My Photo


David Thompson
Subscribe
Blog powered by Typepad

« Insufficiently Prole | Main | Back from Beyond »

August 21, 2012

Comments

rjmadden

He seems to be at heart an extremely angry man, and I would guess that his anger is driven by something that is ultimately not political.

Sounds like a description of every far-left ideologue...

David

“Sounds like a description of every far-left ideologue.”

Well, extremists and ideologues of any political tribe are often quite tedious. But yes, the far left does tend to attract a very high concentration of unhappy people. These ladies, for instance, seem decidedly unwell. The first speaker, Sarah Knopp, wants to peddle the “enlightenment” of communism to the children in her care. When they believe as she does – and only as she does – then they’ll be “critical thinkers.” Then they’ll be “emancipated.” Just like her. The second speaker, Megan Behrent, merely intends to subvert the proprieties of the classroom in order to propagate her own communist politics at someone else’s expense. The preferences of parents, students and those who her pay her salary are to be circumvented in the name of “social justice.” Submission to her worldview will of course be a good thing. Again, the students in her care will be “thinking for themselves” when they think and act “radically,” i.e., just like her.

And that’s the thing. The left has all but monopolised the rhetoric of altruism, compassion and good intentions; it’s enormously self-flattering. And this offers both camouflage and license for some very unpleasant urges. You can rationalise covetousness, continually interfere, occupy and harass, be proud in your petty resentments, or just nag while feeling righteous. And that kind of license will tend to attract a certain kind of person.

ErisGuy

"If you’ve ever seen how he acts with ordinary students...."

You Tube? I'd like to think there is video of this somewhere. Please. I know too many Chomsky fans.

"he’s more or less the last survivor of a group of intellectuals..."

Less, as it turns out: they continue to propagate.

Totten's interview of Kerstein is complemented by the chapter on Ukraine in Totten's "Where the West Ends." (Part of that chapter was online, but I can't recall where.)

Kevin Donnelly

Coruscating.

I'd love to see Kerstein and Chomsky in debate, a la Chomsky and Foucault.

Jonathan

" The left has all but monopolised the rhetoric of altruism, compassion and good intentions;"
Indeed. It's 'Schools 'n' Hospitals' writ large. I often think that Labour only nationalised health and education so it could perpetually claim the moral high ground.
I think Chomskys biggest crime is poisoning young minds. Mature adults can find out for themselves whether what he says is true but young, idealistic students are vulnerable to his demagoguery. Then again, that's probably why the left have taken over Academia.

David

ErisGuy,

“…they continue to propagate.”

True, bedlam is still busy. There’s Eric Hobsbawm, for instance. (Some of the comments in that thread are very much worth reading.) And the pinheads at Socialist Unity still carry the torch. You can get quite dizzy trying to follow their contortions.

[ Added: ]

Oh, and don’t forget the pseudo-historian Howard Zinn, who gave his students random grades – because he was so incredibly radical - and whose mighty brain tells us “the American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history,” one that “turns the masses against one another” and (in ways never quite specified) suppresses all dissent. Yet generations of credulous students have gobbled up this nonsense amazingly unsuppressed.

Sam

I see I'm going to have to read some Chomsky… and then wish I hadn't.

ChrisM

George Monbiot is not someone I normally have much time for*, but he had a very interesting exchange with Noam Chomsky. George was trying to push him on certain points and Chomsky got increasingly rude and obnoxious.

http://www.monbiot.com/2012/05/21/2181/

* I disagree with Monbiot on most things, but credit to him, he has shown himself willing to change his mind on some things when the evidence has compelled him to do so.

David

Sam,

“I see I’m going to have to read some Chomsky… and then wish I hadn’t.”

There are much better ways to spend your time. Stockpiling navel fluff, for instance.

But he’s a strange and unpleasant chap, to say the least, and, like Hobsbawm, quite bonkers. In the late Sixties and early Seventies he spent a great deal of time praising Maoist China and Stalinist North Vietnam while claiming the US needed “denazification.” For him, Republicans subscribe to “proto-fascism,” while he – the guy who rhetorically fellates actual dictators – is speaking truth to power. In 1981, Chomsky insisted that outright denial of the Holocaust has “no anti-Semitic connotations.” In 2010, he told al-Alam TV that the US is “more fundamentalist than the Taliban.” He claimed that “East Europe under Russian rule,” from which so many tried to flee, “was practically a paradise.” And in 1974, Chomsky claimed that in “a just society” his own standard of living would not be allowed to exist and that such “material deprivation” would be a good thing for the rest of us.

Despite the blather about “critical thinking,” he’s bizarrely credulous and evasive when faced with actual despots and jihadis who make their own intentions all too vividly clear. One therefore can’t help wondering if, like Hobsbawm, he harbours a fetish for totalitarian models of social control and enforced conformity. Though none of this has dented Chomsky’s status as the left’s academic superstar, or stopped the New Statesman from rating him as one of the ten great “heroes of our time.”

Sam

Thanks, David.

Wow.

I'll go with the navel fluff.

Kevin Donnelly

Amazing isn't it (the discussion referred to by David, above)? Yet we keep hearing how vicious and nasty the current UK government is, as if genocide and repression weren't as bad as a cap on housing benefit.

dicentra

the last survivor of a group of intellectuals who thought systemic political violence and totalitarian control were essentially good things.

The last?

If only…

Stephen Fox

'as if genocide and repression weren't as bad as a cap on housing benefit'

reminding me of Harry Enfield's brilliant teenager, grovellingly obsequious to his friends' parents, and savage toward his own. Some kind of unmeasurable childhood damage seems to trap many extreme radicals in adolescence. Maybe if they could deal with the real cause they would have something valuable to contribute. It's the slippage sideways into patricide that makes them merely damaging.

Horace Dunn

Kevin

"Yet we keep hearing how vicious and nasty the current UK government is, as if genocide and repression weren't as bad as a cap on housing benefit"

Ah, but you're misunderstanding the leftist mind-set. As a socialist, Pol Pot was clearly well-intentioned. Ok, he probably went a bit far in murdering all those people but as Eric Hobsbawm might say "these things need not concern us..."

Had Pol Pot been an Old Etonian who'd had a stint as a Bullingdon Club member, then clearly his mass-murdering spree would have been judged differently.

Peter F

the link to "it gets critical", doesn't seem to work any more. It did last nite....
I'd rather love to get it back, it was an interesting interview...
PS: GREAT Blog, David!
Peter Forsythe
Hong Kong

Nate Whilk I

Maybe the URL to that article changed. It's now at http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/noam-chomsky-last-totalitarian

(note the "noam chomsky" now in the URL.)

sk60

If Chomsky hates the US so much couldn't he just emigrate? He could sell his nice (two, three?) houses to pay the fare.

Or would that call his bluff?

David

sk60,

“Or would that call his bluff?”

Ah, but – but - the Great Man must denounce bourgeois living while basking in its advantages… for, um, research purposes. One has to plan that “post-capitalist society” in comfort, after all. A few million should do it. It’s the radical’s way. Besides, views from that second home in Wellfleet are gorgeous this time of year.


Stephen Fox,

“…reminding me of Harry Enfield’s brilliant teenager, grovelingly obsequious to his friend’s parents, and savage toward his own.”

Bingo.


Peter F,

Link fixed. Not sure why they changed it.

Oh, and I’m now getting snotty emails from Chomsky groupies. It’s a bit like being hissed at by irate Scientologists.

Rich Rostrom

One feeble point in Chomsky's favor: he spoke out on behalf of Venezuelan judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni. Afiuni heard the case of Eligio Cedeño, an ex-Chavista banker who had been arrested for corruption, but had been held for two years without charges. Under Venezuelan law, he was entitled to release on bail. Afiuni followed the law; Cedeño of course fled the country. Chavez then had Afiuni arrested and imprisoned, ranting that she was a bandit who deserved 30 years in prison.

Even Chomsky found this too much; though all he's actually said is that Afiuni should be released on humanitarian grounds.

And he still hasn't actually denounced Chavez.

Kevin Donnelly

Some kind of unmeasurable childhood damage seems to trap many extreme radicals in adolescence

Yes - you would expect intelligent people to change their views over the course of their lives, as the world changes and as things happen out of the blue - eg, 9/11. But these radicals never do. Their opinions do remain rooted in their adolescence and they always seem proud of it. what on earth is good, or intelligent, or thoughtful, about Owen Jones recycling the views of his parents and their social circle? And there they are, always in the Guardian, always on the BBC, as if their views are the product of a lifetime's thought.

Horace: Yes, and we do have to remember that they were trying to do something good and that really counts for a lot...

Trimegistus

Can someone tell me what the heck Chomsky and Monbiot are talking about with their "American genocide" claims? Do they mean the series of plagues which destroyed a lot of the Indian populations in the 17th century? Or is it something even more dishonest and stupid?

David

This profile, written by Keith Windschuttle in 2003, is also worth a look. On Chomsky’s laughably question-begging book Manufacturing Consent, he writes:

Chomsky and Herman simply assert these people have been duped into seeing the world through a pro-capitalist ideological lens. Nor do they attempt any analysis of why millions of ordinary people exercise their free choice every day to buy newspapers and tune in to radio and television programmes. This view of both journalists and audiences as easily-led, ideological dupes of the powerful is not just a fantasy of Chomsky and Herman’s own making. It is also a stance that reveals an arrogant and patronising contempt for everyone who does not share their politics… Chomsky believes that only he and those who share his radical perspective have the ability to rise above the illusions that keep everyone else slaves of the system. Only he can see things as they really are.

The kind of people who invoke “false consciousness” (whether by name or not) tend to be impervious to correction, even on points of fact. Claims of false consciousness require no proof and, more importantly, they always flatter the proponent. They, unlike we, are blessed with second sight and so they should be put in charge to lead us to the light. It’s a wonderful consolation for embittered little egotists. That’s why it’s so popular, even now.

Windschuttle also reminds us that “To examine Chomsky’s views is to analyse the core mindset of contemporary radicalism, especially the variety that now holds so much sway in the academic and arts communities.” And that the Guardian once gushed: “Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities - and is the only writer among them still alive.” Though I think that probably tells us more about the state of the humanities than anything else.

Rob

The last totalitarian? Not even close. I'd say their number has increased sharply in the West during the last decade.

sackcloth and ashes

As far as Chomsky is concerned, the links on Paul Bogdanor's page tell you all you need to know. A digested version can be downloaded on PDF as 'The Top 200 Chomsky Lies'.

Nick Cohen described him as 'the boy at the edge of the gang' in 'What's Left?', and I think the analogy is a perfect one. Whenever you see a crowd of bullies at work in a playground you'll see that there are the ones at the forefront throwing insults (or stones and punches) at their victims, and then there are the kids who are at the fringes, so that they can do one if the teacher turns up. In much the same manner, Chomsky can at one moment express the most revolting opinions, and then at the next turn deny them. As was the case with his denial of Khmer Rouge atrocities in the 1970s, as it is now with the Bosnia genocide deniers.

He is also something of a bully himself, as Emma Brockes discovered a few years back when she wrote a less-than-reverential interview for the Graun. Chomsky and his acolytes on MediaLens went bezerk, bombarded the Farringdon Road massive with letters, and her editors hung Brockes out to dry.

What explains his appeal? Well, looking at things from this end of the Atlantic he offers the benefits of a superficial sense of moral superiority that need not be encumbered by any intellectual honesty or indeed consistency. So long as you stand 'against' Uncle Sam - and its 'surrogates' Britain and Israel - you are automatically in the right. If the West does business with butchers and mass murderers, you can issue shrill cries of outrage. If the West imposes sanctions on them - or overthrows them - you can do the very same thing. And best of all, you can pretend that you really, really care about the issue at hand - be it former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan etc.

The appeal of the Chomskyite position can be seen by observing any number of individuals and institutions with reference to Iraq over the past 20 years. For the Graun, the Indie, the professional protesters with the STWC, a good portion of Beeboids, selected academics and media types, if you asked them the question 'Who is responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people?' you would not hear the words 'Saddam Hussein', 'the Baathist regime' or (after 2003) 'Al Qaida in Iraq and its allies'. It always has to be America and Britain's fault (and the Israelis will be blamed as well for good effect). And who cares if the facts get stretched and you change your tune.

We get told that America and Britain were at fault in arming Saddam during the 1980s (even though he got most of his kit from the French and the Russians). We were told prior to January 1991 that any 'war for oil' to liberate Kuwait would end in a bloodbath and a global economic slump. We were told after March 1991 that war was unnecessary, that it was an act of barbarism to pulverise Iraq and its armed forces, and that we could have waited for the sanctions imposed in August 1990 to do their work.

Then after the Shiites and the Kurds were massacred we were told that Bush Senior was a bastard and a coward for not advancing on Baghdad and overthrowing the regime. Once the 'no fly' zones were imposed by the USA and UK that was all of a sudden an act of imperialistic aggression against a weak Third World state.

From 1992-2002 we were told that the sanctions imposed on Iraq were killing thousands of babies (these were the very same sanctions that were supposed to be the alternative to 'Desert Storm'), and of course Saddam himself was not to blame for his obstruction of UN arms inspectors, or his manipulation of 'oil for food'. And finally, once the USA and UK invade Iraq to get rid of Saddam for good, we get told that its a war crime, that Bushitler and Bliar have the blood of millions on their hands etc etc

This is what being Chomsky is like, and in Britain we have hundreds of 'public' figures - politicians, journalists, actors, 'comedians', musicians, academics etc - who've followed the same pattern. If the main concern is posturing - rather than actually addressing the issues at hand - then the man from MIT has set a pattern for intellectual prostitution that will run and run.

David

Sackcloth,

“Chomsky can at one moment express the most revolting opinions, and then at the next turn deny them.”

He’s certainly very skilled in blatant self-contradiction. A lesser man might burst into tears at the awful comedy of it all.

By opposing just about everything he has to juggle multiple contradictory positions. He claims his radical views are marginalised and suppressed, yet he’s sold millions of books, is one of the richest and most famous public intellectuals, and is fawned over by generations of idiot students and celebrities. He claims to despise moral double standards, yet his own life is a perfect example of one. He claims to be “anti-authoritarian,” yet he denounces free markets and private ownership, whose every benefit he enjoys, and thinks “a just society” would enforce something close to poverty for our own good. He claims to defend free speech yet he excuses totalitarians. He’s described himself as an anarchist, a libertarian socialist, an anarcho-syndicalist… whatever suits him at the moment. He endorses state control and the most suffocating socialism while claiming he’s against that too.

And this is the man whose books are recommended reading on countless sociology courses.

Steve

Sackcloth,

It's good to know that I am not alone.

Thanks.

Henry

"Oh, and I’m now getting snotty emails from Chomsky groupies"

This has encouraged me to join in :) (why don't they add to the debate?)

Listening to Chomsky is a real test of one's attention span - like Judith Butler (who makes even less sense) there is an implication of intellectual superiority underlying the great length and pomposity. And perhaps a threat of ridicule if you don't follow.

The "American Genocide" question - weren't the vast majority of Native American deaths of from infectious agents brought from Europe which their immune systems were unable to deal with? And isn't calling this "genocide" - to liken it to systematic murder of a population - intellectual dishonesty?

This misuse of words is common with Chomsky, he chucks around words like 'imperialism' and 'colonialism', 'oppression', and 'justice', for emotional effect on his audience. But as the argument progresses, he's evidently not using these words with precisely the same meaning as everyone else.

Note that these same words I've listed are misused in the same way by the Guardian on a daily basis.

Sam Duncan

Bravo, Sackcloth! The point about the Soviets and France arming Saddam can't be repeated often enough.

sackcloth and ashes

@ David

On Chomsky's 'books' it's amazing how on closer inspection turn out to be collections of recycled interviews conducted with the Prof's slavish Boswell, David Barsamian. A saying attributed to a certain P. T. Barnum springs to mind.

The other thing of course is how much of a circle-jerk is involved. Chomsky will push out a 'book', and it will get endorsements from Pilger, Mark Curtis (a British Pilger-wannabe), William Blum, Milan Rai etc. Then one of them will publish and all the other clowns will chip in. It's a good little racket for some.

When students ask me about Chomsky I make a point of saying 'If you want to see his views on Kosovo, read 'The New Military Humanitarianism'. If you want to know what actually happened, read Tim Judah, Michael O'Hanlon, Dana Allin, Noel Malcolm etc etc'.

As for the Chomsky groupies, one reason why his works are so seductive as it gives them an excuse not to actually read around the topics discussed (be it Indonesia in the 1960s, the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, or Afghanistan now). That of course makes St Noam's line about brainwashing the masses and keeping them ignorant somewhat ironic, seeing as it's exactly what he's doing to his devotees.

On Iraq, I might have been very unfair in generalising the intellectual response - Ian McEwan's 'Saturday', for example, contains strikingly nuanced commentary on the rights and wrongs of war. But this was unfortunately something of a rarity. It was extremely depressing to see 2 million of my fellow countrymen and women march to give the right for Saddam to slaughter more Kurds, purge more political opponents, resuscitate his NBC programmes, and invade his neighbours. But judging by the shortfall in marchers for the Support Tyrants and War criminals Collective since 2003, I can only hope that many of those involved belatedly realised what banners they had marched under.

Jane

Though I think that probably tells us more about the state of the humanities than anything else.

Amen.

Great blog, David.

Horace Dunn

Henry

"Listening to Chomsky is a real test of one's attention span"

Years ago I read a bit of Chomsky - not vast amounts, but maybe over a few years a couple of dozen of his essays. What struck me most forcibly about Chomsky as a writer is how dull he is. He's long-winded, cliched, drab and unengaging. Gore Vidal was a massive tit as well, but at least he wrote well.

TDK

There's a whole series of article by Oliver Kamm which are sometimes lost behind the Times paywall Here

One of the best was in Prospect magazine who's readers voted Chomsky some Global Intellectual

And a summary in Standpoint

Cass Attaqq

Chomsky is arrogant, cultish, totalitarian, detached from reality, anti-Israel, pro-Iran, and believes in free speech, especially for his critics and other people he disagrees with. If he were running American foreign policy, the results would be disastrous. Chomsky's neo-con and "conservative" critics are bloodthirsty, arrogant, cultish, totalitarian, detached from reality, pro-Israel, anti-Iran, and believe in destroying the careers of their critics and other people they disagree with. They are running American foreign policy and the results have been disastrous.

He babbles about human rights all the time, but when you look at the regimes and groups he’s supported, it’s a very bloody list indeed.

[ cough ] Hizb’allah, Pol Pot. [ cough ]

For Chomsky's "support" of Pol Pot, see Christopher Hitchens' "The Chorus and Cassandra":

http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/1985----.htm

There is some marvellous prose at the beginning of that essay, but Hitch isn't responsible for it. Note that the essay was written before one of the world's worst writers fell out with another of the world's worst writers. Next, see the mawkish section in Hitch-22 in which Hitch discovers, much to his dismay, that writing in support of war sometimes persuades people to join armies and die in wars. Here's Hitch getting as close to real war as he and the other neo-cons liked to get:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/30/christopher-hitchens-hitch-22-memoir

Orwell nearly died in a war against fascism. Orwell groupie Hitch preferred to wage war with his mouth from a safe distance. But "bloodythirsty" isn't an adjective that applies so much to Chomsky, whatever his other faults.

Anna

As the left has all but monopolised the rhetoric of compassion and good intentions, self-flattery has become hard to avoid.

Exhibit A.

Spiny Norman

Horace,

"What struck me most forcibly about Chomsky as a writer is how dull he is. He's long-winded, cliched, drab and unengaging."
___

There's a reason why the Chomskybot exists:

http://rubberducky.org/cgi-bin/chomsky.pl

sackcloth and ashes

@ Cass Attaqq

First up, you need to find a dictionary that tells you what 'totalitarian' means.

Secondly, assertion - evidence = rant. This much is evident in your statement that 'neo-cons' 'believe in destroying the careers of their critics and other people they disagree with'. You also need to find out what a neo-con is, and what he/she believes in.

Thirdly, when you talk about Hitchens' cowardice you again reveal nothing more than how blinkered you are. Take for example the moment in Beirut where he almost got killed as a result of a street confrontation with a bunch of pro-Syrian fascists. I call that 'putting your money where your mouth is'. When did you last do something similar?

Fourthly, you might want to recognise the hypocrisy inherent in posing as a dissident in a system that permits dissent rather than punishing it. Chomsky's supposed career in 'telling truth to power' is a sham given that he has benefited from the system he condemns out of hand. There are real dissidents out there who have paid a far heavier price, because they live in states which are unfortunately truly despotic and totalitarian.

Fifthly, you say that Chomsky has no 'blood on his hands'. That's mainly because he lacks even the guts to express his obnoxious views more frankly. He has acted as an apologist for any system or movement - no matter how barbaric - provided that it is anti-Western. He has never actually had the guts to say that Cambodians, Kurds, Bosnians, Kosovars or Hazaras have deserved to be slaughtered by their persecutors. But the fact that he's prepared to shill for the latter still makes him morally culpable in excusing their crimes.

Anna

In 2010, he told al-Alam TV that the US is “more fundamentalist than the Taliban.”

And who could argue with that? Oh wait.

Cass Attaqq

@sackcloth

First up, you need to find a dictionary that tells you what 'totalitarian' means.

Thanks for the advice. See your use of "confront" below.

Secondly, assertion - evidence = rant. This much is evident in your statement that 'neo-cons' 'believe in destroying the careers of their critics and other people they disagree with'. You also need to find out what a neo-con is, and what he/she believes in.

"The Chorus and Cassandra" offers ample evidence of the dishonesty of Chomsky's critics. Neo-con = slavishly pro-Israel crypto-Trotskyite, eager to burn mountains of cash and wade through oceans of blood to create, for example, a "democratic" government in Iraq that helps Iran evade economic sanctions. Hitch wasn't a pure neo-con -- I'd say he was more deluded than dishonest -- but he worked heartily on their behalf.

He has never actually had the guts to say that Cambodians, Kurds, Bosnians, Kosovars or Hazaras have deserved to be slaughtered by their persecutors. But the fact that he's prepared to shill for the latter still makes him morally culpable in excusing their crimes.

Heavens. You're a mindreader. Chomsky is really a slavering despot, just doesn't have the guts to admit it. Look, Chomsky, like Hitchens, is a tiresome windbag. When I tried to re-read Hitchens' defence of Chom, "The Chorus and Cassandra", I was strongly reminded of Chomsky's exchange with Monbiot: there was something pathological about the prolixity of the prose. And Hitchens' oh-so-wittily-ironic "The Case of the Cambodian Genocide" is further evidence that he was someone jesting at wounds who never felt a scar. Have a look at the picture of Hitch posing in shades with a gun and see if the words "adolescent" and "twat" don't come to mind:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/30/christopher-hitchens-hitch-22-memoir

Chomsky, for all his faults, doesn't pull stunts like that.

Take for example the moment in Beirut where he almost got killed as a result of a street confrontation with a bunch of pro-Syrian fascists. I call that 'putting your money where your mouth is'. When did you last do something similar?

Yeah, he did almost get killed -- inadvertently. And he didn't "confront" the fascists: he got caught off guard by one of them while scribbling on a poster. Your choice of verb is an interesting glimpse into your neo-con psychology. Now compare Orwell's anti-facist record. Orwell advertently, and for months on end, confronted fascists firing bullets. And nearly got himself killed as a result. I would hope, if it came to it, that I would be prepared to die for my beliefs. What I am not prepared to do is argue for wars in which I myself am not prepared to fight. Even if I got Hitch's money from it.

How 'bout you?

Fourthly, you might want to recognise the hypocrisy inherent in posing as a dissident in a system that permits dissent rather than punishing it. Chomsky's supposed career in 'telling truth to power' is a sham given that he has benefited from the system he condemns out of hand. There are real dissidents out there who have paid a far heavier price, because they live in states which are unfortunately truly despotic and totalitarian.

That "unfortunately" is another interesting glimpse into your neo-con psychology. It's a touch of the onion-and-violin. Yeah, one is "unfortunate" to live under totalitarian despotism. Thanks for pointing out something that might otherwise have slipped my notice. One is also "unfortunate" if the neo-cons send the U.S. military to play in your country. Or write voluminously in support of "liberty" and "democracy" as a bad system is replaced by a worse. See Egypt. And Syria, before long.

Steve

Cass Attaqq,

It's refreshing to see someboy of the left actually tackle an argument without the need to resort to personal abuse and obfuscation but there are some apparent holes in your position.

You criticize Hitchens childishness but seem happy with Chomsky's babyish attacks on anyone with dissenting views which, I believe is one the main criticiisms of him here. Hitchens, in contrast, revelled in peoples objections and, rather than try to shut down debate, made a very successful career out of it, nearly always, as far as I can tell, confronting his 'enemies' with good humour. Who is the child here really?

You criticize the so-called neo-con war in Iraq, as usual for those from that side of the argument, without even acknowleding the brutality of Saddam or the possibility that Bush, like Obama with regard to Egypt, Libya & Syrria, may have genuinely believed that he was helping to bring about a 'better', society for the people of Iraq.

To finish you casually criticize the actions regarding Egypt & Syria without acknowledgement that it is your side that is cheering on the action (or inaction) which is creating the conditions for a new nightmare in those countries. Though I suppose you deserve some credit for not towing the leftie line entirely it is somewhat ridiculous that you seem unable to acknowledge that in spite of all the 'told you so's' concerning Iraq and the mounting evidence on the ground lefties are generally determined to believe that the so called 'Arab Spring' can only be a good thing. The hypocrisy of this situation is quite rancid.

It appears that you have adopted the other leftie view of the moment the one that supports the kind of foreign policy which used to be derided as the ignorant isolationist view of the right ie: "whatever is happening to people in a far off land screw them it's not our problem we would only make things worse by trying to help". You know the kind of people, they crawled out of the woodwork yesterday to demend immediate withdrawal from Afganistan because of the be-heading of some party-goers; the idea that this should make one more determined to defeat the brutality doesn't enter their tiny minds. Brilliant.

Spiny Norman

One note: anyone who still uses "neo-con" as a sneer, over and over in a single comment, should not be taken seriously. It's tinfoil hat territory.

"slavishly pro-Israel"

Is there anyone pro-Israel who is not "slavish"?

sackcloth and ashes

'Thanks for the advice'.

I see you haven't bothered to take it though.

'Neo-con = slavishly pro-Israel crypto-Trotskyite, eager to burn mountains of cash and wade through oceans of blood to create, for example, a "democratic" government in Iraq that helps Iran evade economic sanctions'.

I've read that sentence a few times, and it still doesn't make sense. Did you use one of those funny computer programmes that word-generates meaningless slogans?

'Chomsky, for all his faults, doesn't pull stunts like that'.

No. He just likes pretending that concentration camps aren't really concentration camps, like he did here:

http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20060425.htm

'Incidentally the same happened in the earlier phase of the Balkan wars. It was awful, and so on and so forth. However, but if you look at the coverage, for example there was one famous incident which has completely reshaped the Western opinion and that was the photograph of the thin man behind the barb-wire.

DM: A fraudulent photograph, as it turned out.

NC: You remember. The thin men behind the barb-wire so that was Auschwitz and 'we can't have Auschwitz again.' The intellectuals went crazy and the French were posturing on television and the usual antics. Well, you know, it was investigated and carefully investigated. In fact it was investigated by the leading Western specialist on the topic, Philip Knightly, who is a highly respected media analyst and his specialty is photo journalism, probably the most famous Western and most respected Western analyst in this. He did a detailed analysis of it. And he determined that it was probably the reporters who were behind the barb-wire, and the place was ugly, but it was a refugee camp, I mean, people could leave if they wanted and, near the thin man was a fat man and so on, well and there was one tiny newspaper in England, probably three people, called LM which ran a critique of this, and the British (who haven't a slightest concept of freedom of speech, that is a total fraud)…a major corporation, ITN, a big media corporation had publicized this, so the corporation sued the tiny newspaper for lible. Now the British lible laws were absolutely atrocious. The person accused has to prove that the, what he's reporting is not done in malice and he can't prove that. So and in fact when you have a huge corporation with batteries of lawyers and so on, carrying out a suit against the three people in the office, who probably don't have the pocket-money, it's obvious what is going to happen. Especially under these grotesque lible laws'.

I don't like genocide deniers, but you seem to be more tolerant.

'How 'bout you?'

Six months in Iraq, 2004. What about you, Cass? When was the last time you put your life on the line for something?

Cass Attaqq

@sackcloth

I don't like genocide deniers, but you seem to be more tolerant.

Mindreading again. Anyway, you say you don't like genocide-deniers. What about genocide-enablers?

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/handshake300.jpg

I definitely don't support Chomsky, but I don't think his critics are honest in all they say about him. David T. has said Chomsky supported Pol Pot and other unsavouries. I'd like to be shown how Chomsky has assisted or conducted murder or illegality like these folk:

Nixon and Kissinger materially assisted the rise of the Khmer Rouge by illegally bombing Cambodia. Christopher Hitchens thought to the end of his life that Kissinger should be put on trial for war crimes. I agree. Does anyone else here? Do the neo-cons?

The U.S. later allied itself with the Khmer Rouge against Vietnam -- see Hitchens' "The Chorus and Cassandra".

The U.S. allied itself with Saddam Hussein against Iran and the neo-cons have their own George Galloway moment: Donald Rumsfeld shaking the blood-stained hand of a totalitarian despot. See the photo above.

There's a lot more beside the above, e.g. the CIA-backed-and-facilitated smuggling of heroin and cocaine.

Does any Chomskophobe here seriously think Chomsky is a war-criminal? That morally -- to put it no higher -- he is worse than Kissinger or Blair?

@various

It's refreshing to see someboy of the left actually tackle an argument without the need to resort to personal abuse and obfuscation but there are some apparent holes in your position.

It would come as news to Peter Hitchens, Christopher's brother, that disliking neo-cons and opposing their wars is left-wing. I dislike the neo-cons, inter alia, for what they share with the left: their self-righteousness, their ineptitude, and their use of smears rather than argument. "You say it might be hard to create democracy in Arab states? Racist!"

One note: anyone who still uses "neo-con" as a sneer, over and over in a single comment, should not be taken seriously.

Not by neo-cons and their lapdogs, anyway. I like "neo-con". It's an unpleasant word for unpleasant people. And it's even better when you "parse" it as French. But I admit a more effective tactic is not just to sneer, but to point at what neo-cons have achieved in their defence of liberty, democracy, etc, etc, against Islamofascism, tyranny, etc, etc.

U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/world/middleeast/us-says-iraqis-are-helping-iran-skirt-sanctions.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120819

'Neo-con = slavishly pro-Israel crypto-Trotskyite, eager to burn mountains of cash and wade through oceans of blood to create, for example, a "democratic" government in Iraq that helps Iran evade economic sanctions'.

I've read that sentence a few times, and it still doesn't make sense. Did you use one of those funny computer programmes that word-generates meaningless slogans?

No, I just read the NYT article. $1,000,000,000s + numerous corpses = pro-Iran Iraq.

It's tinfoil hat territory.

"If you disagree with me, you must be mentally ill." (C) True Believers, inc. neo-cons and their lapdogs. You give off a distinct whiff of Harry's Plaice.

Is there anyone pro-Israel who is not "slavish"?

Me. I would not want to live anywhere in the Middle East but there. That does not mean I overlook its faults. Being a Jewish state and intending to stay Jewish is definitely not a fault.

'How 'bout you?'

Six months in Iraq, 2004. What about you, Cass? When was the last time you put your life on the line for something?

Never, and I apologize for my flippancy. But I've certainly risked injury for my beliefs. To state the obvious: willingness to die for a cause isn't simply or even at all a sign of one's sincerity. It can be a sign of one's fanaticism or psychopathy or egotism. See Nazi and communist heroism in WW2, suicide bombers, etc. The problem with neo-cons isn't simply their unwillingness to die for the Sacred Cause, it's their willingness to send other people to die. Blair wasn't a pure neo-con, again, but had that in common with them. And has done v. nicely out of it.

Re. your re-writing of Hitchens' encounter with fascists. You misremembered what Hitchens wrote not because you are dishonest, but because you are biased. When bias distorts one's thinking like that, it's a bad sign. I don't like Chomsky or Hitchens, as you may have gathered by now, but I try to be objective about them and to give credit where it's due. E.g., Hitchens did write well occasionally. Here's an example: "Since leaving active politics, Kissinger had been looking bored and ill, as if cut off from his death-support machine." A good line about a v. bad person. Here's a good line from Chomsky: "Freedom of speech is worthless without the freedom of offensive speech. Goebbels and Himmler were for freedom of speech that was inoffensive to the state."

sackcloth and ashes

For someone who claims not to be a Chomskyite, you show the same traits as the man in question. Dishonesty combined with a somewhat hysterical approach to criticism of the hero from MIT.

Let us firstly take your claim that Nixon and Kissinger are to blame for the Cambodian genocide. Are you trying to tell us that before Operation MENU happened Pol Pot and the KR were a bunch of happy-clappy liberal types, and they just happened to become genocidaires as a result of the US bombing campaign? Do you realise how utterly stupid and offensive that comment is? It puts you in the same category as clowns like Nicholson Baker who blame the Allies for the Holocaust, on the grounds that the Nazis didn't build any death camps before the bombing campaign against Germany.

You might actually want to do some remedial reading on the KR and their ideology, which was the main cause of the auto-genocide Cambodia suffered between 1975 and 1979. That is unless you're happy peddling lies that exculpate the KR for committing one of the worst crimes against humanity in 20th century history.

As for your take on Iraq, you do know - don't you - that Saddam Hussein got his chemical weapons from German firms, his ballistic missiles from the Russians, and both a nuclear reactor and his biological weapons programme from the French? So if you are talking about 'genocide enablers', why aren't you bothered about what these countries did?

Why aren't you concerned that (as per the stats from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) between 1973 and 2002 Baathist Iraq got 68% of the weapons it used against Iranians, Kuwaitis and its own citizens from the USSR and its allies, 13% from Franch and 12% from China? Do you actually know that Iraq was armed by states other than the USA and UK, or do you not care, because you've found a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam?

Your rant also highlights one of the points about Chomskyite hypocrisy, as it basically involves condemning Uncle Sam for either appeasing, blockading or bombing dictatorial regimes, whilst ignoring the role of any other country involved. That is intellectually dishonest.

As for the people you call 'neo-cons' (and yet again you don't even bother to find out what a neo-conservative is), during the 1980s individuals like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz considered Saddam's Iraq to be as much of an anathema as Iran, not just because of its human rights record but also its uncompromising emnity towards Israel. You might want to read Malcolm Byrne's essay on this topic in Max Guderzo & Bruna Bagnato (ed) 'The Globalization of the Cold War' (Routledge 2010). Or then again you may prefer the comfort of your myths.

As for your comments about Chomsky not actually being in any way connected with the atrocities committed by those he has provided apologias for, do you think that should give him a free pass? Do you think that a man who said that 'Year Zero' wasn't happening, and who added his voice to those denying the enormity of Serb war crimes in Bosnia is worthy of anything other than our contempt? Because if you don't, your contributions to this thread should end here and now.

As for Hitchen's confrontation with the SSNP, it is on record (see Michael Totten's 'The Road to Fatima Gate') that he confronted a bunch of fascists. As anyone with a dictionary to hand knows the term 'to confront' means '1.Meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent. 2.Face up to and deal with (a problem or difficult situation)'. Hitchens tore down a poster put up by a far-right party despite being warned not to do so, and he didn't back down when he was accosted. But then you are someone who has 'certainly risked injury' for his beliefs. You're such a hero, aren't you (sarcasm off).

Finally, on free speech, Chomsky has certainly exercised his right to 'offensive speech'. A man who described a Holocaust denier as a 'relatively apolitical sort of liberal' can do no other. It's just a pity that he and his Medialens goons muzzled Emma Brockes, though, isn't it?

Spiny Norman

"If you disagree with me, you must be mentally ill." (C) True Believers, inc. neo-cons and their lapdogs.

Mentally ill? Perhaps not, but clearly obsessed with your own personal definition of "neo-con", which may or may not have any passing relationship with reality, and appears to be little more than your catchall bogeyman. I doubt very much anyone could call me a "neo-con" since I've been conservative or "right-wing" most of my adult life. I indulged in a little Libertarianism in my 20s, but was eventually turned off by the RonPaul! isolationist and Pot Smokers Unite! factions of the movement in the 1980s. I'm not a "neo-con", and I'm certainly no one's "lapdog". Yes, the US should have a foreign policy that aggressively pursues its national interests around the globe, and offers clear and unequivocal support for its allies, including the UK and, yes, Israel. "Nation-building", on the other hand, is typically a fool's errand, and nearly always a waste of resources.

You give off a distinct whiff of Harry's Plaice.

I've followed a couple of links posted here to Harry's Place, but found a distinct anti-American undercurrent among the commentariat there rather off-putting - at least in the posts that were linked. Maybe it was just a "troll infestation" those days, but I had no desire to investigate further.

sackcloth and ashes

It is worth bearing in mind that during the course of his somewhat hormonal rant Cass Attaq doesn't actually describe that policy the USA (and the UK) should have actually followed with reference to Saddam's Iraq.

Sort of proves my point, really.

Cass Attaqq (The Rant is Back)

@sack

I'm interested to know: was Hitch intellectually dishonest, ranting, etc in his oft-expressed desire to see Kissinger prosecuted for war-crimes? Do you agree with him? If you do, does that mean the KR & Co are off the hook? If you don't, does that make Hitch as contemptible as Chomsky, who also believes Kissinger is a war-criminal?

Anyway, Sack, you're one of those difficult opponents who use schooling tactics. A predator faced with a single item of prey doesn't have to think much. A swirling mass of prey is more difficult. Similarly, one bad line of argument is easy to respond to. A swirling mass of bad arguments, on the other hand... But I'll try and select some highlights.

Let us firstly take your claim that Nixon and Kissinger are to blame for the Cambodian genocide...

Pure neo-con: self-righteous distortion and dishonesty, fugget the facts. I say N and K "materially assisted the rise of the Khmer Rouge": this turns into a "claim" that N and K "were to blame". No, I think something called Marxism played its part too. If the U.K. got bombed heavily and the S.W.P. wriggled to power in the aftermath, the S.W.P. would be to blame for the mass murder and torture that followed. But the bombing would still have materially assisted their rise. I don't know whether the bombing of Cambodia was necessary to put the K.R. in power. I do know it wasn't sufficient, but it did help them, beside being a crime in itself.

That is unless you're happy peddling lies that exculpate the KR for committing one of the worst crimes against humanity in 20th century history.

And now I'm "peddling lies" to "exculpate" the KR. Please point to my lies about the KR. Please point to my exculpation of the KR. Or admit that you are one or more of things:

1) Dishonest and hysterical.
2) Deluded and hysterical.
3) Unable to understand simple English.

And you've got your onion-and-violin out again. I do not need to be reminded that torture and mass murder are crimes against humanity or that the KR did a lot of both. You're like Hitch: constantly reminding yourself you're on the Side of Goodness, Purity and Truth. It's a Trot trait, or rather a True-Believer trait. You're in it for the righteous thrills. Facts and logic come later, if at all.

So if you are talking about 'genocide enablers', why aren't you bothered about what these countries did?

Mindreading again. When Chomsky used Goebbels and Himmler as examples of people who believed in free-speech-within-limits, did that mean he wasn't bothered about Stalin and Yagoda?

Do you actually know that Iraq was armed by states other than the USA and UK, or do you not care, because you've found a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam?

Yes, I have heard. I've also heard that France armed Argentina when it was another fascist ally of the U.S. (see Hitch-22). I am thankful France does not have America's power and influence, because I doubt the world would be better for it. However, I knew that a neo-con would not need reminding about Old Europe and its wicked ways. I also knew that a neo-con would not WANT reminding about that picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking the blood-stained hand of a totalitarian despot. It's a gift that goes on giving, a bit like herpes.

As for your comments about Chomsky not actually being in any way connected with the atrocities committed by those he has provided apologias for, do you think that should give him a free pass? Do you think that a man who said that 'Year Zero' wasn't happening, and who added his voice to those denying the enormity of Serb war crimes in Bosnia is worthy of anything other than our contempt? Because if you don't, your contributions to this thread should end here and now.

When you say things like that, it makes me wonder whether you'd be letting me post again if this blog were under your control. As I said, neo-cons are totalitarian. You're a good example. You're trying to dictate to me what I should feel about Chomsky. If I don't feel it, you would prefer me silent or silenced. If the neo-cons had founded America, there would be no First Amendment. After all, who needs free speech when the Eternal Truth is already revealed and plainly visible to all of good will and pure heart? OK, the Eternal Truth needs adjusting, from time to time, but we know what it is at any particular moment and anyone who disagrees is simply contemptible and should shut up. And would be shut up, if the neo-cons had their way.

You say Chomsky denied Year Zero; Hitchens said he didn't. I'm with Hitch. Chomsky is a slippery and dishonest writer, beside simply being a bad writer, but I don't think he has ever denied objective historical facts. I prefer Hitch as a writer, as a thinker, and as a person, but I decide for myself who I feel contempt for. Funnily enough, I don't feel it for Kissinger, but I do for Blair, and Blair's much less of a villain than Kissinger. I suppose it's because Kissinger is intelligent and an adult, and Blair is neither.

As for Hitchen's confrontation with the SSNP, it is on record (see Michael Totten's 'The Road to Fatima Gate') that he confronted a bunch of fascists. As anyone with a dictionary to hand knows the term 'to confront' means '1.Meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent. 2.Face up to and deal with (a problem or difficult situation)'. Hitchens tore down a poster put up by a far-right party despite being warned not to do so, and he didn't back down when he was accosted. But then you are someone who has 'certainly risked injury' for his beliefs. You're such a hero, aren't you (sarcasm off).

I know you've left your teens, because you wouldn't have been fighting in Iraq in 2004 otherwise. But you certainly argue like a teenager.

“Had I really understood what I was doing on my little anti-swastika excursion, I would not have done it.” -- C. Hitchens, Hitch-22.

He did not "confront" the fascists. He inadvertently put himself into a dangerous situation that he "dealt with" by luck, as he himself admitted. Your feeble grasp of English semantics is apparent again in "accosted". The fascist didn't want to rebuke Hitch or debate the finer points of free speech with him: the fascist wanted to hold him while back-up arrived to kill him. Hitch didn't have a chance to "back down": he had a chance to escape with his life. I am glad he took that chance. I am glad that Orwell survived the bullet through the throat that he received while confronting fascism in Spain. I am glad you survived while confronting fascism (in another form) in Iraq. "Confront" is the right and honest word for what you and Orwell did. It is not the right and honest word for what Hitch did. Or rather, had done to him without his seeking it out. See quote above.

Your rant also highlights one of the points about Chomskyite hypocrisy, as it basically involves condemning Uncle Sam for either appeasing, blockading or bombing dictatorial regimes, whilst ignoring the role of any other country involved. That is intellectually dishonest.

OK. I'm an "intellectually dishonest" "ranter" because, in brief comments on a blog, I don't contrive to list everyone culpable in Saddam Hussein's crimes or write a comprehensive history of the Khmer Rouge. And I'm also guilty of "hysteria", according to you. With you neo-cons, it's not HOW your opponents disagree, it's THAT your opponents disagree. True-Believer syndrome again. With True Believers, the slightest, politest, most reasonable questioning of any aspect of the Eternal (albeit Adjustable) Truth is automatically hysteria, intellectually dishonest and a rant.

To repeat: You're in it for the righteous thrills. Facts and logic come later, if at all. In your assessment of what I've written, not at all. But thank you for confirming my beliefs about neo-cons and their effect on politics.

sackcloth and ashes

'I'm interested to know: was Hitch intellectually dishonest, ranting, etc in his oft-expressed desire to see Kissinger prosecuted for war-crimes?'

That was his opinion and he was entitled to it.

'Anyway, Sack, you're one of those difficult opponents who use schooling tactics'.

Some people do need some serious schooling, Cass. You're one of them.

'I say N and K "materially assisted the rise of the Khmer Rouge"'

Pardon me for stating the bleeding obvious, but you don't 'assist the rise' of any revolutionary movement by bombing them. The very fact that you are going through the process of dropping ordnance from war planes to kill KR (along with Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops) usually indicates an intention to do the reverse.

Let's also turn this point around. Supposing Nixon and Kissinger take an alternative course of action, and they don't drop bombs on Eastern Cambodia. Is there any reason for thinking that there would have been a different outcome to the Cambodian civil war, and that the Chinese and North Vietnamese-backed KR would not have seized power (the short answer to that question is 'no', by the way)? It also points to a key flaw in your thinking, which is that the US government is damned for whatever course of action it takes, be it over Cambodia, Kosovo, or Iraq. You cannot argue that Uncle Sam should be condemned for appeasing mass murderers, for sanctioning them and for overthrowing them. That is what we adults refer to as 'inconsistency'.

'I do not need to be reminded that torture and mass murder are crimes against humanity or that the KR did a lot of both'.

Seeing as this is the first time you've made such an admission, I think I reminder was in order.

'I've also heard that France armed Argentina when it was another fascist ally of the U.S ...'

I notice that during the course of this paragraph you miss out the Russians, the Chinese and the Arabs. And for that matter any other non-Western power that aided and abetted Saddam's regime. Nice little trick, that.

'When you say things like that, it makes me wonder whether you'd be letting me post again if this blog were under your control'.

Aw diddums ... don't we like the nasty man saying rude things? Dry your eyes out, princess. If you can't take someone like me pointing out that your arguments are stupid, ill-informed and obnoxious, don't start screaming about censorship.

My point to you (which you missed in your hissy fit) is that if you are trying to exculpate Chomsky for his apologias for mass murderers, and his acts of Irvingite revisionism, you should say so and leave it at that. If you are not, then essentially there's very little further discussion to have (although there's quite a lot of remedial reading for you to do).

'Chomsky is a slippery and dishonest writer, beside simply being a bad writer, but I don't think he has ever denied objective historical facts'.

I have just shown you twice that that is not the case. He denied the fact that the KR were slaughtering Cambodians during the 1970s, and he denied the fact that the Bosnian Serbs were torturing and murdering Bosniaks in concentration camps during the early 1990s.

For someone of barely concealed immaturity (hence your incoherent rants and your somewhat desperate havering over the precise meaning of the word 'confront'), you throw around accusations of childishness quite easily. I'm sorry that you don't like being called an ignorant hypocrite, but the way to deal with that is to actually take the time and trouble to educate yourself about the issues that get you het up, and also to try and adopt a consistent point of view. Not one that - like Chomsky himself - switches and turns as circumstances dictate.

I'm also waiting for you to tell us what the US and British governments should have done with reference to Saddam's Iraq. What would have been the best course of action, morally speaking, if 'business as usual', sanctions and regime change all constitute crimes against humanity.

Cass Attaqq

Aw diddums ... don't we like the nasty man saying rude things? Dry your eyes out, princess. If you can't take someone like me pointing out that your arguments are stupid, ill-informed and obnoxious, don't start screaming about censorship.

As I said, you certainly argue like a teenager. But I accept that your self-righteousness and self-love are anamolously adult rather than typically teen.

your somewhat desperate havering over the precise meaning of the word 'confront'...

It's not a question of "precise meaning", dear: it's a question of a supposed literate adult being unable to understand simple English. I've undergone a painful experience and returned to Hitch-22. No wonder you're such a fan of his: he's a posturing, self-righteous windbag too. Anyway, here is Hitch's "confrontation" with fascists, in his own words. He begins scribbling on a poster and...

...I managed a four-letter word or so before being grabbed very hard from behind. A weaselly but wiry little tough guy kept hold of my jacket while speed-dialing for back-up with his other hand... there were suddenly gaunt-looking creeps everywhere, with wolfish expressions on their faces... [W]hat scared me most was the way the first man wouldn't let go of me... I got a kicking and a smacking when the gang found its courage... but in the end there were enough bystanders around to make further horror difficult for the SSNP [Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party] to bring off. They did terrify one cab driver into refusing us, but a second cabbie was bolder and we contrived to speed away... Attempting to salvage a rag of pride from my having fled the scene, I did my stuff as best I could. With a group of tough Druze members of the Socialist Party I went back to the same corner an hour later to find it unpatrolled... (Hitch-22, Atlantic Books, Londonistan, "Something [More] of Myself", pg. 348)

So, you thought Hitch "confronted" fascists and Hitch thought he "fled" fascists. I'll have another "hissy fit" and ask you to admit, like the big brave anti-fascist warrior you are, that your description of that incident as a "confrontation" was evidence of one or more of these things:

a) Inability to understand simple English.
b) Dishonesty.
c) Pathological bias.

Which is it, SA? a, b, or c? All three? I doubt very much your ego will let you admit you were wrong, but if not, I'll simply be thankful again for further proof of what neo-cons are like.

Btw, just to show that, unlike you, I can see both sides of an argument, here's a line from Hitch I agree with:

Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward [Said] in the final instance believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action. (Hitch-22, "Edward Said in Light and Shade", emphasis Hitchens')

It's a fairly crisp summary by Hitch's windy standards. But this would have been better:

Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward [Said] believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be right.

More to follow. I look forward either to reading or to not reading your nea culpa (sic).

Steve

Cass Attaq,

Out of interest, do you believe that that nice Mr Obama "...preferred to wage war with his mouth from a safe distance..." when he ordered the US to intervene in Libya? (I don't think he put himself in any danger there but perhaps you can correct me).

While you're putting us right on that one could you just clear up whether Tony Blair was a "bloodthirsty, arrogant, cultish, totalitarian" etc. neo-con for deciding to order military interventions in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, or does the evil neo-con label only apply to the military intervention in Iraq?

It's confusing. I'd love some help with this.

Cass Attaqq

@steve

Out of interest, do you believe that that nice Mr Obama "...preferred to wage war with his mouth from a safe distance..." when he ordered the US to intervene in Libya? (I don't think he put himself in any danger there but perhaps you can correct me).

Oh, I see. If I dislike the blundering ignoramus Bush, I must be a fan of the smarmy narcissist Obama.

While you're putting us right...

Not my job. For the Eternal (albeit Adjustable) Truth, apply elsewhere.

on that one could you just clear up whether Tony Blair was a "bloodthirsty, arrogant, cultish, totalitarian" etc. neo-con for deciding to order military interventions in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, or does the evil neo-con label only apply to the military intervention in Iraq?

Blair wasn't a neo-con. Blair did in politics what he did at Fettes: got away with it. He is the most interesting non-entity in recent history. Perhaps of all history.

It's confusing. I'd love some help with this.

Can't supply any, I'm afraid. Just face it: the world will always be confusing to teens. That's why they take refuge in True Belief. See Hitch-22.

Steve

Cass,

For one so apparently articulate and not lacking intelligence, a surprisingly stupid response.

"Oh, I see. If I dislike the blundering ignoramus Bush, I must be a fan of the smarmy narcissist Obama."

Really? That's what you thought I was saying? What I actually wanted you to confirm, as I suspect you know only too well, is whether actions / words promoting military action by ANYONE who will not have to participate directly in the action are illegitimate in your eyes as is heavily implied by your assertion that "Orwell groupie Hitch preferred to wage war with his mouth from a safe distance." Is this the case? As someone fast approaching my 50th birthday this would rule me out from expressing any opinion about the need for military action, anywhere. Is that what you are saying Cass? What about if I am expressing displeasure at the prospect of military action? Is that allowed because, in your opinion, being 'against' war is in some way superior to being 'for' war even if, as in the case of Saddam's Iraq, the war proposed would be against a genuine monster? Are you happy for foreign policy debate to be conducted on such skewed foundations?

“Not my job.”

So you are, in the great tradition of the left (though, Chomsky fetish aside, you don’t appear to be wholly of the left), happy to make grand pronouncements which you feel under no obligation to explain. Good to know.

“Blair wasn't a neo-con.”

A dictionary definition:
“Neo-conservative: n
a right-wing tendency that originated amongst supporters of the political left and has become characterized by its support of hawkish foreign policies.”

What exactly is there about that description that doesn’t fit TB?

WTP

Can one really argue with the reasoning by which C. Attaqq eschews Chomsky or hammers Hitchens? Both from a safe distance, of course. The latter most impervious. That factor aside, and while I certainly lack the skill or background for this discussion, I've frequently observed this sort of analysis and it always leaves me wondering what the philosopher is for? These two giants, for better or worse, said something. Both probably too much, so it is easy to find many faults in two lifetimes' worth of blather. But they did have something to say in the context of their times. Who might CA say did/would/could have done a better job? What can CA, given his laser sharp perceptions, tell us about the real, discrete decisions that face us today. e.g. should I vote Romney or Obama? Gary Johnson? Jill Stein? Virgil Goode?

Cass Attaqq

a surprisingly stupid response...

No, a speedy one. War is always bad, but can be the lesser of two evils. If a vital national interest is at stake, I can support it. WW2 and the Falklands War, yes; Blair's wars, no. But the Falklands War could have been avoided.

As Blair and SA prove, politics is often most usefully illuminated by psychology. Or psychiatry.

More on neo-cons later.

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll