the ‘New Left’ on Communism/Socialism & Totalitarian/Fascism

My choice is to dig deeper into Noam Chomsky, as I’ll explain later, and I can only imagine how you’ll loathe the length.  But given that: ‘When Avram Noam Chomksy speaks: People Listen™…the length is unavoidable, imo.)

John Steppling’s Jan. 2, 2018: ‘Communism, Fascism and Green is almost too wide-ranging for me, but it did provide me with incentive to poke about a bit.  He opens with this quote:

In the United States, for over a hundred years, the ruling interests tirelessly propagated anticommunism among the populace, until it became more like a religious orthodoxy than a political analysis.”

– Michael Parenti (Blackshirts and Red)

Echoing Hynes in a third quote he writes that if one wants to ‘stop climate change’, protest war, close the 900 US bases, etc., then:

“Which segues to another trend I am seeing. The rise of what for lack of a better word I’ll call the anti-communist left, of the totalitarian left. There is a position which decries all socialist countries, past and present, as failures. But also simply parodies of “real” socialism. This is nothing new, of course. And while there is a germ of truth in this, the problem is the encoded message that accompanies these critiques. Given the hideous hegemonic growth of U.S. Imperialism, including the NATO countries, the dismissing of socialism as rank failure puts in the service of U.S. anti communism. One becomes allies with the likes of the Dulles Brothers, or Joe McCarthy, or Dick Nixon.

That the Russian and Chinese revolutions achieved almost unimaginable improvements to the lives of nearly everyone in those countries is dismissed. Not even mentioned. As if revolution drops from the sky now and then. That Fidel Castro and Lenin and Mao and Sankara and Ho Chi Minh were all just failures and parodies of real socialism is becoming a very popular meme, and one that coincides with the conflation of communism and fascism. Usually under the rubric of *totalitarian*. Again, in a real world of Imperialist violence and class oppression and manifest inequality, such flagrant hot house beatitudes is very distressing. And it is all but impossible to argue against this (much like the accusation of conspiracy theory) because one is quickly accused of willfully ignoring the flaws and failures that did, in fact, occur. But it feels almost like a demand for a certain kind of perfection. Again, the gains are ignored. [snip]

“But the point is not what worked, or what failed, but rather the alternative. Judging Stalin or Mao or Castro cannot be done from the p.o.v. of western chauvinism. A position that takes for granted the moral primacy of the Imperialist western state. But that is exactly what is happening more and more frequently. And giving any credence to the conflation of socialism and fascism is not just lazy, but deeply reactionary.”

Parts of this paragraph were inscrutable to me even given his earlier references, but the bolded portion is what caused me to go searching:

“So, we have a coalescing of white male repressions projecting outward by way of a latent Puritanical reflex, one that must keep someone in the stocks, with an insidious white nationalism out to create hierarchies within hierarchies regards passports and citizenship — in the interest of controlling surplus populations, and a neo left anti- communism made up of a structural Ayn Randian Capitalism, with equal parts Lyndon LaRouche, and Hannah Arendt by way of Noam Chomsky.

“The desire for “real socialism”, as a criticism, was summarised by Michael Parenti years ago…

“But a real socialism, it is argued, would be controlled by the workers themselves through direct participation instead of being run by Leninists, Stalinists, Castroites, or other ill-willed, power-hungry, bureaucratic, cabals of evil men who betray revolutions. Unfortunately, this “pure socialism” view is ahistorical and nonfalsifiable; it cannot be tested against the actualities of history. It compares an ideal against an imperfect reality, and the reality comes off a poor second. It imagines what socialism would be like in a world far better than this one, where no strong state structure or security force is required, where none of the value produced by workers needs to be expropriated to rebuild society and defend it from invasion and internal sabotage.

“Trump actually declared Nov 7th a national day for the victims of communism. No, this is not The Onion.”

As I hadn’t even finished typing ‘Hanna Arendt’ into my Firefox bar, the most curious thing happened: a Tweet dropped down among seven or so prompts below to an exposé of Arendt’s racist/racialist? screed on Africans.  I was flummoxed, to say the least, and yes, I did poke about for more, but that’s a story for another day…perhaps, and if I dare.  Digging deeper into convention brands ain’t always…appreciated, let’s say.

But given my earlier vexation with Chomsky, added to the fact that his 90th birthday was being celebrated, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without bumping into glittering paeans to the World’s Most Trusted Anarchist Academic, etc., I chose Chomsky.

In Stephen Gowan’s What’s Left 2013 ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…Nor Will It Be Brought To You By Russell Brand, Oliver Stone Or Noam Chomsky’, the author offers:

“For Stone’s and Kuznick’s benefit here’s a brief history to fill the gaps of their knowledge”

He brings brief narratives on Kim Il Sung, Mao, a more lengthy one Stalin, including:

“As to the perennial charge that Stalin murdered millions, we can dismiss this as an unexamined legend that everyone believes to be true because someone (they just can’t remember who) told them it was, and about which they can provide no details, like who, how, when and why? [the late and great] William Blum writes:

We’ve all heard the figures many times…10 million…20 million…40 million…60 million…died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt….Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting.” [long snip]

“Noam Chomsky is an endless source of slurs against Leninism, which he equates with “counterrevolution”,  a heterodox view of what revolution is, but certainly consistent with the Brand-edited New Statesman view that it’s something other than what you always thought it was, and what you always thought it was is actually quite a bad thing that should be avoided altogether. I suppose it should come as no surprise that Chomsky answers the question, “What does revolution mean to you?”, with an attack on Lenin, the leader of a revolution that succeeded, and praise for Rosa Luxemburg, a leader of an attempted socialist revolution that failed. Chomsky writes:

“I cannot improve on Rosa Luxemburg’s eloquent critique of Leninist doctrine: a true social revolution requires a ‘spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois class rule…it is only by extirpating the habits of obedience and servility to the last root that the working class can acquire the understanding of a new form of discipline, self-discipline arising from free consent.’ And as part of this ‘spiritual transformation’, a true social revolution will, furthermore create—by the spontaneous activity of the mass of the population—the social forms that enable people to act as free creative individuals, with social bonds replacing social fetters, controlling their own destiny in freedom and solidarity.” [snip]

Chomsky has enormous respect for those who have failed at revolution, and enormous contempt for those who have succeeded. If we were to follow his lead and emulate the failures, while eschewing the successes, we would be sure to arrive at the same place the National Post wanted young political activists to arrive at: a political dead-end. Brand’s edition of the New Statesman follows in the same vein. Its positive statements are reserved for political action that leaves the established order in place: Chopra’s “internal revolution”; Apatow’s comedy; Lebedev’s evolution; Martinez’s new thinking; Tim Street’s “democracy.” Its negative statements are reserved for the revolutions that actually brought about the “revolutionary transformations of the deepest and most profound sort” that Stone and Kuznick say they want. So, the message is clear. Light a joint, work on your kindness and generosity, demand that corporations put people before profits, watch a Marx Brother’s movie, and tell Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim to fuck off.”

But I struck gold (so to speak) with Popaganda, lorenzoae’s wordpress, ‘Chomsky vs. Parenti, part 3: Support For “Actually Existing” Systems – Anti-Communism’ May 31, 2016.

This is meant as a look at some of the areas where Noam Chomsky and Michael Parenti differ most visibly in their analysis and biases. Given their similarities, comparing the two provides a rare opportunity at substitution analysis: to quote Chomsky himself, “you can’t do experiments in history, but here history was kind enough to set one up for us.” In short, the differences in Chomsky versus Parenti’s positions makes for a useful case study in what ideas genuinely make one a candidate for marginalization, versus what ideas are actually quite acceptable despite their transgressive veneers. Click here for an all-in-one post.”

(A few bits from a long essay):

“Chomsky pursues this line of attack throughout his career. In the Manufacturing Consent documentary, he equates Josephs Stalin and Goebbels. As Michael Parenti writes in his essay “Another View on Chomsky,” “Like Orwell and most bourgeois opinion makers and academics, Chomsky treats Communism and fascism as totalitarian twins, offering no class analysis of either, except to assert that they are both rooted in some unspecified way to today’s corporate domination. In Z Magazine, four years after the Soviet Union had been overthrown, Chomsky warns us of ‘left intellectuals’ who try to ‘rise to power on the backs of mass popular movements’ and ‘then beat the people into submission…You start off as basically a Leninist who is going to be part of the Red bureaucracy. You see later that power doesn’t lie that way, and you very quickly become an ideologist of the Right’.” As in the case of Lenin, the right-wing deviant. And while Chomsky treats communism as identical to fascism, it’s often the case that the worst thing that Chomsky can say about the excesses of the American system is that it resembles communism (as he perceives it). Chomsky criticizes the secret negotiations and lobbying work that went into crafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as “adopted in good Stalinist style.” [snip]

“Not for nothing does Martin Niemöller’s famous poem begin with “first they came for the Socialists…” There are mountains of historical evidence that capitalist states tolerate or even prefer fascism in times of crisis—admiration which is often reciprocated, as in the case of Adolf Hitler drawing inspiration for Nazi race laws from Western colonialism and Jim Crow. The latter is one of the comparisons made by Domenico Losurdo in his text “Stalin and Hitler: Twin Brothers or Mortal Enemies?,” which finds in favor of the latter interpretation by marshalling a great deal of evidence, in stark contrast to Chomsky’s vague references to “neo-Hegelian doctrines.” In fact, Chomsky’s conception of modern corporatism as a truly bad kind of capitalism places him in the company of doctrinaire liberals, who argue that capitalism was mostly fine until Ronald Reagan came and ruined it. Chomsky’s claims that American democracy has become unmoored and is “drifting” towards plutocracy situates his criticism as a liberal one—the idea that a country born as slaveholding settler-colonial empire could function in an essentially benign way is plenty of things, but socialist is not on the list.”

“In post-9/11 editions of Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, the “anti-communism” filter has been updated to “counter-terrorism” for the War on Terror era. This might seem a reasonable enough change, though it now aligns communism with both the nihilistic killings of al Qaeda as well as Nazism. However, two articles in 2015 show that Chomsky’s tweak to Manufacturing Consent might have some shortcomings. First was the article “Flakes Alive!” in Baffler magazine, deriding the “truthers, tankies, and tofu” that ruin socialism for decent Democrats. By way of smearing these “flakes” at New York’s annual Left Forum, the author identified the “wackjob nadir” as a panel that “featured at least one ‘tankie,’ slang for Soviet apologist, or actual Stalinist.” Left Forum bills itself as the “largest annual conference of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public.” Left Forum is the largest conference for Leftists, but even a single defender of the Soviet Union is outré enough to earn smears from even a progressivey-leftish publication. The USSR was both the first large-scale experiment in a worker’s state, and the largest socialist nation in the world—why shouldn’t defenders of the Soviet Union, even defenders of Stalin, be present at such a gathering, numbering in the dozens or the hundreds?”

In ‘The Mainstream and the Margins: Noam Chomsky vs. Michael Parenti, May 2016, lorenzoae brings:

“As mentioned earlier, Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent was the second comprehensive look at how the media’s owners determine what is broadcast. As early as 1845, Karl Marx explained that “the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.” Though there are many books probing the nature of broadcast media, Michael Parenti’s Inventing Reality (1986) was the first to provide an in-depth analysis of the corporate nature of the media using Marx’s dictum as a thesis. Despite Herman and Chomsky’s book coming two years later, the two don’t mention Parenti at all,  instead thanking Australian psychologist Alex Carey for inspiring their work (John Pilger, perhaps revealingly, credits Carey as a “second Orwell”).

Even a cursory glance at Inventing Reality’s contents reveals extensive similarities between Parenti’s analysis and that of Herman and Chomsky—hearing Parenti discuss his book at length further cements the commonalities. In fact, beyond these two works, Chomsky and Parenti share a great deal alike. Like his superstar counterpart, Parenti has produced mountains of scholarship and given dozens of easily accessible speeches and presentations. Parenti has been a strident critic of capitalism and imperialism for decades, writing over two dozen books on nearly every conceivable issue that relates to those subjects. In a neat biographical synchronicity, both are even octogenarian New Yorkers.

However, unlike Chomsky, Parenti can’t claim everyone from Bono to Radiohead as prominent fans. Chomsky’s influence is particularly felt now during the interminable American election cycle; as Kevin Dooley points out in an excellent post on Chomsky, he “is always at his most visible during election season,” when he can be found churning out almost-weekly interviews warning about the dangers of not voting Democrat. Video of Noam Chomsky’s latest event was uploaded less than a week ago, from a discussion with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis held at the New York Public Library; in contrast, Parenti’s last uploaded speech was from a decidedly more low-key affair held at a Canadian university in 2014.

All this is to say that, despite their similar territory and Chomsky’s reputation, Noam Chomsky looks very much like a mainstream figure, and the label of marginalized outsider would be applied more appropriately to Parenti. To one who is skeptical of Chomsky’s outsider reputation, he looks less like a silenced dissident and more like the leftmost margin of permissible criticism—the point at which an idea decisively departs the realm of mainstream acceptability and automatically becomes tinfoil-hat territory.”

His  Part II ‘Conspiracy Theorism’ has too many Chomsky quotes and beliefs to bring, really,  but a couple shorthanded examples:

“Speculation was further fueled when former federal counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said that Hastings’ accident was “consistent with a car cyber attack.” In response, Noam Chomsky claimed that “conspiracy theories” around Hastings’ death were counterproductive, and it was a better use of one’s mental energies to focus on the plight of imprisoned activists like Barrett Brown.”

“Tarzie points out that “we hear variations on this all the time on the Left, among people desperate to align themselves with the serious people for good radical reasons, no matter how blatantly non-analytical it requires them to be. A variation on the above is that conspiracy theories ‘ignore/obfuscate systemic analysis,’ which if you haven’t noticed is a concept that’s all the rage among people who like to tell people to shut up in fancy schmancy ways, not just about conspiracies. Surely the most dramatic manifestation of this bullshit—and surely the inspiration for a lot of it—is Noam Chomsky’s famous insistence that it really doesn’t matter who brought down the World Trade Center [or killed John F. Kennedy]. ‘Who cares?‘ the world’s most important intellectual said around the time.”

“In contrast to Chomsky’s stunning incuriosity, Michael Parenti has written the best material in defense of substantive conspiracy analysis—really, inductive reasoning—as has been produced in the English language. Deploying his trademark wit in a speech titled “Understanding Deep Politics [55-minute (arrggh) video].

From Part 5 Lesser Evilism, May 2016.

“The constant imputation of good intentions to Democrats, regardless of evidence, is something Chomsky does quite often—for instance, he speculates that Senator Elizabeth Warren supports Israel because “She probably knows nothing about the Middle East.” However, Chomsky extends these good graces to the internal affairs of the United States itself.  Chomsky will expound upon legions of horrors, but his conclusions in the past several years generally go something like this—by way of telling Americans that the “2016 election puts us at risk of utter disaster,” Chomsky says:

With all its flaws, America is still a very free and open society, by comparative standards. Elections surely matter. It would, in my opinion, be an utter disaster for the country, the world and future generations if any of the viable Republican candidates were to reach the White House, and if they continue to control Congress.”and further  white-washing.

He also quotes  Glen Ford noting that Democrats are ‘the more effective evil’.  In conclusion, he offers this from Kevin Dooley:

In the face of all this reactionary pressure, the importance of maintaining actual socialist principles can’t be overstated. The reason why things like lesser-evil advocacy need to be resisted so strongly is because of its pernicious effect on many people’s ability to reject the spectacle and see how their class interests are being sabotaged by people who present themselves as allies of progress. Ceding ourselves to a Democrat that signals towards our politics or public intellectuals who constantly use their platforms to counsel the tactical wisdom of compromise instead of the urgent necessity of revolution will continue to lead us exactly where we are. The sooner we remove these influences and start building something based on our own principles the better.


(cross-posted at

16 responses to “the ‘New Left’ on Communism/Socialism & Totalitarian/Fascism

  1. I have been re-reading Dostoievski’s “The Devils” and going way too slowly thanks to the roof requirements under a depth of snow we’ve never before experienced out here, so forgive me – I did go to the brief excerpt from Chomsky, and there is truth in much of the critique of his analysis, as there is even in his analysis of the other side of things. For there to have been such veneration for the body of Lenin means that there were people who benefited from his regime, as also there was much suffering under it.

    I skipped through, in my reading of the Dostoievski, because I wanted to revisit the final scene of the main character, who is I believe Stepan Trofimovitch, who is, for those who haven’t read the novel, a modern version of Don Quixote. On his deathbed, he is given some very telling words to say:

    “…If God exists, then I, too, am immortal! Voila ma profession de foi —”

    “There is God — believe me Stepan, I know,” Mrs. Stavrogin said beseechingly. “Forget about your silly games for this once!”

    She apparently hadn’t quite understood his profession de foi….

    “…Just the constant realization that there exists something infinitely more just and happy than I is enough to fill me with a limitless joy and pride whatever I may be and whatever I may have done! Much more than he needs happiness for himself man needs to know and to believe at every moment of his life that somewhere there is an absolute and assured happiness for everyone, including himself. The law of human existence consists of man’s always having something infinitely great to worship….”

    So it was with communism. There was a Great Idea behind it, and there were men trying to achieve it. Some things they did were very good, some were not. And too with the ideals on which this country was founded. Men had to put them into practice, so they set about doing things, Some things were good. Some were not.

    I guess we go back to the drawing board. It would be nice if we could extract the good from each and eliminate the not good. But still, a certain cohesive transition, a gentle forbearance, would be very helpful, that ‘soft landing’ that keeps a dying regime functioning to a certain extent. Chaos and the ensuing violence that accompanies it doesn’t always accomplish what the followers of the Idea had in mind when they brought it about.

    • thanks for the heady quotes from dostoyevsky, ww. i’m not sure which quotes, etc., you’re comparing, but as far as capitalism, its only function is to increase capital, mainly by stealing the fruits of the planet, and the fruits of labor. (the working class)…toward that end.

      now the DSAs like bernie and ocasio2018 are *reform capitalists*, which is why i included the quote in cranberry at the bottom. they act as placeholders for capitalism, as dos noam chomsky, imo. the ruination of the planet has been accomplished by: capitalists and imperialists raping the planet for anything of value, esp. by way of militarism, which is close to 80% of the US carbon footprint.

      but the current global version of capitalism: neoliberalism, is finally waking up suffering citizens to that darkness, hence: the yellow vest movements, strikes, etc. dunno where it will all go, of course, but it’s pretty heady for now.

  2. You see, even going back to the bad qualities of religions which cause folk to jettison any such talk – there were good things about faith and its child, idealism. Cynicism is all we are left with if you throw everything out. Listen to the dying Stepan once again:

    “My immortality is necessary only because God would not wish to do anything unjust and put out the flame of love once it was kindled in my heart. And what is more precious than love? Love is higher than existence – love is the crown [his name, Stepan, means ‘crown’] of existence, so how can existence not be subordinate to love? Since I have come to love Him and am happy because of this love, how could He extinguish me and my happiness and turn me into a zero?…”

    I wonder if the binding element of our attempts to find a functioning democracy lies with that ‘flame of love’ as we relate to other governments and their similar attempt to provide for their people? I think both Russia and China are making the attempt in this manner. Taking what was good about their historical past, and incorporating it into the present, for the future.

    Time present [capitalism]and time past [communism]
    Are both perhaps present in time future, [belt road initiative]
    And time future contained in time past.[good government ideas from both]
    If all time [good and bad from both] is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable. [continuing cold war]

    That’s T.S.Eliot, with my bracket interpretations mucking it up.

    • now you’re equating Faith and Religion here, but i don’t think that’s correct, even as an apatheist. but it’s a bit hard for me to sort thru in my limited time. i appreciate your attempt to bring the flame of love to bear toward other governments, and i can agree as far as present-day russia, not sure about china; i don’t know enough.

      but both nations are in search of a multi-polar world (and are winning), which i find valuable in itself.

      great to see you, juliania, as always. yotta snow, though? well, good; we’ve had some, and consider it a blessing beyond blessings. ;-) and now tht mr. wd’s eyes have healed from his cataract surgeries, i don’t even have to schelpp the firewood in. wooot!

  3. Faith is the good side of religion, which has a bad side in historical happenings, just as (I was clumsily trying to say, communist governance and capitalist governance have as well.) I’d been puzzling over the Four Quartets opening lines so they sort of linked themselves in there, the naughty things. ( I have to say, though, that’s the first glint of understanding I’ve had about that line about ‘all time’. It goes with Stepan’s words about ‘whatever I may be and whatever I have done’ -that’s his ‘all time’ and the bad parts of it don’t matter! It’s his loving and lovable person that matters.)

    I do agree that multipolarity is the saving grace – just as small, unique communities keep that important flame of connection alive. My goodness, I couldn’t touch your scholarship here, nor make any sense out of Chomsky – so I went off on a literary ramble of my own – sorry about that!

    Yes, snow and more snow – very good for parched junipers and pinons. And teeny green crocus shoots just poking up through damp earth. Bravo, Mr. W! Here, my lost prodigal has returned – much rejoicing in my innermost heart! He’s far better wielding the snow shovel than I am.

    • wee may be talking past one another as to ‘faith ad religion’, so i won’t comment further on that. 9 on edit: i might have added that you’re far closer to the subject, while my thoughts/images are pretty amorphous, to say the least.

      but as to the good parts of capitalism, and just in amerika:

      this nation was founded on native american genocide and slavery, = american capitalism. and as john steppling hat noted in his essay: indian genocidaire andrew jackson got his photo on a twenty dollar bill, arrrgh, others were celebrated widely, and still are today, and i can’t not bring in the new pope’s having beatified the dark junipero sera. the constitution was based on property ownership (the elite founding fathers). one might say that with ever-increasing neoliberalism, the commons are being privatized, the new slaves are workers and the disappearance of the social safety net by continuing grand bargain austerity, even as the wealth disparity continues to rise to the sky. globally, it’s much the same. but actual socialism (not the DSA sort) would be defined, and is, by anyone choosing to define it, but at the most basic: the power of the people upward, not top downward. kinda like the zapatistas, imo.

      fine on the ramble, i know how you love eliot and have shown me/us a lot of the time traveler’s poetry , even at moon of alabama. ;-)

      mr. wd says that the maps are showing you’re getting snow-bombed again now; all we have is horrific wind.


    Foucault undercuts Chomsky. If Amerikkka had a vigorous intellectual culture, would Chomsky be so lauded? From the “intellectual” belly of the beast (MIT) Chomsky put out the put down to uppity “radicals” (like O’Bomber was “at liberty” to insult half a race). Strange, do you think?

    • look who’s back! i haven’t the 14 minutes to spare right now, but i’ll try to listen to it in a bit. dayum, even that young his voice was creepy. myself, i think ‘intellectuals’ in general miss the mark, but i suppose parenti is one as well. zero on the glass this a.m., brrrrr, and it’s not even first light yet….

  5. Despite Chomsky attacking the Rand Corporation, its ‘cognitive paradigm’ agenda was complemented by his claims for linguistics as a natural science. He compared the human capacity for language with a digital machine conferring innate ideas and structures. His 1957 book Syntactic Structures ‘was the snowball which began the avalanche of the modern “cognitive revolution”’, according to David Lightfoot’s new 2002 Introduction. Through his linguistics theory, ‘More than any other figure, Chomsky defined the intellectual climate in the English-speaking world in the second half of the twentieth century’, further argues David Golumbia (cited in Decoding Chomsky).

    Chomsky thus played on both sides of a double movement; one reviling the inhumanity of American crapitalist expropriation and the other propagating conceptual exclusion of socialistic theory, thus garnering fame on both sides. Is this some personal appropriation of dialectic?

    • i sure do wish you’d brought your expertise and knowledge a month ago, as you’re 10x more learned on the broader subject than i. check that: 20x. but even reading this much was fine, axe, even though beyond my academic heft. i admit i’d looked up a couple of the authors, and tried to find some text on the foucaut/chomsky debate, but…i ran out of time, if indeed, i could have understood much of it.

      our seldom-seen son may be coming here (400 mi. away) tomorrow or tues., ‘weather-permitting’, but weather underground indicates a big No to that. so many mountain passes for the expected blizzards. but we figured we needed to clean up a bit just in case, not that i’m much help on a crutch. ; )

  6. [Chomsky’s] science/politics binary unwittingly resonates with the capitalist modernisation project that he attacked.

    As understood by Max Weber, modernisation devises a scientific rationality for expert solutions to societal problems; efficiency calculations displace emotions and sympathy. Structured in a bureaucracy, such imperatives impose an ‘iron cage’ on participants. Although Weber expressed some ambivalence towards modernisation, it has become widely equated with societal progress in elite agendas.

    For at least three centuries, the modernisation project has elaborated a calculative-instrumental reason undermining non-capitalist social bonds, thus marginalising subaltern versions of truth and reality. It has devised a scientistic ideology of technical knowledge, as if devoid of any socio-political content. Professional experts have often seen the science/politics binary as a strategic protection against political interference, yet the binary has effectively concealed policy assumptions within expertise.

    In 2002 Edward Said wrote about the public role of intellectuals, echoing Chomsky’s 1967 phrase:

    ‘The cult of expertise has never ruled the world of discourse as much as it now does in the USA. Another reason is that even though the USA is actually full of intellectuals hard at work filling the airwaves, print, and cyberspace with their effusions, the public realm is so taken up with questions of policy and government, as well as with considerations of power and authority….’

    Edward Said’s essay cited Pierre Bourdieu on the ‘symbolic domination which increasingly relies on the authority of science…’, e.g. in methods for classifying socio-economic groups. According to Bourdieu, scientific authority helps to disguise such domination, even amongst the people being dominated […]

    Simultaneously, Chomsky was propagating the technocratic thought-collective and feeding an antagonist. That must have been a very intoxicating game.

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