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March 27, 2004

Comments

Buzz

You are a moron! Did you seriously not understand what Chomsky was saying? It really is not that complicated. He was responding to Monbiot, therefore he did not have to again mention Monbiot as someone who defined the Hippocratic principle that way. No wonder you are a frustrated artist, you are a complete idiot. Way to prove the fact online for everyone to see.

Ann

And one of Chomsky's legions of undergrad minions shows the level of discourse for which they are so known and loved all over the worlld. Hey Buzz, you chuck of debris from Noam's bidet: yeah, I understood what he was saying. But it is SLOPPY WRITING and it is a GOOD EXAMPLE of the way the "great linguist and political dissenter" tends to communicate. Did you seriously not understand what I was saying? :) Never mind, I know you did. You're just pissed that I said something mean about your fave rave. Really, Chomskyites are just as bad as music fans. "You're a stinky-poo moron for not liking Rueben Stoddard!" etc. Tell you what, Buzz, I've moved on in life from that kind of slobbering hero-worship. Come visit this blog in ten or so years when you can say the same thing!

izzard

Ann, you missed the point - did you not bother to read the Mondiot editorial? Chomsky was responding to Monbiot's interpretation of Chomsky's own writing - a piece in which he makes reference to the Hippocratic oath as a moral guide in considering intervention. Monbiot assumes that Chomsky interprets the oath, politically, to mean that no intervention can ever be justified: "As it is impossible to send in an army and do no harm, or to exercise power in another nation without affecting the balance of power elsewhere, this surely means that it is always better to do nothing."

Monbiot goes on to lump this (mis)interpretation of Chomsky's position in with what he thinks of as the central anti-war arguments, and then tries to propose, fairly unsuccessfully, I think, a new set of criteria for intervention. You presumably finished reading the chomsky blog, yah? So you know that Chomsky views the "hippocratic truism" thusly: "... there is always a heavy burden of proof to be borne by the call for resort to violence..." He goes on to say that this burden may or may not be met by the specifics of the situation at hand, and that "the Hippocratic truism does not provide an answer, of course, nor did I (or anyone) suggest otherwise..." Since Mondiot is lumping Chomsky in with a pretty wide range of political reponses, and arguably Chomsky is responding to Mondiot directly, why is it contradictory to say "No one ever interpreted etc etc."? It makes perfect sense in context, something which you've spectaculary failed to provide.

I'm not an undergrad, nor part of any "legion of minions" - just a guy who like his political commentary with a bit of perspective. I think that Chomsky's political writing can be a bit dense sometimes, and you have to be on your toes historically, but using this excerpt as your proof that he's "a terrible writer" is just really weak, not to mention the way in which it reveals - and I'm not talking about Chomsky here - that you probably wouldn't know good writing if it came up and peed on one of your paintings. All I did was sum up two trivial articles and it's still eighty times more substantial than what you came up with. If you want to contribute and take on what you see as "incoherent and morally indefensible semblences of political thought," why don't you actually address some of the issues raised, like the morality of intervention? Or, whoops, am I misjudging the importance of your criticisms by taking them out of context? Silly me.

Clearly you're not trying to convert anyone to your side through logic, or reading the stuff you're writing about, so I can only assume the purpose of the above is to preach - or screach - to the choir. Well, good luck with that, you iconoclast, you, careful not to cultivate any slobbering hero-worshippers on the way.

Ann

No, YOU missed the point - or you're ignoring it. The point is, I believe Chomsky is a terrible communicator. I understood what he was saying - you don't have to explain it to me. But I also understand that the way he "put" it was similar to how an eighth-grader might. That's what I was addressing in that post, and although I'm sorry you don't like that, it is my blog, and I can talk about whatever I damn well please. You, like "Buzz", are obviously still indignant that I criticized him at all.

Anyway - you want me to get into the Chomster's thoughts on "the morality of intervention"? Sure, he's a hypocrite who has spent his life as an apologist for some of the most bloodthirsty despots this planet has ever seen while accusing the West of the same things those same despots have actually acted on. His history is not only bad, it looks to me like he repeatedly lies keeping in mind the theory that if you repeat something often enough, people will start to believe it's true.

As for this comment of yours: "you probably wouldn't know good writing if it came up and peed on one of your paintings" why don't you take a chew on this article: The hypocrisy of Noam Chomsky. It's possibly the best deconstruction of the Chomsky myth currently available on the net. Izzard, this is good writing. It doesn't have to pee on my paintings, although when you read it you may find it peeing on your little anarcho-Marxist-leftist-utpoianist-whatever-flavor-of-the-month-is-trendy parade.

Ann

"Chomsky has declared himself a libertarian and anarchist but has defended some of the most authoritarian and murderous regimes in human history. His political philosophy is purportedly based on empowering the oppressed and toiling masses but he has contempt for ordinary people who he regards as ignorant dupes of the privileged and the powerful. He has defined the responsibility of the intellectual as the pursuit of truth and the exposure of lies, but has supported the regimes he admires by suppressing the truth and perpetrating falsehoods. He has endorsed universal moral principles but has only applied them to Western liberal democracies, while continuing to rationalize the crimes of his own political favorites. He is a mandarin who denounces mandarins."

And he's a shit writer as well.

izzard

Well, excuse me for taking advantage of your comment box. You're not Ann COULTER, by any chance, are you?

As I wrote before, I'm no Chomskyite, although I do find much of what he says compelling, and that which I've bothered to research further is almost always supported by independent historical records. In traipsing merrily through the men's bathroom-wall ranting that passes for intellectual discourse on the net in doing this research, one comes across a ton of vitriol on the subject of Chomsky, and on I wade, hoping to find some arguments that can reasonably answer some of the questions he's raised. Like I said, perspective is a GOOD thing.

I'm not indignant that you criticized him - more power to you if you can contribute well to a serious debate. But you don't. What compelled me to reply to your own line of "thought" in the first place, as well as your reply to Buzz, was the way in which you predictably, dogmatically, and unimaginatively go about op-edding. Yah, duh, I get that you're trying to point out shit writing, and expose Chomsky as a bad communicator. But you picked such a trivial, thin example of such that, coupled with what else I've read on your site, I assume that, like so many other lazy bloggers out there, you've got a bug up your butt about his politics and you have no idea how to address them. If you think the guy's Hitler, don't give yourself a hernia criticizing his stupid mustache - there are more important issues on the table. You seem more interested in a "us-v-them" narrow-mindedness ("anarcho-Marxist-leftist-utpoianist-whatever-flavor-of-the-month-is-trendy parade"? Assume much?) that has no connection to actual useful political thought. There's a plentitude of lunkish, stand-up-comedy-type, reactionary drivel already out there - spare your keyboard the abuse.

As to Keith Windschuttle's piece, (in which yer man himself calls Chomsky's political writings "very clear", by the way) it's decent, reminiscent of a small number of other articles that actually deal with Chomsky head-on intelligently, with facts, especially when talking about Chomsky's troubling stances on Cambodia. But even here, and especially when dealing with more recent stuff, he's selective and obtuse in a frustratingly familiar way. Chomsky has never made a secret of the fact that as a citizen of the US, his main role is one of criticizing his own goverment and demanding accountability from it. The latter should be a priority for every US citizen. The majority of Windschuttle's piece focuses on Chomsky's takes on specific foreign events with no attempt to include the context of US involvement in thoses particular crises that Chomsky was pointing out.

Almost everything I've read from Chomsky since September 11 begins with some condemnation of terror and violence. He takes great pains to go over and over a "rogue's gallery" of absolute thugs like Hussein, Suharto, Marcos, Duvalier, Ceaucescu, and on and on, and what villians they are/were, before then going on to point out that these very criminals probably wouldn't have enjoyed the nice long abusive run they each did had the US, at the very LEAST, just left well enough alone and not supported, in numerous shady ways, these very dictators (Holy shit - is that a radical, anarcho-Marxist-leftist-utpoianist-whatever-flavor-of-the-month-is-trendy premise or what? I think my BRAIN IS BLEEDING!).

This last bit always seems to stick in the craw of the aggressors, the flag-wavers, and the hawks. Sure, it's a slightly unsatisfying position to reiterate due to its lack of a "here's what we should do now..." bit at the end, as anyone watching the debacle in Iraq would now love to hear, but its a damn sight better than the jingoistic, intellectually vapid "dissent-is-treason" bullshit that Windschuttle is in grave danger of falling into by the end of the article. He reminds me of Christopher Hitchens, that born-again-conservative Chomsky critic who actually writes intelligently and thoughtfully when his knee isn't jerking violently, which it sadly has been of late, and frequently. Just take a deep breath, and repeat to yourself over and over, "critizing the actions of our government does not necessarily legitimize, lend support, aid, comfort, bobby socks, TiVo, warm milk, soccer-mom-encouragement, tummy rubs, etc. to the evil-doers of the world." And consider whatever lame-ass pre-fab political pigeon-hole that your narrow brain has mustered the tepid wit to banish me to currently urine-free.

Ann

Responded to here.

'one of thousands of grads'

[ deleted because the asshole posting from 67.167.165.137 forged his email address. 'One of thousands of grads' indeed - from primary school! ]

Ordinary Average Guy

Ann, I think it's cool that you have an opinion on Chomsky's writing. I think it's cool that you express it. I think it's cool that you are passionate about it...but what's up with referring to people with the opposite opinion as basically s&^#?

From what I've seen, almost everyone disagreeing with, or bad-mouthing Chomsky or his admirers resorts to swearing, personal attacks and generally stupid behavior. Do you think it makes your point stronger? Are we supposed to take you more seriously because you swear up the place?

By all means, post away and say whatever you want...just don't expect anyone to really pay them any real attention.

Ordinary Average Guy

...just one more comment. At least Chomsky will usually cite his sources and field actual questions. 99% of politicians, no matter what side of the fence won't do either of those things. In that post above criticizing his support of terrible regimes and such I didn't notice one actual reference. Also, from what I've read of Chomsky, most of the regimes out there that are so terrible are put there by our Gov't. I for one don't think the worlds most powerful country would leave anything to chance if they could help it.

I must agree with you though about his writing style. Many times I have to re-read passages to pick up his point. Although I think it's worth the effort because at least it's something different than the evening news tripe and the CNN brainwashing that everyone gets.

Cheers.

Michael

Ann, next time your criticise Chomsky, give people a reference to check instead of your bland opinion and a pack of lies. Chomsky isn't a Marxist or a communist, so if you're going to claim he is, cite a passage from a book where he says "I'm a Marxist", or words to that effect.

What interests me, Ann, is why Chomsky bothers you so much. It's not like he's a pop star and you can't switch on the TV or radio, or pick up a magazine, without seeing or hearing about him. I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that the guy speaks the truth, and the truth hurts. It's probably also jealously. He's a renowned professor of linguistics and you're what? An illiterate who rants about someone who's made a success of his life?

As for Chomsky writing like an 8th grader, you obviously haven't read any of his books. However, let's assume Chomsky does use simple English, avoiding long or difficult words. That's how Richard Feynman spoke, and he was one of the smartest theoretical physicists the world has ever seen.

As for your claim that Chomsky does not give solutions to the world's problems - all he does is criticize. This either exposes how little you've read of Chomsky, or your poor comprehension skills. Probably both.

Paul

I am very angry reading this blog. But also disappointed that people can be so ignorant.

He has an innate ability to analyse human thought and language, his earth-shatteringly important books on the subject of linguistics prove this. Read them, theyre accessible to everybody who has studied at university.

He has never ever been guilty of any of the things described above and Ann, you have a very good understanding of the Noam Chomsky position on many things, as you accuse him of being precisely the same thing as he accuses the intellectual community of, and I think you know better.

Its not that I agree with Noam Chomsky or blindly follow his arguments, and Im certainly not trying to make my parents angry, but the criticism levelled at Chomsky is outrageous and the type of criticism itself proves many of Chomskys arguments to be true. Its true much of his writing is simple, but is that not what a linguist is trained to understand? Communication. My guess is he is more able than most to construct language that illustrates his points more clearly. Are you going to read "A Brief History Of Time" and then tell us Stephen Hawking is a moron who can't write?

Chomsky is not an historian.

stuart b

I bet you're regretting taking on the legions of Chomskyites now!

I suggest we all take a deep breath and relax, the world will have blown up soon and we can finaly rest.

wholesomedick

Everybody knows that you're retarded. Ohh wait... Everybody except you.

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