By Noam Chomsky, written following his trip to the Gaza Strip on October 25-30, 2012.
(Ashraf Amra / APA Images)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005
The Guardian interview, The Greatest Intellectual?, with Emma Brockes (October 31, 2005): "We are used to having our jackboot on people's necks, so we don't see our victims. I've seen them: go to Laos, go to Haiti, go to El Salvador. You'll see people who are really suffering brutally. This does not give us the right to lie about that suffering."
G'Day World audio interview, Chomsky's Basic View of the World, with Cameron Reilly (October 25, 2005): "At the time of the Second World War, the United States for the first time became a major actor in world affairs generally. Prior to the Second World War the Unites States had conquered the national territory--which meant eliminating the indigenous population--, it had conquered half of Mexico, it had extended its power over the Caribbean region, it had kicked the British out of Venezuela--big oil producer--, it had moved on to Hawaii and the Philippines, it was engaged in undermining China, but it was not a leader in world affairs. But after the Second World War that changed totally. And it was understood. There were planning sessions of high State Department officials from 1939 to 1945 in which they recognized clearly that the US would emerge from the Second World War as the world dominant power, and they made extensive plans about how it should use that power. And if you look at the years that followed, when many of the same people were in government, in corporations, in planning and decision-making positions, in various ways they implemented similar plans. And it continues pretty much until the present. Of course, plans always change, circumstances change: you need different tactics, there are different pretexts, and so on. But the basic themes remain in the way they were articulated in the war-time studies groups of which we have the documents. And they are not terribly surprising: the basic idea is that the United States should create a system of global order, standing as far as possible, which would operate for the benefit of privileged sectors of power within the United States, and their counterparts elsewhere. Well, that means primarily the corporate sector, which pretty much dominates American society, and is closely linked to other sectors in other societies. And that means a kind of liberal internationalism, in which countries are compelled in one way or another to subordinate themselves to the economic, political and social arrangements that are supportive of US power interests. That means opportunities to invest, exploitation of the population, access to resources and markets, and control of essential resources." [interview begins at 3:07]
The Age article, What Americans Have Learnt --and not Learnt-- Since 9/11 (September 7, 2002): "September 11 shocked many Americans into an awareness that they had better pay much closer attention to what the United States Government does in the world and how it is perceived. Many issues have been opened for discussion that were not on the agenda before. That is all to the good. It is also the merest sanity, if we hope to reduce the likelihood of future atrocities. It may be comforting for Americans to pretend that their enemies "hate our freedoms", as President Bush stated, but it is hardly wise to ignore the real world, which conveys different lessons."
A special Forbes report on "Communicating" has just been released. It includes two brief interviews --On the Spontaneous Invention of Language and On Why Kids Learn Languages Easily-- as well as an audio comment On the Origins of Language.
Khaleej Times editorial, Voice of World's Conscience (October 20, 2005): "The overwhelming support for Chomsky in the Prospect poll gives you reasons for hope. The world has still not completely lost its faith in humanity and the basic sense of what is right and wrong, just and unjust and good and evil. Wish there were more courageous and committed souls like Noam Chomsky around."
Prospect articles For Chomsky, by Robin Blackburn, and Against Chomsky, by Oliver Kamm (November, 2005): "Is the world's top public intellectual a brilliant expositor of linguistics and the US's duplicitous foreign policy? Or a reflexive anti-American, cavalier with his sources?"
A Scotsman piece discussing the recent Top Public Intellectuals poll (see below) includes some interesting comments by David Goodhart, editor of Prospect. Here's Mr Goodhart's explanation of Chomsky's triumph:
I think it is to do with the fact he represents an old fashioned romantic idea of an intellectual as almost deliberately impotent.Concern for human suffering, uncompromising intellectual honesty, or command of the relevant facts are apparently explanatory alternatives not even worth considering by Goodhard. The article, appropriately enough, is titled 'Romantic thoughts make Chomsky the leading intellectual'. (Incidentally, the remark that "a supporter of Chomsky had exhorted net users to vote for him" is both false an irrelevant. False, because I simply notified visitors of the existence of the poll, without urging them to vote for any particular candidate, and even mentioning the possibility of casting a write-in vote for individuals not included in the list of nominees. Irrelevant, because, as implied by Prospect's article announcing the results, the mention had no significant impact on voters' preferences.)
About two weeks ago, Chomsky surprised the editors of the BBC by ranking fourth in their poll to choose a fantasy world government, just after Mandela, Clinton and the Dalai Lama. Now the results of Foreign Policy/Prospect Magazine's Top Public Intellectuals survey confirm Noam's status as the world's leading intellectual figure. He didn't just win: he "won by a mile".
Academic and Research Network of Slovenia video talk, Forgotten History (March 29, 2005).
Khaleej Times article, Wanted a Leader for America (October 5, 2005): "As the survivors of Hurricane Katrina try to piece their lives back together, it is all the clearer that a long-gathering storm of misguided policies and priorities preceded the tragedy. Government failures at home and the war in Iraq found a confluence in Katrina's wake that graphically illustrates the need for fundamental social change, lest we suffer worse disasters in the future. In a pre-9/11 report, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had listed a major hurricane in New Orleans as one of the three most likely catastrophes to strike the United States. The others: a terrorist attack in New York and an earthquake in San Francisco."
Noam Chomsky to Deliver Eighth Annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture 'Democracy Promotion, Past and Present: Rhetoric and Reality' October 11, 7:30 p.m. Robert Crown Center Noam Chomsky will deliver the annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture at Hampshire College on October 11, 2005. The 7:30 p.m. lecture, titled “Democracy Promotion, Past and Present: Rhetoric and Reality,” will be held in the Robert Crown Center and is open to the public free of charge. A prolific author and influential scholar, Chomsky is known for his groundbreaking work in human language and communication and for his outspoken critiques of American media and government. Chomsky's career has been based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he joined the staff in 1955, became full professor in 1961, and was appointed Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy in 1976. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1955 from the University of Pennsylvania. From 1951 to 1955, Chomsky was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows. He has lectured at many universities around the globe and is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards. He has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs, and U.S. foreign policy. His most recent books are A New Generation Draws the Line; New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind; Rogue States; 9-11; Understanding Power; On Nature and Language: Pirates and Emperors, Old and New; Chomsky on Democracy and Education; Middle East Illusions; and Hegemony or Survival. The annual Eqbal Ahmad Lecture honors the teaching, scholarship and activism of the late Eqbal Ahmad, who was a long-time Hampshire College professor. Professor Ahmad’s faculty colleagues, former students, family and friends from around the globe have joined together to make this lecture series a continuing celebration of his life and work. Previous Eqbal Ahmad Lecturers include Kofi Annan, Edward Said, Arundhati Roy, Mahmood Mamdani, Fatema Mernissi, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, and Seymour Hersh. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 559-5379.
Tribute to Noam Chomsky for 40 years of speaking out for peace and justice Friday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. First Church Cambridge Congregational at 11 Garden St.
The BBC -- "about the only program I can tolerate on the radio"1 -- has been asking visitors to pick a team to run the world among a list of one hundred political leaders, economists and thinkers. Without any sort of mainstream media coverage (or assistance from chomsky.info!), Noam managed to get to the 4th place, just below Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama. By comparison, George W. Bush ranked #43, below Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who ranked #33 and #36 respectively. As the article announcing the results acknowledged, "[p]erhaps the biggest surprise was the success of the American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, who came fourth." The poll is now closed, though it's still possible to cast a selection. (
Washington State University brief audio interview with Mary Hawkins, On Social Activism (April 22, 2005).
overland article on Chomsky, The Wild Man in the Wings, by Clinton Fernandes (Spring 2005): "In January 1967, with the war against Vietnam well underway, one of the architects of US strategy was analysing its progress. A satisfied McGeorge Bundy, National Security Adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, pointed to the narrow limits of the debate. He acknowledged that "[t]here are wild men in the wings, but on the main stage... the argument on Viet Nam turns on tactics, not fundamentals". Bundy approved of debates on tactical questions of how to fight the war. But only 'wild men' would question the right of the US to intervene. "A month later, the New York Review of Books published an essay that did just that. Titled 'The Responsibility of Intellectuals', its author was Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rather than argue that the war was a mistake, or too costly, or required different tactics, Chomsky challenged the right--not the ability--of the US to invade."
Office of the Americas audio talk, On the Invasion of Iraq and the Peace Movement (April 6, 2003): "With regard to the current situation, we can do more to change it than anyone in the world. All of this should be a truism; it is also a kind of a truism that privilege confers responsibility. At that point choices arise. You can face the responsibility, which may not be easy, but it's a lot easier for us than for people in almost all the world. Or you can shirk the responsibility, in which case you are leaving the future to be determined by forces that are anything but benign."
Foreign Policy --"tremendous amount of criticism, but on very narrow grounds"-- and Prospect magazine are conducting a poll on the "top 100 public intellectuals". Noam is among the nominees. To vote, click here. You can also nominate candidates not included in the list.