By way of imagining the real world, Southeast Asia Sounding: 1/18/2010:
I previously mentioned a review of the “Chomsky/Cambodia” debate. For those not familiar with this eternally recurring ideologically-driven nightmare, Noam Chomsky, internationally the most respected intellectual in the world (if one is to judge by citation, a common measure), is repeatedly accused of having been a Khmer Rouge apologist during the years 1975-1979. It is implied in most of these critiques that Chomsky’s immense influence with US architects of foreign policy somehow made the suffering of Cambodians under Pol Pot’s frankly evil regime worse. Horse-hockey. Here is the latest set of articles in this debate. If you read any of them, please do yourself a favor and read all of them, and to very carefully weigh the arguments made by each, and consider what position is more solid. I know my answer, but I’m convinced that the silly ad hominems and pseudo-moralism passing for serious discussion and debate is not worthwhile, and that careful, personal examination of the real facts is more persuasive.
* “Lost in Cambodia,” by Andrew Anthony. Times of London, January 10, 2010
* “Malcolm Caldwell: a carefully redesigned version of history,” by Noam Chomsky. The Guardian, January 17, 2010
* “Never apologize, never explain,” by Oliver Kamm. Times of London, January 17, 2010.
See also : Noam Chomsky on Cambodia, “West Midlands Anarchists”/Paul Bogdanor.
Note to self:
1) Chomsky is essentially soft on rightwing militia depending on where they come from;
2) Chomsky supports the increase of guns and armaments into a volatile region of the world, the Middle East;
3) Chomsky wouldn’t support the arming of rightwing militia in the United States, because that’s a bit too close to home, yet he’s happy for rightwing militia in Lebanon to be up to their eyeballs in guns rockets and other useless killing machinery;
4) that is not the stance of a consistent intellectual, and certainly not the world’s greatest intellectual.
This is where I should have left the comment I left at the outdated post, which was basically a pointer to this:
Shiraz Socialist is not a fan, and ‘Chomsky’s fundamental flaw can be understood by means of the simple saying: “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”.’ Which, along with his support for Pol Pot, is another oft-repeated claim, usually termed ‘anti-Americanism’. Other than that, I didn’t detect anything new in his/her post, apart from links to a post by Michael Ezra @ Harry’s Place (Malcolm Caldwell, Noam Chomsky and the Cambodian Genocide, January 18, 2010).
That said, reading a link in the comments to a post on Aaronovitch Watch, then again Anthony’s article in The Guardian and Shazam!
And another link: The Hollow Khmer-Chomsky, Josh Buermann, December 2003, part of a wider defence of Chomsky (Where’s the Beef?), who merely points out the obvious and makes it sound like a new idea / doesn’t address the whole story / is a polemicist, propaganda artist / anti-American / conveys an entirely negative message / and so on and so on and so on.
Of related — Somehow the link between Marxist-Leninist ideology and communist terror has never been firmly established in the way, for instance, that we understand Nazi ideology to have led inexorably to Auschwitz — interest:
This is still on my to do list, as I remembered when I read this:
I’ll read Ear’s “superb” thesis when I get time. In the meantime, I do like these sentences:
“With the end of the [Vietnam] War, however, few imperialist causes remained to rebel against, and [Chomsky] was left with no real enemy to fight.”
“…[Chomsky] has a tendency to write letters to the editor…”
“Chomsky is no stranger to radical politics. He has written countless books and articles attacking U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. media. His background in linguistics makes him a formidable debater, and even his enemies call him a genius. Chomsky shies away from excessive demagoguery, but not from polemical exchanges. What separates him from the amateur activists cum academics in chapter 2 is his luster as a professional sophist or armchair academicien de grandeur. His extensive experience has taught him to anticipate potential quagmires and to make certain that token allowances are peppered throughout his works. He uses these vague concessions to make himself appear more or less “objective,” always highminded and (partially) right in retrospect, when he later quotes himself selectively.”
Initial impression of Ear’s thesis: not-superb.
Regarding the strange website of the “West Midlands Anarchist”:
Thanks for pointing this out. The essayistic pieces have more substance to them than much of the more popular criticisms evinced against Chomsky, including a few points I hadn’t encountered previously and will want to go research further (I have defended Chomsky repeatedly on this front, being a scholar of Cambodia, but have never felt a need to reflexively defend anyone, including far too often, my self!); however:
It becomes clear that the writer is little more than opportunistic in his/her arguments, when (as usual) Chomsky’s questioning of the representationality and veracity of collected refugee claims is placed up against a separate section of the same author’s page: anti-semitism.
The author is clearly one of those people whose primary beef with Chomsky is his principled (and not anti-Jewish) opposition to the long-held position of the State of Israel regarding the Palestinians. In his page on this issue, in a section titled “Refugees,” the author includes a link to an article by Sydney Zabludoff, on the website Jewish Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), the abstract of which follows:
Refusing to acknowledge the potential veracity of one class of refugee testimony (when it’s your own ox being gored) while insisting on the veracity of another class of refugees (about which the author clearly knows almost nothing) = opportunism, pure and simple. There is no principled argument to be found here, unfortunately.
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It’s a pity that Noam Chomsky doesn’t move to Cuba and get out of America, a nation which he detests with the passion of a spoilt teenager’s hatred of his parents. Cuba is much more tolerant of dissenters in its own nation and has a special building to keep them safe; same for North Korea. If I was King I’d send Noam to North Korea free of charge on the condition that he does not ever return back – it’s a win-win.
I could have sworn this post was about Chomsky on Cambodia.
I would second that Ear’s thesis — and let’s be clear, it is an undergraduate honour’s thesis (not a PhD) — is mediocre. Its contribution to scholarship is unclear. It is little more than an extended rant against any number of scholars who wrote about Cambodia during the Pol Pot/KR years. The criticisms are often aleatory and unremarkable. For example, he takes Herman-Chomsky to task for the amount of footnotes appended to their chapter on Cambodia (in PEHR)! Dismissing a scholarly work because it contains too many footnotes. That’s got to be unprecedented in the annals of academic writing — though clearly [not?] in any creditable way.