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An Interview with Noam Chomsky on Bush

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Professor of Linguistics at MIT and author of many best-selling political works, most recently Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky has been renown for his incisive and hard-hitting criticism of U.S. foreign policy for decades. Recently, M. Junaid Alam, co-editor of the new leftist youth journal Left Hook, was able to interview Professor Chomsky on the nature of the Bush administration, the American left’s strategy in upcoming elections, domestic and foreign consequences of continued occupation of Iraq, and the basis for US-Israeli relations.

Source: dissidentvoice.org

Have you ever read Chomsky? If not maybe you should.

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About Ken Edwards



  • robert faist

    I have read Chomsky’s work for the past 40 years. For the first ten of those years, I was aware of his contributions to linguistics, but unaware of his political views. Chomsky is clearly in the league of Darwin and Freud in terms of his intellectual influence. Many who are clearly not players in this league, such as Michael Medved and Alan Dershowitz, would like to dismiss him as a “nutburger” (Medved) or as a “self-loathing Jew” will ultimately see that their view of him is very mistaken.

  • It is interesting that the detractors of Chomsky have little to say about the facts that are always a part of Chomsky’s lectures/books/interviews. Instead, they talk about unquestioning followers; groupies? to trivialize the importance of free people’s access to unfetterd truth. If you think that all you need to know is in a corperate entity that professes to provide “All the news thats fit to print”..than, this country is in deeper trouble than it has ever been…..

  • I have read some of Chomsky’s books and essays, listened to his lectures, but I am not sure what his underlying motives are, if they are to mislead and deceive. Are there any concrete examples of his being blatantly untruthful?

    There’s a lot of Canadians who have been very critical of our Federal governments over the years. They constantly give us evidence of corruption and lies, so the criticism is warranted. We love our Canada, and see exposing the corruption of the government to be a good thing, because we expect better.

    I can certainly see how some people perceive Chomsky to be constantly finding fault with the West and finding this annoying. Unless it can be proven otherwise, he criticizes because he cares about his country and the global community that we are all apart of. A lot of people feel this way but few are as known for their views as he is.

    If there’s evidence of his real agenda, let’s see it. I’m not saying he’s a saint, I just want to see proof that he deceives and is untruthful. Should be easy to find since he has so many detractors.

    I tend to sponge up different points of view and then draw my own conclusions. And I’m certain this is precisely how Chomsky would advise everyone to think – “think for yourself.”

  • Michael S

    Many of you have missed the underlining point of Chomsky’s viewpoint on everything. It is the simple, elementary minded, rational, conclusion that any free thinker would come too. Even if, and this is an example to disprove the non-believers here, the facts that Chomsky says are fake, or distorted. Any rational, free minded person would come to the conclusion, for example again (to simplify the matter), that the Iraq war is an unjust war based on only observations, not even concrete facts. From this you say, “well okay it is not a war justified, so what are the reasons of even wasting the money spent and the live?” Then you go on to the next step, there has to be a reason, a motivation. Lets say that Iraq did in fact had actual massive weapons of mass destruction, and they did in fact were manufacturing nuclear weapons, and there was in fact ties to 9-11, then it would be absolutely difficult to try to prove what Chomsky is saying, bc the war is seen to be justified. You would have to have absolute true facts stating that even though Iraq had these weapons, etc, they America still invaded for this and that, basically everything Chomsky says.
    That is not the case….just by observations you see that it was an unjust war based on the supposed justifications and reasons. So there must be a real motivation, there has to be, and then you start to connect the dots, you see oil control, military bases permanently in middle east, benefits of corporations, etc etc etc.
    Bc of this one miniscule recent example, that just by observations you see the lies and deception of our gov’t, it is absolutely hard to believe that this deception is a recent one, one that sporadically just took place in American history.
    I have had the same basic thoughts and conclusions that Chomsky has had, however unlike Chomsky I am unable to do the research, and I am only 18 years old, etc. If anyone can prove that Chomsky has ever said an intentional lie (not a mistake) I would just love to see this, and if it is shown I would love to see the motivation and reason behind the lie. Because I am pretty sure Noam Chomsky, entirely, has no reason to lie or mislead the public. Chomsky would not be Chomsky if this was true.

  • Jack Morgan

    Noam Chomsky is perhaps the most valuable intellectual active in western Society today in that his political philosophy is based on the ancient moral tenet that one must apply the same standards in analysing others as he does to himself. Chomsky will be the first to point out that this basic moral principal is the most salient to be found in the Bible, a text beloved by so-called christian fundamentalist and Bush-lovers. Ironicaly, Chomsky the supposed left-wing god hating anti-american intellectual seems to have a better understanding of the Bible than any of our Bible toting leaders.

    Chomsky acts as a great moral counterweight to the hypocrites who perpetrate war crimes overseas and then paint pretty pictures in the media. His message is simple and timeless: Don’t be a hypocrite; do your own research, make your own conclusions. This simply flies in the face of partisan dogma.

  • Eric Olsen

    Neil, you are absolutely right that the media can always be questioned and its motives explored, but you are quite naive if you think Chomsky has no ulterior motives or predispositions of his own. Apply Chomsky to Chomsky

  • neil

    Those who treat Chomskys work with doubt and scepticism would do well to apply the same cautious measures when listening to all forms of news media. The media has an agenda which is quite obvious. They are controlled by ‘corporate’ interests and so their motives can be questioned. Chomskys motives have no such ‘agenda’.

  • Chomsky has not said that the US is always at fault. I have read alot of Chomsky and use him as a source for my new book. The book explores the motives for 9/11. Here is the link: bookThe fact that these turhts are not given a mainstream exposure underscores what Chomsky says.

  • I meant boring in terms of presentation and style–as opposed to content (and I was exaggerating a bit (something, by the way, that Chomsky doesn’t seem to do much)). He isn’t so good as a public speaker, in my opinion, although, he does have an appealing, laid-back nature. As for his writings, I keep reading them, so maybe I exaggerated there, too. I do wish that I could spice up his writing at times.

  • it’s interesting that you think his lectures are boring.

    i’ve seen him several times on nerd-tv (cspan2) and have always been fascinated…mostly because i’m just a little be amazed at his grasp of history…and partly because of his ability to lay out an argument in an extended manner, suspending some material to make one or several points…and then returning to that material later on to draw a conclusion.

    whether you agree or disagree with him, it’s clear the guys got too many danged brains in that head.

    and you’re right, there’s a definite disconnect between what chomsky wants (or how he perceives himself) and those who ‘follow him’.

  • The very things that some here have labeled as Chomsky’s motivations are exactly what he has tried to avoid. I have read in several interviews about Chomsky’s lack of desire to become an icon, a guru, a simplified and abstracted leader. I see evidence of this in the way he presents himself. His lectures are some of the most boring I have ever seen and heard. His writing is dry and scientific. He knows this. Persistently, though, he publishes books, pamphlets and CDs, well aware that they aren’t flashy. The propaganda, marketing, and manipulation that we see in the mainstream is absent from Chomsky’s creations. He wants to be taken at his word. There is nothing sensational about Chomsky’s presentation and writing style?

    How many commenting here have read much of Chomsky? I have my doubts about some of his ideas, and I am far from following him mindlessly (he never tries to become a leader, anyway), but I have checked a lot of the claims that he has made. Chomsky uses solid evidence to make his claims (whether or not you agree with his conclusions, it is hard to find fault with his research). So often he is written off without any consideration for this evidence–it is too painful to confront the truth, maybe. The media rarely dares deal with him. Why? Because they can’t dismiss what he says–they can dismiss him, though, with a “wacko” here and a “conspiracy freak” there without ever letting him air his views. Considering all of the wackos and conspiracy freaks who regularly find their way onto television and radio, the lack of opportunity for Chomsky, who is so often thusly labeled, is conspicuous if not indicting. We can’t handle the truth (at least this is what it seems the media believes).

    Chomsky has received criticism from some on the radical left (certain anarchists, for example) for his insistence that we can correct the system we have without scrapping the Constitution. He does seek to improve our country–through our system of government. He attempts to point out corruption, propaganda, lies. In the process, he does paint a dirty picture of America, but he paints a dirty picture of most of the governments in the world. The corruption is there to be found. Does he dwell on the negative too much? See the site about the book (not by Chomsky), The Buying of the President 2004. Is it dwelling too much on the negative to be outraged by this? When you are told daily that you live in a democracy, and then you see that we are far from it, is that over-reacting?

    If you are interested in reading Chomsky, Znet has an extensive archive of his writings that are online. Selective Memory and False Doctrine relates to the article Ken linked in this posting.

  • mike

    “mike, you have been kind enough to explicate for us what you see Chomsky’s underlying political viewpoint to be regarding, essentially, corporate control of the world and the U.S. government’s complicity in same. I don’t believe this viewpoint is correct.”

    Sometimes this is just too easy. From the front page of The Wall Street Journal today:

    ‘ “In Indonesia’s case, “protecting the interests of major investors and creditors was at the center of the table in everything we did,” says Edmund McWilliams, who was chief political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Jakarta from 1996-1999. “Concens about stability made it to the margins. Concerns about human rights, democracy, corruption never made it to the table at all.” ‘

    Indonesian is the largest Muslim country in the world, so it’s doubtful this was an anamoly.

  • JR

    Maybe Chomsky feels he has to overcome a pre-existing bias. When you argue with someone, do you give a balanced picture of the situation or do you tend to emphasize those aspects which you feel the other person doesn’t understand or accept?

  • Eric Olsen

    Attention, guruship, the adulation of the gullible.

  • Casting this country in a horrible light is what he does, but I still wonder what the motivation is. What does he get out of it?

  • Eric Olsen

    I have no problem with that at all, but Chomsky does not seem to be criticizing from the perspective of improving his own country, but simply trying to make it look as bad as possible. It is an entirely different matter to approach the gadfly role from a position of ill will.

  • that may be chomsky’s motive…though i can’t help but think that if the folks running the united states would think a little more about it…that just maybe we have contributed to some of our own problems…we’d be a lot better off.

    there’s nothing wrong with admitting (even to yourself) that you’re part of a problem…it’s healthy.

    and i do mean ‘contributed’, not ’caused’.

  • Eric Olsen

    To cast the United States, and to a lesser extent the Western world, in the most negative possible light – especially their governmental, political and economic systems. “Oppressed” peoples are always right.

  • Honestly, I don’t know what Chomsky’s motives are. You wouldn’t think it is fame or anything like that. His opinions make him almost untouchable by many forms of media. So, do you have any ideas as to what his motives are?

  • Eric Olsen

    or understand his underlying motives

  • That being said Eric, I think it is valuable to hear what guys like Chomsky have to say because it definitely gives you cause to think. The dangerous part is when people start believing 100% of what he has to say.

  • Craig, I know, I was being general in my comment too.

  • Eric Olsen

    What disturbs me most about Chomsky is not his particular view of any specific issue, but his underlying assumption that the U.S. is always wrong, always has dastardly intent, and that EVERYONE who opposed ANY U.S. policy is always right, be they Palestinians, al Qaeda, Cubans, North Koreans, anti-globalists, the French, whom-the-fuck-ever. I find the whom-the-fuck-ever element undercuts pretty much everything he has to say, other than about linguistics, an area in which he is trained and perceptive.

  • Ken, I wasn’t speaking about you with my comments. These were based on the people I saw when I went to hear him speak. I can’t think of anyone who I believe 100%. Believing anyone 100% is pretty scary.

  • Oh I didn’t say you should believe everything he sais, i don’t either, I just said you should read his stuff. He has a great viewpoint on quite a lot of things, like the media, and of course the government. But his book on the media is just as good as his strictly political books.

    I have never seen him speak, but I would like to.

  • Eric Olsen

    mike, you have been kind enough to explicate for us what you see Chomsky’s underlying political viewpoint to be regarding, essentially, corporate control of the world and the U.S. government’s complicity in same.

    I don’t believe this viewpoint is correct.

  • I went and heard Chomsky speak in a chapel in Harvard Square a few years back. I don’t hate Chomsky. He is a an interesting thinker. He isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and I am sure he is right about a great many of his points. So, Chomsky doesn’t scare me and I don’t hate him. The people who scare me and that I do hate are his fans and followers. They are extreme and believe everything Chomsky has to say. Like any other source for news and information, you can’t possibly think that Chomsky is right about everything. Don’t try and tell his fans that though. The lady who introduced Chomsky at that chapel called him “our oracle.” That to me is really scary.

    I enjoyed his lecture. 9-11 was a fascinating read. I am not willing to take everything he has to say as the word of God, so to speak.

  • mike

    Great!!! CHOMSKY ROCKS!! Think of the anarchist cheerleaders in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, chanting “Give me a C-H-O-M-S-K-Y!!! What does it spell??!! CHOMSKY!!!! CHOMSKY!!!! CHOMSKY!!!” YAAAAAH0000OOO!!!!!

    But note that this place is a magnet for Chomsky-haters, NOT ONE OF WHOM HAS THE SLIGHTEST IDEA WHAT HIS UNDERLYING POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY IS!!! It’s the funniest damn thing in the world!!! Endlessly entertaining. Kick back and enjoy it.

    Bring it on, you knuckleheads!