The Noam Chomsky Dozen

6 Nov
The Noam Chomsky Collection (Haymarket Books)

The Noam Chomsky Collection (Haymarket Books)

In some way, everyday is like that so-called Christian holiday which drives the consumer economy to new heights of frenzied greed and status-seeking and is marked by the ominous sounding Black Friday (which as a godless Jew, I don’t celebrate).Parcels arrive daily with rich fruits from domestic publishers and, occasionally, from far flung places. This long winded lead-in is for me to glory in the great pleasure and privilege of having received Haymarket Books’s “Noam Chomsky Collection,” updated editions of twelve of his classic books”:

Rogue States

The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism

On Power and Ideology

After the Cataclysm

The Fateful Triangle

Year 501

Turning the Tide

Pirates and Emperors, Old and New

Propaganda and the Public Mind

Rethinking Camelot

Culture of Terrorism

Powers and Prospects

NOAM CHOMSKY,MIT linguist and progressive critic of, among other things, US foreign policy, along with his compatriot Howard Zinn, has long been a whipping boy of US reactionaries. And they have labored to marginalize him, tarring him as a disloyal and wild-eyed radical. Clearly, a good number of Americans and the rest of the world do not agree. The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest (2009) observes:

For the past five decades, Chomsky has offered a searing critical indictment of US foreign policy and its many military interventions across the globe, pointing out that the US’s continued support for undemocratic regimes, and hostility to popular or democratic movements, is at odds with its professed claim to be spreading democracy and freedom and support for tendencies aiming toward that end. Indeed, as Chomsky argues, the current concern from Washington with so-called “Rogue States,” as much as the stated goal of aiding democratic movements in other countries, is not supported by successive administrations’ support (either direct or indirect) for political and military dictatorships across Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. As Chomsky stated: “As the most powerful state, the US makes its own laws, using force and conducting economic warfare at will.” It also threatens sanctions against countries that do not abide by its conveniently flexible notions of “free trade.”

Here’s an interview with C.J. Polychroniou a political economist/political scientist just published. From that interview:

Some have argued that Obama’s wars are quite different in both style and essence from those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Is there any validity behind these claims?

Bush relied on shock-and-awe military violence, which proved disastrous for the victims and led to serious defeats for the US. Obama is relying on different tactics, primarily the drone global assassination campaign, which breaks new records in international terrorism, and Special Forces operations, by now over much of the globe. Nick Turse, the leading researcher on the topic, recently reported that US elite forces are “deployed to a record-shattering 147 Countries in 2015.”

Destabilization and what I call the “creation of black holes” is the principal aim of the Empire of Chaos in the Middle East and elsewhere, but it is also clear that the US is sailing in a turbulent sea with no sense of direction and is, in fact, quite clueless in terms of what needs to be done once the task of destruction has been completed. How much of this is due to the decline of the US as a global hegemon?

The chaos and destabilization are real, but I don’t think that’s the aim. Rather, it is a consequence of hitting fragile systems that one does not understand with the sledgehammer that is the main tool, as in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere. As for the continuing decline of US hegemonic power (actually, from 1945, with some ups and downs), there are consequences in the current world scene. Take, for example, the fate of Edward Snowden. Four Latin American countries are reported to have offered him asylum, no longer fearing the lash of Washington. Not a single European power is willing to face US anger. That is a consequence of very significant decline of US power in the Western hemisphere.

However, I doubt that the chaos in the Middle East traces substantially to this factor. One consequence of the US invasion of Iraq was to incite sectarian conflicts that are destroying Iraq and are now tearing the region to shreds. The Europe-initiated bombing of Libya created a disaster there, which has spread far beyond with weapons flow and stimulation of jihadi crimes. And there are many other effects of foreign violence. There are also many internal factors. I think that Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn is correct in his observation that the Wahhabization of Sunni Islam is one of the most dangerous developments of the modern era. By now many of the most horrible problems look virtually insoluble, like the Syrian catastrophe, where the only slim hopes lie in some kind of negotiated settlement towards which the powers involved seem to be slowly inching.

And if you prefer to watch here’s recent talk by Noam Chomsky at New School

Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960 on Chomsky’s work in linguistics

9 Responses to “The Noam Chomsky Dozen”

  1. hdinin November 6, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    So, are we to understand that you *would* “celebrate” Black Friday (it isn’t, after all, a holiday of any kind… it’s the sort of vacantly glorified thing Americans do that the French take care of with huge signs in store windows emblazoned with the world “SOLDE” [sale]) if, Jew or not, you believed in a God?

    • robertbirnbaum November 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm #


      • Howard Dinin November 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm #


      • robertbirnbaum November 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

        To those of you new to this locale you may notice an abundance of fussy, knit-picking and self congratulating comments, particularly by one person. Pay him no mind, that person is a defrocked Jesuit who has been cyber stalking me for years, apparently deluded by visions of his own erudition and syllogistic rigor, allowing (he believes) to critique his betters…

      • robertbirnbaum November 9, 2015 at 11:23 pm #


    • Victor Webster November 10, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

      Why was Manufacturing Consent left out of the dozen?

      • robertbirnbaum November 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

        You might inquire at Haymarket Books…

  2. Thomas November 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    How can I buy the Noam Chomsky collection?

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