HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Why Noam Chomsky Is the S...

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:15 PM

Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment [View all]

Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn were two Left Libertarians that heavily influenced me. They both stressed critical thinking (even to question their authority). Take nothing at face value. Go and examine, discover. I started learning about anarchist philosophy about 7 years ago. It was in no small measure because of these two.

Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment 'Intellectuals'
Greenwald: "no living political writer who has more radically changed how more people think in more parts of the world about political issues than he."
March 23, 2013


One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed "crazy", as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually "crazy" are the political orthodoxiesthis tactic seeks to shield from challenge).

This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions. Nixon White House officials sought to steal the files from Daniel Ellsberg's psychoanalyst's office precisely because they knew they could best discredit his disclosures with irrelevant attacks on his psyche. Identically, the New York Times and partisan Obama supporters have led the way in depicting both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as mentally unstable outcasts with serious personality deficiencies. The lesson is clear: only someone plagued by mental afflictions would take such extreme steps to subvert the power of the US government.

A subtler version of this technique is to attack the so-called "style" of the critic as a means of impugning, really avoiding, the substance of the critique. Although Paul Krugman is comfortably within mainstream political thought as a loyal Democrat and a New York Times columnist, his relentless attacks against the austerity mindset is threatening to many. As a result, he is barraged with endless, substance-free complaints about his "tone": he is too abrasive, he does not treat opponents with respect, he demonizes those who disagree with him, etc. The complaints are usually devoid of specifics to prevent meaningful refutation: one typical example: " often cloaks his claims in professional authority, overstates them, omits arguments that undermine his case, and is a bit of a bully"). All of that enables the substance of the critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.

Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky. The book on which I'm currently working explores how establishment media systems restrict the range of acceptable debate in US political discourse, and I'm using Chomsky's treatment by (and ultimate exclusion from) establishment US media outlets as a window for understanding how that works. As a result, I've read a huge quantity of media discussions about Chomsky over the past year. And what is so striking is that virtually every mainstream profile or discussion of him at some point inevitably recites the same set of personality and stylistic attacks designed to malign his advocacy without having to do the work to engage the substance of his claims. Notably, these attacks come most frequently and viciously from establishment liberal venues, such as when the American Prospect's 2005 foreign policy issue compared him to Dick Cheney on its cover (a cover he had framed and now proudly hangs on his office wall).

Last week, Chomsky was in London to give the annual Edward W. Said lecture, and as always happens when he speaks, the large auditorium was filled to the brim, having sold out shortly after it was announced. The Guardian's Aida Edemariam interviewed him in London and produced an article, published Saturday morning, that features virtually all of those standard stylistic and personality critiques:

"When he starts speaking, it is in a monotone that makes no particular rhetorical claim on the audience's attention; in fact, it's almost soporific . . . . Within five minutes many of the hallmarks of Chomsky's political writing, and speaking, are displayed: his anger, his extraordinary range of reference and experience . . . . . Fact upon fact upon fact, but also a withering, sweeping sarcasm the atrocities are 'tolerated politely by Europe as usual'. Harsh, vivid phrases the 'hideously charred corpses of murdered infants'; bodies 'writhing in agony' unspool until they become almost a form of punctuation.


Read more at AlterNet.

49 replies, 3607 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 49 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment [View all]
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 OP
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #1
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #2
Cleita Mar 2013 #3
RedCappedBandit Mar 2013 #5
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #6
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #28
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #29
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #44
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #32
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #47
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #49
Puzzledtraveller Mar 2013 #39
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #48
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #7
Cleita Mar 2013 #9
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #10
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #30
KG Mar 2013 #19
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #21
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #31
smirkymonkey Mar 2013 #4
Blue_Tires Mar 2013 #8
RudynJack Mar 2013 #11
Kurovski Mar 2013 #13
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #14
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #15
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #20
Kurovski Mar 2013 #12
limpyhobbler Mar 2013 #16
woo me with science Mar 2013 #18
woo me with science Mar 2013 #17
JaneyVee Mar 2013 #22
ReRe Mar 2013 #23
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #25
ReRe Mar 2013 #26
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #33
ReRe Mar 2013 #35
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #40
ReRe Mar 2013 #41
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #42
ReRe Mar 2013 #45
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #24
love_katz Mar 2013 #27
idwiyo Mar 2013 #34
bemildred Mar 2013 #36
KoKo Mar 2013 #37
Uncle Joe Mar 2013 #38
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #43
snagglepuss Mar 2013 #46