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“Impressions of Gaza”

By Noam Chomsky, written following his trip to the Gaza Strip on October 25-30, 2012.


(Ashraf Amra / APA Images)

  Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chomsky lecture criticizes U.S. policy, The Maneater (February 28, 2006). An excerpt:
"U.S. and British leaders are informing us that they are the most brazen liars in history," he said. Iraq, he emphasized repeatedly, was Bush's "messianic mission." He ended his speech with suggestions for better governing. Some examples included embracing the United Nations, international courts and the Kyoto protocols about the environment. The crowd erupted in applause when he called for more social spending instead of military spending.


Critic Packs Den of Dissent, by Seth Ashley, Columbia Daily Tribune (February 28, 2006). An excerpt:
[Chomsky's] lecture, titled "Democracy Promotion: Reflections on Intellectuals and the State," centered on U.S. foreign policy since World War I and argued that the United States uses the promotion of democracy as a pretense for obstructing foreign governments that do not facilitate U.S. economic and political interests. "Democracy promotion has always been claimed as a guiding vision," Chomsky said. But he pointed to failures of U.S. foreign policy to uphold democratic values in practice. As examples, he offered the ongoing military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as past U.S. support for corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Indonesia. And Cuba has been host to "U.S. campaigns of terror and economic strangulation for 45 years," he said.

  Posted Monday, February 27, 2006

Media Matters audio interview, The World after the Invasion (February 26, 2006). An excerpt:
The media coverage has been extremely interesting. You can find critical media coverage, but what's interesting is the general framework, as always. The media coverage, almost a hundred percent that I've seen--for example, everything I hear on NBR or that's written on the New York Times--is at the level of the high school newspaper cheering the local football team. The only questions to come up, critical questions to, for example, 'How are we doing?', 'Could we do better if we tried other way?', 'Should we get a different coach?', 'Put in different players?', something like that; but the question whether it's legitimate to be there and to win--that's unimaginable, just like the high school football newspaper. [interview begins at 7:00]


The Irish Times interview, Iconoclast and Radical Who Takes the Long View, with Denis Staunton (January 21, 2006). An excerpt:
As far as I know there are only two forces in the world that are pressing for a clash of civilisations. One is Osama bin Laden and the other is George Bush.

  Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006

The New Republic (a journal "reeking with anti-Arab racism" whose editor-in-chief "advised Israel to invade Lebanon in 1982 to administer to the PLO a 'lasting military defeat' so that Palestinians will 'be turned into just another crushed nation, like the Kurds or the Afghans'") has just published an article entitled The Case for Staying in Iraq. Surprisingly, though, the piece manages to include a paragraph of potential interest to readers of this website:
As a television in the corner of the room conveys images of the carnage outside, [Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim] Jafari admits to being partial to the works of Noam Chomsky. Why won't Chomsky come to Iraq? he asks.
(Problems with paywalls? Try bugmenot.com.)


IRE Transactions on Information Theory, Three Models for the Description of Language (September, 1956). An excerpt:
We investigate several conceptions of linguistic structure to determine whether or not they can provide simple and "revealing" grammars that generate all of the sentences of English and only these. We find that no finite-state Markov process that produces symbols with transition from state to state can serve as an English grammar. Furthermore, the particular subclass of such processes that produce n-order statistical approximations to English do not come closer, with increasing n, to matching the output of an English grammar. We formalize the notions of lphrase structures and show that this gives us a method for describing language which is essentially more powerful, though still representable as a rather elementary type of finite-state process. Nevertheless, it is successful only when limited to a small subset of simple sentences. We study the formal properties of a set of grammatical transformations that carry sentences with phrase structure into new sentences with derived phrase structure, showing that transformational grammars are processes of the same elementary type as phrase-structure grammars; that the grammar of English is materially simplifisd if phrase structure description is limited to a kernel of simple sentences from which all other sentences are constructed by repeated transformations; and that this view of linguistic structure gives a certain insight into the use and understanding of language.

  Posted Friday, February 24, 2006

The great John Quiggin is Calling all Chomskyites!
David Horowitz is holding a competition where you get to vote for America's worst (ie most dangerously leftwing) professor. In the true spirit of laissez-faire, there's none of this "one person, one vote" nonsense. It's vote early, vote often and bots are just as welcome as humans. As a result, "Marvellous Michael" Berube is outpolling all other contenders combined, with 130 000 votes. I'm a big Berube supporter myself, but I think it's kind of unfair that someone like Noam Chomsky (659 votes), who's devoted his life to annoying the likes of Horowitz, should be lagging so far behind just because his fans can't be bothered programming a few bots. So get your noses out of Syntactic Structures and start coding.
(Oliver Kamm once accused this website of distorting the results of Prospect's poll on the greatest living intellectuals. By attempting to influence a survey on the worst living leftists, we hereby hope to make up for our past sins and reconcile ourselves with this blogger so concerned with truth, justice, and the anti-totalitarian way.)


The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Systems of Syntactic Analysis (September, 1953).

  Posted Thursday, February 23, 2006

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Discussion on the Cuban Five (February 8, 2006). An excerpt:
Remember, it's not just a terrorist war, it's also combined with the most extreme embargo that's ever been imposed. It goes right back to our liberal doves in Camelot, the people from Boston, Cambridge, you know, MIT and Harvard that went down to make plans and so on. They picked up from the Eisenhower administration. Since Cuba liberated itself in January 1959, within months the Eisenhower administration formally decided to overthrow the government. And they began some sabotaging acts, but also an embargo, and they said exactly why, and now we know, since it's public. The idea is to punish the people of Cuba, not Castro, because if they suffered enough, from starvation and disease and so on, they'd get rid of the government. Okay, so therefore there had to be efforts to make the population suffer, as the under secretary of state put it, "they are responsible for the government, therefore they had to suffer to get them to overthrow the government."

  Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chomsky lecture to be simulcast at MU, by Sean Sposito, Columbia Missourian (February 22, 2006). An excerpt:
If you weren't lucky enough to pick up a free ticket to see Noam Chomsky at 7 p.m. Monday at the Missouri Theatre, don't fret. You still might be able to catch his lecture--just not in person. The Missouri Theatre and the Missouri Students Association Box Office at Brady Commons gave away tickets for the theater's 1,177 seats eight days after they went on sale Feb. 8, said event organizer Jonthon Coulson. However, provisions were made for those unable to get their hands on a ticket.

  Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Just released:
Bound By Power
edited by Jeffery Klaehn

Jeffery Klaehn asked fellow contributors to take up the idea of power and ideology in today's world: how would one define the concept of power, how does power operate, and what are the various costs which can ensue from dissent. Here, in this collection of exclusive, candid interviews, and thought-provoking essays are their answers: surprising, extensive, and far-reaching in terms of the implications. This highly original work on understanding power is sure to prompt and encourage debate.
Contributors include: Noam Chomsky, David Miller, Linda McQuaig, John McMurtry, David Cromwell, Brian Martin, James Winter, Jean Chen, Teresa Chen, Valerie Scatamburlo-D'Annibale, Robert Jensen, Peter Eglin, Robert Bertuzzi, and Jeffery Klaehn..

  Posted Monday, February 20, 2006

Monthly JoongAng interview, Korea and International Affairs, with Sun Woo Lee (January 24, 2006). An excerpt:
The Bush administration is the most dangerous administration that has ever existed in the U.S. I mean, it is taking actions which significantly increase the threat of destruction of species in both of the domains that we are talking about [sc.nuclear war and environmental catastrophe]. It is also taking actions which increase the threat of terror, which is quite serious. It is not nuclear war but it is very serious, and they are doing it quite consciously. The Iraq war, for example, was undertaken with the expectation that it would increase the threat of terror and nuclear proliferation. And in fact, it did. One of their own intelligence agencies which warned in advance has confirmed that that has taken place: The number of terrorist incidents approximately tripled the year after the war. That proliferation is increasing. They are also acting in ways which are extremely harmful to the population of the U.S. That is a separate matter. There are also economic policies, imposing enormous burdens on future generations. The fiscal [deficit] -the famous twin deficit - that's for our grandchildren to pay for. They don't care as long as they can stuff their pockets. Friends with lots of dollars. O.K. And their grandchildren will somehow pay for it. And what is being done is almost scandalous.

  Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006

Venezuelan humanism vs US terrorism, by Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Green Left Weekly (February 22, 2006). An excerpt:
"By sending gas for heating to poor, homeless people for free and at very low prices for those who can pay, Venezuela is giving a great example of cooperation and solidarity with the people of the United States. And this is being seen by the entire world", Noam Chomsky, well-known US intellectual, told a public meeting of teachers, students, researchers and journalists on February 13 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to a special report in the February 15 Caracas newspaper Diario Vea.

  Posted Saturday, February 18, 2006

Late Night Live audio interview, Catching up with Noam Chomsky (February 16, 2006). An excerpt:
I assumed there would be a walk over, that [the invasion] would be over in a week or two, and that it would be one of the easiest military occupations in history. It's amazing that it isn't--I still think it's amazing. There was every conceivable advantage. [...] Furthermore, the invasion eliminated two murderous and brutal regimes (two: we are allowed to talk about one, but it is in fact two). One is Saddam Hussein. And the other is the sanctions regime, which was devastating to the population. It killed--nobody knows how many: we don't count our victims--but could be a million people, wiped up the civil society [and] undermined protest against Saddam Hussein. [interview begins at 26:33]

  Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks Hopes Noam Chomsky Sparks Dialogue, Columbia Missourian, by Sean Sposito (February 16, 2006). An excerpt:
It's not every day that world-renowned linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky comes to Columbia--it's not even every decade. It has been almost 15 years since he came to the city. But at 8 p.m. on Feb. 27, Chomsky will speak at the Missouri Theatre.

  Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ann Coulter 'Raghead' Comments Spark Blogger Blacklash, CNSNews.com, by Sherrie Gossett (February 13, 2006). An excerpt:
Conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter received a rock star welcome at the Conservative Action Political Conference (CPAC) on Friday, but when she used the term "ragheads" twice in a speech before a crowd of college students, bloggers accused her of "racism" and "hate speech." Coulter also spoke of "openly anti-Semitic" Democrats "like Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Noam Chomsky" and Democratic "anti-Semites" who "are still in the closet."

  Posted Monday, February 06, 2006

There's now a complete transcript of the Chomsky-Dershowitz debate. Thanks to Tony Mitre for the effort.

  Posted Saturday, February 04, 2006

Philosophy article, Simple Truths, Hard Problems (January, 2005). An excerpt:
To dispel any false expectations, I really am going to keep to very simple truths, so much so that I toyed with suggesting the title 'In Praise of Platitudes,' with an advance apology for the elementary character of these remarks. The only justification for proceeding along this course is that the truisms are widely rejected, in some crucial cases almost universally so. And the human consequences are serious, in particular, with regard to the hard problems I have in mind. One reason why they are hard is that moral truisms are so commonly disdained by those with sufficient power to do so with impunity, because they set the rules.

  Posted Friday, February 03, 2006

The Daily Free Press brief report on Chomsky's recent talk at Boston University, Chomsky Lectures to BU Audience, by Teddy Weinberg (February 2, 2006). Access to the full article requires registration; restricted sections are reproduced below:
Chomsky also emphasized how "in recent years it has been possible to analyze language through mathematics." MIT post-doctoral student Joe Murray said he came to the event because he was interested in Chomsky's work on "statistical language processing" and the theory of "the brain working beyond simple linguistic comprehension." College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Sally Schoeller said she came to the lecture under the advice from a professor. She said she liked the way Chomsky used concrete examples to effectively convey his theories. "His example about how the Charles River could be transformed into a highway was especially effective," she said. Chomsky spoke at the Photonics Center to nearly 300 students and professionals who filled the seats and floor, spilling out of the room designed to seat just 150. The speech, entitled "Biolinguistics Explorations: Design, Development, Evolution," which was part of both the BU Department of Psychology's Distinguished Lecture Series and the Human Development Program Colloquium Series, attracted attendees from several universities and the Boston area. Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar. He has written more than 180 books, and between 1980 and 1992 he was the most cited living person.

  Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Global Agenda interview, Globalization, with Maria Ahmed (January, 2006). An excerpt:
I am in favour of globalization. That's been true of the left and the labor movement since their modern origins. That's why every union is called an international, why there were several abortive attempts to form internationals, and why I've always taken for granted, and repeatedly written, that the global justice movements of the past few years, meeting annually in Porto Alegre, Mumbai, and elsewhere (and now having spawned many regional social forums) are perhaps the seeds of a real international, that is, globalization that prioritizes the rights of people -- of flesh and blood, that is. Indeed, the most enthusiastic proponents of globalization are those who meet at the World Social Forum and related events, like the Via Campesina meetings.