the anti-Chomskÿng ☭
or “That’s Enough of Noam Chomsky”
something that should have been said louder and long ago by wiser, more learned, and better scholars than me
Noam Chomsky is the most overestimated and over-appreciated political theorist in modern history. He is maybe the worst “leftist” “intellectual” (I need more quotes, the sarcasm might not be resonating!) of them all. The amount of — not only unearned respect — but literally complete deference to Chomsky as the source of their opinions from so many anarchists, social democrats, and other so-called leftists — is the most undeserved and unearned approbation in leftist history. To call his following a cult is to do a disservice to its size. Noam Chomsky’s political hot takes are like a toxic brain fungus that infect all leftist discourse that they come into contact with.
The number of people who have no idea what ‘anarcho-syndicalism’ means, yet call themselves anarcho-syndicalists because it’s what Chomsky calls himself. The number of people that literally have no idea what to think on foreign policy until they get Chomsky’s take. The number of people who dedicate their lives and time to this failure of a philosopher. And more than anything, the number of anarchists endlessly using those fucking obscene hot takes on Lenin and Marx from Chomsky, as the (one and) only source they need to spew the nonsense, “Lenin was a right wing opportunist!” I cannot think of another single quote that has done this much ideological damage in the West — he deliberately attempts to make Marx seem unimportant and Lenin counter-revolutionary. Though Noam Chomsky is not without his moments of genuine insight, encyclopedic knowledge, or clever thought, the amount of terrible takes coming from him, all his life, has greatly exceeded the small number of good ones, and the overestimation of him in every capacity from the left has been disastrous.
Noam Chomsky the Linguist
Where to even begin with Chomsky? It really needs to start with his very claim to fame — Noam Chomsky the Enlightened Linguist. Chomsky became famous as an academic in the 60’s for his contributions to linguistics. This, indeed, is how Noam Chomsky rose to prominence and earned his reputation as an intellectual, and the original source from which this now flowing river of respect and reverence once began. But take a step back and look at this man’s legacy to academia. We are expected to give him time and credence for his political takes, because of his stature as a linguist. But many of his definitive ideas and contributions as a linguist are now in question and doubt, and the centerpiece of his life’s work is now almost definitively wrong.
Put as simply as possible, [Chomsky] argues that the ability to speak and understand a language cannot be explained in purely empirical terms. (1979)
This notion is now quite demonstrably false. This isn’t to take away from the notion that Chomsky helped develop or advance the field, but we also need to recognize that his larger conception for ‘how it all works,’ was actually off-base and an inaccurate understanding of the world. If we were to compare Chomsky’s work to another profession — say that of a physicist, it could be suggested that Chomsky’s work — while meticulous and detailed and deep — used models which all rejected the Higgs Boson and now have to be discarded. Or another physics analogy — that he was one of the leading minds contributing to supersymmetry. Yes, he might have still made some meaningful developments, even changed the way we understand the subject, and inspired other linguists, but others have done it better and surpassed him and supplanted him in explaining language and the material world, yet they receive none of this same reverence. In the field of Linguists, Chomsky is far and away the most famous, but he’s no longer the leading thinker, or even still in the running for that honour.
This ‘academic cred’ as the world’s best and most renown linguist is supposed to be what sets a Noam Chomsky political take apart from a Bill Nye the Science Guy political take, except that Bill Nye’s credentials are still doing material work. So this leads to the argument that Chomsky’s real credentials as an intellectual and an academic must actually lie in his activist viewpoints and political dissidence — him being a linguist is actually unimportant, because his politics are what matters most and what he is really all about. But none of his life’s work here holds up to scrutiny, either (indeed, perhaps he should have stayed confined only to linguistics).
Noam Chomsky the Great Debater
Perhaps you make the claim for Noam Chomsky, the great debater. But what exactly debates are we referring to? Historically, his debate with Foucault stands out as among his most interesting, but many consider it a Foucault victory— and if we Marxists are forced to choose between Foucault and Chomsky for philosophy, it’s Foucault and the contest is not even particularly close. Yet for many of the libertarian leftists (especially the non-anarchist Chomsky fans, in this case), their bookshelves are lined with Chomsky novels, but many cannot reference Foucault without using “everything is a prison” as a meme. It is worth noting that Chomsky himself, though often described as an ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ is not functionally an anarchist, despite how often anarchists reference him or cite him as an authority. But Chomsky is firmly established in the libertarian-left, and is held in a very high regard by many anarchists, social democrats, and left-leaning liberals (the latter is probably the most fair description for Chomsky).
But why is Chomsky this revered debater? His most notable victory comes from when he defeated the reactionary caricature William F. Buckley over the Vietnam War. Indeed, many of his other debates follow a similar pattern — a (not particularly noteworthy) blowhard right wing polemicist embarrasses themselves before Chomsky’s remarkable power to recall specific, relevant details. These victories rarely require Chomsky to take brave or bold political stances, as he often prefers to let his opponents destroy themselves. Perhaps if he were still in his prime Chomsky could stand toe-to-toe with Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk today, and give them what for! We are fortunate (I suppose) that we at least got Slavoj Zizek to debate Jordan B. Peterson, since at least Zizek had some capacity to correct Peterson over misconceptions of Karl Marx. Chomsky has demonstrated no such capacity.
Chomsky’s more contemporary debates largely focus on defending Palestine and 9–11 and opposition to the subsequent wars (indeed, some of Chomsky’s better positions), but none of these really stand out as necessary contributions, and some of them haven’t aged well. Indeed, Noam Chomsky, once seen to be the leading voice in the debate opposing American intervention in the Middle East, Chomsky has since switched sides and offers excuses to prolong and continue American occupation in the Middle East. Quite so, his anti-war track record is not what many of his social democrat fans seem to imagine it to be.
Noam Chomsky the anti-Vietnam War advocate
Are we supposed to remember Noam Chomsky for his (quite soft) opposition to the Vietnam War? The general notion (against the war) itself, is all well-and-good, if unremarkable and extremely common, shared by nearly all of the (even remotely) left-learning individuals of the time; ranging from actual leftists like Angela Davis, to moderate social democrats like George R. R. Martin to establishment hacks like Tom Harkin. None of Chomsky’s takes are significantly better than his contemporaries on this topic, and in retrospect, often they are underwhelming.
Chomsky is one of the stronger lines of defense for liberalism. His sole role is to divert people from radicalism and revolution towards reform and compromise with the Western colonial enterprise. He is a wealthy white man and has an active stake in maintaining his place within the exploiter/oppressor American nation. This is why he landed a job at MIT and defended it during the time when it was actively collaborating with the military in the genocidal/colonial Vietnam War. While actual radical activists were engaging in direct action through protesting the school and calling for the school to either shut down or stop its research that contributed to the genocidal American war machine, Chomsky rejected both and claimed that they should instead push for MIT to create “systems of a purely defensive and deterrent character”. — robinson_cedric
Take, for instance, American Power and the New Mandarins, which spends more time attacking Stalin than it does addressing the war in Vietnam. When it does address the war, it’s quite accurate and informative, but by the end Chomsky’s thesis reverts to how the people mustn’t step out of line beyond just “civil disobedience” and “peaceful protest.” Indeed, with full hindsight, we must now concede that Jane Fonda’s initial response was actually the correct one (and she was wrong to later apologize for it)— the true and proper opposition to the Vietnam War was not to merely oppose or condemn the war, but to take the side of the Vietnamese and join them in their struggle against America! But Chomsky has yet to raise the red banner of Ho Chi Minh; he fails to even offer the Vietnamese the same courtesies he was willing to extend to the Khmer Rouge.
Noam Chomsky the defender of the worst revolution
When it comes to the ‘red flag’ states of the world, Noam Chomsky’s political arguments take, decidedly, take a turn for the worse. While Chomsky’s defense of Pol Pot is often dismissed as some sort of right wing misrepresentation, (which Chomsky himself dismisses as pedantry over numbers and sources) or just a misreading of the numbers and sources; any sincere examination should raise alarm to Chomsky and his points made in defense of Pol Pot. He goes out of his way to excuse ‘excess deaths’ in the Pol Pot regime as “angry peasant mobs” rising up and various entirely natural causes, all unrelated to the intent or decisions of the Khmer Rouge regime. The problem here is not only that Chomsky made a mistake in defending, really, the worst revolution of them all, the problem is that Chomsky never offered this same level of defense or line of argument for Lenin or Ho Chi Minh or Kim Il Sung — he only makes this argument to this extent in defense of Pol Pot. How is it that, of all the revolutionary regimes ever to exist, the “venerable” Noam Chomsky speaks this way only for the Khmer Rouge? In Chomsky’s writings at the time, Pol Pot is quietly implied to be some noble exception with the best of intentions, but Vladimir Lenin is a ‘right wing opportunist self-serving dictator?’ Why does Chomsky offer the revolutionary benefit of the doubt only here, in the absolute most incorrect situation in the latter half of the twentieth century for which to have extended benefit of the doubt? Quite the “oopsie”:
It is indisputable that the United States bombings made the Cambodian tragedy possible, but what reasonable person, let alone intellectual can doubt that Cambodia between 1975 and 1978 suffered,a regime of terror’, with mass killings, brutal forced labour, systemic elimination of cultural life, the abolition of the family, the extraction of confessions, and torture and atrocities of all kinds. Many reliable observers, journalists and relief-workers concur in reporting these things, as do refugee reports, which have been repeatedly checked for consistency.
Of course, [for Chomsky] many [of these] deaths resulted from starvation and disease, and from Chomsky’s favourite cause, “peasant revenge,” but the mass graves surrounding purpose-built villages tell their own story… What then are we to think of Chomsky’s suggestions that the deaths in Cambodia were attributable in large measure to peasant revenge, undisciplined military units out of government control, starvation and disease [etc. — as opposed to being a result of deliberate Khmer Rouge actions.]
It’s also very telling that one of the only moments in his career in which Chomsky actually goes to bat for a ‘red flag’ actually existing socialist state, are for Pol Pot’s Cambodia (who were, coincidentally, NATO-aligned, and opposed by the Vietnamese and Soviets) accompanied later by some minor apologism for China under Mao (specifically when they, too, sided with NATO against the Soviets), and now Rojava (another NATO puppet state). Can there be a pattern discovered in seeing how Chomsky’s goodwill extends only as far as the reach of the same American Empire that he is supposed to be dismantling?
Any of Chomsky’s arguments could just as easily be transposed to any of the numerous early socialist states, but Chomsky is oddly more silent (if not hostile) for all of these regimes that stand in opposition and defiance to the United States and NATO. Even if we offer Chomsky the most generous interpretations for his (mistaken?) defense of Pol Pot, why do so many ‘leftists’ go unbothered by the fact that the main revolutionary socialist movement of the generation that Chomsky was most willing to stick his neck out for was the Khmer Rouge? Why them? Is it a coincidence that the “communist” atrocities that Chomsky is most willing and eager to apologize for are also the ones that Marxists fought most fervently against? Literally.
“Chomsky’s well known views helped lull many people throughout the world into the idle illusion that the horror stories about me Khmer Rouge were either planted by the CIA, fabricated by journalists or both. That is a sorry role. [You are] absolutely right to criticize him.“
— William Shawcross (who, himself, is rather shit)
Noam Chomsky the CIA Asset
This leads into the larger conspiracy theory territory for the criticism of Chomsky. I am neither a conspiracy theorist, nor the appropriate researcher to properly investigate this matter in sufficient detail, but nonetheless, there are loose threads here that need to be tugged at. Noam Chomsky’s connection to the Pentagon date back all the way to his earliest emergence as an intellectual. Chomsky’s loyal cult of lapdogs like Robert Barsky will forever suppress (and possibly cover-up) this relationship, while attempting to keep rank in the large scale intellectual retreat over Chomsky’s abstractionist linguistics. It nonetheless seems that Noam Chomsky’s close ties to the American state continue to this day. How many other radical leftists do you recall being good friends with the Director of Central Intelligence? (An irrelevant coincidence, surely!) Noam Chomsky is not an intellectual replacement for Lenin; he’s Ellen DeGeneres for the champagne socialist.
“[John M. Deutch] has more honesty and integrity than anyone I’ve ever met in academic life, or any other life… If somebody’s got to be running the C.I.A., I’m glad it’s him.”
Is Noam Chomsky ultimately a CIA puppet? I have doubts that it runs that deep (not that it even needs to), but Chomsky’s track record in opposing CIA action is checkered, at best. Chomsky’s long list of close ties to the American state is, itself, worthy of closer inspection, and even the most ardent Chomsky defender has to take a moment to consider just why a supposedly anti-establishment leftist is so closely connected to the establishment. Certainly, it’s possible, but the fact is that none of the arguments presented here for a Chosmky-CIA connection are even necessary for the larger rejection of Chomsky as a leftist intellectual. The larger arguments against Noam Chomsky eclipse his intent. Chomsky’s ideas and idealism are far worse than his motivations, no matter how bad his motivations may be.
The New York Times has repeatedly labelled Noam Chomsky ”the most important intellectual alive.” That should really be a warning sign. This means that the corporate media would like you to share that same sentiment about Noam Chomsky — yet obviously not because of his (declining) credentials as a linguist, but neither can his (at best, mixed) political takes support the enormous mass of this statement. The claim rests overwhelmingly upon ideology.
Noam Chomsky the totally groundbreaking and original author
Of course, this is where we must discuss Noam Chomsky’s most lauded and celebrated work, and the gold standard source for critiquing the public news media misinformation, Manufacturing Consent. In case you are the last leftist on Earth to be made familiar with this book (and also movie), it is regarded as a landmark work, carefully detailing, describing, and unwinding the methods and mechanics of how news media delivers propaganda to the public, all without requiring some central ministry of propaganda to direct the numerous, separate, private news institutions. Even Marxists have a tremendous respect for the level of work and analysis that went into Manufacturing Consent, and continue to use it to this day as a tool for deconstructing media narratives. There is, however, a problem.
For you see, only two years before the publication of Manufacturing Consent, there came another leftist publication, Inventing Reality by Michael Parenti. To those unfamiliar, in many ways, Parenti is to Marxist-Leninists what Noam Chomsky is to (some) anarchists and (most) social democrats. Parenti had, in many ways taking up the mantle from Althusser, as the last great Marxist-Leninist philosopher left standing in the West. His arguments were compelling, his vocation superb, and his philosophy posed a genuine threat to the West — strong and compelling arguments for their citizens to side with the USSR! The Commies! Compare Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent to Michael Parenti describing his work, Inventing Reality, and you begin to immediately see the problem.
Even if you want to give Chomsky as much benefit of the doubt as possible here, does it not, at least, look like he unwittingly borrowed from Parenti or his work? If Parenti had not been a communist, I suspect he would have all the reasonable recourse to call for a deeper investigation here. It very much looks like Chomsky has taken a significant influence from Parenti’s analysis; could not some of the ‘brilliance’ of Manufacturing Consent have been borrowed from here? And not only borrowed, but arguably defanged — as Parenti is a hardline defender of actually existing socialist states and offers strong, challenging philosophical argument in their defense, Chomsky instead quietly avoids or dismisses any of those ‘incorrect’ notions from his work, and replaces them with empty liberalism. Can we call into question the pinnacle work of mighty Noam Chomsky? Whether Chomsky may have taken (unintentionally, or not) and watered down key points from a more revolutionary work, and then rebranded and resold it to the liberal public in safe liberal packaging — or not?— is a question more of us should be asking.
If you click on and read only one of the hyperlinks in this entire essay, click on this one, (or this one) because Michael Parenti is the antidote to Chomsky’s poison.
Noam Chomsky the exceptional American Patriot
Despite being a vocal critic of so many of America’s crimes and atrocities through the years, it also seems that, for Chomsky, America can nonetheless, do no wrong (and seemingly never ever enough for anyone to be justified in taking the ‘oppose America with violence’ position). Noam Chomsky seems to be a man of great internal contradiction. He derides America as a one party state, but then praises it for it’s freedom while recommending that we vote for Bloomburg! He can look at and acknowledge American atrocities — among the worst ever committed — in one minute, but then proceed to defend and uphold the same United States committing the atrocities, in the following minute. And American atrocities know no limit, but somehow, to Chomsky, are always less-awful than the Reds.
For example, here, Noam Chomsky makes the argument that America could not possibly be torturing at Guantanamo Bay — as if America, the nation founded on slavery and racism, was too noble for such an act. Hardly! The United States openly celebrates torture, (indeed, one can recall the ways that opposition to torture was booed at Republican conventions) as if it were some crowning achievement ruthlessly repressed by the left. Just shortly before Chomsky even made that statement, this was a nation that was cheering on the idea of letting those without healthcare die. None of these facts stop Chomsky from showering America with undeserved praise:
So, yes, the United States is a very free country, in fact it’s the freest country in the world. I don’t think freedom of speech, for example, is protected anywhere in the world as much as it is here.
-Noam Chomsky, ignoring that the United States ranks 45th in Press Freedom
Chomsky seems to be both well aware and simultaneously oblivious to the hypocrisy of his American exceptionalism (something that he generally denies, but then proceeds to participate in). Can you think of another “harsh” critic of American foreign policy that gushes over America the same way that Chomsky does? He will often criticize the American government, but give a near total pass to the American people, as if more than a third (and over half in many cases) of them are not cheering on these same atrocities being committed by the same American government agencies. Chomsky can create the longest and most detailed lists of American crimes, but then draws no meaningful conclusions and offers no meaningful solutions for his list (vague notions of democracy and worker power)— least of all direct opposition (with violence) against the people committing them.
Noam Chomsky the unreliable bad friend
Which leads into the more recent Noam Chomsky, which is more of an amalgamation of shit takes and imperialist propaganda, tied together with handfuls of perfectly adequate left-leaning think pieces that ultimately don’t offer much. But this is another of the times in which Chomsky goes from merely being frustrating and ideologically harmful, to becoming genuinely upsetting and materially harmful. It is a clear demonstration of what kind of a shitty political ally Noam Chomsky actually is, and should be seen as a dire warning to any fool placing any level of trust in Chomsky’s statements or convictions. Indeed, here we see he can be rolled back so easily and quickly, especially when refusing to roll over is what matters the most. We are, of course, discussing Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and his successor (both politically and ideologically) Nicolás Maduro.
Now some quick context on Noam Chomsky and the general views that he expresses about socialism (we will get to Marx and Lenin, themselves, shortly). As already mentioned, Chomsky opposed nearly all the red-flag Marxist revolutions of the twentieth century, condemning them for their “authoritarian” left nature, their repression and restriction, their lack of (bourgeois!) democracy, and lack of ground-up organization. ‘This was the wrong way to do it,’ Chomsky decried. ‘Violence was not the answer!’ Chomsky wanted to see “Democratic Socialism!” and victory at the ballot box. And so, through the 2000’s, he would get to see his wish fulfilled, as the Pink Tide rolled across Latin America, bringing (among others) to power Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, winning elections cleanly and promising (wholesome, libertarian-left style) democratic socialism on a scale never seen before in Latin America.
The Hugo Chavez project in Venezuela is one that Noam Chomsky enthusiastically and overwhelmingly supported and endorsed in the decade leading up to 2016. And so too, did Chavez enthusiastically endorse Noam Chomsky. It was a match made in heaven! Indeed, Chavez reforms were met with great success (but also great resistance and ire from the United States), resulting in the absolutely amazing improvement in quality of life for the poorest in Venezuela. But as Venezuela slowly drifted leftwards, the United States responded with absolutely crippling sanctions and embargoes, debilitating the economy and allowing America to play a narrative of “Maduro is a dictator” — lies and deceptions! — over and over until enough popular Western support for a fresh coup (or several) emerged. Not that this was new, the United States has been launching coups at Venezuela for decades now, but this increasingly turned into a major political focus for the United States around 2015, and so too did Chomsky turn with them. Chomsky was still offering soft defenses for Venezuela as late as 2015, but overwhelmingly turns hostile from 2016 onward.
This was a vile betrayal. Chomsky turned on Maduro, and the tone and presentation of Venezuela, the Chavez-project, and Chomsky’s timed-with-hostile-intent Maduro-criticism marks a stark contrast to Chomsky’s previous tone and depiction of the government and movement to that point. And most of all, this is done despite Maduro being an explicit continuation of Chavezism, not a deviation away from it! The actually existing project of democratic socialism, when placed under serious adversity, somehow became too real for Noam.
Noam Chomsky the worse-than-absent defender of democratic socialism
These were the years in which ‘democratic socialism’ in Venezuela needed support most from it’s allies and from intellectual voices around the world. To his credit, Chomsky did, in as low-effort a manner as possible — sign a letter — condemning Juan Guaidó and the American’s blatant, reckless, failed coup. But this was sandwiched between essays and articles and interviews from Chomsky, all the while as he was criticizing and attacking Maduro from the sidelines, calling Maduro names, and reinforcing narratives provided from the fascists and reactionaries and imperialists and coupmongers. These are the moments when words and statements really count from something, and Chomsky deflected, with harsh, overblown criticism for the administration, at the worst possible time — in their hour of need. This was not a time for critical support, this was just a time for support, and Chomsky dined and dashed from the social justice restaurant just as the bill was coming due. You don’t release your largest and most condemning article, absolutely shitting all over a project you once supported, right in the middle of a time when the United States was illegally trying to stage a coup in that country! Even if the essay is full of constructive criticism, it only serves to benefit the coup by releasing it in that heated moment. That was a really, really shitty thing to do, Noam.
Indeed, Chomsky and his unthinking libertarian-left follows found themselves in the unique political position of embracing a centre-left (bourgeois) democratic socialist revolution, only to abandon it the moment that the United States began to apply pressure (and right as it started to resemble a more serious attempt at something that might begin resembling socialism). Indeed, Maduro is fortunate that he made these ‘authoritarian’ and ‘corrupt’ reforms, (as well as Chavez before him) as they are likely the reason why he is still standing, while his fellow (and slightly more libertarian) democratically elected Chavez-follower Evo Morales is not. How Chosmky misses the point —” authoritarianism” offers protection for the democracy, and absence of it allows for easy forced regime change. Yet, it’s very telling that we see the Western mainstream media depict Morales the exact same way that they depict Maduro.
Again, this is a telling moment tothe political confusion of Americans — especially the rest of the libertarian left. Only after the fact (months after, in many cases), do so many of them finally lament the overthrow of Evo Morales, despite being largely absent and silent in the lead up to when the fascists came for him (it was Marxist-Leninists and the ‘authoritarian’ left who would speak most loudly in Morales defense while he was being removed!). When Morales needed the support the most from the libertarian left, it overwhelmingly failed to materialize (Chomsky’s attacks on Maduro resulted in many of those libertarian leftists distancing themselves or even abandoning what was left of the Chavez-movement). Indeed, one of the only voices to speak out in Morales’ defense both before and during the coup was none other than his good friend Maduro:
To his credit, Chomsky would also release an article quietly condemning the Morales coup, but somehow the actual lesson was completely lost on Chomsky. Maduro and Morales were very much cut from the same political cloth (very libertarian left, very open, very democratic, very participatory, very ‘ground up’ democratic socialism — all the things that Chomsky pines for most longingly, but spits up the moment he is given a sample). There was not a split between them, and they did not deviate away from one another ideologically. It’s just that when the pressure came, like Chavez before him, Maduro embraced that “authoritarian” side of the left — just a little bit more than Morales. For that, Chomsky was more than willing to abandon and condemn Maduro, but then he speaks of the loss of Morales as being a tragedy (with a serpent tongue!).
What extremely flexible and bendable values Chomsky must hold to claim to support one and critically condemn the other. Please make no consideration of the mutual alliance, trust, partnership, and cooperation between the two, as if they were not part of the same movement and fighting for all of the same things. But to Noam Chomsky and his ilk, one is great and the other is bad, all despite their ideological positions and decisions being nearly identical, and operating with the same intent (and so too, coming under the same media attacks!). Noam Chomsky must be deliberately obtuse to somehow miss how his own beloved ‘democratic socialist’ projects came under hostile external pressure, and the one that ended up a little more authoritarian survived, while the one that stayed ideologically pure enough for Chomsky is now in the hands of fascism. It’s almost as if all those socialist states that Chomsky hates don’t actually want to be authoritarian, but end up there as a result of material conditions (in this case, we could call them survival mechanisms), rather than sinister intentions of their “wicked” leaders.
“Chomsky has enormous respect for those who have failed at revolution, and enormous contempt for those who have succeeded.“ — Stephen Gowans
Noam Chomsky is still oddly silent about the obvious international war crime that was the Macuto Bay Raid (aka Operation Gideon). How does the famous “anti-imperialist” Noam Chomsky fail to offer so much as a verbal condemnation of this Bay of Pigs for the Loser. He has condemned Maduro so often and so frequently in his last five years of writing, but now that Maduro is clearly and explicitly the victim, Chomsky — like the American press — has nothing to offer. If only Chomsky’s categorical errors in support were limited to just this part of the world.
Noam Chomsky the democracy enthusiast
If only we had the time to travel to each and every country in this essay, but alas, we can only visit one more before we get to the meat (oh yes!, we are some forty paragraphs deep and we are only just getting past the frosting). Perhaps we could assemble an entire mock United Nations just from Chomsky shit-takes about the different nations of the world. But we have to take a special aside for one of Chomsky’s worst pet projects, insufferable and increasingly irredeemable, the horrible Shtriga of Bookchinist thought that is Rojava.
In case you have been just ignoring the situation in the Middle East for the past ten years, the shorthand version (from the Chomsky perspective) goes like something like this. During the chaos of the Syrian Civil War, a highly progressive, anarchism-inspired, libertarian-left collective of heroic noble democracy loving Kurds, throw off the “cruel oppression” of the “evil” Bashir al-Assad, and forming their own (semi-)independent autonomous territory in the North of Syria (which just so happens to be where vast amounts of Syrian oil and gas and other resources are located, as if seizing it will not leave the average Syrian worse off), with the support and blessing of the United States. This, highly romanticized depiction, supported feverishly by Chomsky, largely united the libertarian-left in support of this fledgling “democracy.” But the material conditions of Syria paint a starkly different picture.
Rojava has become the overprotected, overchampioned, mollycoddled darling of the libertarian-left for the past decade. This unbridaled love affair has left them utterly blind (intentionally or not) to the vast array of atrocities and crimes of the Rojavans, and their ongoing participation and cooperation with the fucking evil galactic empire that is the United States. Should America have ever gotten it’s war with Iran, we would have expected to see the Rojavans used to fodd the Iranian cannons. And in “upholding their democracy,” the Rojavans have engaged in: ethnic cleansing, brutal repression, looting, cultural erasure and more, mostly targeted at Assyrians, Arabs, and Armenians. Many of the Rojavan war crimes have gotten to the point where they begin to look considerably worse than the crimes for which we were supposed to hate and abandon Bashir al-Assad in the first place!
Doubly troubling is that many of the accusations of atrocities thrown at Assad have turned out to be committed by the Western-aligned “White Helmets,” rather than the Syrian Army. Not to completely absolve Assad, but he is beyond question the least bad of the possibilities. Focusing the discussion on Rojava, and depicting it all entirely from their perspective allows any sincere defense for Assad to be sidelined. You don’t need to even like Assad to admit the truth — an Assad victory is the best possible material outcome for the people living in Syria (and Assad is the only stable faction in Syria not tethered to the United States) but by casually dismissing Assad for atrocities, real or imagined (and all while also conveniently ignoring those of the Rojavans) Chomsky keeps the best plausible ending to a sad story from ever entering into the narrative for many Western leftists.
Noam Chomsky the leftmost Neocon
So when Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling American troops out of Syria (indeed an enormous victory for the people of Syria and for the world), it was none other than Noam Chomsky who answered the call — insisting that American occupation of the Middle East continue, with “saving the Kurds” being a pretext (please tell me again about how well it went for the Americans saving the Iraqis, the Afghans, and others) Indeed, the entire Noam Chomsky libertarian-left one-hit-wonder book club answered the call alongside him! A fresh new pretext for continued American occupation of the Middle East, and it’s coming from Noam Chomsky! John Bolton can only get so erect.
In other articles, he would change his tone, admitting that the USA cares not-at-all for the well being of the Kurds (duh), but then still deflect the intent of the USA as to suggest they should stay to mitigate Russian influence and prevent ISIS resurgence. All as if American presence has nothing-at-all to do with a desire to capture and secure Syria’s oil. Chomsky even criticizes and blames the “anti-imperialist left” (that is, us, the Marxist-Leninists and friends) for not warning the Kurds about the inevitable American betrayal:
No issue of “anti-imperialism” arises if the US leaves a small contingent in Rojava with the mission of deterring further Turkish aggression and providing mostly air support for the Kurdish-led struggle against the Islamic state. It is a serious failure of the anti-imperialist left not to have joined in the meager efforts to warn against the likely Trump betrayal and not to have organized in advance to prevent it.
A deeply ironic statement from Chomsky, as the anti-imperialist left, who had overwhelmingly been backing Bashir al-Assad and the Syrian Army, had attempted to warn the Rojavans, over and over, about the inevitable American betrayal. The fighting between the Americans along with their SDF/YPG allies against the Syrian Army, can only be understood to be naked colonialism and deliberate balkanization of Syria for the benefit of American business . This is being done to the benefit of the West, with the “good guerrillas” of Rojava serving as disposable instruments of the American Empire. And thus, America’s role in the region should be overwhelmingly opposed.
Washington’s … attack on Syrian forces was not the first. “American troops carried out strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad of Syria several times in 2017,” reported the New York Times. In other words, the United States has invaded Syria, is occupying nearly a third of its territory, and has carried out attacks on the Syrian military, and this aggression is supposed to be understood as a defensive response to Syrian provocations . . .
I leave the last word to the Syrian government, whose voice is hardly ever heard above the din of Western war propaganda. The invasion and occupation of eastern Syria is “a blatant interference, a flagrant violation of [the] UN Charter’s principles…an unjustified aggression on the sovereignty and independence of Syria.” None of this is controversial. For his part, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has pointed out incontestably that foreign troops in Syria “without our invitation or consultation or permission…are invaders.” It is time the US invasion and occupation of Syria — illegal, anti-democratic, plunderous, and a project of recolonization — was recognized, opposed, and ended. There is far more to Washington’s long war on Syria than Al Qaeda, the White Helmets and the Kurds. As significant as these forces are, the threat they pose to the Syrian center of opposition to foreign tyranny has been surpassed by a more formidable challenge — the war’s escalation into a US military and diplomatic occupation accompanied by direct US military confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.
It’s here too, that Noam Chomsky frequently resorts to his deceptions of omission. He will frame the debate of ‘saving the Kurds’ entirely as American intervention versus no American intervention, and dismiss the real alternative solution with a quick, token condemnation of Assad (suggesting that solution is simply off the table, and removed from all further discussion). This is all despite Assad’s proven track record of offering protection to the Kurds, ongoing support of the Kurds, and the clear and explicit fact that Assad is the best-case-scenario party to win the Syrian Civil War. It is to Bashir Al-Assad that the left should be throwing their support, but Chomsky and the rest refuse. Indeed, with Turkey now threatening a genocide of the Kurds, and Assad’s Syria being the last best defense for their lives (rather telling how the citizens cheered endlessly when the Syrian Army arrived), it is a marked tragedy of foolish errors and ignorance — worsened greatly by Chomsky — that Rojava spent so much effort ripping apart the Syrian Army, who are now the main force trying to save them.
Noam Chomsky the Unlikely Ally
It is perhaps, domestically, in Chomsky’s home turf of the United States that we get one of his most singularly terrible takes. Indeed, the Donald Trump era has marked a decided turning point in American politics, as it was really the first time since before the fall of the Soviet Union that Western leftists began to drift away from Noam Chomsky’s non-violent, freedom-of-speech respecting philosophies. Not coincidentally, this was when leftists (real leftism, not benign welfare-liberalism) began to slowly retake ideological ground in the United States for the first time in, perhaps, 50 years. Which leads into a historic American moment — the Unite the Right Rally (aka the Charlottesville Protests; aka that time a bunch of fucking Nazis marched through American streets chanting “blood and soil”).
Which leads into the preferred retaliatory measure of the left to stop, or at least slow the Nazi advance in America — deplatforming — a position Chomsky opposes. To Chomsky’s credit, this has been a very consistent position of his as a philosopher for his entire career. That does not make his position any less incorrect, though. Chomsky’s intervention to protect and enshrine platforms for fascists, far-right conspiracy theorists, and others comes from the liberal notion that everyone participating on the platform is doing so with the sincerest of intentions. We are fortunate that the Western left has started moved past this simplistic viewpoint once again, and instead is actively working to combat the Nazis with good old proven repression and violence— those things that Chomsky abhors, but have a strong track record against fascism:
Indeed, for Noam Chomsky, it is actually ANTIFA who are the problem, and the ones enabling Trump. I would accuse Chomsky of projecting with a dim bulb, but that might be the mixed metaphor train running off the rails. The strategies of Antifa, not unlike the 1930s, are the most effective tools the Western left has at the moment to diminish the growing influence and power of Western Nazism. Nonetheless, American fascism has found a (small and limited) unlikely ally in Noam Chomsky, who will happily help protect the fascists turn at the megaphone (as if it will ever be given back). This is a man who doesn’t understand what is going on, and who makes the most generous assumptions about the intents of the parties involved (an action that he would never do for the Soviet Union).
Noam Chomsky the not-all-bad
It is here that I shall break to take but one paragraph to speak in defense of Noam Chomsky. Indeed, one paragraph hardly seems fair, but Chomsky is so showered in praise and so overrated, that it seems that spending even a paragraph in Chomsky’s defense is like a million dollars to Elon Musk out of pity for his twitter meltdowns. But nonetheless, it must be said. Chomsky is not just good, but truly amazing at recalling specific data points on command — yes, like a human encyclopedia. Taken at their most genuine and sincere, Chomsky’s positions suggest that he meaningfully wishes for a considerably nicer world. Many of his essays and novels are not just good, they are often great. They are well written, well sourced, and contain enormous amounts of relevant, specific information that can be quickly referenced. As a researcher, he’s frequently outstanding, and his work can be deeply informative. Yes, Noam Chomsky absolutely has his merits and credentials, and is obviously a brilliant mind. His defence for Palestine and the Palestinians has been mostly above par, and as a critic of American foreign policy, he’s still excellent despite also being very much their servant. The larger conclusion being drawn is that Chomsky is not without his merits, and his merits are not insignificant. But at the same time, the good takes do not wash out the bad, and Chomsky’s shortcomings, deceits, and failures are ultimately far more harmful to the left than whatever good he is providing us.
Noam Chomsky the anti-Marxist
This is Noam at his worst and most harmful. There are two components to this, the Marx component and the Lenin component. The Marx component largely involves marginalizing Marx and treating him as a somewhat minor, but-still-maybe-noteworthy philosopher, for whom he will credit and attribute virtually nothing specific. But the larger theme of what Chomsky does with Marx is something rather sinister — and it is not even clear how much he has actually read Marx in any meaningful attempt — he’s obviously read some, but he’s also obviously not read enough to avoid glaring misconceptions, as Chomsky’s takes on Marx are (frequently!) demonstrated to be inaccurate and confused.
He cannot attack or assail Marx directly, because it would be too undermining to his own positions, and for all of Chomsky’s intellectual clout, Marx eclipses Chomsky like Jupiter eclipses any one of it’s moons. Karl Marx is too important and central a figure for the left to be ignored, except that’s just what Chomsky attempts to do! — to make Marx seem unimportant and disregardable. I know what a nasty trick this is, because I spend a couple paragraphs doing it to Chomsky in this essay (hell, I’ve peppered the entire essay with the notion — but it’s not a trick when I tell you about it, it’s intellectual seasoning). And at least I’ve explicitly read a lot of Chomsky. Chomsky’s understanding of Marx ranges from legitimate but well known takes all the way to confused gibberish, vague content-free statements, and deliberate misrepresentations:
Well, I guess one thing that’s unattractive to me about “Marxism” is the very idea that there is such a thing. It’s a rather striking fact that you don’t find things like “Marxism” in the sciences — like, there isn’t any part of physics which is “Einsteinianism,” let’s say, or “Planckianism” or something like that. It doesn’t make any sense — because people aren’t gods: they just discover things, and they make mistakes, and their graduate students tell them why they’re wrong, and then they go on and do things better the next time. But there are no gods around. I mean, scientists do use the terms “Newtonianism” and “Darwinism,” but nobody thinks of those as doctrines that you’ve got to somehow be loyal to, and figure out what the Master thought, and what he would have said in this new circumstance and so on. That sort of thing is just completely alien to rational existence, it only shows up in irrational domains.
So Marxism, Freudianism: anyone of these things I think is an irrational cult. They’re theology, so they’re whatever you think of theology; I don’t think much of it. In fact, in my view that’s exactly the right analogy: notions like Marxism and Freudianism belong to the history of organized religion.
-Noam Chomsky, proving that he really understands Marxism good.
Similarly, examine Noam Chomsky’s take on dialectics (a basic and fundamental philosophical concept, used continuously and to this day by philosophers and thinkers and scholars and world leaders):
Really take a moment to stop and think about this. Like Noam goes around giving lectures at all these universities, calling himself a philosopher, and none — not one — not a single one of the undoubtedly hundreds or thousands of Hegelians and Marxists and others at all the Universities all around the world that he visits — not a single one of his friends or fellow academics or acquaintances or contemporaries is capable of offering him even some basic conception of what a dialectic is? Is this arrogance coupled with ignorance, or topical cluelessness, or a deceptive and deliberate ruse? Any option would still qualify as intellectual disqualification on the topic. Yet for many of his following, Chomsky gets away with it.
Similarly, another dirty trick in Chomsky’s arsenal is to ignore or marginalize Friedrich Engels (or divorce him from Marx, see the dialectics excerpt again). To illustrate what an intellectual crime this is, it would be akin to discussing the Super Mario Brothers while making absolutely no mention of Luigi (except in reference to the aforementioned Mario Brothers/”Marx and Engels”). This has become an increasingly common deception used by the libertarian left, especially in recent years, as they try to frantically uncouple Marx from Engels (as if they are not part and parcel the same package) and re-contextualize Marx alone as some sort of libertarian-left figure (as mentioned, he’s too important to the left to simply uninstall). This is all done despite Marx’s views being virtually identical to the (incorrectly labelled) more authoritarian Engels, whom is totally and unfairly separated and disregarded by these social democrats. Marx and Engels few disagreements were small and insignificant relative to their near total ideological overlap. The reason this is important is because it allows Chomsky (and other lib-leftists) to never have to address the original Marxist arguments made in defense of (what Chomsky calls) “authoritarianism,” as the philosophical lines of argument extend overwhelmingly from Engels. Much easier to address them by treating those “authoritarian” ideas of Lenin and friends as a sinister deviation from good old “libertarian” (eyeroll) Marx, rather than a direct extrapolation and continuation of Marx’s life’s work.
If this essay isn’t nearly long enough for you, here, enjoy this archived Michael Parenti vs Noam Chomsky book.
Noam Chomsky the anti-Leninist
Somehow, Noam Chomsky’s takes on Lenin and the Soviet Union are exponentially worse than his takes on Marx. Whereas Marx, to Chomsky, is a kind and confused unremarkable old man who may had inadvertently stumbled across a clever notion or two about history, Lenin (despite spending his entire life’s work devoted to further developing Marxism and socialism) was actually a big mean sinister trickster, actually right wing, who then saw the opportunity and seized all the power for himself to become the evil self-serving dictator of Russia (I’m embellishing, but not by a noticeable amount). The following video is widely circulated among the libertarian left — often as their primary source when rejecting Lenin (or even offered as excuse for refusing to read Lenin!) — and it is both ill-informed and damaging:
If you are in need a quick detailed breakdown of specific points where Chomsky is either misleading or outright lying, kc_socialist has an excellent short written response, explaining the first several minutes of the video. And for a a more comprehensive historical materialist breakdown, see IanBurke’s brilliant, fulfilling answer below.
Here (and in this popular video) we see Chomsky making an analysis of Lenin that is completely devoid of historical materialism. Now, Chomsky makes multiple errors of historical fact here**, but I want to focus on his method of analysis specifically, which is from a more idealistic perspective.
First, he focuses singly on Lenin as a mastermind controlling events and people. He is, probably unconsciously, following the great man theory (or hero-mob if you prefer) — acting as though a few “great people” and their ideas make history. So, instead of material factors ( economic factors, supplies, industrial development, as well as military invasion, etc) affecting things we just have Lenin’s will dictating how things turns out. In this way of viewing things history is just some “great” good guys/ideas and bad guys/ideas duking it out and making decisions a complete vacuum — using the “ignorant masses” as a tool for their good/bad idea.
So, he is completely divorcing the Bolsheviks (represented by “great man” Lenin alone here) from the actual conditions they were in. He leads you to believe that Lenin, in complete contrast to what he’d devoted all his life and time to, just didn’t care about building socialism and giving power to the workers, but instead wanted personal political power (an absurd notion). He makes no mention of the [material] conditions of Russia — which was economically destroyed, just coming out of a world war, facing famine, and facing foreign invasion on all sides as well as a bloody bourgeois reaction — affecting their policies.
He also criticizes Russia for not living up to Lenin’s “State and Revolution” — a book about how Marx and Engels viewed the state and the transition to socialism/communism in fully industrialized western nations. This is a similar error that many right-wing historians and talking heads make — they often try to compare Cuba, the USSR, etc with the U.S. as though they should be the same in spite of the massive differences in their material conditions. It’s like going on and on about a how terrible a person is at basketball compared to the professionals without mentioning that they’re a high school kid who may well show great talent compared to all people their age.
Another useful scaled down analogy might be to compare the condemnation of revolutionary terror to Che Guevara's execution of a fellow soldier that he writes about having “no remorse” for. This is brought up a lot to show that Che was a heartless monster with blood lust, but it is rarely mentioned that the soldier he killed was in the pay of their enemy and giving away their position causing many of them to die from air raids. Regardless of how we might view Che as a person we can see here the difference context and knowledge of material conditions makes. I am of course dragging complex massive events down to the personal level here myself, but just to make a point as I hope you see.
This works for examining the behavior of “enemies” too — we could claim that capitalists are all individually bad people trying to take advantage of everyone, but is this really useful or true? No, they are a product of capitalism just like the worker is — they typically have an ideology that makes what they do seem moral and natural and are in fact compelled to do so — a capitalist that exploits their workers less loses a competitive edge. It would be a similar mistake to say that a worker sells their labor completely voluntarily when in fact they are compelled to do so by the threat of starvation/homelessness. Capitalist apologists might claim if a person doesn’t like their job they can “move away” or “get another one” things any worker knows are easily said but very difficult to do.
Basically analyzing things from a historical materialist perspective attempts to understand events from how they relate to the material conditions — most basically the forces of production, which influences everything else, whereas non-hist/mat analyses tend to focus on “great individuals” or ideas as the moving forces of history, tends to have some “universal” morality to criticize these individuals with, and disregard (where convenient for whatever their ideological narrative is) the actual conditions of the historical event instead preferring to examine these people as single entities acting in a vacuum.
** For instance his interpretation of Lenin’s views of state capitalism and socialism in Russian is not a very accurate summary at all (Lenin wrote extensively on these matters) and he doesn’t seem to know that though State and Revolution was written in 1917 it wasn’t published until the Bolsheviks, with popular support, had already taken power in 1918 — making his claim that it was published to aid them in taking power make little sense
-IanBurke / StarTrackFan
Noam Chomsky the anti-Communist
At least this is a position that both myself and Noam Chomsky agree on. Noam Chomsky is a frothing anti-communist, with matching bad takes. He calls the fall of the Soviet Union a victory for socialism (ah, yes, that really worked out, didn’t it Noam). In all fairness, he, on rare occasions, speaks nicely about Cuba and other small, isolated socialist projects (again, ignoring Cuban-Soviet ties and friendships, depicting it falsely as a purely political strategic alliance rather than one of fellow communists fighting oppression). But when it comes to those with the size and capacity to shake the foundations of capitalism, Chomsky is overwhelmingly critical and unsupportive.
Chomsky’s especially anti-Soviet takes are among his most harmful, as they feed the most disingenuous, insincere, bad faith, illegitimate, and incorrect arguments against the Soviet Union, and are nearly identical to the same arguments made by the American right wing. It’s impossible to read more than a few pages of Chomsky without a harsh, critical reference to “Stalinist Totalitarianism,” which he uses to smear virtually anything with a hint of Lenin or Stalin’s influence upon it. It is telling how much Chomsky despises those who came closest to defeating and ending imperialism, did the most to resist the American Empire, and came closest to bringing socialism to humanity. Not only, specifically, the Soviets, but everything Soviet-aligned, Chomsky will go out of his way to misrepresent:
It’s wearying to attempt to keep going through all of Chomsky’s writings and videos, but let us take one more example — in the above clip (~8min) Chomsky lies about the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) during the rise of Hitler. Chomsky claims it was the KPD who saw the Social Democrats as being the same as the Nazis, and refused to cooperate. This is an incorrect inversion of events. It was the SPD (the German Social Democrats) who violently put ended Rosa Luxemburg’s Revolution, and hired the Freikorps (the first modern fascists) to put down the KPD. The same Social Democrats Chomsky defends are the ones that go on to endorse Paul Von Hindernburg, paving the way for Hitler to come to power shortly after. It was the Social Democrats, that Chomsky is defending, who enabled fascism, while it was the communists he loathes who fought against it. This example sums up a great many of Chomsky’s anti-communist takes.
Noam Chomsky the ever unrevolutionary Philosopher King
It is finally here, in the penultimate block of this behemoth of a essay, that we finally calcify our central thesis. The libertarian-left, who have largely been the one’s running and representing the leftist movement in the anti-communist United States — have deferred to Chomsky as their defacto intellectual leader and mastermind of much their philosophical framework and intellectual grounding. If there was a single figure that the average libertarian-leftist would overwhelmingly place as being the intellectual muscle of the left, ‘the brains of the operation,’ from even before the 1990’s all the way through until about 2016, the left movement could have easily been described as followers of Chomskyism (there’s no such thing but take my meaning). I’ve lived through all this, been an activist through all this, seen all this among my fellow activists, and I’ve seen what useless and ineffective leadership Chomskyism and Chomsky-thinkers offer.
The problem is not that we are doing the Chomsky wrong, or simply not doing the Chomsky hard enough. The problem is that we are doing the Chomsky at all — as a dance move, it just can’t get it done for us on the left. Look at the ultimate weapon in the Noam Chomsky toolset — the mass strike. If you somehow spend your entire lifetime, carefully cultivating and feeding and caring for your Chomskyism, that it finally makes it to its ultimate level and learns it’s ultimate attack — you realize that all it can really do it call a mass strike, a tactic whose outcome is already known (and obvious really), and offers almost nothing philosophically beyond that. Conversely, the mass strike is a fine intermediate strategy the Marxist-Leninists, but we also know that it does not always end the way that we want, and that under the right conditions, you need a philosophy that can and will escalate the struggle. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism provides all of that, with concrete but also flexible and adaptable revolutionary theory. Maoism is a handy guide for “how to revolution, and revolution properly!” Chomskyism leads you away from ever having to answer those difficult revolutionary questions.
This is the really important point, now. Under three decades of ‘Chomsky intellectual leadership’ — the left in the West has never — never ever — been: more marginalized, more set back, more defeated, more in retreat, failed to achieve more of it’s objectives, failed to improve conditions for others in the world, and failed to actively enact meaningful large scale change upon the world — than under the intellectual guidance of Noam Chomsky. Remember the fight of Noam Chomsky from 2001 through to the late 00’s, where he focused almost all of his attention on the neo-conservatives and their doctrine of preemptive war. “No, the immorality of the first strike!” Terrible movies hamfisting the concept. For Chomsky it set a terrible evil precedent, but for the Marxists, America is a terrible evil country and this was fully expected. That line in the sand of “preemptive strike” which Chomsky threw himself upon and dared the far-right to cross proved no obstacle for them — quite so, they blew right over him in a convertible with a suitcase full of blow. Indeed, America has moved so far rightwards that they have grown beyond the need for neoconservative ideology (many neoconservatives becoming Trump critics no less!) to the point where America can just declare war on whomever it wants, whenever it wants, with virtually no consequences. False flags? Acts of war? Mercenary invasions? America isn’t even fucking pretending to give a shit about the optics anymore.
Like, look how bad it has gotten under Chomsky. President fascist fuck is spraying toxic chemicals on the tortured immigrants in his death camps and Chomsky’s only recourse is “Biden 2020 — maybe it will be less bad.” The KKK pulled off the hoods and revealed that they really were the police all along, and then proceeded to kick the shit out of us and gas us and shoot us as we tried to peacefully protest the fact. For thirty years, we’ve seen America elect more and more increasingly reactionary right wing figures, we’ve seen more power and wealth handed over to corporations than ever thought possible, we’ve seen corruption on a scale that is beyond farcical with absolutely no repercussions, we’ve allowed fascists to take to the streets, we’ve let the environment reach the point of no return, and we’ve let the global south be strip mined and plucked to the bone. And all this time, useless little Chomsky-shits want to go out an call a shitty afternoon protest a “major victory” because some of the people who were arrested for the protest ended up getting free legal aid. This is what this absolute deference to Chomsky has wrought — defeat after defeat, retreat after retreat, loss after loss. Chomsky-thought is the most failed experiment in leftist praxis. The “wicked Stalinist” Soviet Union has an enormous list of material contributions that benefited the workers and made their existence better. Communist China is erradicating poverty at a speed and scale never seen in all of human history. The tiny island of Cuba is leading the world in medicine! Chomsky has nothing to this end — empty promises about how his version of socialism would be nicer and better with no pudding in which to find the proof. This is how fucking pathetic and terrible Chomskyism victories are, and the absolute dire, drastic, desperate, shit state of the western left right now, who can’t pull their heads from their asses because Chomsky said Lenin was mean!
Noam Chomsky the unremarkable and disposable twitter liberal
So, finally, we reach our last question. What is Noam Chomsky? With this enormous and troubling legacy, how can anyone go on holding him up as the paragon of intellectual thought or leftist theory. His ultimate theory of linguistics, his contradictory politics, his slanted history, his dead-end philosophy, and his inability to provide revolution — is there a person whose ideas and contributions have failed more in each category than Noam Chomsky? Yet he continues to be upheld as not merely as a leader in the discussion of each field, but often as the leading voice! (In all fairness, I’m being shittily hard on him being a linguist, he was actually pretty useful and important in that field, but like, the rest of his shit . . . )
And this is exactly what we must recognize that Noam Chomsky is in the 21st century. There would be no need of an essay of this size, if only the levels of Chomsky-worship had not ballooned to the point that they are actively hindering more serious and meaningful leftist voices. We could have spent all our time fawning over better and more radical intellectuals and pursuing better, more revolutionary ideas. Instead, so much of it has all been wasted on Chomsky. People have dedicated their lives to fucking Chomsky. They run Chomsky museums and host Chomsky websites, like they are continuing some great legacy. You cannot engage in any sort of discourse with the libertarian left without his name and shit-takes being invoked as the ultimate authority (from those that most strongly resist the concept!). He’s become an empty symbol in popular culture, like an unforgettable corporate brand logo. He has, virtually no actual material accomplishments for radical leftism, but is heralded as one of the most important leftist figures of the century. It’s beyond parody at this point!
We can all go on, still existing with Noam Chomsky, but we have to recognize where he stands and how little his opinion is now worth. Chomsky’s opinions should be taken with the same exact weight that we take opinions from Briahna Joy Gray or the Wendy’s Twitter Account (hell, Baby Names dot com is more radical and revolutionary than Chomsky). He’s an outdated linguist, a a warmongering anti-war advocate, a disingenuous philosopher, a discredited failure of a radical, and an insatiable liberal shitlord. And that’s exactly what we should recognize Chomsky as — yet another twitter opinion liberal.
The world is in dire straights, and his only solution for us in this situation of multiplying crisis is endorsing the walking corpse that is Joe Biden to defeat a President Trump, and slowly pursue the same worn down avenues that have lead nowhere for thirty years. And do not absolve Chomsky’s inability to lead the left in conflict against Trump, a man that Chomsky has largely enabled and empowered. We, the left, cannot afford to continue these meek, passive, libertarian-left social democratic responses — and Chomsky is the icon, the figure, and the intellectual pillar holding those ideas in place for so many socialists. Most importantly — every last one of Noam Chomsky’s ideas, suggestions or proposals is designed to lead you away from revolution, and that’s the opposite of what is needed. He is the most overestimated and over-appreciated leftist intellectual of all time (and it’s debatable if he even sincerely deserves to be called a leftist). It’s time to stop treating Noam Chomsky’s opinion as if it has inordinate value. Indeed, it’s time to seriously question if his opinions have any value left.
So I ask you — why do you keep deferring to this unhelpful twitter liberal?
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thank you to: dessalines, aldo_nova, kc_socialist, 闪电, robinson_cedric, IanBurke/StarTrackFan, intlnews, LegsGini, RodericDay, flesh_eating_turtle, and Michael Parenti; this essay was impossible without you