Click on the title to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for public intellectual, MIT professor and social activist Noam Chomsky.
Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By”-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some films that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. In the future I expect to do the same for books under a similar heading.-Markin
Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause, Noam Chomsky, Carol Chomsky and others, 2003
Let’s face it these days in America it does not take much to gain a left radical reputation. I say that more in anger than in sorrow. Take the case of over-blown director Michael Moore, who is in some right-wing quarters seen as the devil incarnate, while in actuality resting, and resting quite comfortably, in the heartland of the Democratic Party precincts, hardly radical territory these days, if ever. The subject of this documentary review, radical gadfly MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, is also prima facie evidence for that proposition.
Now I have nothing against the good professor- as a linguist. That work I have always found interesting. What is less interesting, and is placed front and center in this 2003 post 9/11 exposition of his views, well, are those views. Or better, not the views, many of them which I actually share, but of his analysis of what to do about it.
Perhaps, as this point in my own long political career, I am a little jaded when someone makes a cogent, if now commonplace, analysis of American imperialism, the industrial-military complex, the over-reaching tentacles of the imperial experience, the cultural/consumer wasteland, the media’s capitulation to the government, and the fear-mongering in place of politics, particularly in the post 9/11 world that form the segments of the professor’s spiel. He presents those position articulately, if as he concedes himself, long-windedly, and that is fair enough. I have already conceded without difficulty that he is an important public intellectual. But hiding behind those views is a long time anarchist position that to take on the “monster” seriously is, in the end, bad form.
Now Professor Chomsky’s anarchy is not that of the old Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers of the World), or of the Haymarket Martyrs. One moreover, in any case, would never mistake him for “Big” Bill Haywood, Alexander Berkman or a host of other action anarchists. Or as a member of the Friends Of Durritti in Spain in the 1930s. Those were heroic figures who demand much respect even from those of us who find ourselves in political opposition to anarchist doctrine. No, the good professor’s brand of anarchism is more philosophical, very philosophical. It is more attuned to that of the moral suasion doctrines of Kropotkin, and the like. Bloodless, and while resting easily in one’s armchair.
Nowhere does that come out better that in the snippets of interviews here where he is asked questions about what to do to fight against the “monster”. There he loses the articulate analysis and fumbles around with searches for self-identity, truthfulness, and intellectual inquiry- all nice things but hardly calculated to make the “beast” tremble. Professor Chomsky gives the game away in one such answer. He is asked about the very legitimate question of organizing, and who and how to do such activity. He mentions, at one point in the answer, that he could not organize, by his life circumstances, steel workers.
Fair enough, life provides each of us with different possibilities. But why in this whole hour presentation did I not see or hear, other than the obligatory mantra about the plight of the working masses, that he wanted to work closely with those who did have such skills. There was nothing in the good-intentioned professor’s presentation that made me break from sometime another old public intellectual, although not an august professor, Karl Marx, said, in effect, in the middle of the 19th century- “It is not enough to merely analysis (or philosophize) about the world- the point is to change it." And we know what that means-if Professor Chomsky doesn’t.