doubt he has clearly not understood what Lippmann is trying to say about ‘manufacturing consent’.” That seems plausible to me. Which is why the issue is: Did Chomsky get Lippmann right or not? Of course, Chomsky shouldn’t actually say this or that person said something if that person didn’t. Paraphrasing is fine, if you’re being clear that that’s what you’re doing. Zuesse is saying Chomsky has misquoted Lippmann. I don’t know.

    • Eric Zuesse says

      That comment from ‘Paul’ is yet more misrepresentation of Lippmann. ‘Paul’ took that quotation from Lippmann’s 1927 book, The Phantom Public, Chapter XIV, “Society in its Place.” This chapter opens with “A false ideal of democracy can lead only to disillusionment …” That opening paragraph closes with “The public must be put in its place, so that it may exercise its own powers, but no less and perhaps even more, so that each of us may live free of the trampling and roar of the bewildered herd.” That entire section closes by condemning situations “where false unities are worshiped, and each special interest is forever proclaiming itself the voice of the people and attempting to impose its purpose upon everybody as the purpose of all mankind.” Lippmann is condemning false ‘prophets’, who manipulate the public.

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      • Hugh O'Neill says

        It appears that Lippmann can be taken out of context (by both Chomsky and Paul?) and his meaning inverted. Perhaps it is too easy to misquote Lippmann – or did Lippmann speak with forked tongue firmly in cheek? Regardless, the point is clear that public opinion is indeed fickle and can be easily moulded (William Shirer explained this in his “Rise & Fall of the 3rd Reich”). I think we can all agree that when one casts one’s [informed] vote in a democracy, one needs to have some understanding of the issues – just as one acts morally with an informed conscience. That is why education and critical thinking are key elements to Democracy – and why both are under such constant attack by the powers that be. Many thanks to all you critical thinkers and writers.

        • Eric Zuesse says

          Nothing that I have said about Lippmann is about Lippmann but instead about first, Chomsky, and now, Paul, as misrepresenting Lippmann. Do I trust Lippmann’s honesty? I don’t know. Do I trust Chomsky’s? Certainly NOT!!! Do I trust ‘Paul’s? He linked to an idiot’s lifting of a quotation out of its necessary context by which to understand that quotation. At least, Paul did something stupid there, but whether he was doing it to deceive? I doubt that.

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          • Eric Zuesse says

            Re. my “Do I trust Lippmann’s honesty? I don’t know.”

            I did say “Lippmann was (especially as seen now, in historical retrospect) both true and wise. The misrepresentation of him by Chomsky presents Lippmann instead as having been sinister.”

            Ever since childhood, when I read Lippmann’s A PREFACE TO MORALS, he convinced me that he was wise, because I found that his citations were accurately represented and were to the point. But I have never fully trusted him, because he wrote with insufficient clarity. That’s why “I don’t know.” I still don’t know.

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        • “I think we can all agree that when one casts one’s [informed] vote in a democracy, one needs to have some understanding of the issues – just as one acts morally with an informed conscience.” Sure, But then our informed votes get mixed in with many, many more uninformed votes. What do you get when you pee in fine wine?

          • Urine therapy?

            Is that an apt metaphor?
            People think or imagine and believe or hope that they are voting for something they hope to get or keep or grow, or against something they hope not to lose by or lose to.
            Insofar as an ability or willingness to understand and address issues, is blocked, subverted or distorted by invested identity operating and operated by archetypes of ancient personality entanglements – people are effectively led and controlled by emotionally backed reaction to unquestioned perceptions and beliefs.
            However, this to me calls for a culture of inclusion and education – not invalidation and exclusion.

            The idea of education is itself open to abuse as a coercive indoctrination rather than a leading out and support of the desire to know and become.

            Fantasy led dispossession is the nature of a world of deceit.
            A vote to posture fantasy at cost of true relation is a vote to live it out upon a life unrecognised.
            A vote for true relation, grows the willingness and capacity to see and recognize what a world of lies is made to hide – and hide from.

            So valuing freedom is the unfolding education of growing it in self as in others.
            We have already learned how to see ‘freedom’ in ourself at expense of others – which feeds the experience of loss of freedom to others – and reactive resentment of hate and envy.

      • DunGroanin says

        EZ – can you elaborate on why you have just decided to take down the mighty wizard of Narrative?

        Not in anyway disagreeing with you.

        • Frankly Speaking says

          As the Sex Pistols would say, perhaps he did it because:

          Friggin’ in the riggin’
          There was fuck all else to do…

      • bevin says

        It seems to me that Lippman is making a fairly standard argument against democracy as ‘mob rule’ . Naturally these would be led by ‘false prophets’. The basic problem is that underlying these views is a chronic mistrust of the masses and their judgement.
        “But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
        Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.”

        • Because an emotion rules mob happens and is cultivated does not mean one has to deny democracy as the idea of having a say in decisions that affect us.

        • Eric Zuesse says

          When ‘bevin’ says “It seems to me that Lippman is making a fairly standard argument against democracy as ‘mob rule’,” I think that that’s a misrepresentation of what Lippmann’s constant position was. Lippmann opposed “A false ideal of democracy,” “where false unities are worshiped.” He condemned the misrepresentation both of democracy and of what is in the public’s interest. I don’t recollect him ever having blamed the public for its having been deceived. I don’t perceive elitism in him, though I very much perceive it in Chomsky.

          Though I consider Lippmann to have been a wise man, I think that he was always trying to find as non-controversial a way of phrasing things as possible, so that he wouldn’t be offending people by his views. Consequently, his writing-style was, in my view, bad. He wanted to understand the world much more than he wanted to convey the world clearly. Some writers use parables to veil their views, but Lippmann used other techniques. Chomsky is different. He’s a bad writer for other reasons. But in one way, he’s a bad writer for the same reason: he veils his views because they’re sometimes the opposite of what he wants the reader to think they are.

          To me, Chomsky is a hypocrite, but I don’t perceive Lippmann to have been that, at all. I think that the motivations behind Lippmann’s bad style were different from the motivations behind Chomsky’s bad style.

          • RE: “avoiding offending people”

            Do you mean treading on eggshells so as not to invite or incite a feared reaction, or conscious communication that does not engage in personal smear or attack as a personal satisfaction?

            My sense of the persona is of a mask for defence – that is itself defended as part of or representing self – but self under threat.
            Being right does not necessarily serve a true outcome – but more likely the false if its right is claimed upon the wrong or sin of the other – as the denial of the other – who of course may be also in confusion or conflict.

            I intend to read Lippman and will see what I find.
            There are cultural blindspots or indeed no-go areas that cannot be directly addressed without invoking the most primordial of defences.

            The idea of working with what can be said can become the gatekeeper to an unspoken sense of what must never be said (or thought). The ‘establishment in this sense is not just its apparent ‘controllers’ but the core survival sense of a collective unconsciousness – or rather a collective agreement NOT to look there or allow into awareness – albeit each for their own reasons’.

            Perhaps we each can only make the gift that we are uniquely able to give – and that what seems a failure or even betrayal is itself an education in the fall of idols or dis-illusionment in the truest sense.

            If I find no match or welcome or resonance for who I am discovering and accepting myself to be – then can I move on with a blessing in the trust that what does match or resonate is still actively welcomed, or shall I play out the drama of rejection and carry its curse as if at the hand of another?

            The self of the personality is predicated upon the idea of denial, deprivation and offence – and the use of victimhood as the foundation for justified attack as defence, self-vindication and victory in vengeance.

            A poor workman blames his tools as an identification in helplessness hard done by.
            But never for a moment does the cause of such a communication breakdown and ‘failed outcome’ leave the one who seeks to cast the blame – and even the tool – away.

            The rage that can surface from a momentary exposure or leak of self-judgement is indiscriminate or blind and blinding. It is also guilt-inducing. An insane mind seeks to regain what it fears and believes lost or denied and deprives in insane ways.

            Talking down an armed madman is first finding any willingness for a channel of communication as a basis through which a present relational recognition can undo an intensely driven dissociation. But there has to be the willingness to relate – rather than war.

            Of course one can simply kill them or storm the siege and write of the ‘collateral’ damage as part of the mad script that runs our mind-in-denial. Or pretend to relate as a way to get a clear shot… by proffering the poison chalice to any basis for any trust to re-establish.

            How does genuine communication (or relationship) know itself true?
            And not merely the forms and presentations of passing off as true in mutual agreement to separate through seeming to join?

            I like to remind myself that hypocrite – as used in the Bible’s NT and – meant ‘actor’. All derogatory terms tend to become shortcuts by which we simply assign blame and act out the judge. – (and find receipt in like kind).

    • The development of scientific specialisations has generated a world that scientists themselves don’t understand – but that their handlers are able to interpret to better market capture or weapons to protect it.
      There IS a basis for discerning where someone is coming from and not needing to analyze their presentation to know it carries a hidden agenda – but this is wisdom, not analytical understanding.

      While faith is invested the scientific discovery of the true nature of the world, as the basis for how to live, technocracy tends to operate behind any personalities or political face. However, the capture of science makes for the means to manipulate through such beliefs as scientific PR is used to induce, nurture and exploit.

      In terms of the complexity of our already running but fast changing tech-industrial global world – who understands it?
      However, in my view, that is a reason to bring it into transparence and accountability of real relationships – because we can understand that we are being deliberately denied and dis-informed or lied to and manipulated. And we can educate ourselves/each other in greater vigilance against being deceived.

      I read the opening parts of Lippman. I don’t find it tortuous but that it communicates well at the level of attention it represents. perhaps you are in a hurry – but is that your attention issue?
      A key point I read Lippman saying is that we cannot understand (or indeed judge) another’s actions without understanding what the believed true as the context of their actions.
      The belief that we can – in my view – is the wish to dump our own ill intent onto others and attack them for our ‘sins’ while presenting a ‘superior view’. This is ‘attack the person’ rather than engage the issue.
      I will read the rest of Lipman – who is talking of what millennials may call the Matrix; a virtual reality taken in place of true relation. I am not drawn to read Chomsky. I note that the perpetrators of deceit are articulate about the way deceits operate – but frame them so as to exclude themselves – or their group. Hence the accusation of one’s own sins are directed at the other. This goes down very deep – or rather – everything comes home that belongs to you.

      Specialisation goes back at least to the City State replacing the hunter gatherer tribe. But a key issue is do the parts embody and serve the whole – which alone gives meaning to the parts. Or does the clever thinking priesthood hide its own nakedness behind complex lies that demand sacrifice to be maintained? And as the deciders of ‘who has to pay’ to keep a world of lies running, (and hurrying to keep up just to survive) – they are the last in line.

      But then in self deceits are we not the last to find out we were deceived?
      The would be saviours of the downtrodden may simply be playing a populist manipulation to get power and then lock out the very means they used from being used against them.
      There is a way to tell when we are being manipulated – but not while we want the false to be true.

    • Ari Paul says

      But Lippmann was not making a VALUE JUDGEMENT. He was not saying that it was a GOOD thing that specialists have to think and make decisions for the masses. He was simply saying that it was a practical requirement dictated by the circumstances of modernity. In other words Lippmann thought that it was inevitable, but bad. Chomsky is clearly presenting Lippmann’s assessment as though Lippmann thought the developments were morally positive. This is totally false and misleading. The words “SHOULD” and “HAVE TO” have very, very different meanings.

  8. Stephen Morrell says

    This is an interesting take on Chomsky, especially its highlighting his own role in manufacturing consent for imperialist depredations.

    Chomsky’s anarcho-liberal politics is at the root of his mostly rotten positions, especially on big issues. Anarchism’s clueless notions of ‘pure’ ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, etc, are a perfect left cover for liberals like Chomsky. Anarchism never asks ‘what kind of democracy?’ or ‘who’s democracy?’ Neither do liberals of course and, like liberals, anarchists run a mile when actual revolutions occur, where force and violence and non-democratic means are used to overthrow the oppressors. Anarchists can never accept it when a state of exploiters is overthrown and replaced by a state of the exploited, that the exploited somehow aren’t permitted to have their own state that acts in their interests, that coerces and suppresses the old ruling class and all its hangers on; that a revolution must effectively defend itself. Above all, the exploited must never aspire to be the new ruling class. Heaven forbid, clutch those pearls.

    The better anarchists with actual experience in the workers movement came to realise this. For example, the writer Victor Serge was no academic armchair anarchist, unlike Chomsky. When Serge lived through the early years of the Russian Revolution he quickly jettisoned his anarchism, as the real world of revolution, civil war and famine shattered any last anarchist illusions he had. Even with the rise of the Stalinist bureaucracy in backward Russia, and for supporting Trotsky’s Left Opposition he was imprisoned and exiled by the repressive Stalin regime, Serge remained a revolutionary and supporter of the Bolshevism until his death in 1947. Serge never ran to the bourgeoisie or the imperialists like a crybaby to do something about the USSR.

    Compare this to Chomsky. In 1991 Chomsky called for imposing imperialist sanctions against Iraq. As anyone knows (and he especially should), sanctions are an act of war, nothing but a collective-punishment war crime to further imperialist aims without waging war.

    Ludicrously, in the wake of 9/11 Chomsky called for increasing and strengthening controls and patrols of the Canadian border(!). He called for ‘finding ways’ to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, as if no other country in the world than the US has a right to effectively defend itself, especially against the US rogue state and its principle nuclear-armed ally in the region, Israel.

    Chomsky even stated that ‘in many ways’ the US is the freest country on earth(!). In 2003 he signed a declaration against Cuba penned by Joanne Landy, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, giving that imperialist outfit a ‘left’ cover to manufacture consent to further tighten the screws on Cuba. And it’s rather telling that such a ‘anarchist’ and ‘leftist’ would declare that the blood-soaked bourgeois “Democratic Party is far less objectionable than Bolshevism”.

    Chomsky may have performed some services in exposing the crimes of imperialism, but basically he has done this only to advocate a ‘kinder, gentler’ imperialism, as if imperialism is a ‘policy’. This is the wont of liberals, even (or especially) anarchist ones.

    A link exposing some of Chomsky’s pretensions is here:

    https://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/874/chomsky.html

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    • milosevic says

      Anarchists can never accept it when a state of exploiters is overthrown and replaced by a state of the exploited, that the exploited somehow aren’t permitted to have their own state that acts in their interests, that coerces and suppresses the old ruling class and all its hangers on; that a revolution must effectively defend itself. Above all, the exploited must never aspire to be the new ruling class.

      — and they all lived happily ever after, in the land of lollipops and chocolate ice cream. You can read all about it, in The Russian Revolution and Other Stalinist Faery Tales.

      Meanwhile, in the real world, what usually happens, ever since 1789, is that the aspiring middle class eventually succeeds in overturning the Ancien Régime, amid grand promises of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, and then set themselves up as the new ruling class. Economic exploitation proceeds much as it did before, although now with Central Planning(TM), directed by bureaucrats whose ignorance is exceeded only by their arrogance. A viciously repressive police state apparatus is quickly constructed, officially to deal with “counter-revolutionaries”, but which actually concentrates on suppressing the disappointed plebians who were sufficiently naive as to believe that they were going to get “their own state that acts in their interests”.

      Developing counter-examples to this general trend are invariably attacked and destroyed, not just by imperialism, but even more ferociously, by the Actually Existing Workers’ States, which share with the imperialists the determination to never tolerate the threat of a good example. (Spain, 1936-1939)

      Anyone who doubts this account, might learn something from this book:

      Voline — The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921

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      • Stephen Morrell says

        The constant refrain of liberals and anarchists is that revolutions which result in a new state inevitably, eventually and in all cases put into power often well-meaning people who become corrupt, even bloodthirsty, bureaucrats imposing a repressive and totalitarian police-state system over the population to retain power. This line of reasoning rests on essentially a ‘human nature’ argument that denies the malleability of human ‘nature’, of how adaptable humans are to changing social and natural conditions. Christians call it ‘original sin’, but ultimately such ahistorical argumentation denies Darwinian evolution. Anarchists are moralists in the same vein as Christians.

        ‘Meanwhile back in the real world’, let’s look a bit at the Russian October revolution, the only successful workers revolution in history, and example par excellence of the rise and entrenchment of a totalitarian Stalinist bureaucracy. October occurred in one of the most backward countries on earth, in which 85% of the population was peasant and a similar proportion illiterate. The Bolsheviks were under no illusion that if the revolution didn’t spread to an advanced country it would go under. The depredations of the Civil War wiped out the most advanced layers of an already very thin working class and those remaining, including many in the Bolshevik party, were co-opted to run the state machine. The organs of workers political power, the soviets, were all but shells and eventually millions of careerists, grifters and parasites filled many positions of administration and power that they used for their own personal survival and advancement. At one point Lenin complained that the Soviet government consisted of a giant bureaucratic heap run by 4,000 Bolsheviks.

        The revolution didn’t spread to an advanced country (particularly Germany 1923) but neither did it go under as Lenin, Trotsky and others feared it would. Instead, the conditions of extreme scarcity and isolation of the USSR provided fertile soil for the rise of a bureaucracy that the mediocrity Stalin epitomised — the so-called soviet Thermidor. Trotsky explained it in everyday terms as: scarcity leads to queues, queues must be controlled, and this is done by policemen with guns. Not very democratic. With scarcity, the ‘same old crap’ re-emerges, including corruption and favouritism, brutal repression of critics and dissidents that all contributed, along with outside help, to the ultimate undoing of the revolution nearly 75 years later when capitalism was finally restored in 1991-92.

        ‘The actually existing workers states’ of today (China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, Cuba) also were created in conditions of economic and material backwardness, except on the backs of peasants through guerilla warfare. The working class played no part in these revolutions, which were deformed from the beginning, and the Stalinist model of rule was the template. The resulting societies are characterised by Trotskyists as deformed workers states since they didn’t degenerate from anything as the USSR did. However, like the USSR they all have in common socialised property forms (despite the ongoing efforts of the Chinese bureaucracy in undermining theirs), with bureaucratically run economic planning, and all would require a political revolution to sweep away the bureaucracy and replace it with organs of workers democracy (ie, soviets).

        So here’s a question for you anarchists: do you defend these post-capitalist societies that did away with private property, from imperialist attack or internal counterrevolution to restore capitalism and private property? To what extent do you support the ‘democracies’ in their campaign to restore ‘freedom’ in China, North Korea, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam?

        One thing you say is very true: the Stalinists feared good example like the plague. Once more, ‘meanwhile back in the real world’, let’s look at the example you raise, Spain 1936-38, the great historic example of anarchism in action. First, it was the Spanish Popular Front government, comprising socialists, Stalinists and Anarchists that prolonged the Spanish Civil War with its conservative policies and outlook, leading ultimately to the defeat of the Republicans.

        In Spain the anarchists had no independent position of their own. So, when the anarchist masses strove to revolt (19 July 1936, May days of 1937), their anarchist leaders drove them back into the tender embrace of the Popular Front.

        Non-government anarchist leaders essentially stayed confined to the trade unions they led, keeping to their peacetime routines, and made no effort to grapple with the revolution that was going on all round them. They never called for soviets that would have encompassed all workers and serve as the organisational basis for a workers revolution. That this would have meant challenging and overthrowing a government the anarchists were already a part of no doubt loomed large in all of this. In short, the anarchists simply were clueless as to how revolutions grow and evolve. While the Stalinists are primarily to blame for the victory of Franco and fascism in Spain, the anarchists also bear a significant part of this blame.

        Spain is not an example that one would want to follow, but the example of a workers revolution occurring in an advanced capitalist country, one that Stalin feared and the imperialists fear also, hasn’t occurred yet.

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      • Ari Paul says

        lol nice post milosevic.

        But I am interested in any “counter-examples to this general trend.” Are there any???

        I’m of the understanding that the inevitable corruption of revolutionary movements in the sense you’re referring to can be taken as universal and axiomatic.

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        • I see it that way – excepting as a ‘turn about’ in consciousness – rather than an attempt to reverse the symptoms of a collective consciousness by force.
          The ‘killing or replacing of the evil or denying father by the son’ is an endless fragmentation of oppositional factioning.
          If progress is the invalidation and denigration of the past, then such is its predicate.
          We really are in times where many regard humans as an evil blight on the planet and give sympathy and support to the idea of our destruction. Guilt demands punishment and reads itself into events as a sense of vindication and atonement. In that sense hate and rage can simply break through inhibitions or restraints into violence, for the ‘satisfaction’ of discharge – and have no interest or concern in what comes after. As if the problem is the ‘evil psychopaths’ and taking them out is the answer.

          Standing resolutely FOR a life worth living is different from being baited into hate and division. How do you do that? Start with choosing NOT to be baited into hate and division. There’s an education in self-knowledge.

  9. Mike says

    The most interesting and revealing thing about this article is the wild collection of narrow responses. A lot on 911 and JFK theories, some quirky attempts at blame and counter blame, the usual lefty versus righty battle (including lefty-to-righty conversions in old age) and a whole series of not-quite-identifiable troll spoiler rants. Very little cogent or objective analysis re. the argument in the title. A pity really, as most off-guardian article comments are usually enlightening, whereas these are largely uninspiringly tangential.

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      • Makropulos says

        I found his comment to be uninspiringly tangential. If Mike has some “cogent or objective analysis” then let’s hear it.

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  10. It’s hilarious that I think this article may have the most comments on the off guardian site and many of them are Chomsky fans struggling with reality (many are clearly of the utopian mindset) plus Chomsky is an anarchist a failed ideology that’s never worked before and is primarily a plaything for middle class rich kids with attitude problems

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    • milosevic says

      a failed ideology that’s never worked before

      — as opposed to the world-historic successes wrought by stalinism, a system universally endorsed by all those who have been privileged to experience it.

      Voline — The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921

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      • Frankly Speaking says

        Thank you Milosevic for this, and your other, injections of realism into these Ivory Tower, academic debates.

  11. Hugh O'Neill says

    Evening All. Apologies (as always) for being so late to the discussion. Life is too short to evaluate the likes of Chomsky by debating his intellectual/spiritual integrity which is why I rely on the old Litmus Test of the Assassination of JFK. Chomsky’s response on that issue alone tells you all you need to know: he says: “Who cares who killed Kennedy?”. My thanks to Eric Zuesse (note spelling) for divining Chomsky’s modus operandi with his complete subversion of Walter Lippmann and smearing him into the bargain for something he emphatically did not say. I have little doubt that you could find Chomsky applying the same M.O. to the ideas and words of JFK. Lets cut to Marc Antony’s eulogy for Julius Caesar and we see that Chomsky (like Brutus) is “an honourable man”.

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    • John says

      I think we’ve found the Chomsky fan who refuses to think

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      • Makropulos says

        “Chomsky fan who refuses to think”

        Isn’t that a tautology?

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      • Zoltan Jorovic says

        As someone with no particular view on Chomsky I have to say that I agree with Jordan. I tried to read it but gave up as it was just so tedious. After a few paragraphs I couldn’t have given a flying fig about Chomsky, Lippmann or Dr Zeuss. Actually, Dr Zeuss is a far better writer than this fellow. He probably has a point, but it is completely lost in the endless verbiage, and I just lost the will to live after a few hundred words. I then looked at the comments section and…

  12. Corbett report did a piece on him a few years back.
    We in the old fashion Gramscian left crowd have always considered Chomsky as a gate keeper . Gave himself away the way he supports the anglo-zionist creation of occupied Palestine.

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    • Corbett is great. But he wasn’t great when he did that show. It was just awful smear. I was very interested in what James might have said about Chomsky. I was then very disappointed.

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    • Corbett propagates a few major falsehoods himself.

      Like Chomsky you need to read him on an issue by issue basis and make up your mind on the argument.

      I’ve never met anyone I agree with about everything.

  13. bevin says

    I had been meaning to say-and perhaps this is the wrong thread for it- that looking back on Manufacturing Consent or even Goebbels is to see an era in which propaganda made an effort, usually, to convince the reader.
    In these days The Guardian’s news columns increasingly feature articles like this one, which read like press releases put together by kindergarten teachers of the more authoritarian persuasion.
    Its an unimportant article but it would never pass muster at RT or Sputnik where the editors are not up to date, I guess.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/09/china-ambassador-canada-white-supremacy-huawei

  14. “Chomsky there certainly disrespects Syrian national sovereignty, and despises the non-sectarian President of that country, who shares the view (which repeated polling in Syria has shown to be the view of the vast majority of Syrians), that Syria is and must remain a secular and multi-ethnic country.” You’ll find references scattered throughout various books by Chomsky showing that he knows that Syria and other socialist, secular, democratic States are targets of the regime-changing US. This is disturbing, to me. The new Chomsky is lacking the virtues of the old Chomsky.

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    • milosevic says

      The new Chomsky is lacking the virtues of the old Chomsky.

      Maybe the Old Chomsky was merely the tasty bait to get you to bite on the disinfo hook which is the New Chomsky. This lure having obviously served its purpose in the case of many other people, if not yourself, the line is now being reeled in.

      As with so many things, 9/11 is the giveaway.

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  15. “Chomsky’s statements about the person who was actually the originator of the concept of the manufacture of consent were a fraudulent caricature of Lippmann, as if Chomsky had greatly improved upon Lippmann’s original presentation of the “manufacture of consent.””

    Reading this critique would have one think that Chomsky was building on Lippmann’s work, that he supported it. But as Zuesse himself points, therefore contradictorily, Chomsky smears Lippmann. So, Which is it? I have never had the impression that Chomsky supported or even gave much thought to, Lippmann’s theory of social control or whatever you want to call it. I have only ever got the impression that Chomsky, taking Lippmann’s measure, simply noted that how people like Lippmann expressed elite thinking about the people. Was Lippmann a progressive? I think that by now, if he was, I’d know it. I’m not a scholar but I’ve been reading political material since the mid 80s, and most of that has been in the alternative media. Admittedly, Much of that alternative media has proven to be alternative but not different, as in truly progressive. Which only means that I stay focussed on what ‘is’ progressive. I’ve never found any reference to the progressive Walter Lippmann. The one book I read by him was quite… erudite but, for me, not terribly revealing. As my learning continues, perhaps I can return to it and get something (insights on Lippmann) from it.

    Therefore, The issue, for me, is: Is Chomsky’s negative view of Lippmann’s work and efforts justified. I’d have to read a lot more to know for sure. In the absence of info to the contrary, I am leaning toward favoring Chomsky’s assessment of Lippmann.

    But I do appreciate Zuesse’s views here. I think he raises a lot of interesting points, although I have other issues with Eric Zuesse.

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    • bevin says

      ” Was Lippmann a progressive?”
      At one stage he ran as a Socialist in Poughkeepsie, I think. He was a child of the Progressive era. But so were many reactionaries and Cold Warriors.

    • Eric Zuesse says

      Chomsky lies about Lippmann. Why don’t you care about his being a liar? And not only about Lippmann but about Syria? And about lots else — but I had THOUGHT that I had provided enough examples/ Apparently, some Chomskyites just refuse to care about his being a liar.

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      • Eric, I do care. And I appreciate that you brought to our attention what you brought to our attention. Give me a chance to dig into it all. I have some issues with your critique, which you can glean from my comments in this discussion, but I do not completely reject what you present.

        I am not, as you are, a Chomsky basher. But, Maybe I will be after all is said and done.

  16. Maxine Chiu says

    Didn’t Chomsky, however reluctantly, vote for Hillary Clinton?….Considering his stated values, pressing the button for a corporate-loving warmonger is unacceptable.

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    • Bingo. Choosing the best candidate, in an election, from among a bad lot of stumping politicians is understandable. But there’s a difference between a candidate who supports imperialism (aggression, widespread terror and destruction) and one who may be rightwing but doesn’t want to do imperialism (for the gain of a minority of parasites). If you’re choosing between two candidates who support regime change as a foreign policy practice, and you choose the one who has talked about regime change in 10 countries, instead of 11, which the other candidate talks about, that’s meaningless and far from noble.

    • Glasshopper says

      He decided she was the lesser of two evils. A mistake in my view.

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      • Eric Zuesse says

        All of that’s irrelevant to this article. I hope that readers here will notice that. People who can’t make a comment that’s relevant should not make any comment at all, because irrelevant comments are distractions, wastes of readers’ time to read — irrelevant, not even side-tracking, but no-tracking.

        • robjira says

          Not entirely, Mr. Zuesse. In fact, the above is rather a “reverse confirmation” of the point of your article; that Chomsky’s undeserved prestige is derived in part from academic laziness. The above comment points to Chomsky’s unearned prestige affording/excusing his engaging in civic laziness, which pretty well confirms your point.
          Chomsky has insightful opinions on many subjects; not so insightful on others. He can also be dismissive, and condescending and I think those serve to cloud his perceptions.
          Excellent article, by the way.

      • robjira says

        Or perhaps even, as the redoubtable Glen Ford might say, he decided she was the “more effective evil.”

  17. Wazdo says

    I have always respected Chomsky while admitting to differences on 911 and so forth. However, I have also noticed that when a writer wants to move from the left to the right, in search of greater wealth, the late Christopher Hitchens, Goerge Mombiot ect. they often try to impress their would be new masters with a critique of Chomsky.

    Anyone else?

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    • bevin says

      “when a writer wants to move from the left to the right, in search of greater wealth…they often try to impress their would be new masters with a critique of Chomsky.”
      “Anyone else?”
      These guys generally begin with their critiques of Stalin and/or Mao, just to show that they may be of the left but it is a left within the Pale. Then they have tended to pick on the Milosevics and Ghadaffis of this world, again to to show their masters that, they might not wear suits and ties but they know their political manners. In every case there is a necessity to express bedrock solidarity with imperialism.

  18. Robert J. says

    EZ, wisely, doesn’t discuss Chomsky-the-Famous-Linguist. In the field of linguistics, one that is far from being as irrelevant as may seem, Chomsky’s paradigm is only one among several, and it has encountered much opposition, primarily by professionals who believe that languages are spoken stuff, entwined with the cultures that speak them; people who, accordingly, go out in the field to listen to them in order to study them, rather than sit behind their desks elaborating theories (I was once told that Chomsky only speaks English — if true, how preposterous.)

    A decade or so ago there was also much criticism addressed by serious people like Finkelstein to Chomsky’s soft-left-zionism, apparently a left-over from his young days at a kibbutz. I had a feeling that he’d moved a bit away from that position, but then there’s so much one can keep busy with and I’d lost track of him. His stance on Syria, which I’m discovering now, is appalling, to say the least.

    Yet… maybe we shouldn’t dump old Noam with his own dirty bathwater. It was thanks to him that I, and I guess lots of others, got a better understanding of what was happening when Yugoslavia was torn apart and Milošević elected the chosen demon to be exorcised (and excised).

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    • It’s just a sad fact that Chomsky, and he’s not alone in this, is not the same person – progressive – he was when he wrote books like “Deterring Demoracy.” I began to see signs some time ago but had nothing much to sink my teeth into. Recently, I began pondering, in light of developments like this (where someone is one day progressive and the next day not), just what ‘progressive’ meant and who self-identified ‘progressives’ were. To be sure, It wasn’t just the sad defection of Noam Chomsky that had me thinking about these things. (And I’m not merely a Chomsky-basher. At all.) As a Christian, and one who other Christians are taught to view with suspicion, and a progressive (reading a lot of political stuff and writing about it, which my former religious associates would denounce), I feel that I have a fairly unique view of the progressive community. All of that was bubbling and gurgling in my brain as I began my essay, shortly after having finished the first book by Chomsky that I would have to say was bad, which ended up forming an important piece of my essay. With Chomsky, As I learned very recently, it’s actually worse than it looks. I didn’t realize he was helping push the barrel bombs lie (regarding Syria). And then I realized that I wasn’t the only non Chomsky-basher looking askance at Chomsky’s recent fails, and in the same way. I stumbled upon Kim Petersen’s lament for the man, which confirmed for me that I wasn’t getting it all wrong. I am very, very distraught about this. I’ve corresponded with Chomsky, who was nothing but gracious with me. I’ve read dozens of his books and still have about 9 to go. The biggest part of my self-education in politics came from reading Noam Chomsky. As Chomsky said about Christopher Hitchens when Chris went rightward politically, I hope that the old Noam who we know returns. But I’m not Noam. If Noam has sold his soul, then I don’t want him back.

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      • bevin says

        I think that you and Chomsky misunderstood Hitchens whose political trajectory was predictable. It is hard to go to ‘the right’ of what the SWP had become in the 90s. Check out the politics of the ISO in the US for example, particularly where questions involving Syria and US imperialism are concerned.
        Hitchens politics made no sense when the Cold War ended. And he knew it.

        • The hitch bros despite their obvious intellects are obvious frauds and permanent rebels (permanent revolution of the Trotskyist way perhaps?) take Peter for instance he was no fan of the EU but couldn’t bring himself to vote at all. Same with Christopher he decided (or was told) to go against the grain of the rump of his followers after 9/11 (he’s also pals with the shill salman Rushdie) that’s all they do they get you with some nice facts and truths then they misdirect people. Obvious charlatans

          • JudyJ says

            John

            I would contend that you are being unfairly condemnatory of Peter Hitchens. Whilst he may have expressed views that you (and I) don’t necessarily agree with, he must be given some credit for being one of the few mainstream journalists to speak and write publicly about the evidence pointing to the true nature of the White Helmets and the absence of evidence that the Syrian Government is guilt of the crimes it is accused of. I have seen him ridiculed and patronised on the BBC for holding these views but he has never waivered in his desire to present a factually based opinion which is now anathema to the BBC.

  19. Josh says

    Anything by Zeusse should be taken with a bag of salt. Often he is self-defeating by getting lost in ideology, conspiracy and the never-ending anti-zionism, anti-empire rage. His Dec 31 article on MH17 is a prime example of that – although he is right that the evidence is pointing decisively to the government of Ukraine, it’s not a slam dunk, and it wasn’t a premeditated CIA-inspired murder plot.
    Zeusse focuses on Chomsky’s contribution to ‘Manufacturing Consent’ as his main step to the fore; that is overstated. Chomsky, for sure, will deserve my attention even if he does and says things with which I disagree. He always supports the underdog, so the support for the Kurdish separatist movement against either a Syrian authoritarian state, against the Turkish state, even if this support was given through an illegal US invasion, is to him a plus that comes out of lots of minuses. Somehow, he wants to save that one blip of light. Good for him, but impossible in the current set of circumstances.
    So no, I will still read and listen to Chomsky with more respect than to Zeusse. The latter, although he often hits some truth, carries baggage which detracts from his arguments.

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    • So true. A guy like Zeusse taking cheap shots at Chomsky is sad but not surprising. In this day and age a large section of left leaning popular political opinion resembles a mash up of magical thinking and an obsession with Zionism and unproven conspiracies. It’s purveyors, including Zeusse, are lazy thinkers with poor critical thinking skills and come across as a bunch of nutters, who can’t tell the difference between opinion and truth, ranting their fantasies into the wind.

      Chomsky is not infallible and certainly not immune from criticism, but Zeusse’s weak attack on him focuses on trivial minutiae and leave Chomsky’s arguments intact. The purpose of this piece is to tear down him down and get a 2 minute hate chorus going against the evil Zionist conspirator Chomsky. A year ago Zeusse was using Wikipedia as a source. That Zeusse and his ilk feel no embarrassment about punching above their weight class like this says a lot about where we are at as a society.

      The ruling class have nothing to worry about with this group. They are strictly armchair ranters who are waiting for change to happen on its own or for a super hero to come along and save the day. They are victims of their own cognitive biases and their susceptiblity to believing in grand conspiracies also makes them susceptible to kooky alt.right propaganda. Zeusse and others like him simply can’t be taken seriously as thinkers.

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        • bevin says

          It might be easier for him to change his name, given the preference shown for Zeus(se), a name whose attractions are obvious.

        • Jen says

          It may be that spellcheck programs on some people’s PCs or laptops are changing “Zuesse” to “Zeusse”?

        • Eric Zuesse says

          If they can’t even spell my name correctly, why do they even attack me — pouring unsubstantiated ad-hominem garbage at the author — instead of the facts that I document?

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    • Jen says

      “… [Chomsky] always supports the underdog, so the support for the Kurdish separatist movement against either a Syrian authoritarian state, against the Turkish state, even if this support was given through an illegal US invasion, is to him a plus that comes out of lots of minuses …”

      Then surely Chomsky would take the time to examine the nature of the Kurdish separatist movement and note who its leading groups and individuals are, what their aims and agendas are, where they might conflict, and why supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces – a US-aided, Kurdish-majority militia that, among other things, has been accused of ethnic cleansing in the parts of north and northeastern Syria it wishes to achieve Kurdish autonomy for – to the extent of advocating continued US military intervention, illegal though it is, is a worthwhile objective?

      Surely Chomsky would support the true underdogs in this 7-year-long war: the Syrian people themselves?

      If the Syrian people willingly choose to support an “authoritarian state” – and we do not even know if the current Assad government is “authoritarian” in the stereotypical Western sense (though the 2014 presidential elections, observed my foreign monitors including monitors from the United States, and the 2016 parliamentary elections and their results suggest Assad’s rule is otherwise, though he is not infallible and makes mistakes just like any other politician) – shouldn’t Chomsky take note of that, ask why and investigate?

      How does Chomsky know the Assad government is “a moral disgrace” and the Russians are collaborating with Damascus in carrying out “horrendous acts” when all known evidence so far for CW attacks in Ghouta (2013), Khan Sheykhoun (April 2017) and Douma in Ghouta (April 2018) tends to point either to the terrorists themselves or has been faked?
      https://www.democracynow.org/2017/4/5/the_assad_regime_is_a_moral

      Sasa Wawa “Who Attacked Ghouta?”
      http://whoghouta.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-conclusion.html

      “Khan Sheikhoun, Syria: The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur”
      https://www.globalresearch.ca/khan-sheikhoun-syria-the-nerve-agent-attack-that-did-not-occur/5585818

      “Watchdog finds no evidence of nerve agents in Syria’s Douma attack”
      https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/07/07/567303/Syria-OPCW-Douma-chlorine

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  20. I think the engineering of consent as an official instrument began much earlier – in WW1 when Woodrow Wilson set up the Creel Commission to get public support for entering the war (1917-1919)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_on_Public_Information

    A key participant was Edward Bernays, nephew of Freud, who by all kinds of clever wheezes went on to make people (including doctors) believe that smoking was healthful, and then to persuade women it was cool to smoke.

    In 1928 he published his master work ‘Propaganda’
    http://theconversation.com/the-manipulation-of-the-american-mind-edward-bernays-and-the-birth-of-public-relations-44393
    It apparently later much influenced Goebbels who was quick to learn that if you repeated a lie often enough, people believed it. And so now we know where all government backed psyops outfits of UKUS learned their stuff.

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    • bevin says

      “I think the engineering of consent as an official instrument began much earlier – in WW1 when Woodrow Wilson set up the Creel Commission to get public support for entering the war (1917-1919)…”
      So they say. But there was nothing new about any of this in 1917. Since the first stirrings of states the need to manufacture consent in the population-without whose labour nothing is possible- has led to the setting up of sophisticated propaganda networks. Among these were churches.
      The idea that before universal suffrage the state felt no need to keep the people on its side, believing in the rightness of official acts is a misunderstanding. If anything universal suffrage is a primary weapon in ensuring that the masses, now ’empowered’, are enthusiastic fans of the misdeeds of the ruling class.

        • Hugh O'Neill says

          Great quote from History of Propaganda under Tavistock Press:

          “The use of propaganda began much earlier than most people would imagine. The Behistun Inscription, from around 515 BCE, details Darius I’s ascent to the Persian throne and is considered an early example of propaganda. And ancient Greek commander Themistocles used propaganda to delay the action of–and defeat–his enemy, Xerxes, in 480 BCE. Meanwhile, Alexander put his image on coins, monuments, and statues as a form of propaganda. Roman emperor Julius Caesar was considered quite adept at propaganda, as were many prominent Roman writers like Livy.

          But it was the Catholic Church that both formalized the use of propaganda and gave us the word itself. Pope Urban II used propaganda to generate support for the Crusades. Later, propaganda would become a powerful tool for both Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation. Thanks to the printing press, propaganda could be disseminated to a much wider audience.”

          • Ari Paul says

            All true. But it is a matter of DEGREES, as is everything.

            Every civilization at its base relies on dogmas which are propagated by authorities. Civilizations require this in order to function. But the premise of all the more resent critiques of “propaganda” is that the degree with which the individual is influenced–the volume, intensity, power and effect on life–by propaganda is significantly greater in modernity, and increases in proportion to increases in means (i.e. science and technology).

            There is a huge difference between a society where the influence/effect of propaganda is minimal and the influence/effect of propaganda is overwhelming.

            Also, if you go back in time enough, to hunter-gatherers, you finally arrive at an absence of propaganda. There is myth and superstition propagated by tribal tradition etc. to be sure, but when individual personal experience contradicts these myths and superstitions, personal experience by and large takes precedence. For example, the linguistic anthropologist Daniel Everett, in his studies of the Piraha of the Amazon rainforest notes extensively that they are the “ultimate empiricists” because they only believe that which they individually experience. This attitude toward the truth, this absence of propaganda, and this resistance to propaganda seen in the Piraha is common among most hunter-gatherers.

            • Perhaps it helps to see propaganda as the corruption of truth by distortion or indeed a false witness that of course can extend from a mistaken identity.
              Extending and expressing the life we receive and share in is life being itself.

              Illusions call upon defence and bait into being framed in division:

              “How does one overcome illusions? Surely not by force or anger. Nor by
              OPPOSING them in ANY way. Merely by letting reason tell you that they CONTRADICT reality. They GO AGAINST what must be true. The opposition comes from THEM, and NOT reality.
              Reality opposes nothing. What merely is, NEEDS no defense, and offers none. Only illusions need defense, BECAUSE OF WEAKNESS. And how CAN it be difficult to walk the way of truth, when only WEAKNESS interferes? YOU are the strong ones in this seeming conflict. And you need NO defense. Everything that needs defense YOU DO NOT WANT. For anything that needs defense will WEAKEN you”. ( ~ A Course in Miracles).

              The nature of the mind is the reinforcement of whatever is accepted or held there – including beliefs ABOUT the mind.

              Believing our own thinking does not make it true – but does make it as if true for us while we believe it.
              And when what we present to our self or others seems to pass off as effective – we identify with such a mask as our power and protection and therefore our self.

              The idea ‘truth needs no defence’ needs also the reminder that our awareness of truth is easily lost to reaction, and so we need vigilance against deceit.

              Regardless of what another may do or say, I am responsible for what I accept and act upon as true. So indeed those giving false witness may seem to deceive me once, as an education by which to not be taken in again. But as such an education in vigilance and love of true reveals; deceits can be very subtle.

              Complex financial instruments by which to pass off toxic debt as an appreciative asset are simply normal currency in a world defending its illusions.

              If I consider the outside or political nature of working with what is in terms that integrates what is with what we fear, believe and defend to be true, then there is a need for balance and communication between and among apparent differences. There is a basis in life for embracing the right of others to their own experience of life – but not as a disintegrity to the whole or the poisoning of the well from which all must partake. Order can and needs to hold the balance points of society – as in the individual, but only for a greater order to work through the conditions in which life can heal and flourish. The usurping of true governance by a top down fear of disorder sets up a self-reinforcing negative spiral that brings about the very event that it most fears – under the fragmented and dissociated beliefs it is necessary, and right in adopting any means against so evil an outcome.

              The core nature of (our) deceit is fear.
              Fear believed true enacts defences that reinforce or bring about the need for the fear. Yet it is the fear itself that is protected – at our expense.

              When we interpret another, we can only do so through the filtering of our own minds.
              The nature of the desire for a better world by exposing and overcoming evils in our midst is easily the setting up of idols, cliques and mutual identities that seem a ‘love’ but turn in an instant to hate when no longer fulfilling the conditions we set.

              Taking responsibility for our self-experience is freeing ourselves from the ‘hate and blame’ mind that never actually delivers satisfaction but as a fantasy acted out or be-lived for its moment.

              Can the true of life be sacrificed or denied in exchange for fantasy acted out as if upon it?

              Propagation is seeding, nurturing and growing life.
              Propaganda is an adulteration of false into the true – that then makes illusions of the true as the loss of the capacity to tell one from the other. For now only what is a private good and evil, runs the separate minds made different from their source and nature.

              ‘Be still and know’ makes no sense to any who presume to already know – and are acting out from it as true. Propaganda or self-illusion – serves the purpose we give it – until we accept another purpose in its place.

  21. Glasshopper says

    Like pretty much all Middle Eastern ruling families, the Assads have maintained their position by running a heavy duty police state which brutally crushes dissent. Had it not been so, they would have long been replaced by another equally brutal family/stongman.
    It is perfectly possible to be horriffied at the monstrous terror campaign waged for the last 7 years on The Syrian Arab Republic, without pretending this is some kind of fluffy democracy.

    Even so, guys like Chomsky and Juan Cole have been less skeptical than they should have been about the agenda behind the campaign, and the appalling result had it succeeded.

    It would be interesting to read the great man’s retort to this piece.

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  22. Framing in conflict so as to maintain or extend a sense of control over a feared powerlessness seen as threatening and flagged ‘outside and away from self’, excepting where grievance or wounded loss calls down vengeance as a moral right of defence and superiority to then hate, attack and kill or deny it.

    PR, or the ‘dark arts’, develop the face or mask of a persuasive deceit or temptation. Hidden agenda is ‘coded’ communication where the payload operates beneath attending to an imaged FORM of communication or relationship in place of relating presently.

    What must hide in darkness excepting that which cannot stand in light? Awareness is the light of knowing embrace or being – but perception is a selective attention that rejects.

    The idea of taking, getting or possessing something for a self alone and apart from is the idea of a sense of lack that seeks to fill itself. Nothing has really happened since but a shifting and conflicting sense of lack – presenting as power struggle – over a forgotten of denied but innate awareness.

    The reversal whereby loss of power is presented as powerful is the ‘world’ for which we exchange our awareness of whole-souled being or intimacy of being for alienation under the idea of of control.

    Within the framing of such a world, “everything is backwards” because effects are flagged or assigned as if CAUSES – indeed ever shifting ’causes’ – that all operate the denial and evasion of true Cause.

    Our mask or persona structure is predicated as self-protective survival in terms of core relational strategies that are ‘accepted and reinforced’ by acting or reacting from past conditioning instead of present receptivity. In this sense we become locked into the mask or narrative identity by separation trauma of personal, social and species patterns of fear, guilt or shame, abandonment, and betrayal.

    Or to put it in reversal terms, into the masking assertions or presentations of defence, mitigation or adjustment to such a ‘reality’ in which each ‘sees’ their denials in the other and so each seeks to get from the other what they feel lacking, denied or deprived by a life they have no consciousness of creating.

    A process of communication is natural or inevitable to a willingness for present relationship – because such IS the nature of being.
    Insofar as we use ‘reality’ for our experience of being – this can be a natural outcome of communication or a natural outcome of a refusal or denial of communication unnaturally interpreted.

    A world of lies, revealed as such, is not to be understood or engaged with, but to be dropped or walked out of in the receptive desire for truth to restore sanity. Because what seems to tempt persisting in its framework by carrot or by stick is a wish that truth be established or victorious there. But truth is the undoing of the false in the nature of its wholeness of lack of conflict, because it does not arrest attention at the level of forms of shifting and contested meanings.

    Everyone in this world makes or has made a self – and assigned a self to others – or indeed a lack of worth of self by which to give or take power – or right of life – from others.

    It is the nature of the thinking-in-the-world to subvert and distort the movement of our being in expression into possession and control issues – or marketising and weaponising purposes.
    The polarised facets of any conflict always work together to deny a true voice or witness by the marketised weapons of a notional security that overrides all other voices from a sense of power in darkness that fears, distrusts and defends against light of a true witness – not least because the true accounting for a falsely founded sense of self – is directly associated with pain of loss of self.

    Self idea operates the personal the group, the organisation or nation, or agenda that is currently active as an investment of identification and allegiance. our allegiance to identity in opposition is a hidden dependency on hate and grievance as a source of self or power.

    Just as ‘Bankers’ package toxic debt within complex financial instruments of false promise and false premise, so it is with the mind that masks off from its toxic hate and fear to mask out as some sense of escaping or overcoming it and present the invitation to others in support and reinforcement such a masking-defence by giving false witness as the necessity of its own survival. Much of which occurs as normalised social habit.

    Becoming aware of this ‘power’ is the temptation to consciously use it, but its coming to awareness is the opportunity to release it. The conscious investment in lies, bears a heavy cost, but more forcefully asserts a false and coercive witness that others do not have to accept unless they are already operating under the same mis-identification.

    Truth is not the first casualty of war – excepting lies become true and truth is made a lie.
    But awareness of truth is lost to the wish that a lie be true and wishing driven by guilted fear is contagious.

    Phishing deceits use the forms of something accepted true to elicit habituated or conditioned responses by which identity is stolen. A stolen identity is substitution by a sense of lack and loss in conflicted self – that moves to counter or defend as justified hate.

    The Call to war is the ‘alternative’ to the Call to joy and seems to drown it out or invalidate it – at least until the war is ‘won’. But the Call to joy is also the willingness to honestly accept and undo the blocks within our mind to its recognition. For if joy is defined in terms of vengeance, hate has replaced love in a world where everything runs backwards for who loves to hate must hate love – and fear it.

    True power is shared wholeness. But meaningless in concept without some stirring of recognition and alignment in direct and present experience. When the heart awakens from devotion to grievance, then true desire aligns perception to serve a peace of knowing because it is no longer trying to use others to make itself ‘real’.

    To come through a confusion or lies that war to a world made new is to shared or truly relational being – not a coercive narrative dictate over the thoughts and expression or behaviours of others.

    The means and ends are one. And embodying NO! to a disintegrity may be truly a YES! to a truly shared integrity – even for the ones who currently do not choose to align in their own, as yet.

    Reading only with the mind of form lacks the heart of discernment and is thus ‘already at war’ and seeking and seeing only in terms of getting and controlling – but NOT recognising this is so.

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  23. Paul Demuth says

    ‘They should etc’ is surely intended to be reported speech, not an expression of Chomsky’s view.

  24. I’ve long regarded Chomsky’s intellect with suspicion – he’s plausible on many subjects but he does make grave errors that fully justify this article.

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    • wardropper says

      The article is, nevertheless, a hit piece. And hit pieces have the effect of totally discrediting people. Chomsky does not deserve that.

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      • summitflyer says

        This article is a critique and anyone and anything is and or subject to critique as long as it is done with respect and candor. I have read the book “Manufacturing Consent ” and I have no concern regarding the content .
        I do find Chomsky to be slightly disingenuous on some subjects though but then he is a Zionist .

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        • Glasshopper says

          He is a “zionist” who supports the Palestinian cause, while acknowledging the rights of Jews to live in the Middle East too. Hardly a controversial position for a reasonable person to hold.

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          • BigB says

            Summitflyer

            Chomsky: a ‘Zionist’ who wrote “Gaza in Crisis” and “On Palestine” with fellow ‘self-hating Jews’ Ilan Pappe, and human rights activist Frank Barat. A sort of anti-Zionist Zionist, perhaps?

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          • Badger Down says

            It’s not “the rights of Jews to live in the Middle East”.

            It’s “the rights of Jews to commit murder-robbery in Palestine”.

            • Glasshopper says

              Have you ever been to Israel? Most of the people are of Arab Jewish descent and are Middle Easterners.
              If men like Edward Said could get their head around that idea, it seems odd that you can’t.

          • RealPeter says

            Jews were living peacefully in the Middle East for centuries before the creation of the state of Israel. Are they living there peacefully now? As the answer to this is obviously “no”, then what conclusion should reasonably drawn?

            Zionism was historically an Ashkenazi, thus European, ideology (like anti-Semitism, to which zionism was the misguided response). How can anyone logically be “a zionist who supports the Palestinian cause”? It’s like being a meat-eating vegan.

            • George cornell says

              Or as George Carlin said, fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity

        • Tom Ratliff says

          One concern about Manufacturing Consent is that there is no meaningful attention given to the role of the CIA.

          Carl Bernstein reported a decade before Manufacturing Consent that Big Media and the CIA worked “hand in glove”. The anglosphere and beyond have CIA agents and officers at key gatekeeping positions within newspapers and broadcasters.

          So the problem, for example, isn’t _just_ that we have careerist journalists that are self-censoring in order to keep climbing the ladder. That happens in many professions. But in Big Media, we have the CIA playing major, direct roles in controlling what gets published and broadcasted. For example, as Udo Ulfkotte described in _Gekaufte Journalisten_, the CIA writes a story and then bribes a reporter to put his byline on it. (Ulfkotte reported the Middle East for the German newspaper FAZ until his conscience couldn’t take it anymore.)

          Journalists look around and see what happened to Udo Ulfkotte (career was deep-sixed) and to diligent reporters like Gary Webb (himself deep-sixed) and they know that returning to any notion of “holding truth to power” is over once they take that first step into the world of the CIA.

          So given the medium, a book, and given the known presence of the CIA in Big Media, the central role of the CIA in Vietnam (Gulf of Tonkin, Phoenix Program), and the 80-page chapter that Chomsky devotes specifically to Vietnam in the book, it almost seems like Chomsky goes out of his way *not* to mention the CIA in the mechanism of consent manufacture. Thus, Chomsky reveals “some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case”. Victor Marchetti, CIA whistleblower, labeled such behavior a “limited hang out”.

          I know of Chomsky critics that believe he is essentially a CIA asset whose role has been to divert conversations in academic/elite circles away from the CIA and if confronted on it, to soft-pedal the CIA and its criminal activities around the world. I tend to buy this — best I can tell, his behavior is consistent with this. I think if he were an honest critic of the CIA, there’s no way he — someone not promoting American Exceptionalism — would have been permitted to have the professional and commercial success that he’s had in the US. He must be playing a role for the powers-that-be. He’s obviously clever and witty and, if controlled, would make for a very valuable asset. As can be seen here in the comments — he’s popular and a superstar to many. (He’s so mainstream now that woke Democrats seem to feel entitled to receive street cred for name-dropping him in conversations.) With this superstar status, just give him a large audience and he suddenly has a lot of influence over narratives on the left — what gets talked about and what doesn’t get talked about. He also serves a symbolic role: “even in the the US, there’s room for socialists and for materially-successful socialists” — kind of like Bernie Sanders, he offers reassurance to depressed malcontents on the left and sponges up free time that they might otherwise spend on organizing something effective.

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      • Rafa rafa says

        Agree. Interesting in questioning Chomsky as political theorist. I’d like more on that. But I have always found Chomsky a staggeringly well informed commentator on most political areas and usually with a stimulatingly different POV. Where a total hit job is justified is on Chomsky the linguist. His theories have been a total waste of his and thousands of others’ linguistic lives, and are headed for the same historical dustbin as his beloved Skinner.

        • Eric Zuesse says

          PS: I was referring there to:
          wardropper
          Jan, 10, 2019
          The article is, nevertheless, a hit piece. And hit pieces have the effect of totally discrediting people. Chomsky does not deserve that.

    • Paul Demuth says

      ‘There should be’ …… surely this is intended to be reported speech, not Chomsky’s view!

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    • Makropulos says

      Same here Lerusino – but I’m not sure that the dodgy bits in Chomsky are entirely to be attributed to error. I recall reading an account of Chomsky becoming curious about discrepencies in the JFK case not long after it happened. He suspended all other engagements to examine it, then made a statement to the effect, “If they can do this, then what else can they do?” ….and then lost all interest, after which he ceaselessly ridiculed “conpiracy theories”.

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      • Makropulos says

        The info on Chomsky re: JFK research was something I picked up from a fascinating book called “History Will Not Absolve Us” by E. Martin Schotz and it related to one Raymond Marcus who tried to get Chomsky interested. The quote I referred to came from not from Chomsky but from one his associates – one Selwyn Bromberger – who said “If they are strong enough to kill the President, and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly . . . if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule”

        Intriguingly, an exchange between Marcus and Chomsky on the topic of something that Chomsky wouldn’t be able to decide led to this observation from Marcus:

        “From the context of our previous meetings it was clear that what Chomsky “won’t be able to decide” until he returned from England was not the question of whether or not there was a conspiracy — that he had given every indication of having already decided in the affirmative — but whether or not he wished to participate actively, even to assume a leading role, in the movement to reopen the case.”

        The editor says at this point:

        “To be more accurate, what Chomsky has done of late is to claim agnosticism on the question of whether there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, but has insisted that if there was a conspiracy, it was of no political significance, since there is no evidence of any shift in policy following the assassination. In addition to this Chomsky has played an important role in the orchestrated debate which has focused the significance of the murder of Kennedy around the issue of the escalation of U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam. As discussed elsewhere in this volume, the function of this debate has been to divert public attention from Kennedy’s important movement against the cold war, for peace, for rapprochement with the U.S.S.R., and toward normalization of relations with Cuba.”

        The whole thing can be read here:

        https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/HWNAU/RMappVIII.html#AB-5Profs

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        • nwwoods says

          One could argue that there was indeed a preemptive shift of policy from one which might well have been undertaken had the Kennedy brothers survived. Say for example the purported expressed desire by Pres. Kennedy to ‘splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces etc’

          • Yes a completely circular reasoning. I’m glad you pointed it out.

            Political power at the insider level is ensuring that nothing changes the policy no matter what forms, faces or ideas are used.

            The idea of a captured or controlled opposition or gatekeeper is what I sense being behind the article about Chomsky.
            I would have felt more merit to review the idea of PR as a development of substitution for information, education and genuine communication. A lack of substance has nothing BUT lies – including the framing of truths in ways that distort them. But while running under a sense of self conviction, we are taken in by our own spin. Head on attacks invite a polarised reaction – that reinforces the ‘attacker’s’ belief and perception.

            Established power is not just insider dealing, but also insider fear in the poor who hold with the existing order in fear of losing the little they have.

            In Our Time
            It may be seen that potentials are witnessed or triggered in those who seem before their time or denied their time that seed to fruit in their own timing. The JFK assassination opened some through dashed hopes to then recognize something about the nature of the human world and the mind that makes it. This can of course bring us to despair or perhaps through to the releasing of such a mind in ourself.

        • People will talk about what ‘they’ think Chomsky’s position of him but read his books, including “Rethinking Camelot.” Chris Hedges make the point, with stats, that illiteracy is high (sky high) in the US and Canada. People just don’t read. But everyone’s an expert.

          JFK and his brothers were terrorists. Chomsky and other historians knew it and wrote about. The establishment has created an enduring ad, with the sexy JFK at the center of it, selling firstly, the American Empire, and secondly, the American-designed global capitalist system that people like JFK took pains to protect, as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Richard Walton, Bruce Mirrof and others have explained – in history books. Read people!

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          • Makropulos says

            All of which is irrelevant to the matter of whether forces within the US government wanted JFK dead and carried out the killing themselves. What you are saying is what Chomsky himself used as a constant get-out clause: it didn’t matter anyway (allegedly and in this case) so who cares how the US really operates?

            When Chomsky tried this same dodge – on a colossaly more ludicrous level – with 9/11 I completely lost it with him.

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            • I don’t know how people can discuss Chomsky and not mention his books on the subjects being examined. It’s… off. His book on 9/11, as is “Rethinking Camelot,” is excellent. Even establishment journo, Seymour Hersh thinks “Rethinking Camelot” is terrific. Apparently, Giving credit where it’s due is no longer a progressive value. I’m reminded of something Chomsky himself once wrote, about a meeting of people discussing geography, where the last thing they wanted to see there was a geographer.

              I don’t think Chomsky should ever have discouraged (via disparagement of those engaging in such pursuits) anyone from interest in, and investigation of, either JFK’s assassination or 9/11. But has he actually done that? If he has, then he has been acting as a gatekeeper. (I don’t go along with most folks’ definition of gatekeeping.) While he may be guilting of gatekeeping – via intimidation of those who want to investigate matters he feels (probably rightly) are rabbit holes – he is also a staunch defender of free speech, whatever it is.

  25. Paula C Williams says

    Rejova is the Kurdish region which the Kurds, is an ancient culture which has continually been colonised by bordering nations in recent history. The Kurdistan is now a recognised sovereign country with social policies far more progressive as a democracy than anything the US could imagine. Noam Chomsky is powerful intellectual presence in the world for information and truth, and Eric Zuesse’s attempt to undermine is unconvincing. When the US stops interfering in the world eg Syria, Iran Afganistan, Libya etc. it will be to the credit of Noam Chomsky among many other courageous thinkers .

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  26. Robbobbobin says

    “There’s so much good in the worst of us
    And so much bad in the best of us
    That it hardly behoves any of us
    To talk about the rest of us.”

    — Inscription by Sheila O’Hagan
    (Public Nobody and boarder in a neighbour’s house
    back when I was given an ‘Autograph Book’ for Christmas
    and thought it was meant for collecting anyoldbody’s autograph.)

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  27. Mike says

    Not sure whether this is a demolition article on Chomsky or a single-perspective analysis of the mess that is Syria. A Syrian Kurd I know just laughed it off, especially at the lack of understanding about war on the ground and the strategies of pragmatism and the lesser of two evils. Given the author’s own previous ‘analytical’ works, there seem to be vested interests involved here, so I shall dismiss this article as an exercise in inversion of intentions.

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    • Eric Zuesse says

      Responding to ‘Mike’: That’s more ad-hominem. How low can the reader-comments here get?

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    • nwwoods says

      US State Dept (Kerry) 2014 ‘we have in our possession satellite imagery of the incident*’

      *we could show it to you but we’d have to kill you

  28. George cornell says

    There will always be the idealists , those who occasionally generate important original thought, know how scarce it is, prize it for that reason, and revere those capable of it. And there will always be the pragmatists who know that without the practical implementation and dissemination of insight, revolutionary ideas might as well not exist. Surely both are important and the blacking and whiting of Chomsky seems narrow and unproductive, not to mention unfair. He has been a fearless promoter of truth-telling and doesn’t deserve this kind of critique which reminds me of Hitchens slagging off Mother Theresa, or the eating of one’s young, a left-wing delicacy.

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    • Michael McBrearty says

      Professor Chomsky is a life long anti-Communist activist. He has never had any problem trashing Marxists. Yet he is to be treated with reverence? Michael Parenti or Bert Ollman are far better guides.

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      • George Cornell says

        No one is perfect . I can revere Lebron James , just not for his geopolitical views and I would not ask his advice in picking horses.. And what is wrong with being anti-communist? Other than it having been a failed ideology, having caused enormous suffering and hardship, and now rejected by its most ardent adherents, the sad reality is that any system which does not take into account the frailties of human nature cannot succeed. Ask the Catholic Church.

        Now I do not speak of socialism nor do I imply that greed-driven capitalism is the attainable ideal, so put the straw man away.

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        • Michael McBrearty says

          Are you a worker or a boss? Do you work for a living or do you live off investments?
          Do you work for a company or do you own one? The answer will provide your point of view.

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          • George Cornell says

            I know you mean well but I am a retired pensioner. Does that fit with your free range bias?

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            • Makropulos says

              “left-wing delicacy”? “Ask the Catholic Church”? “greed-driven capitalism” is an “attainable ideal”? “free range bias”?

              What the hell are you raving about?

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              • George cornell says

                Take a deep breath and hit your pillow with a tennis racket. Feel better now?

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                  • George cornell says

                    Instead of raving, ask a specific question which I will answer.

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                    • Makropulos says

                      OK – why did you describe the “eating of one’s young” as “a left-wing delicacy”?

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                    • George cornell says

                      There was no reply option to your post below asking about left-wing young-eating for some reason. So I will reply here.

                      It is my experience and borne out on these threads that the idealism of people with social conscience co-associates with undue and excessively intolerant criticism of individuals with very similar ideology.

                      This is different from what happens in conservative circles where social conscience seems less influential, and whose predilection for rank-closing and for bias towards status quo preservation tends to stifle criticism of their own peers. This difference extends to their students, or ideological offspring. Self-harming criticism seems to be part of the nature of membership in peer groups opposing the status quo. This is what offspring eating was meant to be a metaphor for. And I am hardly original in making this point.

                      The status quo by definition is narrower and better defined and consensus more easily reached while changes to it are more typically broad, heterogeneous, and disharmonious.

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                    • Makropulos says

                      Mr C – your ludicrously bloated reply smacks of defensiveness. But let’s have a look:

                      “It is my experience and borne out on these threads that the idealism of people with social conscience co-associates with undue and excessively intolerant criticism of individuals with very similar ideology.”

                      Are you implying that you conservatives have no social conscience?

                      “This is different from what happens in conservative circles where social conscience seems less influential…..”

                      An indeed – you are! Well that would explain a lot!

                      “….and whose predilection for rank-closing and for bias towards status quo preservation tends to stifle criticism of their own peers.”

                      Indeed – their eagerness to perpetuate their rule leads to rote mutual appreciation accompanied by deliberately ineffectual mewlings about proposed changes which aren’t going to be implemented and would have no effect even if they were.

                      “This difference extends to their students, or ideological offspring. Self-harming criticism seems to be part of the nature of membership in peer groups opposing the status quo.”

                      “self harming”? You mean genuine self-criticism?

                      “This is what offspring eating was meant to be a metaphor for. And I am hardly original in making this point.”

                      Well I don’t know, Mr C – you underestimate yourself. Your verbose polysyllabic waffling does have a certain originality.

                      “The status quo by definition is narrower and better defined and consensus more easily reached while changes to it are more typically broad, heterogeneous, and disharmonious.”

                      You could say that about any intolerant group. And in any case, under capitalism, the status quo is always shifting anyway. This is the great dirty secret which renders capitalist conservatism one of the great oxymorons. But shhhhh – don’t tell anyone!

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                  • George Cornell says

                    Instead of debating the issues you are one of those who immediately leap to this being about me. And your flagrantly delusional constructs about… me.

                    Well, I am not defensive. You asked me to explain a metaphor I used and instead of thanking me for me for the trouble, you seize the opportunity to make derogatory comments. “Ludicrously bloated”? Really? You conservatives? No one thought I was a conservative when I marched against the Viet Nam war or the invasion of Iraq. Take another look at my posts once more but don’t get back to me. Polysyllabic waffling? Take a look at Jimmy Carr’s skit about dealing with vegetarian requests and take the second option. And don’t ask for clarification again.

                    You aren’t here for debate or dialogue are you? Couldn’t find any stray dogs to kick in the ribs or stray kitties to set fire to? People like you with obvious incel problems abound on net blogs. I guess it is preferable to what some incel people do.

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                    • Makropulos says

                      Well George, I appreciate a bit of direct honest anger to that stuff I called “bloated” and which almost reads like a parody of lawyerspeak. (“co-associates with undue and excessively intolerant criticism” etc.)

                      Since you inveighed against “the left” (cf. “left wing delicacy”) and seemed to speak approvingly of “what happens in conservative circles”, I assumed you were a conservative. But if you marched against the Viet Nam war or the invasion of Iraq then good on you!

                      I don’t mind the “incel” bits or the stuff about setting fire to kitties. Good honest anger is fine and I do enjoy a damned good thrashing – giving and taking! But I’ll just stop now since I think the admin might be dropping by.

      • wardropper says

        Marxism has plenty of content worthy of trashing. That, in itself, is no guide to Chomsky’s relevance. His clear articulation of uncomfortable facts entitles him to his fair share of “reverence”.

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        • nwwoods says

          “Fair share” is reasonable. Unwavering adulation of any human being, living or dead, is a bridge too far.

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  29. Ah yes, everyone’s more “woke” than the next person now. If someone disagrees with you don’t worry, just imply they’re embroiled in some kind of “deep state” conspiracy and claim moral superiority.

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  30. Mark Klement says

    What a nit-picking article on one of our most important intellectuals who has been completely ignored by mainstream media. Perhaps Mr. Zuesse should try reading the 100 other books Chomsky has written, or reviewing the hundreds of speeches Chomsky has spoken. If you are going to attack a man’s reputation you need to look at the entirety of his work and what he stood for and I do not see any evidence of that in this article.
    People in power have no answer to Chomskys carefully researched and referenced critiques of domestic and foreign policy. Thus they resort to this kind of lame smear tactic.
    The irony is that Chomsky would have no problem with this article as he is a firm believer in free speech.

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    • Zuesse’s critique is faulty, but not without value. And your tone is too worshipful (for whatever reasons) for me. To my mind, it’s a big deal when someone with Chomsky’s stature goes over to the dark side. He’s definitely wrong about Syria and, as the old Chomsky would say to the new Chomsky, it’s important if it has material consequences, including life and death consequences, for others.

  31. Really dude says

    Getting so enraged at someone’s cursory defense of the Kurds that you rehabilitate the American propaganda industry.

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    • Eric Zuesse says

      It’s not ‘cursory’. Chomsky has been repeatedly and strongly supportive of ‘Rojava.’ — Kurdish separatists.

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  32. Michael McBrearty says

    To make the great discovery only in 1988 that public “consent” is manufactured, that is, that the material base determines the ideological superstructure, in a book with a few mentions of Marx in one chapter, is the political science equivalent of an American physicist announcing his new “gravity” theory with a few references to Isaac Newton included.
    That Prof. Chomsky is regarded as a sage by the Left demonstrates only the incredible ignorance of the philosophy of the working class in the USA.

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    • George Cornell. says

      When I was a young academic I also saw things as you seem to. I obsessed about priority, plagiarism, the credit denied to the real innovators. Having watched lots of brilliant innovation lie fallow for want of promotion, I changed my tune, just as you will.

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      • Michael McBrearty says

        I am not a young academic but an old activist, with decades of meetings, demonstrations, writing of articles and all sorts of other activities, hard work & study on my part. The men and women from whom I learned about Marxism were not academics but working class fighters and thinkers who had typically spent time in prison and endured all sorts of hardships and dangers for their Communist ideals. My life experience & study have led me to become far more radical, not less.

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        • Makropulos says

          Ah but you can’t compete with Mr Cornell’s transcendent sanctimony. He knows all that was, is and ever shall be!

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        • George cornell says

          Fair enough. I am also far more radical in old age than ever I was, but also more realistic, I hope. We came to this by very different routes. But the experiment has been done, over and over. Communism failed, or rather the people behind its fine ideals failed it. Those people will always be with us. Meanwhile we see the fallout daily from unfettered capitalism. Legislation is a possible cure for these ills but strong leadership is needed. And it is resisted tooth and nail.

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          • Makropulos says

            The problem is that capitalism by its very nature is unfettered or tends towards that state. And here’s the conundrum: those on the side of capitalism are playing to win. They really don’t give a shit about restraints of any kind. But those “on the other side” – and the scare quotes are merited – are playing to draw. They’re looking for a tie, for a bit of that nice reasonable balance we keep hearing about. It’s hardly surprising if they come to seem increasingly impotent. The ones that would make a difference are the actual left wing i.e. the ones struggling for communism. But I think that they have been neatly side-lined and demonised. And as the inevitable happens i.e. capitalism becomes more and more unfettered, then all that talk about how communism “doesn’t work” will fade away before the sight of how capitalism REALLY “works”!

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          • George Venemore says

            ” Commnism failed”? So Cuba is non existent then?

            • George cornell says

              Bravo to the Cubans! Their plucky adherence has been inspiring. They surely have struggled from the malevolence of the Americans. But this exception proves the rule laid down by Russia, the USSR, China, Eastern Europe and a few other toe dippers in Africa.

          • What do you call failure? Has capitalism, especially rotten (aka neoliberal) capitalism succeeded? Triumph is success, sort of. A bunch of terrorists can triumph. So what? As Noami Klein makes clear in her awesome book, “The Shock Doctrine,” capitalism only ever triumphed because it used force in order to triumph. As the authors (Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman) of “The Washington Connection And Third World Fascism” point out, on page 67, “Terror keeps the neo-colonial elites in power and the investment skies sunny.” No one who reads history could argue.

            • Deceit or betrayal of elicited trust sets and springs the trap and coercion comes in to maintain it.

              The whole nature of deceit is the core curriculum to reverse if freedom is to be lived and shared instead of a private ‘freedom’ taken from the subjugation and death of others.

              Destructo-capitalism is in my view a corruption or ‘progressive’ development of a race to the bottom – driven by an addictive greed that finds and exploits new opportunity in changing thought or worldview and this of course includes and fuels the intent and ability to change our thought and frame our worldview.

              I see wholeness as the key to health rather than persistent inflammation running unchecked. But I also see thinking that could as well be a parasite for the love it has for the mind (or body and body politic) of its thinker.
              Greed of getting – in fear of losing – propagating cynicism or self hatred masking in self righteous deceit or unmasking as the will to power. Or rather the powerlessness of being thus possessed.

              Judging all things is the ability to become subject to the systems, of rules and definitions we have made. Where Hu-Man is sacrificed to the god or system of thought instead of being served by it.

  33. “Chomsky’s Unearned Respect”.

    I shall not read this article because Chomsky has already earned my respect by the loathing which he roused in some Israeli Jews resident in the U$A. They told me that Clinton was the most intelligent president since Kennedy, and Chomsky was an abomination. Those were the glory days when WC.Clinton and TB.Liar were bombing Serbia for the greater glory of Goldman Sachs (with whom both the Clinton and BLiar developed very profitable relations after Serbia was broken up by NATZO).

    Chomsky was right about Vietnam when I was young married, and he was right about Serbia when I was a young grandfather; in my opinion that’s more respect than most Public Political Pundits have earned in my lifetime.

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    • Savorywill says

      That may be, but his support of the war in Syria is unconscionable. He also refuses to see the obvious flaws in the 9/11 narrative. He is too full of himself to change, or challenge his own conceptions, even if proven wrong, in my view. I have no time for what he has to say now, though I once did.

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        • wardropper says

          Interesting problem here. My only serious gripe with Chomsky is his public refusal to see the obvious flaws in the 911 narrative, but I can understand him not wanting to wreck his great reputation in old age by risking death threats and media contempt for telling the truth about that. I am pretty sure that he is as well aware as anybody of those flaws, but it would take superhuman courage for a man in his position to cast his whole life aside because of a few unguarded words. There, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps his specialized linguistic skills don’t extend to a common-sense approach to WTC7 in any case.
          As for Richard’s comment, I assume we are to take that as sarcasm…? If not, then the 2,000 – 3,000 professional dullards supporting Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth have something relevant to say to him.

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          • Richard Gage is a con man. AE911T is his full time job, he’s recognised there’s money to made from the “9/11 Truth” subculture.

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              • Yeah, Gage’s refusal to let his debate with Chris Mohr be released on DVD and his use of first class tickets, chauffeurs and high priced hotels in the interest of spreading “truth” being a few examples. The man is a charlatan whose modus operandi is to grip tightly to presuppositions in a bid to keep his acolytes on side and ignoring opposing views. His followers (like the guy above) are the shock troops ready to accuse people of being a government shill (or similar) for disagreeing with their bunk science, incoherent theories and factoids.

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                • Admin says

                  You seem blurry on nature of ‘evidence’. Hint – it isn’t saying stuff and then, when asked to substantiate it, saying it all again.

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                  • AE911T’s accounts are a matter of public record, as is the fact of the Mohr/Gage debate taking place. An audio recording is/was available. I’m not getting into an asinine link posting competition, pretty interesting the only comment that’s got the site’s admin exercised is mine.

                    • Admin says

                      Provide sources if you want to be taken seriously

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                    • Richard – “AE911T’s accounts are a matter of public record” – yes, and so are Architects & Engineer’s for 9/11Truth published peer reviewed journal articles that demolish the official narrative. You apparently haven’t found time to read them.

        • Makropulos says

          It’s not Chomsky’s denial of oddities about 9/11 that annoy me but his cringe-making attempt to dodge the entire issue with “Oh it doesn’t matter anyway!” or to be more precise:

          “And even if it were true, which is extremely unlikely, who cares? It doesn’t have any significance. It’s a little bit like the huge energy that’s put out on trying to figure out who killed John Kennedy. Who knows? Who cares? Plenty of people get killed all the time, why does it matter that one of them happened to be John F. Kennedy?”

          Yeah people get killed all the time, buildings collapse all the time, weird shit goes on etc, who gives a shit?

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          • milosevic says

            Chomsky: “stuff happens, but nobody knows why. anyway, who cares?”

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        • mark says

          In the world you inhabit 47 storey buildings probably collapse like a pack of cards all the time.

          • milosevic says

            All the cool kids know that the laws of physics are a social construct. They learned that in their Gender Identity course in university. Objective reality is just another patriarchal tool of oppression.

      • SavoryWill, I agree with your criticisms of Chomsky in more modern times; but to say that he has not earned respect is like saying that Galileo has not earned respect because he pooh-poohed Kepler, or that Newton has not earned respect because he rejected electricity.

        “Es irrt der mensch so lang err strebt”. — Wolfgang von Goethe, German scientist.

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      • Glasshopper says

        Bit of a stretch to say Chomsky supports the war in Syria, just because he’s drawn different conclusions about certain aspects of it to you.

        Re 911. It is a minefield that nobody, including you, knows much about.

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        • Glasshopper, re 911 I know the truth about those buildings collapsing in free fall because I know the truth about Galileo’s Law of Gravitational Acceleration. I have personally looked up their height, calculated from the time for free fall, and timed the videos — about 10 sec. Check. After all, it was a high school physics teacher who pointed out this truth; and millions of other people who have been through high school must have done the same. What A&E for 911T have done is to ram home the technical details which make it _impossible_ (not merely improbable, but _impossible_) that any flying object so tiny as a Jumbo Jet or any fire so mild as its paraffin fuel could have brought down a modern steel reinforced high rise building. The London Borough of Kensington stands witness to what truly happens when a real fire burns through a real high rise: even such a jerry built one is left standing.

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          • AE911T don’t publish the full video of the WTC7 collapse which actually begins with the penthouse collapse. The organisation (which is essentially just Richard Gage) pushes conspiracist propaganda which appeals to those with a confirmation bias towards conspiratorial thinking. You can’t just pick and choose whose motivations you wish to question.

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            • Admin says

              Do you have a link to the ‘full’ video?
              Let’s post it here for comparison.

              How do you see the fact the penthouse goes first as undermining the case for controlled demolition?

              I ask because this same fact has been adduced to SUPPORT the CD hypothesis.

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              • Because it partly confounds the whole “fell faster than free fall speed argument”. Look, don’t worry about me, I’m not even left wing anymore. This article just happened to come up in my Google feed. It’s heartening to see the alternative left is still wasting its time on the technical aspects of 9/11. The populist revolution is coming.

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                • Admin says

                  The suggestion is not it fell faster than free fall – the fact (admitted by NIST) is that it fell (approximately) AT free fall.

                  If you don’t want your assertions questioned, don’t make them. Still waiting for data to support your Richard Gage ad hom 🙄

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                  • Surprised a site ostensibly dedicated to truth hasn’t examined Gage themselves. Anyone would think you’ve simply found a veneer of science to bolster the conspiracy theory you’re already emotionally invested in. Do you think Gage is a benevolent force?

                    It’s amazing to me how many alternative left outlets like this have a problem with Chomsky simply because he doesn’t share their “FALSE FLAG!!!” worldview. And of course, as is always the case with conspiracists, disagreement can’t ever be due to genuine intellectual divergence but because they’re part of the conspiracy. You mirror the alternative right and their obsession with Jews’ apparent attempt to destroy the white race in that sense.

                    • Admin says

                      Post your sources for the ad hom or, if you can’t, have the grace to admit it and move on please.No more trolling on this topic.

                  • The single best source for 9/11 research is the dedicated subsection of the James Randi website. All of Gage’s indiscretions and deflections are covered in detail. Of course, none of this will be of interest to people who cling to “9/11 Truth” as an article of faith.

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                    • Admin says

                      Can they explain why no scientific rebuttal of the Harrit et al thermite paper has ever been published – despite one having been in the pipeline years ago? Or how asymmetrical damage causes symmetrical collapse? or what produced the molten metal and sulfidated steel (observed by FEMA), if not a thermitic reaction? Or how a “progressive collapse” developed the excess energy required to hurl steel beams hundreds of yards out of the footprint?

                      NIST hasn’t explained any of this – but maybe James Randi and co have done better?

                      Or do they just sneer and hope their readers are too stupid to spot the fact they have no answers either?

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                    • crank says

                      Thanks for reminding us all of JREF and the Amazing Randi.
                      And thanks to James Randi himself for keeping us all on the straight and narrow and not being a self-confessed liar.
                      Thanks too to Randi for the careers of Penn and Teller, and to the magical duo for their clever rebuttals of ‘9/11 bullshit’ as they so eloquently put it.
                      We must thank Jonathan Kay for popularising the pejorative term ‘truther’ in his best selling book, Among The Truther, and while we are at it let’s not forget the keen work of David Aaronovitch and his Voodoo Histories. Together these books have been a bastion of correct thinking about 9/11.
                      Thank you to Mike Rudin who made those great BBC programmes which carefully answered all those niggling questions about 9/11.
                      Bigup to Larry Klein for making the influential NOVA documentary which lay out the clear case for the official story at the WTC.
                      Let’s thank Michael Arad for the memorial in New York, and Peter Rosengard for funding the memorial in London – and of course Simon Schama for promoting it (and the official story in general to schoolkids of today and tomorrow).
                      It almost goes without saying that Philip zelokow deserves our praise for writing the official narrative in the first place, great work.
                      In light of these names, we can offer gratitude to Noam Chomsky for tarring anyone who ridiculously questions what happened on 9/11.
                      Thank you one and all.

                    • PSJ says

                      Glad to see Richard Straker has had the good sense to retire from the scene in the face of Admin’s awesomely superior weaponry.

                    • Richard Straker – On the subject of dishonesty, dissembling and disinformation regarding 9/11 truth I can only say regarding your posts:

                      “Me thinks the troll boy doth project too much!” – I think Shakespeare said that.

                    • crank says

                      Thank you one and all.

                      …or is that toda ?

  34. Francis Lee says

    So intellectuals and academics plagiarise – well I never. Let he who is without copyright cast the first quote.

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  35. Thomas Prentice says

    I have long had a respect for and some email correspondence with Dr. Chomsky, both for linguistics and especially his attacks on US warmaking.

    When Chomsky endorsed “strategic voting” in 2016 — by voting for Hillary in red states and Jill Stein in Blue states — we had a strong back-and-forth and ended up agreeing to disagree.

    Then I learned he had done the same thing often in the past. wondered; “Which side as he on? For the first time I began to wonder if he might be performing a role of some sort for the establishment, Democratic Party, powers-that-be, deep state, perhaps a foreign military power.

    Later, I challenged him almost immediately on his support for a US presence in Syria. I said it was hypocritical with respect to his opposition to foreign involvements and regime change by the US empire. He emailed back almost immediately in a defensive, passive-aggressive response which, essentially, accused me of hurting his feelings by making such a serious charge as hypocrisy.

    I didn’t reply. Suddenly, that was it.

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      • Manda, for the Canuck who wrote in that Link “Syria Terra Nullius” (ie, Syria is whatever the Anglo Zio Capitalists and the Main Stream Media want it to be) I recommend a poem which I read some time ago in Saker Vineyard:

        “In the middle of the road there was a stone
        there was a stone in the middle of the road
        there was a stone
        in the middle of the road there was a stone.”

        That stone is Syria. It has been there for at least 5,000 years, and NATZO has just crashed on it. That road is the Old Silk Road between East EurAsia and West EurAsia which has been the axis along which people, goods and ideas have travelled for at least 5 millenia. From Syria it goes through Iran to India and China; a northern branch goes from Southern Europe through the Black Sea to Russia and Russian Siberia. And from Russia it goes through Eastern Mongolia across the Baring Straits down to America — which is why Red Indians look like Russians. Syria and Iran are in the middle of that road. The mushroom conquistadors of the West have done a remarkable feat in tilting the East-West geopolitical axis into a North-South axis in less than 500 years; but if they think they can permanently change natural geopolitics they are even more deluded with vainglory than I thought.

    • Jen says

      I came to the conclusion long ago from reading other online articles about Noam Chomsky’s support for US-led intervention in Syria – and what he contributed to the book “The Manufacturing of Consent”, co-written with Ed Herman (RIP) – that Chomsky acts as a “gatekeeper”, an authority who helps determine the limits of dissent that is allowed in the media and public discourse, and who draws people away from investigating issues for themselves or finding other, more authentic opinion leaders to trust and follow. Debate on important issues is kept stymied. This is the pernicious result of Chomsky’s influence and effect on general opinion. Eric Zuesse’s post confirms what I have read in the past.

      Like many others commenting here, I did look up to Chomsky and respected his opinion – but eventually I found his reputation was built on a foundation of clay.

      The lesson to learn is that even authority figures like Chomsky are not infallible and one has to trust one’s own judgement and gut feeling about who to take seriously on most issues, and who not to.

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      • milosevic says

        Chomsky acts as a “gatekeeper”, an authority who helps determine the limits of dissent that is allowed in the media and public discourse, and who draws people away from investigating issues for themselves or finding other, more authentic opinion leaders to trust and follow. Debate on important issues is kept stymied.

        Only world-class gatekeepers can manage to conceal their actual role as such, by explaining exactly how the technique operates, so that their followers can infer that it only works on less enlightened people than themselves.

        Perhaps the term of art for such psychological operations, among the specialists who organize them, is “manufacturing dissent”, or possibly even “MK-CHOMSKY”.

        The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

        Noam Chomsky

      • Your view doesn’t allow for the possibility that people have free moral agency and can up and decide, out of the blue, to sell their souls, switch allegiance, whatever. Nor do you consider the possibility that Chomsky was got to. It happens. Rafael suddenly attacked (his friend) John Perkins’s work with others to protect Ecuador’s rainforest from oil company predators, which John talks about in his (not good) book “The New Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man”). John seems to think that Rafael was go to. Here’s the thing; Unlike say Barack Obama, who talked a good line before being elected, Rafael had a history of siding with the underdogs and showing solidarity not with powerful, special interests foreign and domestic, but with his people. His siding with his people was not in rhetoric only. Correa’s actual past work was not clay. It was real and productive and helped people. No honest progressive who has read Chomsky extensively could ever call is entire body of work clay or trickery or whatever. I personally don’t think anyone has ‘got to’ Chomsky.

        Is it a combination of things? Even without Chomsky’s seeming negative attitude toward the internet and non establishment forms of media – How many alternative, progressive organizations have you found that he’s quoted, which would ‘not’ include fakers like The Nation? – he’s smart enough to know the full story of Syria. When I read his line about Israel’s interest in Syria being nil and the Israelis having no interest in interfering there, I did a double take. Without knowing anything about the origin of the Syrian conflict, a person would rightly ask “Why would a State like Israel ‘not’ be interested in a neighbor like Syria?” (Noam: Is that why Israel is bombing Syria now?) What is bending Chomsky’s mind in relation to this US-supported aggression, by the US and its allies, including Israel, toward Syria? His friendship with class traitors like Amy Goodman – who clearly has sold her soul – together with (I’m speculating here) his slowing down and relying on others who might not be progressive, can’t do anything other than negatively impact the quality of his analysis, in my view. We have to assess facts, nothing else. And it’s not looking good for Noam Chomsky. It’s looking like he’s sold his soul. Yes, I’d like to be wrong.

        • Jen says

          Eh? When I said Chomsky acts in the role of a “gatekeeper”, I did not imply that this role had been chosen for him and he agreed to it – he could have chosen it of his own free will or just slipped into it over time. The possibility that personal or other circumstances – or even a changing social and professional network – could have influenced him and led him into a certain direction, and he being unaware of that change, is not excluded either.

          Chomsky currently teaches at the University of Tucson in Arizona, by the way.
          https://tucson.com/news/linguist-noam-chomsky-joins-university-of-arizona-faculty/article_5e150bc8-1e7d-528b-afe7-eb3faf1c78f4.html

          • It’s appalling that the write-up about Chomsky’s arrival mentions Noam’s book “Manufacturing Consent,” without noting that he co-authored it. There’s no mention of that fact and no mention of Edward Herman. There’s something wrong with that. Nice friends you have there Noam!

            • Arrby – this must be the prize comment of the whole thread.
              Apart from the 25 mentions of Herman in the article, is there something that I am missing?

  36. There’s no such thing as tax money at the Federal level. There is public money i.e. dollars issued by the government.

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