Thursday, December 14, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Noam Chomsky


American professor of linguistics, anarchist, human rights activist, socialist and political analyst.
Noam Chomsky
The whole question of recognizing the right of a state to exist was invented solely for Israel. People, on the other hand, have a right to exist. So the people who live on the land - Israelis and Palestinians - have a right to live in security and peace.
Chomsky quotes
I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled.
Chomsky
The Ottoman Empire was an ugly affair, but they had the right idea. The rulers in Turkey were fortunately so corrupt that they left people alone pretty much -- were mostly interested in robbing them -- and they left them alone to run their own affairs, and their own regions and their own communities with a lot of local self determination.




Chomsky Noam quotes
Noam Chomsky thinks he's the Moses of this age and even those on the Left who don't agree with him on everything accept his moral authority. But Chomsky is a socialist who practices capitalism, and an anti-militarist who has made millions off of Pentagon contracts.
Chomsky Noam
There's a humbling insight into the US pretension of occupying the moral high ground in Chomsky's work. Part of what he's saying is true. Objectively viewed, the United States isn't the victim but in many contexts, including its response to terrorism, the perpetrator. [But he's] so preoccupied with the evils of US imperialism that it completely occupies all the political and moral space, and therefore it's not possible for him to acknowledge that even without intending to do so, some US military interventions may actually have a beneficial effect.
Noam Chomsky quotes
No less insidious is the cry for 'revolution,' at a time when not even the germs of new institutions exist, let alone the moral and political consciousness that could lead to a basic modification of social life. If there will be a 'revolution' in America today, it will no doubt be a move towards some variety of fascism. We must guard against the kind of revolutionary rhetoric that would have had Karl Marx burn down the British Museum because it was merely part of a repressive society. It would be criminal to overlook the serious flaws and inadequacies in our institutions, or to fail to utilize the substantial degree of freedom that most of us enjoy, within the framework of these flawed institutions, to modify them or even replace them by a better social order. One who pays some attention to history will not be surprised if those who cry most loudly that we must smash and destroy are later found among the administrators of some new system of repression.
Noam Chomsky
He defended Faurrison. He championed the Khmer Rouge. His condemnations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are one hundred percent one-sided, based on the (obviously) false notion that the Arab nations and the Palestinian people have been trying to arrange a peace with Israel for decades. He viewed the rescue mission undertaken in Kosovo as nothing more than the extension of imperial power. He accuses the United States of perpetrating a holocaust in Afghanistan and thinks that the mistaken attack on the pharmaceutical factory in Somalia [sic] was as bad if not worse than the attack on the Twin Towers. One could go on, but it all adds up to, I fear, the mirror image of the ignorant jingoism of Bennett, Krauthammer, Kelly, Will, etc. And I find it amazing that intelligent people take it seriously.
Chomsky Noam quotes
It should have been the easiest invasion in history, and the incompetence and arrogance of the Pentagon planners turned it into a total catastrophe. So yes, it hasn't worked out the way they wanted, but that has nothing to do with their plans. It would be like saying that Hitler didn't intend to conquer the world because he failed. They actually succeeded in creating an insurgency, which didn't exist, there was no basis for it and no outside support. In fact, the U.S. and Britain were compelled to allow elections. The elections in Iraq are a triumph of mass popular nonviolent resistance. Washington and London tried in every way they could to evade elections. You go back through 2003, there was one after another scheme proposed, to try to avoid elections. But they couldn't do it, there were mass demonstrations, partially led by Ayatollah Sistani. Finally they had to back down, and allow elections. Now they're trying in every way to subvert them.
Chomsky
He seems both wholly cynical about the purposes of those in power, and wholly unforgiving. Those who direct American policy - and, by implication, those who direct the policy of any state - are allowed no regrets, no morals, no feelings, and when they change their policies they appear to do so for entirely Machiavellian reasons. Chomsky has little interest in the question of 'good in bad' - of how there can be good behaviour in the context of bad policies - and seems to deny the complexity of human affairs...
Chomsky Noam
The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction - all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured.
Noam Chomsky
Let me just put the whole thing in a kind of mundane level. Like, suppose you walk out in the street, this evening, and you see a crime being committed, you know, somebody is robbing someone else. Well, you have three choices. One choice is to try to stop it, maybe you call 911 or something. Another choice is to do nothing. A third choice is to pick up an assault rifle and kill 'em both, and kill a bystander at the same time. Well, suppose you do that, and somebody says, "Well, you know, why did you do that?" And you say, "Look, I couldn't stand by and do nothing." I mean, is that a response? If you can think of nothing that wouldn't do harm, then do nothing. And the same is true, magnified, in international affairs. Apart from the fact that there were things that could have been done.




Noam Chomsky quotes
[Israel's military occupation is] in gross violation of international law and has been from the outset. And that much, at least, is fully recognized, even by the United States, which has overwhelming and, as I said, unilateral responsibility for these crimes. So George Bush No. 1, when he was the U.N. ambassador, back in 1971, he officially reiterated Washington's condemnation of Israel's actions in the occupied territories. He happened to be referring specifically to occupied Jerusalem. In his words, actions in violation of the provisions of international law governing the obligations of an occupying power, namely Israel. He criticized Israel's failure "to acknowledge its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as its actions which are contrary to the letter and spirit of this Convention." [...] However, by that time, late 1971, a divergence was developing, between official policy and practice. The fact of the matter is that by then, by late 1971, the United States was already providing the means to implement the violations that Ambassador Bush deplored. [...] on December 5th, there had been an important international conference, called in Switzerland, on the 4th Geneva Convention. Switzerland is the state that's responsible for monitoring and controlling the implementation of them. The European Union all attended, even Britain, which is virtually a U.S. attack dog these days. They attended. A hundred and fourteen countries all together, the parties to the Geneva Convention. They had an official declaration, which condemned the settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, urged Israel to end its breaches of the Geneva Convention, some "grave breaches," including willful killing, torture, unlawful deportation, unlawful depriving of the rights of fair and regular trial, extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, that's a serious term, that means serious war crimes. The United States is one of the high contracting parties to the Geneva Convention, therefore it is obligated, by its domestic law and highest commitments, to prosecute the perpetrators of grave breaches of the conventions. That includes its own leaders. Until the United States prosecutes its own leaders, it is guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, that means war crimes. And it's worth remembering the context. It is not any old convention. These are the conventions established to criminalize the practices of the Nazis, right after the Second World War. What was the U.S. reaction to the meeting in Geneva? The U.S. boycotted the meeting [..] and that has the usual consequence, it means the meeting is null and void, silence in the media.
Noam Chomsky
[Noam Chomsky] seems to feel licensed to forget or distort the truth whenever it suits his polemical convenience. He begins as a preacher to the world and ends as an intellectual crook.
Chomsky quotes
We're not analyzing the media on Mars or in the eighteenth century or something like that. We're dealing with real human beings who are suffering and dying and being tortured and starving because of policies that we are involved in, we as citizens of democratic societies are directly involved in and are responsible for, and what the media are doing is ensuring that we do not act on our responsibilities, and that the interests of power are served, not the needs of the suffering people, and not even the needs of the American people who would be horrified if they realized the blood that's dripping from their hands because of the way they are allowing themselves to be deluded and manipulated by the system.
Chomsky Noam
People are wasting time on dissident relics like Noam Chomsky. Professor Chomsky is a pretty good dissident: he's persistent, he means what he says, and he's certainly very courageous, but this is the 21st century, and Stallman is a bigger deal. Lawrence Lessig is a bigger deal.
Chomsky Noam quotes
Of course it's extremely easy to say, the heck with it. I'm just going to adapt myself to the structures of power and authority and do the best I can within them. Sure, you can do that. But that's not acting like a decent person. You can walk down the street and be hungry. You see a kid eating an ice cream cone and you notice there's no cop around and you can take the ice cream cone from him because you're bigger and walk away. You can do that. Probably there are people who do. We call them "pathological." On the other hand, if they do it within existing social structures we call them "normal." But it's just as pathological. It's just the pathology of the general society.
Noam Chomsky
I don't pretend to think I'm as smart as Noam Chomsky, but I'm smart enough to ask him questions.
Noam Chomsky quotes
[Q: can you conceive of any form in which you might support American military action taken, like the President's justification, in anticipation of an imminent and dangerous threat?] Why don't you generalize it, and say, can you conceive of any action which any state might take? Sure, you can imagine such things. Let's say you're in Iran right now. [audience laughter] It's under attack by the world's superpower, with embargoes... It's surrounded by states either occupied by its superpower enemy, or having nuclear weapons. Little way down the road is the regional superpower, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons, and other WMDs, and is essentially an offshore US military base. And has a bigger and more advanced air force than any NATO power, outside the United States. And in the past year has been supplied by the global superpower with 100 advanced jet bombers, openly advertised as able to fly to Iran and back to bomb it. And also provided with what the Hebrew press calls special weaponry, nobody knows what that means, but if you're an Iranian intelligence analyst you're going to give a worst case analysis, of course. And has actually been publicly provided with smart bombs, and deep penetration weapons... They have a terrific justification for anticipatory self defense, better than any other case I can think of. But would I approve of their bombing Israel, or carrying out terrorist acts in Washington? No, even though they have a pretty strong case, better than anything I can think of here. Just as the Japanese had a much better case than any that I can think of here, but I don't approve of Pearl Harbor. So yeah, we can conceive of cases, and in fact some of them are right in front of our eyes, but none of us approve of them. None of us. So if we don't approve of them in real cases, why discuss hypothetical cases that don't exist? We can do that in some philosophy seminar, but in the real world there're real cases that ought to concern us.
Noam Chomsky
Nobody doubts that the Russians committed aggression, that Saddam Hussein committed aggression. We attribute to them rational goals, maybe they wanted to control the energy of the Middle East or something. With regard to ourselves, it's impossible... We just cannot adopt towards ourselves the same sane attitudes that we adopt easily, in fact reflexively, when others commit crimes... And if anyone says it, educated people, liberal intellectuals, are infuriated. Because it suggests that we could do something that's not noble. We can make mistakes, that's easy. You can criticize mistakes. You can criticize low-level crimes, like Abu-Ghraib, you can criticize that. You can criticize My Lai. But not the educated, civilized people, the kind of people we have dinner with, see at concerts, sitting in air-conditioned offices planning mass-murder. So that's beyond criticism. On the other hand, if it's half-crazed G.I.s in the field, uneducated, don't know who's going to shoot at them next, you can blame them, you can say how awful they are. You can criticize Lynndie England, disadvantaged young woman, very different from us. But how about the guys who organized and planned it? No.
Chomsky Noam
Chomsky once told a group of people that he himself was "agnostic" on whether the Holocaust occurred. When professor Robert Nozick, who was part of the group, confronted Chomsky with this outrageous statement following a debate at Harvard Medical School, Chomsky shoved Nozick, saying, "How dare you quote an off-the-record remark I made to a small group at Princeton." He did not deny making the statement.


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