Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Chomsky Again

Pastorius takes me to task over my dismissive tone regarding Noam Chomsky:

Influential voice? Yes, I should say so. He's at the top of the Canon of our age. In the Bloomian sense, we can't help but wrestle with. From Keith Windshchutte's New Criterion article:

... the liberal news media around the world has sought him out for countless interviews as the most prominent intellectual opposed to the American response to the terrorist attacks. Newspaper articles routinely open by reminding readers of his awesome intellectual status. A profile headlined “Conscience of a Nation” in the English daily The Guardian declared: “Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities—and is the only writer among them still alive.” The New York Times has called him “arguably the most important intellectual alive.”

Chomsky has used his status, originally gained in the field of linguistics, to turn himself into the leading voice of the American left. He is not merely a spokesman. His own stance has done much to structure left-wing politics over the past forty years. Today, when actors, rock stars, and protesting students mouth anti-American slogans for the cameras, they are very often expressing sentiments they have gleaned from Chomsky’s voluminous output.

It is unfortunate, but true, that our society hates itself so much that a man like Chomsky is one of the defining voices of our time. We may disagree with the guy, but if he's right up there with the Bible and Shakespeare as a quoted source, then we must be aware of him. We must lance the boil and take a culture of the pus.

Just as it's a good idea to familiarize oneself with the various syllogism's of logic so that one may analyze arguments, we must also understand the rules of illogic posited by Chomsky, so that we may recognize the source material of the West's collective suicide note. Noam Chomsky is the totem of left. He is the monolith around which the apes gather and bash their clubs.

We must understand him. Well, maybe not understand him. But, we must recognize him. There's a power in naming the demon. Thank God for Anti-Chomsky.

I don't exactly deny any of this, but I will say two things in my own defense:

  1. One of the beautiful things about our free, capitalist society (which Chomsky hates) is the division of labor in which we each have liberty to chose our pursuits and pastimes. I acknowledged in my original post that Benjamin Beersheva is "worth reading" and that he performs a "useful, perhaps necessary service". But there are other battles to be fought and, however influential Chomsky may be among the left (and only leftist sources are quoted above), his are not the only bad ideas that cry for rebuttal. And, given his own and his followers' near complete immunity to reason, I am not sure how well-spent the time and energy would be. This is not to be taken as discouraging anyone else from making the effort, of course, especially if they have the interest that I lack.

  2. I take mild exception to the "must" in Pastorius' sentence: "Just as it's a good idea to familiarize oneself with the various syllogism's of logic so that one may analyze arguments, we must also understand the rules of illogic posited by Chomsky..." There are two ways of defeating bad philosophies. One is to attack them directly and refute them point by point. The other is to promote better and more attractive ideas of your own. We can call these the Military and Marketing metaphors, respectively (if you will pardon the alliteration). I make no secret that I incline to the Marketing approach, but both approaches have their virtues and each may be necessary in any given situation. There are certainly times when a knock-down, drag-out fight is called for, in intellectual arenas as well as physical ones. But one advantage of the Marketing metaphor is that it steals the initiative from the opponent and makes him react to you or risk becoming irrelevant. Though he has not been definitively defeated yet, I think Chomsky and all his ilk are on the verge precisely such an irrelevance in the face of the enormous success of the American vision.

I want to reiterate that none of these comments should be taken as criticism of either Mr. Beersheva or of Pastorius. And in partial penance for my earlier flippancy, I hereby add the former's site to my blogroll.

UPDATE: I do want to make one more comment, in a non-controversial sort of way. I think the ultimate problem with Chomsky is not his irrationality, but his hatred of God which leads to a hatred of truth, liberty and all manner of other aspects of God's kingdom. The cure for such a hatred -- for Mr. Chomsky himself, if he will have it, but certainly for anyone else who may be influenced by him -- is the spread of the Gospel. This can be achieved through Apologetics or through Evangelism, thus reinvoking my Military and Marketing metaphors in somewhat less secular terminology. But again, there is no conflict between the two approaches: they are complementary.

Er, did I say non-controversial...?

No comments: