Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What We Say Goes by Noam Chomsky

This 6 hour long series of questions and answers between Noam Chomsky and interviewer David Barsamian from 2006-2007 is an excellent introduction to Chomsky’s (non-linguistic) perspective on the world. Given Chomsky’s breadth of knowledge and how he links topics, it is tempting to say that book is about everything, but that can vagueness can probably be boiled down to one theme: the discussion of power and how power influence peoples thoughts and actions.
A more specific topic list can be found from the product description: Noam Chomsky explores the most immediate and urgent concerns: Iran's challenge to the United States, the deterioration of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of China, and the growing power of the left in Latin America, as well as the Democratic victory in the 2006 U.S. midterm elections and the upcoming presidential race.
All those topics and more are discussed, and in each one Chomsky presents a viewpoint that is counter to what most media outlets and governments provide. A criticism is that sometimes he could be clearer about how much intention and purposeful organization is behind the calamities of justice and moral consistency that he so often describes. I also so often wonder what drives him to keep doing so much. Justice? Duty? I wonder if he enjoys it or has decided it is the right thing to do (or both)?

I highly recommend this work. The uninitiated will get a understanding of what Chomsky believes and why he is so controversial, while those familiar will get useful, rational analysis of important events and a reminder to be ever critical of the types of acceptable discourse.


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