"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Monday, June 26, 2006

Inverting Reality

Hugh Linehan's review of Noam Chomsky's latest book 'Failed States' is a far more balanced critic than that published by the Guardian, however Mr. Linehan makes some unnecessarily poor observations. He writes that Chomsky's work "is conveyed in dense, quotation-heavy paragraphs, with footnotes aplenty." This, according to Mr. Lineham, is very suspicious. The quotations must exist, because they support 'the contention', in order to deceive the reader, not as one might expect in order to provide evidence. Instead of offering counter evidence to 'the contention' Mr. Linehan seems to think raising suspicion of disinformation represents an adequate debunking. Hence Mr. Linehan's ironic selective quotation:

"Perhaps he's right, although his record as a prophet of apocalypse is not particularly impressive (in 2001 he suggested that the US invasion of Afghanistan could lead to the "silent genocide" of several million Afghans)."

could not be further from the mark:

"No, what I said, is that, if the assumption they were making were that, that could well be a consequence. Remember the bombing of Afghanistan was taken on the assumption that it might well put millions of people at risk of starvation, that assumption was very wide spread. You can read it in Harvard's major international journal, International Security. The New York Times for example, estimated that after a month that the number of people at risk for starvation had risen by 50%, from 5 million to 7½ million. And in fact right after September 11th, even before the bombing, the U.S. ordered Pakistan to terminate food supplies that were keeping a good part of the population at the edge of survival. So that policy, under the assumptions in which the policy was being conducted could well have led to silent genocide. That's one of the reasons why rational people should oppose policies like that." [Noam Chomsky interviewed by Bill Zimmerman in 2003]

It seems that the goal of Mr. Linehan's article was, from the outset, to discredit both the book and the writer. Therefore Mr. Chomsky's highlighting of the reported dangers facing defenseless communities in an unpopular Middle Eastern country in the event of US aggression evidences the writers deficiencies, not as any reasonable person might think, the inhumanity of US foreign policy. Mr. Chomsky, we have your number.

Yours etc...

More From Chomsky via MLMB:

"I remember a book by Norman Podhoretz, some right-wing columnist, in which he accused academics in the peace movement of being ingrates because we were working against the government but we were getting grants from the government. That reflects an extremely interesting conception of the state, in fact a fascist conception of the state. It says that the state is your master, and if the state does something for you, you have to be nice to them. That's the underlying principle. So the state runs you, you're its slave, and if they happen to do something nice for you, like giving you a grant, you have to be nice to them, otherwise it's ungrateful. Notice how exactly opposite that is to democratic theory. According to democratic theory you're the master, the state is your servant. The state doesn't give you a grant. The state's just an instrument. But the concept of democracy is so remote from our conception, that we very often tend to fall into straight fascist ideas like that... "

From an interview with David Barsamian, Language and Politics, page 747