Chomsky the Capitalist Pig

Damn.

I never knew!

But serious… I just stumbledupon Capitalism: a love story (Anti-German Translation, November 27, 2009). It has a crack at filmmaker Michael Moore and wealthy gadabout Noam Chomsky. According to A-GT, Uncle Noam is ‘an anti-capitalist warrior with stocks in the military-industrial complex’.

Or something.

As evidence, AG-T cites a four-year-old essay by some bloke called Peter Schweizer. The essay — or a version thereof — is contained in Schweizer’s book Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy (Doubleday, 2005).

Schweizer’s conclusion is simple: liberalism in the end forces its adherents to become hypocrites. They adopt one pose in public, but when it comes to what matters most in their own lives–their property, their privacy, and their children–they jettison their liberal principles and adopt conservative ones. If these ideas don’t work for the very individuals who promote them, Schweizer asks, how can they work for the country?

Schweizer’s scribblings on Chomsky the liberal hypocrite were re-published in the Canadian newspaper The National Post (published by convicted fraudster Conrad Black — currently incarcerated at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida) as ‘Noam Chomsky’ (March 21, 2006: “Chomsky talks an anti-capitalist game, but what does he practice? Market economics at their most profitable”) and in the house zine of the Hoover Institution, the Hoover Digest, under the title ‘Noam Chomsky, Closet Capitalist’ (No.1, 2006).

The article is entertaining, but crap. Thus Schweizer fails to provide any source documentation for his claims (but, presumably, these are provided in the book version); his line of argument is tendentious in the extreme.

A commentator on Reddit writes:

Oh look, that old piece of trash – and that’s the best you can do? Here is the unedited version of my letter that was published in the National Post in response to that hit piece they published, along with selected comments that I received from Chomsky (in bold) as feedback before revisions. The published letter was heavily edited of most content critical of The Post:

“I would like to thank the National Post for providing such a fine example of Noam Chomsky’s thesis which places the operation of mainstream media under corporate ideological control.

Perform a search on the Post‘s website for “Chomsky” and one will find a considerable lack of content pertaining to the man who was recently recognized as the world’s leading public intellectual.

This being the case, many questions may be raised by the fact that the Post suddenly felt the urge to fill space with an excerpt from a book that was published in October 2005. While the author of the book, Dr Peter Schweizer’s PhD may have provided him with the credentials to work for the Hoover Institute, a right wing think tank, he could apparently use some help when it comes to performing an internet search.

Apparently, we should be shocked that the company that records Chomsky’s speeches actually attempts to receive remuneration for its product [A reference to the fact that in 2000 Alternative Tentacles, in collaboration with AK Press, re-issued Free Market Fantasies: Capitalism In the Real World]. Had Dr. Schweizer gone to the first site listed when typing “Chomsky” into Google, he would have found an up to date collection of Dr. Chomsky’s speeches, all offered free of charge. Had he gone to the second site, he would have found a vast collection consisting of virtually every single recording ever produced by Dr. Chomsky.

While gleefully announcing that Chomsky’s website has (gasp) a copyright warning, Schweizer smugly points out that the site “does give you the opportunity to ‘sublicense’ the material[“]. However, Schweizer apparently found it unnecessary to include the full quote, which is: “(a)ny requests to reprint, translate, repost, or sublicense any of this material should be directed to” the site[‘]s webmaster. A statement which makes it sound much less likely that Chomsky would request compensation from a smaller entity.

Don’t know what this is, but if it is the site chomsky.info, first of all, I have nothing to do with it (or any other site), as [Schweizer] could have found out with 5 minutes inquiry. It’s put up (with my permission) by others. I’ve never seen it. I do refer people to them when they want to find something, and I’ve never heard of anyone being charged anything at all for reprinting, unless it is from the original publisher, who may have reprinting arrangements (which have nothing to do with me). That aside, almost all of my talks are recorded and videotaped, and usually distributed widely (with my permission, and never any remuneration). As for Schweizer’s [fairy] tale about honoraria, that’s just what it is: an invention. And he knows it. I know that from personal correspondence where he made the claims and had to concede that he had not a particle of evidence. The briefest research would have enabled him to discover that when I give talks somewhere, I never ask for an honorarium, [Schweizer writes: “Chomsky’s business works something like this. He gives speeches on college campuses around the country at US$12,000 a pop, often dozens of times a year.”] and if there is one (which is rare), I ask them to donate it to some appropriate organization, and if they can’t do that (say a university, which is not permitted to do so), then I donate it myself. These are only a few of the gross fabrications.

I am unable to attest to the accuracy of any of Dr. Schweizer’s allegations with regard to Dr. Chomsky’s retirement provisions, nor the steps Chomsky has taken to prepare for his family’s security following his death. I would imagine that the National Post would be equally hard pressed to provide assurances as to the accuracy of Schweizer’s statements, considering that it lacked any critical analysis of the above noted misstatements.

I think the word “allegations” is out of place. It’s no secret that my retirement provisions go through TIAA-CREF, like virtually all faculty, or that I have trust funds for my children. And it’s not an allegation, because there isn’t the slightest reason why I or anyone else shouldn’t do it. Schweizer’s charges are on a par with some Soviet commissar denouncing a dissident because he goes to a doctor or a university while condemning the crimes of the Kremlin, or the “accusation” that we drive cars or take buses or planes while objecting to a transportation-energy system that may lead to catastrophe. Would we help prevent the catastrophe if we stayed home without heat or electricity instead of working to overcome these threats? Do peasants in Colombia driven from their homes care whether I put my money in a bank instead of under a mattress, or whether I work with others to try to prevent the crimes committed against them? Etc., etc.

In general, if I were to charge someone with living by the principle “Do as I say, not as I do,” I’d have three choices: (1) provide examples of where the person issued that injunction, say one statement; (2) withdraw the charge and apologize; (3) take the coward’s way out and slink away in silence or pretend I don’t understand. Schweitzer takes (3) — quite consciously, as personal correspondence revealed. Did his NP article or his book provide even a single example of (1)? It didn’t, he knows it, and so do the editors of the NP, if they are not complete imbeciles.

Those who are familiar with Noam Chomsky’s work know full well that he does not necessarily advocate a society without commerce or the accumulation of personal wealth. Instead, he advocates for a system of government in which each individual is involved in decisions affecting their future, as opposed to the current system where corporate interests, such as those of the Post‘s owner, overshadow those of the average citizen. In other words, Chomsky does not speak out against the ability of a professor to prepare for retirement. Instead he is more concerned with the current structure of governance that has, for example, made it possible for the tax-shelter haven of Barbados to be the third largest recipient of Canadian foreign direct investment behind the United States and Great Britain.”

Schweizer is interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez on the subject of his book in Moore Hypocrites Than True Believers? Exposing the Do As I Say (Not As I Do) Left (National Review Online.October 25, 2005):

Lopez: Tell me the great hypocrisy of that greatest of all public intellectuals according to one recent depressing survey: Noam Chomsky.

Schweizer: Noam Chomsky thinks he’s the Moses of this age and even those on the Left who don’t agree with him on everything accept his moral authority. But Chomsky is a socialist who practices capitalism, and an anti-militarist who has made millions off of Pentagon contracts. Wonder what his followers would think of that? Then there is his constant lecturing about “tax gimmicks” and “tax shelters” that “the rich” use to avoid paying their “fair share.” He must have forgotten about that when he set up his tax shelter.

Lopez: And he wasn’t a lot of fun when you got in touch with him, was he?

Schweizer: I give credit to Chomsky for responding to my questions. His excuses were something to behold. No wonder he teaches linguistics. It’s amazing how he twists his words. By the way, he said it was okay to criticize other rich people for setting up trusts and setting one up himself. After all, he explained, he’s been fighting for poor people his whole life.

An ‘honest’ critique of Chomsky would probably take issue with what he actually says — or the anonymous commentator’s characterisation of Chomsky’s advocacy “for a system of government in which each individual is involved in decisions affecting their future, as opposed to the current system where corporate interests, such as those of the Post‘s owner, overshadow those of the average citizen”. Some relevant discussion on this question occurred in the pages of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, ‘Reform And Revolution: Noam Chomsky on Anarcho-Syndicalism’ (#25, Summer 1999), ‘Reform And Revolution: Noam Chomsky on Anarcho-Syndicalism Part II, with commentaries by James Herod and Graham Purchase’ (#26, Fall 1999), ‘Chomsky Symposium: Jeff Stein, Mike Long, and Jon Bekken on the ASR Chomsky Interview’ (#27, Winter 1999). In which context, ‘Knowledge, morality and hope: The social thought of Noam Chomsky’, Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers (New Left Review, 187, May/June 1991, pp. 5-27) is useful, as is chomsky.info’s section on ‘Writings on Chomsky’.

See also : Leonard Zeskind on Noam Chomsky (August 14, 2009), in which, inter alia, Chomsky is accused of being The Greatest Anti-American Hero. Schweizer’s book also formed the basis of an obscure documentary of the same title by some bloke called Nick Tucker | Keith Windschuttle is a stooge! (January 6, 2009); Windschuttle on Chomsky (April 16, 2008); Windschuttle on Chomsky (2) (April 17, 2008) | Oh! What a Lovely War // Noam Chomsky in HARDtalk (November 13, 2009); “Crisis” (July 27, 2009).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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