Why am I allergic to Noam Chomsky

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This post began as a comment on James Farrell comment on a recent thread in which I linked to a bit of dirt on Chomsky. James pulled me up twice, in each case in ways that I appreciate. He (and Paul F) suggested in his first comment that a slip-up in a quote ainât no crime and I agree.

When I said I objected to Chomskyâs ârelentless negativityâ he pointed out that this was appropriate given the subject matter â the egregious abuses of human rights entailed in US foreign policy â as it would be if one were commenting on the Black Death or the Battle of the Somme.

He then commented that âhaving a kick at Chomsky seems to be ritual signaling device whereby members of the moderate left distance themselves from the extreme left, indicating that their views are reasonable rather than hysterical. Dismissals of Chomsky springing from this motive tend to be very general, formulaic and second hand.â

I think this is fair comment. But alhough I think I’m guilty of precisely what James accuses me of in some other cases – namely behaviour seeking to signal some position on an ideological spectrum with a view to demonstrating oneâs reasonableness â the explanation is a little different here.

So perhaps I should say a little more. I certainly donât pretend to any deep knowledge of Chomsky â only that my view of him is the opposite to Kath Day-Knightâs view of Kel. I donât like what I see.

From what I understand Chomskyâs explanation is a systematic one. He is arguing â like most social scientists â that the things he objects to are the product of systematic structural forces. Now this kind of approach is usually done with a view to making things better. Marxists (or some of them) might say that these things will improve once we have a revolution or whatever and they have something to say about what kind of revolution it should be. Neoclassical economists (or some of them) might say that weâd have less employment with lower minimum wages. Those things can then be argued on their merits.

Does Chomsky have any such recommendations? Thatâs a genuine question â I donât know. I can say â along with him â that the way the East Timorese were treated was a travesty of justice, and that this has been the case for many in the third world. I can lament that consent is âmanufacturedâ to the extent that lots of people vote for a president who does not govern in their interests. If Iâm hearing this from a Marxist, Iâll agree with the claim, but not with their proposed solution. Iâll also think that the proposed solution ignores the inevitability of compromise â and that it ignores the fact that humans tend to get up to no good no matter what system they’re in and that therefore attempts to bring about heaven on earth can end up making things worse – maybe much worse – viz the Soviet Union. Like some puritan said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I see in Chomsky the same kind of temperament â excoriating some of the worse things about the world as if no person of conscience could do anything other than recoil in horror and refuse to have anything to do with the system that produced it. I donât think thatâs helpful. I think itâs not just utopian, and so misguided, but also self righteous in a creepy kind of way. I often think itâs very telling that many of the most vociferous right wing commentators came from the left â very often from extreme positions. I remember as a kid of about 18 going to the non-members bar in Parliament House with my Dad while one of the journalists, now a right wing columnist lectured all those who would listen on the pusillanimity of the Whitlam Government – on its failure to be more radically left wing.

I really dislike that tone. Itâs a tone that doesn’t acknowledge that most people are mixtures of good and bad will and that in some âmuddlingâ kind of way are doing their best. And it doesn’t acknowledge that all systems are likewise deeply flawed, being products of us fallen creatures. I find that tone more odious from those who have swapped sides. As Heinz Arndt said âit might be thought that such an odyssey would induce a decent humility.❠Before confessing âI can only shamefacedly report that this has not been my experience.â

Chomsky hasnât changed sides, but it seems to me that the fall of the wall â the collapse of the major competing system of politics of modern times â ought to induce a decent humility in us all.

I read on Wikipedia that âChomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist and a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism (he is a member of the IWW).❠So I guess he has some systematic recipe for making the world a better place â but Iâm blowed if I know how you make âlibertarian socialismâ come about. Me? Iâm in favour of trying to do what seems possible as far as improving the world is concerned (as well as living in gratitude for how far we have come and how lucky we are relative to others) but remaining indignant and self righteous doesn’t do it for me.

Anyway as I’ve already conceded above, what I donât know about Noam Chomsky could fill many volumes. I doubt that this post will convince anyone much – confused and simple expression of personal impressions that it is! But Iâd be interested in defenders of Chomsky setting me straight if they have the time or inclination.

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34 Responses to Why am I allergic to Noam Chomsky

  1. James Farrell says:

    I appreciate your taking the time to reflect on this. Your logic is sound, but I challenge the premises.

    I haven’t seen Chomsky’s blueprint for the kind of society he would like to live in. It’s bound to be infeasible in the lifteime of any person now living. But in arguing that the causes of international violence are systemic, I don’t think he means to imply that only a complete system change (to anarcho-syndicalism, say) will permit any improvement whatsoever. Otherwise all the activism he does (as opposed to just criticism) would be a giant gamble, invloving probable massive wasted effort. I can’t remember when, but at some stage some interviewer asked him why he never acknowledged any improvement. He responded, with some irritation, that he kept hearing people say this, and it simply wasn’t true. Human rights activists have greatly increased public’s awareness of abuses, and the US in particular is subject to much more scrutiny than it once would. There won’t be any more carpet bombing.

  2. Ingolf says:

    I must say, Nicholas, I don’t recognise in your description the Chomsky I slightly know from numerous articles, quite a few interviews I’ve heard over the years and one book. He’s always struck me as fairly unpretentious, quite open minded and remarkably intelligent. Not to mention astonishingly diligent.

    You may find this essay entitled “Who’s Afraid of Noam Chomsky?” interesting. It was published at LewRockwell.com — a libertarian site (if it’s not one with which you’re familiar) — and examines Chomsky’s history, his intellectual and political views, some of his works and also looks at his critics. I just read it again and enjoyed it a good deal more than I’d remembered.

    Anyway, hope you find it of some use.

  3. Thanks Ingolf – and James for that matter – thought I’d get a worse caning than that!

    I’ll read the essay with interest.

  4. wbb says:

    Nicholas – you identification of the self-righteousness you perceive in Chomsky is key here. What is it in Chomsky’s tone that you hear as self-righteousness?

    But it’s true, we can all annoy each other.

    eg, some might characterise the tone of this statement: “I

  5. QuietStorm says:

    As a huge fan of Chomsky, I do agree that he can come across as a bit sanctimonious sometimes – I don’t subscribe to the view that he sinks the boot into American administration purely for the sake of it, but he can sometimes get a bit up himself and patronising in his tone. Just as with Michael Moore, I love the message but the way it’s put across grates with me occasionally.

  6. Paul Frijters says:

    Reading Nick’s comments I find myself in agreement with his feelings of cringe. However, just as Nick I am hopelessly ignorant of Chomsky apart from a superficial understanding of his theory of language. The ease with which in some quarters moral indignity at perceived wrongs of individuals or their ancestors (usually of the rich and famous – interestingly hardly ever of the poor) are combined with a childlike belief that everything will be ok after the right people are let in charge is astounding and I recognise Nick’s observations on that point. And this myth comes back again and again in many forms., i.e. just look at the calls in some quarters for an environmental agency to take over the productive assets of the world if lead by the right scientists. The idea that such an agency would be anything other than a new dictatorship is childish. I do not know however if Chomsky falls into this camp, though I experienced him as pretty dogmatic in the one interview I saw him do on Dutch television (i.e. he smacked a little of a grand conspiracy theorists where some cohesive elite is implementing a plan of desinformation). Maybe all he does is bring down tall poppies in a fair and objective manner and I underestimate the level of coordination in US desinformation circles.

    I will say one thing against Nick, which is that it seems to me to make little sense in this kind of debate to talk about people being slightly bad and slightly good. We’re just opportunistic, equipped with a set of desires that stood us in good stead in the surroundings we evolved in. Calling us good or bad is an ex-post label. What matters is whether the institutions lead us to minimise the harm we do to each other and as such there are only good or bad institutions inhabited by people who are initially neither good or bad. But maybe that’s my myth.

  7. Dave Green says:

    Nick,

    Libertarian Socialism is the idea that because private property is backed up by State power, a true Libertarian/Anarchist world would basically abolish it. I’m just a plain old market-friendly Social Democrat, so I’m not sure the version I’ve given above is the one that Chomsky subscribes to.

  8. Darryl Rosin says:

    The “Manufacturing Consent” documentary about Chomsky is an entertaining way to pass a couple of hours.

    d

  9. nick says:

    I’ve read Chomsky extensively (10+ books, countless articles, interviews), and i have read very little self-righteousness at all.

    Chomsky says time and time again that he is simply a believer in the notions of the enlightenment – “rationality, critical analysis, freedom of speech, freedom of inquiry”.

    He very rarely goes into “how to construct” a libertarian socialist society (other than to say it has the most in common with the left-wing (ie libertarian) side of marxism). He does say some of the values such a society would hold, which are generally those of the enlightenment listed.

    And the criticism levlled at him in paragraph 8 is just plain wrong. He has repeatedly stated that he votes in all elections he can, including Presidential, and he works in a (government/military-funded) university (MIT). This indicates perfectly that he is happy to work within the confines of the current “system” for a better society. if he were one of the “too cool” anarchists, then he would not take a paypacket from dirty military money, nor would he vote.

    I think it would do you good to read a few of his books/article etc. a good start is http://www.chomsky.info, which holds an extesnive collection of articles and interviews.

  10. Anthony says:

    Nick, it’s not the relentless negativity that I find off-putting, or his overall analysis. It’s just his predictability. This is partly stylistic: no matter what the topic, inevitably he’ll end up with ‘But what about East Timor…’. But it’s also that Chomksy strikes me as someone who is never surprised by anything that happens in the world, rather every new thing that happens has just been grist to his mill since about 1966. This just makes for a very boring theorist.

    As I said, I think much of his analysis is very good, and I’d rather he existed and wrote and published than not, but I just haven’t really been moved to read anything much of his analysis of international affairs since the early 1990s – just because I’m pretty sure what it’s going to say. It’s like you could design a software program – ‘Adobe Chomsky’ – that could just rehash his syntax and favourite phrases to spit out a response to any new event in US foreign policy.

    Of course, this probably says more about me than it does about The Noamster. Typical of my generation, I demand to be entertained and diverted rather than just bathe in the certainty of convictions deeply held.

  11. wbb says:

    Maybe in Australia we don’t like anybody who is too damned serious all the time.

    Since WWII the greatest demographic disasters we commemorate were the 520 killed in Vietnam, the 71 in Cyclone Tracy and now 88 dying in Bali. (Compare those figures with, say, what happened in Iraq last month.)

    Our history doesn’t oppress us.

    Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western world, at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us.

    Chomsky in The New York Review of Books 1967

    He never promised to be entertaining.

  12. Darryl Rosin says:

    Re: Chomsky’s style…

    “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

    Chomsky: The chicken didn’t exactly cross the road. As of 1994, something like 99.8% of all US chickens reaching maturity that year had spent 82% of their lives in confinement. The living conditions in most chicken coops break every international law ever written, and some, particularly the ones for chickens bound for slaughter, border on inhumane. My point is, they had no chance to cross the road (unless you count the ride to the supermarket). Even if one or two have crossed roads for whatever reason, most never get a chance. Of course, this is not what we are told. Instead, we see chickens happily dancing around on Sesame Street and Foster Farms commercials where chickens are not only crossing roads, but driving trucks (incidentally, Foster Farms is owned by the same people who own the Foster Freeze chain, a subsidiary of the dairy industry). Anyway, … (Chomsky continues for 32 pages. For the full text of his answer, contact Odonian Press)

  13. Anthony says:

    But what about chickens in East Timor…etc

  14. James Farrell says:

    Predictability, chickens, East Timor, Adobe Chomsky….

    My respect for Brad De Long is rising with each extra post.

  15. Leigh says:

    Can I recommend the Choam-meister’s ‘The Imperial Presidency’? He talks at length about improvements in the world and successes in combating tyranny. This might clear up some questions about his politics.
    Maybe if you read a bit more of his stuff, you’ll see that he addresses your questions at some stage or other. Not sure he can help that you remind him of some wanker you once saw in a pub, though.

  16. Leigh says:

    ^oops, I meant “he reminds you”.

  17. Paul Frijters says:

    Curiosity about this great person has lead me to follow some of these links above and I feel and more inclined to side with Nicholas. Take the following quote on the negative aspects of the collapse of the Soviet Union:

    “Another reason for concern has to do with the matter of deterrence and non-alignment. Grotesque as the Soviet empire was, its very existence offered a certain space for non-alignment, and for perfectly cynical reasons, it sometimes provided assistance to victims of Western attack. Those options are gone, and the South is suffering the consequences.

    A third reason has to do with what the business press calls the pampered Western workers with their luxurious lifestyles. With much of Eastern Europe returning to the fold, owners and managers have powerful new weapons against the working classes and the poor at home. GM and VW can not only transfer production to Mexico and Brazil (or at least threaten to, which often amounts to the same thing), but also to Poland and Hungary, where they can find skilled and trained workers at a fraction of the cost. They are gloating about it, understandably, given the guiding values.

    Forgive me for calling this silly, but using the Oslo Peace data, the fall of the Soviet Union was followed by a reduction in wars, their severity and indeed by an increase in world growth. I’m not saying the two events are related, but his quote above is just so unintelligent and simplistic.
    Take another one:

    “So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Since they are usually not very bright, or are bright enough to know that they’d better avoid the arena of fact and argument, they’ll turn to misrepresentation, vilification, and other devices that are available to those who know that they’ll be protected by the various means available to the powerful. We should understand why all this occurs, and unravel it as best we can. That’s part of the project of liberation – of ourselves and others, or more reasonably, of people working together to achieve these aims.

    This one really irks me, especially the ‘it will exist’ bit because it implies that without power concentrations misrepresentation would disappear. Really? Is power the only source of misrepresentation? Dont nearly all of us attempt to misrepresent something, i.e. to make oursleves look more attractive, good, and perfumed than we really are? The gut reaction of Chomsky here – its always the fault of the powerful – is understandable and maybe its good that someone takes that position but, foregive me, it impresses me as being naive. Nicholas and Brad de Long, all is forgiven. Sorry for doubting you.

  18. James Farrell says:

    I don’t follow, Paul. Which bit of the first quote do you disagree with? That the Soviet Union gave aid to victims of Western attack? That multinationals have more bargaining power vis a vis workers in Western Europe than they previously did? What on eartbh has the Oslo Peace data got to do with that?

    As for misrepresentation, you yourself take cake with your ‘all of us attempt to misrepresent something, i.e. to make oursleves look more attractive’. He’s not talking about attempts to misrepresent, but about the successful, systematic shaping of opinion that can be achieved when particular interests control the dissemination of information and the productioon of cultural artifacts. As an explanation of why people view anarchism negatively, it might be simplistic, but hardly more so than the argument that growth fetish is driven by our innate tribal outlook.

  19. Paul Frijters says:

    James, I take issue with the idea that the ‘South’ was a net beneficiary of the cold war. It doesnt stack up empirically. It also doesnt make intuitive sense: having two superpowers fighting out their squabbles in your land does not seem to me preferable to both of them leaving you alone because there’s only one left who doesnt take an interest in you. And at least in the 90s there was a marked drop in wars and their intensity, as I understand it especially in Africa.
    I dont share your interpretation of his second quote either. He is quite categorical: misrepresentation will exist as long as concentrations of power do something. This implies that misrepresentation’s only source is what the powerful get up to. You misunderstand me if you think that I dont see merit in his point. Of course the powerful have agendas and will try to shape the political debate according to their interests. But he goes beyond that and implies that the misdoings of the powerful are the sole source of desinformation. I dont buy that. It smacks of the grand conspiracy and the innate goodness of people in the absense of power concentrations. That does not concur with my reading of what happens when central powers fall away.
    As to the growth fetish outlook, that is the best theory I could come up with and I sincerely apologise if I let you think that is the only reason for our impulse to grow. Its the theory that best fits the facts known to me. There’s a difference between simplifying things in order to get a concise explanation useful enough to make predictions and going so far as to say that that simplification fits a 100% or is the sole explanation for outcomes.
    As to all of us trying to appear better than we are I should have been more careful and said ‘everyone I know’. Do you know anybody who doesnt in some way attempt to appear better than they are?

  20. wbb says:

    He is quite categorical: misrepresentation will exist as long as concentrations of power do something. This implies that misrepresentation

  21. Ingolf says:

    Let me deal first with the area of least disagreement, Paul, namely Chomsky

  22. Ingolf says:

    While I

  23. Paul Frijters says:

    Ingolf,
    I dont see the difficulty. I made it very clear in that first blog that I believed getting rid of the growth fetish and the countries would be associated with all kinds of disasters and hence that I had no faith that there was an easy way out. I just wondered whether the alternative (growth fetish as usual) wasnt even worse. Taking the lesser of two evils is not the same as believing all is well when the right people are in charge. That post most certainly was meant seriously. What would you prefer is done?

  24. Ingolf says:

    I fully accept that you see world government as the lesser of two evils, Paul, and that your proposal is therefore in many ways qualitatively different to those who believe all will be well under the “right” rulers. It’s a more than fair point.

    Still, it came through clearly that although you foresaw serious practical difficulties in bringing about such a result — and therefore saw it as unlikely to happen in our lifetimes — you were keen for the arrival of a world government, the sooner the better. “We can speculate as to how a world government would come about. Given current technological military proliferation, its hard to envisage a single country actually conquering the rest of the world.” I detect here no in principle objection to such a takeover on your part, merely doubts as to whether it’s possible. Taken together with the three excerpts I quoted above, I think it’s fair to conclude that you would actively back a radical extension of non-nation state power, with little regard for the means used. This is where I think it becomes a bit more difficult to distinquish your wishes from those you labelled childish earlier in this thread. What, after all, is there to suggest that any such world government, having attained power through the exercise of brute force, would have any real interest at all in environmental matters?

    As to what I’d prefer, I laid out my general views in my reply to your post back in mid-Feb.

  25. Dear oh dear I have started something haven’t I? In my ignorance. I promise to read a bit more Chomsky but I was at least frank that I wasn’t arguing from much knowledge, just a distaste for a tone and an accompanying way of speaking and thinking.

    For me anyway, Paul’s third quote above is much more telling than the others – it speaks to my concerns anyway. I didn’t find much wrong with the earlier quotes for the reasons that James and Ingolf have outlined.

    To recap, here it is:

  26. Ingolf says:

    Nicholas, I have no argument with what I take to be your underlying thesis, namely that deceit, lies and the pursuit of power are hardly the preserve of the powerful. Nor, however, do I think Chomsky does. Take this exchange he had last year with Robert Trivers, an evolutionary biologist:

    RT: . . . We know they launched the whole thing [the invasion of Iraq] in a swarm of lies, the evidence for which is too overwhelming to even need to be referred to now. My view is that their deception leads to self-deception very easily.

    NC: I agree, though I’m not sure they launched it with lies, and it’s perfectly possible they believed it.

    RT: Yes.

    NC: I mean, they had a goal

  27. James Farrell says:

    Indeed you have a lot to answer for, Nicholas.

    It’s worth remembering that Chomsky is in constant demand for interviews and speaking engagments, and for all I know has a greater quantity of extemporised comments avaialble on the net for scrutiny than any other single human being. Ideally we would base our initial judgements of him on statements in his published writings, where he has the opportunity to justify them and furnish some context.

    Anarchists do tend to blame many of our foibles on the centralist and hierarchical structures that distort our relationships, and predict that honest and pure interactions will prevail when these crumble away. Chomsky possibly subsribes to this to some degree, but that’s not what he is talking about here. He is referring here to the familiar notion of the ideological hegemony of the ruling class, not to the quotidean self-serving falsehoods we purvey in our daily lives.

    I thought that the one item on Paul’s list where Chomsky was vulnerable to attack was the one about non-aligned countries being exposed to the depredations of the West when the USSR collapsed. Chomsky’s problem is not to defend the claim that, as Paul put it, “the

  28. Caspar says:

    Perhaps you should learn more about libertarian socialism and anarcho-syndicalism. As a firm supporter of both ideologies, and of Chomsky, I’m happy to let you know why I don’t think your criticisms of them are valid. Firstly your only real gripe seems to that Chomsky is self-righteous and condemns the system that creates globabl suffering and oppression without saying how it can be changed.

    I think that like John Pilger, Chomsky has chosen to attempt to change things simply by speaking the truth about and publicising injustice, oppression and suffering. Of itself this is not enough to change the system and rectify things, but it is a neccesary first step.

    Things cannot change if people do not first know the truth about what is going on and have a discourse that analyses, criticises and passes judgement on current events.

    I think it was Chomsky himself who said that the work he does is less important than basic activism such as handing out flyers about a social justice issue.

    Whether this is strictly true or not the point he is making is that the work he does is just one of the ingredients neccesary to create change.

    As for how to achieve change perhaps perhaps Chomsky thinks that changing the attitudes of the public is essential. Once a majority adopt the attitude that the capitalist oppression and exploitation needs to end, and that the benefits you mention you are grateful for, actually only exist for us at the expense of the poor, advocating methods of change will be a higher priority. Our clothing, food and natural resources are stolen from and produced by workers on slave wages {mainly in countries we commonly refer to as ‘third world’, but increasingly in ‘first world’ countries as well, making meaningless the ‘first’ and ‘third’ world distinctions, as the conditions associated with both countries are actually present in all countries}.

    Is Chomsky really so self-righteous? I’ve found he rarely focuses on himself. Is it really such a good thing to push for ‘compromise’ with individuals and companies involved in such gross human rights abuses. Isn’t that like accepting Hitler if only he executed half as many jews. This may seem an absurd comparison but the human rights abuses going on today are definitely on a par with what Hitler did, at least in terms of extremity of cruelty if not numbers of people executed.

    And in Hitler’s time there were many who wanted to compromise and accept his abuses, and did for years after they became well known. Also many companies still thriving today benefited from what Hitler was doing.

    I think the thrust of most of Chomsky’s writing is that the people should be given a greater say in public affairs, not just a relatively small number of rich and powerful individuals. Libertarian socialism is based on the twin principles of freedom and equality. In order to avoid totalitarianism it would be neccesary to decentralise decision making, respect individual liberties, but also beleive in equalising distribution of resources, at least to the extent neccesary to eliminate poverty.

    I beleive this can be achieved without violence, if enough people’s attitudes change, through civil disobedience, withdrawal of labor, popular protests and local communities organising themselves to meet their needs.

    But writings such as Chomsky’s highlight the fact that even though many of us may lead relatively comfortable lifestyles, the overwhelming majority of humans on this earth live in degradation, suffering and starvation {two thirds of the world are starving right now}. Such writings provide a powerful incentive for all of us, rich and poor alike, to change the way this world is being managed so that basic human dignity, living standards, and social justice can be upheld.

  29. Well thanks Ingolf and James,

    I think the score in the debate is about 3 points to me and 97 to you guys.

    So I’ll retire as gracefully as I can and when I get some time I’ll try to read some more Chomsky and either substantiate my intuitions a little more robustly or concede your points.

  30. Ingolf says:

    For my part I think you’ve been too hard on yourself in the scoring. Anyway, it’s always a pleasure to have a discussion with you, Nicholas.

    Look forward to any further thoughts.

  31. Kat says:

    check out z net – chomsky is a regular contributor of articles, works with parecon in formulating ideas and strategies for what a new kind of world might look like, and takes part in numerous discussions and debates to answer his critics and those of parecon.

  32. Paul Frijters says:

    Ingolf,
    ” What, after all, is there to suggest that any such world government, having attained power through the exercise of brute force, would have any real interest at all in environmental matters?”
    An excellent question. For me, the essential reason to expect this is the reason any sole owner takes better care of their property than a large collection of co-owners who each have an incentive to free-ride on the efforts of others: self-interest. A brutal dictator and his family will want to see their reign perpetuated and will want there to be something to lord over in the future. I am counting on that sentiment and, as said before, think there are some historical analogies to suggest this may indeed happen. Is that belief childish or simply economic?
    As to the rest of the Chomsky thread I find myself in agreement with Nicholas. I think you are being too easy on Chomsky though when you said he doesnt believe the South benefitted from the cold war: his quote on the demise of the Soviet Union “Those options are gone, and the South is suffering the consequences.” does suggest the South benefitted substantially from the previous situation. Your other quotes suggest this may have been a slip of the tongue though and someone who does as many interviews as Chomsky should perhaps be excused for the odd faut pas, even though the link to the interview was provided by a fan.
    We will have to agree to disagree on whether “It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them.” means Chomsky implicitly slips in the nobel poor myth (Nicholas’ words) here or not. If you say that’s not how he sees the world that’s fine by me.

  33. Ingolf says:

    Paul, no argument that sole owners tend to care for their property far better than when ownership is more diffuse. To extend this principle to an eventual world government, though, is, for me at least, a stretch I can’t quite make. Also, I hadn’t realised this government you envisage would be in the hands of a brutal dictator and his family. To the extent that I could imagine one at all, I’d sort of seen a UN or EU on steroids.

    My comment re the South was: “I

  34. Paul Frijters says:

    Ingolf,
    fair enough. The quotes above were from Leigh’s (#15) link.
    As to an enlarged UN operating on democratic principles, that’s of course how I’d like a world government to be but I fear I do believe that democracy is not sustainable without multiple countries. Something to discuss in some future thread perhaps.

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