A Six Minute Chomsky Gallop, Dissected

Thursday, March 28, 2019

I am not sure whether the author, who was a socialist when he was young, has questioned the ideology or has simply turned against the current regime in Venezuela. (To the best of my limited knowledge, he supports Juan Guaido, who is also a socialist. But then again, so do many American officials who should know better.)

That said, Clifton Ross has posted an interesting analysis at Quillette of six minutes of a Noam Chomsky appearance on Ralph Nader's radio program. Chomsky was apparently channeling the spirit of creationist Duane Gish in the service of the socialist regime in Venezuela. Among other things is the below passage about a kind of error Chomsky makes:

Noam Chomsky, the Duane Gish of the Left. (Image by Σ, via Wikipedia, license.)
Chomsky begins promisingly by conceding that "there were many problems during the Chávez years." But he reminds his listeners that during those same years "poverty was very sharply reduced and educational opportunities were very greatly expanded." This is one of the most common manoeuvers adopted by pro-Chavistas when challenged about the regime's dismal record of governance: I call this rhetorical move an appeal to The Golden Moment As The Eternal Now. Sure, during the first years of the decade-long oil boom, poverty was reduced and educational opportunities expanded. When billions of dollars flood an economy, there is always a "trickle-down effect" as all boats rise on even the reddest of tides. But a moment is not a permanent reality, and the aftermath of Venezuela's Golden Moment is comparable to the miserable hangover that follows an excessive party. A responsible intellectual might wonder at the wisdom of that party, not insist that it is emblematic of the whole Chavista project. [bold added]
We set aside the fact that any group of people will seem more prosperous during the short time they can devour a pile of loot.

Intentionally or not, the bolded phrase very aptly reminds me of the title of the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which a procedure to eradicate painful memories is a major plot device. Only here, the procedure works before memories can even form, because, combined with the rest of the overwhelming blather Ross teases apart, it can sow doubt or even blast away cognition in the first place.

Ross offers the charitable interpretation of Chomsky's approach as possibly being an ideology-imposed blindness. (Perhaps Chomsky, master comprachico that he is, has at least crippled his own mind over time.) But that is understandable coming from someone who is or at least was a former fellow traveler.

Charity is hardly warranted from anyone else, however.

-- CAV


3-29-19: Corrected typos. 


SteveD said...

I'm going with Ayn Rand on this one. Those people (most of them anyway), know what they're doing.

Gus Van Horn said...