Saturday, November 12, 2005

For and Against Chomsky
The recent spat over Emma Brockes interview with Noam Chomsky in the Guardian is only part of a much wider attempt to dismantle Chomsky's reputation. Prospect Magazine presents the arguments for and against Chomsky in this month's issue. Robin Blackburn puts the case for Chomsky, while Oliver Kamm presents the argument against. There is also an interesting dissection of Brocke's interview in Counterpunch. The Prospect debate is framed by the question: "Is the world's top public intellectual a brilliant expositor of linguistics and the US's duplicitous foreign policy? Or a reflexive anti-American, cavalier with his sources?" The second sentence encapsulates the ususal charges against Chomsky and Oliver Kamm's argument, and is symptomatic of the context in which Chomsky is always attacked - discussion is always deflected into an issue of numbers and sources, and what Chomsky actually writes is ignored. So the debate becomes one of "proving" the numbers massacred in Cambodia, but not in Indonesia; becomes a debate over the use of sources, not on the substance of what Chomsky has to say.,,1605276,00.html