Wednesday, January 14, 2004
THE PROBLEM WITH NOAM CHOMSKY There is a link at Normblog to this new blog, which I have just added to the blogroll. As a beginning I'd recommend this piece on Noam Chomsky. It's the most compact analysis of Chomsky's political writings and shows how the basic premise that helped him be a true revolutionary in the area of linguistics led him to his rather less praiseworthy forays into foreign policy analysis. The trouble with Chomsky is that he is not just read by an American audience, interested in critiques of their own government, but has the majority of his readership in overseas. Again this needn't necessarily be a problem. Where the problem starts is the fact, that the vast majority of those readers will never have read anything else, either on world politics or US foreign policy than the one-sided rants of Mr Chomsky. They will never have read a book using the same methodology examining, say, the EU, British, French, of German foreign policy. That is largely of course because such books either don't exist, or where they do exist, they only have a very small readership. Now, for an American, Chomsky could, if you were inclined to interpret his works so, have a "progressive" impact leading to greater scepticism of government. Nothing wrong with that. However, for non-Americans, the effect is different, simply saying: Amerikkka is evil. So instead of a wannabe-progressive meaning, for EUropean readers it more strongly has a nationalist, chauvinistic meaning of anti-Americanism. This is especially the case because their own governments are virtually never subjected to such criticism (certainly never by EUroland's dedicated anti-Americans), quite the opposite, they are lauded for standing up to the "real evil empire", even when that means making common diplomatic cause with China, Saudi Arabia and their ilk. So, although that's presumeably not the way he intended it, Noam Chomsky is in fact a chief propagandist for EU-chauvinism.