The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky

The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky

The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky

The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky

Synopsis

One of few serious academic studies of Chomsky's political writing, this volume addresses many key issues in political theory through an engagement with Chomsky's ideas. Subjects covered include equality and freedom, politics and the media, and nationalism and state capitalism. The Social and Political Thought of Noam Chomsky is an essential resource for scholars of social and political thought.

Excerpt

Chomsky-critic or theorist?

How are we to characterise Noam Chomsky's political writings? Certainly it is notable that Chomsky's political work is to a great extent marginalised within academic circles. His writings rarely appear on undergraduate reading lists nor do they, on the whole, enter the fray of mainstream debates about social and political organisation. There are perhaps only two areas where this is an exception: media studies and international relations. Given that Chomsky has been writing prolifically on just about every political issue one might care to think of for over thirty years, what reasons may be offered to explain this? It might be suggested that there is a degree of intellectual snobbery attached to the perhaps subconscious decision within the academic community not to give his ideas in this area serious consideration. In other words he is regarded first and foremost as a linguist, and it is therefore inappropriate that he should cross intellectual boundaries and enter debates about subjects that are deemed to lie beyond his academic expertise. Chomsky explains that this argument has indeed been used. Some academics from The University of Victoria in British Columbia for example tried to stop him speaking and 'they published letters in the press, etc., saying that since I'm a linguist, I shouldn't be allowed to talk about "their field"'. This is perhaps paradoxical given that Chomsky is accorded wide acclaim as Professor of Linguistics at MIT and that he quite literally generated a revolution within his discipline. Indeed, he has been described by the New York Times as 'arguably the most important intellectual alive'. How can it be that someone of such apparent eminence is not worthy of consideration when it comes to his views on social and political organisation? As Chomsky himself points out with some amusement, 'If you go back and look at the context of that remark, the sentence was: "arguably the most important intellectual alive, how can he write such nonsense about international affairs and foreign policy?"' To have come to such a strong conclusion about Chomsky's work on issues unrelated to linguistics suggests one of two things. Either he does just dabble in political issues, and is therefore perhaps unaware of significant developments in the field. Or careful consideration has been given to his views, and they have been found wanting

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