By Noam Chomsky, written following his trip to the Gaza Strip on October 25-30, 2012.
(Ashraf Amra / APA Images)
Posted Thursday, March 24, 2005
CoreWeekly article on Chomsky, The Anti-Chomsky Reader Continues a Soviet-Style Assault, by Michael Leon (January 13, 2005): "Noam Chomsky is typically described as one of the great minds of our time. The 76-year-old MIT professor has spent a lifetime championing human rights, and is also renowned for his linguistics work. But Chomsky is reviled by the right-wing and is received not much better by mainstream liberals. Chomsky's mortal sin: Asserting that state policies ought always to support human rights and peace."
A video recording of the Gifford Lectures, delivered at the University of Edinburgh on March 22 and streamed simultaneously from the university's website, is now available.
Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960 article on Chomsky, by Zoltan Gendler Szabo (Bristol, 2004).
Introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky, by James McGilvray (Cambridge, 2005): "At the time of writing, Noam Chomsky has produced over eighty books, hundreds of articles, and thousands of speeches. He has given thousands of interviews, written countless letters, and supervised scores of theses. He has made important, sometimes groundbreaking, contributions to three areas -- linguistics, philosophy of mind and human nature, and politics. He set linguistics on a successful naturalistic, biologically oriented scientific course; his theoretical contributions continue to lead the field. Like Descartes, Galileo, and Hume, and unlike the eighteenth-century philosopher Kant and the great majority of philosophers thereafter, Chomsky is both scientist and philosopher, and his philosophical work is continuous with his scientific. His science of language and incipient science of mind offer a genuine prospect of coming to a biologically based grasp of human nature and of the way it allows for human understanding and action. His political work, like both Hobbes's and Rousseau's, seeks a foundation in a science of human nature, although with better prospects for developing such a theory -- and for exploring its implications for political ideals and goals -- than Hobbes's misguided attempt to construct a causal theory of human action or Rousseau's fanciful assays into a 'state of nature.' And unlike both of them -- and far too many contemporary political 'theorists' -- there is no sign in Chomsky's political work that his views and critical analyses are driven by a wish for power."
Princeton Progressive Review and Dollars & Sins interview, On Globalization, Iraq, and Middle East Studies, with Danilo Mandic (March 11, 2005): "[I]f you were to mention my name to most of the faculty in the relevant areas, they would probably react with screams of horror. I mean, we have a very doctrinary intellectual class. They do not like deviation from a very narrow party line. Now, in regional studies, it's very hard to control. That's one of the reasons why Middle East departments are coming under extreme attack from the more totalitarian forces in the country (like Horowitz, Pipes and others), who can't stand the idea that there's some independent - or partially independent - sector of the society that isn't under tight... that isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of the business world and the right wing."
Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi talk, Peering into the Abyss of the Future (November 3, 2001): "I had intended to discuss some rather general issues that have unpleasant, possibly ominous implications for a decent future: issues of democracy, human rights, social and economic development, the role of force in world affairs, and others. The problems that arise are particularly severe because the policies pursued have a certain rationality within the framework of existing socio-economic and ideological institutions. I will do so, though only in a much more limited way than I had hoped. The reason is clear to everyone. These topics, while of utmost importance, have been displaced since Sept. 11 by another concern: the threat of international terrorism, which compels us to 'peer into the abyss of the future,' in the words of the New York Times headline I borrowed as a title."
Technology and Culture Forum (MIT) audio talk, Empire-Building: Domestic and International Consequences (October 8, 2004): "In the last week or two a number of polls have been issued from the leading polling agencies in the world which have some quite interesting results that bear rather directly on the title for this evening's presentation: the consequences of the 'new imperial grand strategy,' as the Bush program was described by the main establishment journal, Foreign Affairs, shortly after it was officially announced in September 2002, [i.e.] the National Security Strategy. The most obvious results, of course, are the international ones, which only were released two days ago. For instance, in the Muslim world, almost everywhere, substantial majorities regard the United States as the military threat to them. It's over 70% in Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, and other countries. In Europe majorities regarded the United States as a threat to world peace: Holland, England, France, and elsewhere. The report says that distrust and dislike of the United States has doubled or tripled in many countries over the past years." [Chomsky's talk starts at 8:53]
Academic Freedom Lecture video, Illegal but Legitimate: A Dubious Doctrine for the Times (October 28, 2004): "By comparative and historical standards academic freedom is reasonably well-protected today in the United States, perhaps almost uniquely so. Freedom confers opportunity, and opportunity confers responsibility, that is, the responsibility to use the freedom one enjoys wisely, honestly, and humanely. Just what that entails we each have to decide for ourselves." [Chomsky's talk starts at 17:36]
Press Action article on Chomsky, Is Noam Chomsky an 'Intellectual Moron'?, by Michael K. Smith (March 22, 2005): "For those whose appreciation of unconscious humor is stronger than their stomachs, Daniel J. Flynn's, "Intellectual Morons - How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall For Stupid Ideas," is highly recommended. Flynn, previous author of "Why The Left Hates America," is the former executive director of Accuracy in Academia. His latest book is endorsed by William F. Buckley Jr., who finds him "sophisticated," and G. Gordon Liddy, who declares his rant "must reading." Juxtaposing Flynn's declared appreciation for "facts, experience, and logic" to his evaluation of the work of Noam Chomsky, one finds more than a few glaring contradictions, as detailed below."
Scotsman article on Chomsky, Chomsky Webcast to Net Extra Viewers, by Gareth Edwards (March 19, 2005): "A lecture in Edinburgh by world-renowned political commentator Noam Chomsky has proved so popular it is to be broadcast live on the internet. The 76-year-old American academic will deliver the last in the Gifford Lecture series at Edinburgh Univeersity's McEwan Hall on Tuesday, March 22. The free-speech campaigner, most widely known for his political commentary and his criticism of American influence and activities overseas, will give a lecture entitled Illegal but Legitimate: a dubious doctrine for the times. It deals with the danger of launching "legitimate" attacks on countries, even though it is accepted that the attacks are "illegal". Originally the lecture was to be held in the George Square theatre, but unprecedented interest led to the organisers moving it to the 1300-seat hall. However, even that was not enough to satisfy demand and now the university is to broadcast the event on the web. While the request for tickets reached levels normally reserved for pop concerts, it should be no surprise that people are eager to hear what Mr Chomsky has to say."
Sunday Herald article on Chomsky, Noam Chomsky... still furious at 76, by Alan Taylor (March 20, 2005): "On my way to meet Noam Chomsky in Boston, I pick up a copy of The American Prospect, whose cover features snarling caricatures of US Vice-President Dick Cheney, and of Chomsky: the man dubbed by Bono 'the Elvis of academia'. Cheney is presented as the proverbial bull in an international china shop, Chomsky is portrayed by this 'magazine of liberal intelligence' as the epitome of high- minded dove-ish, misguided idealism. Chomsky, of course, is well used to such attacks. For every cloying article by a disciple, there is a rocket from the enemy camp revelling in his perceived failings and undermining his reputation, denigrating his scholarship as a linguist and joyfully repeating statements which, when taken out of context, seem tinged with fanaticism. To his credit, Chomsky puts them all on his website, whether it's The New Yorker describing him as 'the devil's accountant' and 'one of the greatest minds of the 20th century', or The Nation, which lampooned him as 'a very familiar kind of academic hack' whose career has been 'the product of a combination of self-promotion, abuse of detractors, and the fudging of his findings'."
Chomsky will deliver the third and final lecture of the Gifford Lecture series at Edinburgh University on Tuesday, March 22. Entitled "Illegal but Legitimate: a Dubious Doctrine for the Times," the lecture will be streamed live from the the University's website.
Milwaukee Area Technical College video talk on the "War on Terror" (November 1, 2002): "It's been known for a long time that with contemporary technology the rich and the powerful have lost their monopoly of large-scale violence. [...] One technical paper pointed out that a well-plan effort to smuggle weapons of mass destruction --meaning nuclear weapons-- into the United States would have a 90% probability of success, far higher than a missile attack with or without missile defense."
Hitchcock Lecture (video), Language and Mind Revisited: Language and the Rest of the World (March 20, 2002): "Our moral nature has been subjected to investigation in various ways. That includes interesting thought experiments, actual experiments with children, and comparative studies. Not uncommonly, the real world offers illustrations of how this faculties function, sometimes with very painful choices. Issues like that test our moral faculties, and may help us to discover something about their nature. Sometimes this perspective is counterpoised to what is called a 'relativistic' one, which holds, in an extreme form, that, apart from their basic physical structure, humans have no nature --they have only history--, or that their thoughts and behavior can be modified without limit. Nothing like this can be even close to true if taken literally, though it seems to be what it's sometimes said. In a version due to Richard Rorty, 'history and anthropology,' show that humans have 'extraordinary malleability. We are coming to think of ourselves as the flexible, Protean, self-shaping animal,' rather than us having specific instincts. [Richard Rorty, 'Human Rights, Rationality and Sentimentality' -- PS] So, there can be no moral progress in human affairs --just different ways of looking at things. We should put aside the vain effort of exploration of our moral nature, or reason or argument about it. We should keep to what he calls 'manipulating sentiments,' if we happen to be for or against torture or massacre for example. I suspect I'm misinterpreting [Rorty], because it's hard to believe that these words are intended to mean what they seem to say." [Chomsky's lecture starts at 3:19; his comments on human nature start at 45:53]
Media Control The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda CD by NOAM CHOMSKY An invaluable primer on media and disinformation in democratic societies. The New Statesman calls Noam Chomsky, "The conscience of the American people." In addition to his pioneering work in modern linguistics, Chomsky has been a leading advocate for social justice, human rights, and a free and open media. In this exceptional speech delivered during Gulf War I, Chomsky speaks out against wartime propaganda and opinion control. Chomsky begins by asserting two models of democracy-one in which the public actively participates, and one in which the public is manipulated and controlled. According to Chomsky "propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state," and the mass media is the primary vehicle for delivering propaganda in the United States. From an examination of how Woodrow Wilson's Creel Commission "succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population," to Bush Sr.'s war on Iraq, Chomsky examines how the mass media and public relations industries have been used as propaganda to generate public support for going to war. Chomsky touches on how the modern public relations industry has been influenced by Walter Lippmann's theory of "spectator democracy," in which the public is seen as a "bewildered herd" that needs to be directed, not empowered; and how the public relations industry in the United States focuses on "controlling the public mind," and not on informing it. A classic and inspiring speech as timely today as it was during Gulf War I under President Bush I. Media Control The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda CD by Noam Chomsky ISBN: 1-58322-664-8 $14.95 | Available in bookstores
B92 interview on 9-11, with Svetlana Vukovic & Svetlana Lukic (September 19, 2001): "A Saudi Arabian millionaire, Bin Laden became a militant Islamic leader in the war to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. He was one of the many religious fundamentalist extremists recruited, armed, and financed by the CIA and their allies in Pakistani intelligence to cause maximal harm to the Russians --quite possibly delaying their withdrawal, many analysts suspect-- though whether he personally happened to have direct contact with the CIA is unclear, and not particularly important. Not surprisingly, the CIA preferred the most fanatic and cruel fighters they could mobilize. The end result was to "destroy a moderate regime and create a fanatical one, from groups recklessly financed by the Americans" ("London Times" correspondent Simon Jenkins, also a specialist on the region)."
MADRE interview on Racism, Colombia, and the Militarization of Outer Space, with Yifat Susskind (August, 2001): "Destruction of the environment is not only rational; it's exactly what you're taught to do in college. If you take an economics or a political science course, you're taught that humans are supposed to be rational wealth accumulators, each acting as an individual to maximize his own wealth in the market. The market is regarded as democratic because everybody has a vote. Of course, some have more votes than others because your votes depend on the number of dollars you have, but everybody participates and therefore it's called democratic. Well, suppose that we believe what we are taught. It follows that if there are dollars to be made, you destroy the environment. The reason is elementary. The people who are going to be harmed by this are your grandchildren, and they don't have any votes in the market. Their interests are worth zero. Anybody that pays attention to their grandchildren's interests is being irrational, because what you're supposed to do is maximize your own interests, measured by wealth, right now. Nothing else matters. So destroying the environment and militarizing outer space are rational policies, but within a framework of institutional lunacy. If you accept the institutional lunacy, then the policies are rational."
International Relations Center brief talk transcript, Elections Run by Same Guys Who Sell Toothpaste (January 25, 2005): "The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste. They show you an image of a sports hero, or a sexy model, or a car going up a sheer cliff or something, which has nothing to do with the commodity, but it's intended to delude you into picking this one rather than another one. Same when they run elections. But they're assigned that task in order to marginalize the public, and furthermore, people are pretty well aware of it."
Brooklyn Law School video talk, Sovereignty, Democracy, Markets: Some Skeptical Ruminations (February 23, 2001): "There are three topics that are mentioned in the announcement for this talk: sovereignty, democracy, and markets. They interweave in complicated ways. With respect to each of them there are conceptions that are accepted rather widely in Western elite opinion, although not elsewhere, and they met a deal of skepticism, I think. I'll try to outline some of the reasons for this judgement. In brief, the theses I want to consider, which are familiar to you, are that a new era is opening in world affairs in which sovereignty takes second place to human rights, and sovereignty is succumbing to the spread of market democracy, which is another welcome development." [Chomsky's talk starts at 5:46]
University of Houston video talk, on what changed after September 11 (October 18, 2002): "It's generally assumed that the events of September 11 changed the world dramatically, that nothing will ever be the same, as we move into a new era of human history, an "age of terror," as it was called by the title of the first book of academic essays that came out shortly after September 11 (Yale University), professors mostly, they regarded the anthrax attacks, which they attributed to Bin Laden, as even more ominous than what happened at September 11. And it's clear that the world has changed. So take, say, Iraq, what's on everybody's mind. Since September 11 Iraq has become a threat to our very existence. So according to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the next bit of evidence we are likely to discover about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction will be a mushroom cloud. She didn't say where, but presumably that means in New York or Washington. The neighboring countries don't seem to perceive the threat. Actually, they are worried --but they are worried about the United States and its attack on Iraq, and not about Saddam Hussein. Interestingly, that's true even of Kuwait and Iran, two countries that were invaded by Saddam Hussein when he was a US ally."
"What is The Meaning of Hockey and why was the title changed from Noam Chomsky on Hockey?" Visit ZNet to find the answer.
Fermilab video talk, The Aftermath of September 11 (October 8, 2003): "The immediate aftermath of 9-11 was an outpouring of grief and sympathy for the innocent victims from just about all over the world and horror for the crimes --crimes against humanity. By a year later the global attitude had become radically different. Which raises the question, Why?" [Chomsky's talk starts at 5:58]
Chomsky's articles and interviews on linguistics formerly available at the monkeyfist archive are now hosted at chomsky.info. This completes the migration process. If you think that we left out something, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org, replacing 'name' with 'pablo').
The Tavis Smiley Show audio interview, Hegemony or Survival (November 19, 2003): "The title [of Hegemony or Survival] expresses a dilemma that Americans have to face now, and a very serious one. The Bush administration policy is not entirely novel by any means --there's plenty of precedents. But it is extreme. It is a brazen, acknowledged declaration that the US, under them at least, intends to dominate the world, by force if necessary, and to prevent any potential long-term challenge to it. And I think those policies, particularly as they are being executed, do really raise serious questions about human survival."
Harvard Graduate School of Education video talk, Another World: Alternative Ways to Globalization (February 28, 2003): "The World Social Forum is one of two forums that go on at the same time: there's the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre and there's the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And the two are kind of related: the more excited and enthusiastic the World Social Forum gets, the more gloomy the Davod forum gets." [Chomsky's talk starts at 2:40]
Final Edition interview, Interview with Noam Chomsky, with Wallace Shawn (September 17, 2004): "It's simply very easy to subordinate oneself to a worldview that's supportive of one's own interests. Most of us don't go around murdering people or stealing food from children. There are a lot of activities that we just regard as pathological when we do them individually. On the other hand, when they're done collectively, they're considered necessary and appropriate."
Interventions interview, An Hour with Noam Chomsy, with Hugh Gusterson (2002): "Almost every case of military intervention or coercion that you can think of is justied in humanitarian terms, including Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese fascists -- and probably Attila the Hun, if we had the documents."
Cleveland State Law Review article, Consent without Consent: Reflections on the Theory and Practice of Democracy (1996): "The current moment is an opportune one to reflect on core issues of American democracy. The 1996 primary season is over, and the two presumed candidates are heading on to the campaign itself. As always, the primaries had extensive media coverage. There was also an unprecedented flow of funds, far more than in 1992, though only one nomination was contested. But a few things were missing, and these may be the most enlightening aspect of the primary season."
Technology and Culture Forum (MIT) video talk (partly) on Chomsky's Influence, by Steven Pinker (September 25, 2003): "Chomsky revived ideas that really had been kind of dormant since the Enlightenment of what is a human like and how does that tie in to our political arrangements, and the way we conceptualize humans in the broadest sense." [Pinker's discussion of Chomsky's theory starts at 1:10:44; Q&A section starts at 1:45:02]
Monthly Review article on Chomsky, Noam Chomsky and the Struggle Against Neoliberalism, by Robert W. McChesney (April 1, 1999): "[N]eoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future. It is fitting that Noam Chomsky is the leading intellectual figure in the world today in the battle for democracy and against neoliberalism. In the 1960s, Chomsky was a prominent U.S. critic of the Vietnam war and, more broadly, became perhaps the most trenchant analyst of the ways U.S. foreign policy undermines democracy, quashes human rights, and promotes the interests of the wealthy few. In the 1970s, Chomsky (along with his co-author Edward S. Herman) began researching the ways the U.S. news media serve elite interests and undermine the capacity of the citizenry to actually rule their lives in a democratic fashion. Their 1988 book, Manufacturing Consent, remains the starting point for any serious inquiry into news media performance."
Kent State talk, On the Kent/Jackson State Killings (May 4, 2000): "When we look around and we see the problems and the horrors and the atrocities and injustice in this country and those much worse ones elsewhere the privileged people here have a great deal of responsibility for, it's easy to forget something which is true and important, namely that it's a much more civilized country than it was 40 years ago. And the reason it's a much more civilized country is not because of magic or taking pills. It's because of constant, dedicated struggle and commitment on the part, most dramatically of young people, some of whom have lost their lives tragically in the course of that struggle."
Technology and Culture Forum (MIT) video talk, The Militarization of Science and Space (February 15, 2004): "The militarization of science and space in part has to do with issues of world domination --hegemony-- and in part has to do with issues of the domestic economy and society. The militarization of science and space is extensively involved in both." [Chomsky's talk starts at 6:17]
Technology and Culture Forum (MIT) video talk, Institutions vs. People: Will the Species Self-Destruct? (April 10, 2001): "There's been a lot of doomsday prophesying in the past 30 years or so, ever since the Club of Rome and other publications. I shall have something a little different in mind: I want to consider the self-destructive tendencies in the institutions that humans have constructed and that now dominate international society."