October 8, 2001
2:57 AM   Subscribe

Chomsky on MSNBC talks about recent events! That would be news all by itself. I know that a lot of people on the right disagree with him, but who can argue with what he says here? Also from left field an incisive Q&A about Afghanistan history and the current situation by Tariq Ali.
posted by talos (25 comments total)

 
I normally hate these internet chat interviews, Nothing but a lot of softball questions. That said, He doesn't come off as a complete crackpot here which is a welcome improvement from previous interviews.
posted by revbrian at 3:21 AM on October 8, 2001


What revbrian said.
Chomsky says the media has "opened up" since September 11 but he too seems to have opened up a bit. Perhaps he's mellowing. Although I disagree with practically everything he says I shudder to think what the world would be without him.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:55 AM on October 8, 2001


The first thing he does is to make a false statement, and I didn't read any further. The Taliban were not part of the struggle against the Russians. The Taliban formed in Pakistan in the early 90's, and were encouraged and supplied by Pakistan as a means of overturning the group which had fought the Russians; the remnants of that bunch are now what we call "The Northern Alliance". If he can't even get his recent history correct, why should we care about his analysis of the situation?
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:05 AM on October 8, 2001


After all, they hit New York and its effect is visible and undeniable in one of the great liberal strongholds. Only hitting the MIT building itself would have had a greater impact on the Left.
posted by brucec at 5:10 AM on October 8, 2001


Steven, he doesn't make any such statement. He refers to Islamic groups fighting in Afghanistan:
ever since these groups were organized by the CIA, Pakistani and Egyptian intelligence and other U.S. allies. ... note the plural groups.
A bit hasty to dismiss eh?
posted by talos at 5:19 AM on October 8, 2001


Chomsky: They [the Taliban and OsB's networks] were organized recruited, trained, and armed to fight a holy war against the Russians, which they did.
posted by gleemax at 5:36 AM on October 8, 2001


Look here for an interesting exchange between Chomsky and Christopher Hitchens on the 9/11 events.
posted by myl at 5:44 AM on October 8, 2001


I know that a lot of people on the right disagree with him . . .
Who isn't to the right of Chomsky?
posted by whuppy at 7:00 AM on October 8, 2001


The first thing he does is to make a false statement, and I didn't read any further. The Taliban were not part of the struggle against the Russians. The Taliban formed in Pakistan in the early 90's, and were encouraged and supplied by Pakistan as a means of overturning the group which had fought the Russians; the remnants of that bunch are now what we call "The Northern Alliance".

Where did they get those stinger missiles from, then? What was Bin Laden doing in Afghanistan in the first place?

According to your logic, P. Diddy was not even present during the shooting in Club New York. It was some other, unrelated guy called Puff Daddy. In fact, anybody who even mentions a war between the Russians and Afganistan is lying to you, because the war was with the USSR.

Did you stop reading "Great Expectations" because Dickens contradicts himself with the second sentence??

No offence, but I suggest that you read the entire article. Maybe do a little more research. Then, hopefully, you can formulate a more worthwhile arguement.
posted by octavius at 7:34 AM on October 8, 2001


Only hitting the MIT building itself would have had a greater impact on the Left.

Actually, we've got a poster-happy group of College Republicans on campus, and there are always those boys sitting at the "Pro-Life" table. At our peace rally, most of the people who showed up were staff/faculty types. It was very, very sad.

Oh, and Chomsky's not in the main building anyway, or the big tall one they evacuated on 9/11 - he's in the temporary linguistics building with the rest of my professors that's far away from everything else.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 8:01 AM on October 8, 2001


Octavius: Did you stop reading "Great Expectations" because Dickens contradicts himself with the second sentence??

No, but at least "Great Expectations" makes no bones about being a work of fiction. Science fiction and fantasy, which I love, are full of absurd impossibilities. But I don't look to fantasy literature for political insight, either.

BTW, in college I did give up on Plato's Republic several pages in when I found that I could easily poke holes in Plato's arguments.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2001


Thank you, talos, for posting a link on this sad Monday morning that provided me with some much-needed encouragement that the whole world hasn't gone so mad after all.

And thanks, Noam.
posted by mapalm at 9:00 AM on October 8, 2001


I thought it was a good interview, who cares who it's with, it's interesting. Of note especially is the part about why Bin Laden's message (but not his actions) might resonate with wealthy, pro-American Arabs and Muslims.
posted by cell divide at 9:13 AM on October 8, 2001


No, but at least "Great Expectations" makes no bones about being a work of fiction. Science fiction and fantasy, which I love, are full of absurd impossibilities. But I don't look to fantasy literature for political insight, either.

This opens up a potentially fascinating discussion. Which I'm sure will resurface on another thread. I think that "Great Expectations", and "Republic" are full of political insight. Not specific journalism, but political insight. Unfortunately, this is irrelevant, Chomsky doesn't write science fiction. There is nothing abstract about what he does. He bases his views on information from reliable sources that most of us choose to ignore. He is not criticized for the conclusions which he draws, or dispute his sources. This would be valid. He is criticized for mentioning facts which some consider to be against our (US) national agenda.
posted by octavius at 9:29 AM on October 8, 2001


phoenix enflamed -- Is "temporary linguistics" a new department at MIT?
posted by yesster at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2001


Side note:
Octavius: the presence of Stingers proves nothing vis-a-vis US support for the Taliban in their formative years. Stingers are surprisingly easy to steal/capture/buy -- that's why they're called man-portable. If you want to show that the US supported the Taliban, you'll need better evidence.
posted by aramaic at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2001


but who can argue with what he says here?

From the chat itself: "The best thing to do is read widely and always skeptically. Remember everyone, including me, has their opinions and their goals and you have to think them through for yourself." You want to add Chomsky's views to the idea stream, fine. But treating what he says as The Unquestionable Truth is as silly as treating anyone else's views that way.
posted by aaron at 10:04 AM on October 8, 2001



Octavius: the presence of Stingers proves nothing vis-a-vis US support for the Taliban in their formative years. Stingers are surprisingly easy to steal/capture/buy -- that's why they're called man-portable. If you want to show that the US supported the Taliban, you'll need better evidence.

This was the first thing that came up from Google. But I'm sure CNN.com the NY Times, etc., as well as many other reliable sources provide plenty in regards to the the CIA's arming of factions of the mujahadeen, which were later transferred to the Taliban. I haven't heard anyone seriously dispute that. I remember much coverage of this issue on the Discovery Channel/BBC documentary. I feel this is a reasonable conclusion. Was I in the room while the weapons were being supplied? No.

You want to add Chomsky's views to the idea stream, fine. But treating what he says as The Unquestionable Truth is as silly as treating anyone else's views that way.

I never said that I treat his views as the unquestionable truth. Nor anyone else's. However, I also think that you should always see things in as complete context as possible.
posted by octavius at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2001


aaron,
I thought that was addressed to me. My bad.
posted by octavius at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2001


I happen to be fascinated by Chomsky and his more radical views of the 'establishment' (I'm actually reading a bunch of his older writing, Necessary Illusions, right now). I think people like him, along with 'right wing' commentators, should be read (ie, we should all read widely), and all arguments be put into the context of the bigger picture (do I sound like a real... poser? Sorry about that).

So, what octavius said, and what Chomsky said about personal opinions and thinking them through for ourselves.
posted by jetgrrl at 7:33 PM on October 8, 2001


aaron : Despite my trying to call you out on the floor a little (and no doubt signing my own disptutation death warrant) in another thread, I've got to now recant a bit, as I can't recall you saying anything before as reasonable as this when the ol' left/right bugaboo is raised (although you may have done so...). A good point from someone I perceive to be at the absolute opposite end (using the language of your Left Versus Right duality, aaron, which I don't buy into) of the political spectrum from myself....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:20 AM on October 9, 2001


aaron I agree completely with what you pointed out, but when I said:

who can argue with what he says here?

the key word is "here". And I was referring to the knee-jerk negative reaction to Chomsky by most on the right (and much of the "left") in the US.
posted by talos at 7:44 AM on October 9, 2001


I'm starting to think that this whole left vs. right duality has becoming obsolete. I think that the discussion is moving more toward centrist vs. radical. Just as the term "feminist" has come to mean different things to different people. I don't see Chomsky as particularly "left wing" or "radical." for considering issues within a broader context, and structure.

Bin Laden, Stalin, McVeigh, etc. are unanimously described as radicals or extremists. Sometimes as left wing, sometimes as right wing. Usually they are labeled as the opposite of what the labeler's self - description. A case could be made for either. What defines them as extremists is their concern for the well being of one group, at the expense of another.

Therefore, I consider Chomsky to be a moderate, because he expresses concern for all people to a great extent. He is commonly called a radical, because his detractors tend to omit large portions of his work.
posted by octavius at 8:29 AM on October 9, 2001


Thanks for the link. I really agree with Octavius on this one. Chomsky tells it like it is, from all angles. He's not obviously biased and seems to be genuinely empathetic towards all peoples. Glad to see Chomsky included bits about Russia and China joining the US in fighting terrorism. China tortures its own, Russia has Chechnya...The US ought to be seriously listening to the man.
posted by redhead at 9:54 PM on October 9, 2001


lots and lots of links to Chomsky articles
posted by redhead at 10:02 PM on October 9, 2001


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