Sane man !

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Chomsky-Hater's Handbook.

The Chomsky-Hater's Handbook.: "A Halloween hatchet-job was in order and is kindly supplied by The Guardian this morning, in the form of an 'interview' with Noam Chomsky by Emma Brockes." Update: It is actually much worse than I thought. What is it about Chomsky that drives people coo-coo??

It is indeed quite a hack job, could have been cut-up by O.Kamm's blunt razor. But in there Brockes neatly quotes what is my beef with Chomsky and many shades of left-wing thought:

"his low opinion of the mainstream media (to summarise: it is undermined by a "systematic bias in terms of structural economic causes rather than a conspiracy of people"."

It's a subtle disagreement and not the core of Chomsky's polemics, but I tend to think that sub-optimal outcomes can emerge out of complex situations from the complex interactions of semi-honest actors, and not from the ultra-devious actions of the few powerful.

There are some very real power structures, and it's foolish to ignore them (that's all that Marx was saying after all).
But, roughly, Chomskyites will tend to blame the elites in power, and assume the common man will be blameless. That is quite an elitist approach: the mighty ideological fight of the intellectuals! The idealised "proletariat" can do no wrong.

But often, the elites in power are just on the end of the combined interests of a large part of the population, who would agree with them if they were within the same constraints. Remove G dubya, a Marxist nightmare made reality, and the "structural economic causes" which pushed his decisions remain. Sometimes it's easier to blame a few evil people than to point the finger (however partially!) at the beloved masses. Which the greens are usually happy to do, so maybe this is another red vs green phenomenon.

Anyway: expand on this general "cockup not conspiracy" paradigm later...


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