Noam Chomsky is one of my favorite people. I have listened to hundreds of hours of Chomsky speaking. Also, I have read Chomsky’s writings and own Chomsky’s books. I consider him to almost always be correct in everything he says. He may never get the facts wrong. I have not seen him get the conclusion wrong. This still doesn’t make what he is doing in regards to revealing the failings of the United States right.
We may be seeing the impacts of Chomsky today with the deep divide in politics. The information he is putting out there is correct and useful to many. The problem is that the direct impacts of using that information are not being felt.
Here is a made up scenario. I think this is a good analogy to what has happened post-Chomsky.
Chad the Monster
A man, we’ll call him Chad, loves his children. Chad would do anything for them. He is also a pretty fractured, and broken person.
Chad has taken to beating his wife, because she doesn’t do enough for the children. His wife is a good person. She definitely doesn’t deserve the beatings.
Chad also has a tendency to lash out at those around him. He’s severely injured someone before for not doing what he wanted. His child needed to ride the horsey at the supermarket and this moron wouldn’t allow little Chad Jr. to do as such.
This behavior has repeated a lot. The beatings and the injuries.
Now in comes Chomsky. He is aware of these beatings. They are horrible. He has seen first hand the maimed and disfigured victims of Chad.
Chomsky decides to tell everyone about these beatings. He starts with Chad himself, telling him that these beatings are wrong. Chad tells Chomsky to fuck off.
There is no higher authority for Chomsky to go to. Chad just so happens to be a completely sovereign person. No government will touch him.
Chomsky knows that to get Chad to stop, people need to be aware of what Chad is doing. The process for removing Chad’s immunity is roundabout and requires things that these people will not be capable of.
Everyone becomes aware of Chad the monster. Chomsky continues to document the monster that is Chad. He tells everyone how Chad can do great things for his children, but Chad is a monster to everyone else. He gives examples. The wife testifies that Chomsky is right. Chad is unmoved.
Now that everyone is aware that Chad is a monster, what is their moral duty? Should they allow this to continue? They have no way to stop Chad indirectly that has worked. Do they try to stop him directly? Many speak out and it makes the message spread even further. Chad is a monster. Everyone agrees.
A man decides to defend Chad. He can see that people are upset. Chad lives in a fortress, so is hardly worried about anyone attacking him. He can ignore them safely. The man though still doesn’t think that mob justice is a good thing. The conclusions they are coming to are harmful to the people who have them, very obviously. They have become obsessed.
This defender, we’ll call him Ben, decides that he will speak publicly to a group that is interested in how people are dealing with Chad. Chomsky is not involved at all at this point.
Ben is set to speak, but there is a problem. People are rioting. Chad is a monster. How can you defend a monster?
This is an imperfect analogy. Chad is the government and Ben is someone who says “things aren’t that bad.”
People are upset because they feel that their government is doing horrible things in their name. They feel the government isn’t representing them. They want to change that.
The problem with the United States government is that it by design moves very slowly. Change is slow to come.
Even though Chomsky has argued against postmodernism, people still seem to be flocking to postmodern philosophy inspired conclusions. They are not aware of this. Even worse, they are flocking to Marxist inspired conclusions. The synthesis of these things, in critical theory, seems to be ever more popular.
Chomsky correctly points out the government is shit in the United States. He also correctly points out that postmodernism is shit.
People seem to only be listening to his first point. Nothing is absorbed directly by people. More accurately, they are listening to those inspired by Chomsky on his first point. His point about postmodernism being damned terrible hasn’t carried forward to the masses at all.
No one is repeating this part of Chomsky’s thinking. They only repeat that the government sucks. Do with that what you will.