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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Chomsky Dilemma

Noam Chomsky, one of the towering American intellectuals of our time; he nonetheless would have, as a political leader, the judgement of a half-wit. Intellect and political leadership certainly do pull apart.

This said, not having a sound grasp of the domestic and international challenges facing us can hardly be reassuring. How, possibly, could ignorance be acceptable, either?


mijopo said...

Okay, I'll bite. What in particular makes you say that Chomsky is a half wit?

Erik said...

Okay, to get the obvious out of the way again, remember that I led into this with the clear statement that he's a towering intellectual, as anyone who has the faintest notion of linguistics would agree. The problem is judgement, and in particular if his judgement if he were a leader, if he were in charge. Here, I'm afraid he'd be the equivalent of a half-wit (this may be unfair to half-wits actually, as they might have the basic instincts necessary to separate attackers from attacked, a precondition for providing for a defense of 300 million people. Necessary but not sufficient, I suppose I would say).

In retrospect, I think "half-wit" was too quick a choice; it would have been better to stick closer to moral judgement. Hitchens puts the moral judgement problem with Chomsky well (viz a viz Sept. 11):

Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content. Indiscriminate murder is not a judgment, even obliquely, on the victims or their way of life, or ours."