Noam Chomsky

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To discuss this and much more, RT interviews Professor Noam Chomsky, political activist, philosopher, and author. RT: Professor Chomsky, thank you very much for joining us today. You said that president Obama is simply recycling Bush's plans when it...
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Noted American peace activist Noam Chomsky has made the observation, "Israel could have security, normalization of relations and integration into the region. But it very clearly prefers illegal expansion, conflict and repeated exercises of violence ....
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The feature film is the 2003 documentary "Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without A Pause," directed by Will Pascoe. In it linguist, intellectual, and activist Noam Chomsky discusses and reflects on the state of world events including the war in Iraq,...
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Two years earlier, Noam Chomsky, another leading leftist writer based at MIT, traveled to Lebanon in May 2006 to pay tribute to Hezbollah, the world's largest terrorist army. While meeting with a top leader of Hezbollah, Mr. Chomsky declared President...

Noam Chomsky

Noam chomsky cropped.jpg

Avram Noam Chomsky (pronounced /noʊm ˈtʃɒmski/; born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor emeritus and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident, an anarchist, and a libertarian socialist intellectual.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980–92 period, and was the eighth most-cited source. He is also considered a prominent cultural figure. At the same time, his status as a leading critic of US foreign policy has made him controversial.

Chomsky remembers the first article he wrote was at age 10 while a student at Oak Lane Country Day School about the threat of the spread of fascism, following the fall of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War. From the age of 12 or 13, he identified more fully with anarchist politics.

A graduate of Central High School of Philadelphia, Chomsky began studying philosophy and linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1945, taking classes with philosophers such as C. West Churchman and Nelson Goodman and linguist Zellig Harris. Harris's teaching included his discovery of transformations as a mathematical analysis of language structure (mappings from one subset to another in the set of sentences). Chomsky referred to the morphophonemic rules in his 1951 Master's Thesis, The Morphophonemics of Modern Hebrew, as transformations in the sense of Carnap's 1938 notion of rules of transformation (vs. rules of formation), and subsequently reinterpreted the notion of grammatical transformations in a very different way from Harris, as operations on the productions of a context-free grammar (derived from Post production systems). Harris's political views were instrumental in shaping those of Chomsky. Chomsky earned a BA in 1949 and an MA in 1951.

In 1949, he married linguist Carol Schatz. They remained married for 59 years until her death from cancer in December 2008. The couple had two daughters, Aviva (b. 1957) and Diane (b. 1960), and a son, Harry (b. 1967).

Chomsky received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He conducted part of his doctoral research during four years at Harvard University as a Harvard Junior Fellow. In his doctoral thesis, he began to develop some of his linguistic ideas, elaborating on them in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures, his best-known work in linguistics.

Chomsky joined the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 and in 1961 was appointed full professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics (now the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy). From 1966 to 1976 he held the Ferrari P. Ward Professorship of Modern Languages and Linguistics, and in 1976 he was appointed Institute Professor. As of 2008, Chomsky has taught at MIT continuously for 53 years.

In February 1967, Chomsky became one of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War with the publication of his essay, "The Responsibility of Intellectuals", in The New York Review of Books. This was followed by his 1969 book, American Power and the New Mandarins, a collection of essays which established him at the forefront of American dissent. His far-reaching criticisms of US foreign policy and the legitimacy of US power have made him a controversial figure: largely shunned by the mainstream media in the United States, he is frequently sought out for his views by publications and news outlets worldwide.

Chomsky has received death threats because of his criticisms of US foreign policy. He was also on a list of planned targets created by Theodore Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber; during the period that Kaczynski was at large, Chomsky had all of his mail checked for explosives. He states that he often receives undercover police protection, in particular while on the MIT campus, although he does not agree with the police protection.

Chomsky resides in Lexington, Massachusetts and travels often, giving lectures on politics.

Chomskyan linguistics, beginning with his Syntactic Structures, a distillation of his Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory (1955, 75), challenges structural linguistics and introduces transformational grammar. This theory takes utterances (sequences of words) to have a syntax which can be characterized by a formal grammar; in particular, a context-free grammar extended with transformational rules.

Children are hypothesized to have an innate knowledge of the basic grammatical structure common to all human languages (i.e., they assume that any language which they encounter is of a certain restricted kind). This innate knowledge is often referred to as universal grammar. It is argued that modeling knowledge of language using a formal grammar accounts for the "productivity" of language: with a limited set of grammar rules and a finite set of terms, humans are able to produce an infinite number of sentences, including sentences no one has previously said. He has always acknowledged his debt to Pāṇini for his modern notion of an explicit generative grammar. This is related to Rationalist ideas of a priori knowledge, in that it is not due to experience.

The Principles and Parameters approach (P&P)—developed in his Pisa 1979 Lectures, later published as Lectures on Government and Binding (LGB)—make strong claims regarding universal grammar: that the grammatical principles underlying languages are innate and fixed, and the differences among the world's languages can be characterized in terms of parameter settings in the brain (such as the pro-drop parameter, which indicates whether an explicit subject is always required, as in English, or can be optionally dropped, as in Spanish), which are often likened to switches. (Hence the term principles and parameters, often given to this approach.) In this view, a child learning a language need only acquire the necessary lexical items (words, grammatical morphemes, and idioms), and determine the appropriate parameter settings, which can be done based on a few key examples.

Proponents of this view argue that the pace at which children learn languages is inexplicably rapid, unless children have an innate ability to learn languages. The similar steps followed by children all across the world when learning languages, and the fact that children make certain characteristic errors as they learn their first language, whereas other seemingly logical kinds of errors never occur (and, according to Chomsky, should be attested if a purely general, rather than language-specific, learning mechanism were being employed), are also pointed to as motivation for innateness.

More recently, in his Minimalist Program (1995), while retaining the core concept of "principles and parameters," Chomsky attempts a major overhaul of the linguistic machinery involved in the LGB model, stripping from it all but the barest necessary elements, while advocating a general approach to the architecture of the human language faculty that emphasizes principles of economy and optimal design, reverting to a derivational approach to generation, in contrast with the largely representational approach of classic P&P.

In 1999, research done at the Grabscheid Clinical and Research Center for Voice Disorders at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City showed that slow tonic muscle fibers in the muscles of human vocal cords do not exist in other mammals, creating support and a possible explanation for Chomsky's theories.

Chomsky's ideas have had a strong influence on researchers investigating the acquisition of language in children, though some researchers who work in this area today do not support Chomsky's theories, instead advocating emergentist or connectionist theories reducing language to an instance of general processing mechanisms in the brain.

He also theorizes that unlimited extension of a language such as English is possible only by the recursive device of embedding sentences in sentences.

His best-known work in phonology is The Sound Pattern of English (1968), written with Morris Halle (and often known as simply SPE). This work has had a great significance for the development in the field. While phonological theory has since moved beyond "SPE phonology" in many important respects, the SPE system is considered the precursor of some of the most influential phonological theories today, including autosegmental phonology, lexical phonology and optimality theory. Chomsky no longer publishes on phonology.

The Chomskyan approach towards syntax, often termed generative grammar, studies grammar as a body of knowledge possessed by language users. Since the 1960s, Chomsky has maintained that much of this knowledge is innate, implying that children need only learn certain parochial features of their native languages. The innate body of linguistic knowledge is often termed Universal Grammar. From Chomsky's perspective, the strongest evidence for the existence of Universal Grammar is simply the fact that children successfully acquire their native languages in so little time. Furthermore, he argues that there is an enormous gap between the linguistic stimuli to which children are exposed and the rich linguistic knowledge which they attain (the "poverty of the stimulus" argument). The knowledge of Universal Grammar would serve to bridge that gap.

Chomsky's theories are popular, particularly in the United States, but they have never been free from controversy. Criticism has come from a number of different directions. Chomskyan linguists rely heavily on the intuitions of native speakers regarding which sentences of their languages are well-formed. This practice has been criticized both on general methodological grounds, and because it has (some argue) led to an overemphasis on the study of English. As of now, hundreds of different languages have received at least some attention in the generative grammar literature, but some critics nonetheless perceive this overemphasis, and a tendency to base claims about Universal Grammar on an overly small sample of languages. Some psychologists and psycholinguists, though sympathetic to Chomsky's overall program, have argued that Chomskyan linguists pay insufficient attention to experimental data from language processing, with the consequence that their theories are not psychologically plausible. More radical critics have questioned whether it is necessary to posit Universal Grammar in order to explain child language acquisition, arguing that domain-general learning mechanisms are sufficient.

Today there are many different branches of generative grammar; one can view grammatical frameworks such as head-driven phrase structure grammar, lexical functional grammar and combinatory categorial grammar as broadly Chomskyan and generative in orientation, but with significant differences in execution.

Cultural anthropologist and linguist Daniel Everett of Illinois State University has proposed that the language of the Pirahã people of the northwestern rainforest of Brazil resists Chomsky's theories of generative grammar. Everett asserts that the Pirahã language does not have any evidence of recursion, one of the key properties of generative grammar. Additionally, it is claimed that the Pirahan have no fixed words for colors or numbers, speak in single phonemes, and often speak in prosody. However, Everett's claims have themselves been criticized. David Pesetsky of MIT, Andrew Nevins of Harvard, and Cilene Rodrigues of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil have argued in a joint paper that all of Everett's major claims contain serious deficiencies. Chomsky himself has commented that "The reports are interesting, but do not bear on the work of mine (along with many others). No one has proposed that languages must have subordinate clauses, number words, etc. Many structures of our language (and presumably that of the Piraha) are rarely if ever used in ordinary speech because of extrinsic constraints." The dispute continues.

Chomsky is famous for investigating various kinds of formal languages and whether or not they might be capable of capturing key properties of human language. His Chomsky hierarchy partitions formal grammars into classes, or groups, with increasing expressive power, i.e., each successive class can generate a broader set of formal languages than the one before. Interestingly, Chomsky argues that modeling some aspects of human language requires a more complex formal grammar (as measured by the Chomsky hierarchy) than modeling others. For example, while a regular language is powerful enough to model English morphology, it is not powerful enough to model English syntax. In addition to being relevant in linguistics, the Chomsky hierarchy has also become important in computer science (especially in compiler construction and automata theory).

Chomsky's work in linguistics has had profound implications for modern psychology. For Chomsky, linguistics is a branch of cognitive psychology; genuine insights in linguistics imply concomitant understandings of aspects of mental processing and human nature. His theory of a universal grammar was seen by many as a direct challenge to the established behaviorist theories of the time and had major consequences for understanding how language is learned by children and what, exactly, the ability to use language is. Many of the more basic principles of this theory (though not necessarily the stronger claims made by the principles and parameters approach described above) are now generally accepted in some circles.

In 1959, Chomsky published an influential critique of B.F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, a book in which Skinner offered a theoretical account of language in functional, behavioral terms. "Verbal behavior" he defined as learned behavior which has its characteristic consequences being delivered through the learned behavior of others; this makes for a view of communicative behaviors much larger than that usually addressed by linguists. Skinner's approach focused on the circumstances in which language was used; for example, asking for water was functionally a different response than labeling something as water, responding to someone asking for water, etc. These functionally different kinds of responses, which required in turn separate explanations, sharply contrasted both with traditional notions of language and Chomsky's psycholinguistic approach. Chomsky thought that a functionalist explanation restricting itself to questions of communicative performance ignored important questions. (Chomsky-Language and Mind, 1968). He focused on questions concerning the operation and development of innate structures for syntax capable of creatively organizing, cohering, adapting and combining words and phrases into intelligible utterances.

In the review Chomsky emphasized that the scientific application of behavioral principles from animal research is severely lacking in explanatory adequacy and is furthermore particularly superficial as an account of human verbal behavior because a theory restricting itself to external conditions, to "what is learned", cannot adequately account for generative grammar. Chomsky raised the examples of rapid language acquisition of children, including their quickly developing ability to form grammatical sentences, and the universally creative language use of competent native speakers to highlight the ways in which Skinner's view exemplified under-determination of theory by evidence. He argued that to understand human verbal behavior such as the creative aspects of language use and language development, one must first postulate a genetic linguistic endowment. The assumption that important aspects of language are the product of universal innate ability runs counter to Skinner's radical behaviorism.

Chomsky's 1959 review has drawn fire from a number of critics, the most famous criticism being that of Kenneth MacCorquodale's 1970 paper On Chomsky’s Review of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, volume 13, pages 83–99). This and similar critiques have raised certain points not generally acknowledged outside of behavioral psychology, such as the claim that Chomsky did not possess an adequate understanding of either behavioral psychology in general, or the differences between Skinner's behaviorism and other varieties; consequently, it is argued that he made several serious errors. On account of these perceived problems, the critics maintain that the review failed to demonstrate what it has often been cited as doing. As such, it is averred that those most influenced by Chomsky's paper probably either already substantially agreed with Chomsky or never actually read it. Chomsky has maintained that the review was directed at the way Skinner's variant of behavioral psychology "was being used in Quinean empiricism and naturalization of philosophy".

It has been claimed that Chomsky's critique of Skinner's methodology and basic assumptions paved the way for the "cognitive revolution", the shift in American psychology between the 1950s through the 1970s from being primarily behavioral to being primarily cognitive. In his 1966 Cartesian Linguistics and subsequent works, Chomsky laid out an explanation of human language faculties that has become the model for investigation in some areas of psychology. Much of the present conception of how the mind works draws directly from ideas that found their first persuasive author of modern times in Chomsky.

There are three key ideas. First is that the mind is "cognitive", or that the mind actually contains mental states, beliefs, doubts, and so on. Second, he argued that most of the important properties of language and mind are innate. The acquisition and development of a language is a result of the unfolding of innate propensities triggered by the experiential input of the external environment. The link between human innate aptitude to language and heredity has been at the core of the debate opposing Noam Chomsky to Jean Piaget at the Abbaye de Royaumont in 1975 (Language and Learning. The Debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky, Harvard University Press, 1980). Although links between the genetic setup of humans and aptitude to language have been suggested at that time and in later discussions, we are still far from understanding the genetic bases of human language. Work derived from the model of selective stabilization of synapses set up by Jean-Pierre Changeux, Philippe Courrège and Antoine Danchin, and more recently developed experimentally and theoretically by Jacques Mehler and Stanislas Dehaene in particular in the domain of numerical cognition lend support to the Chomskyan "nativism". It does not, however, provide clues about the type of rules that would organize neuronal connections to permit language competence. Subsequent psychologists have extended this general "nativist" thesis beyond language. Lastly, Chomsky made the concept of "modularity" a critical feature of the mind's cognitive architecture. The mind is composed of an array of interacting, specialized subsystems with limited flows of inter-communication. This model contrasts sharply with the old idea that any piece of information in the mind could be accessed by any other cognitive process (optical illusions, for example, cannot be "turned off" even when they are known to be illusions).

I have spent a lot of my life working on questions such as these, using the only methods I know of; those condemned here as "science", "rationality," "logic" and so on. I therefore read the papers with some hope that they would help me "transcend" these limitations, or perhaps suggest an entirely different course. I'm afraid I was disappointed. Admittedly, that may be my own limitation. Quite regularly, "my eyes glaze over" when I read polysyllabic discourse on the themes of poststructuralism and postmodernism; what I understand is largely truism or error, but that is only a fraction of the total word count. True, there are lots of other things I don't understand: the articles in the current issues of math and physics journals, for example. But there is a difference. In the latter case, I know how to get to understand them, and have done so, in cases of particular interest to me; and I also know that people in these fields can explain the contents to me at my level, so that I can gain what (partial) understanding I may want. In contrast, no one seems to be able to explain to me why the latest post-this-and-that is (for the most part) other than truism, error, or gibberish, and I do not know how to proceed.

I think studying science is a good way to get into fields like history. The reason is, you learn what an argument means, you learn what evidence is, you learn what makes sense to postulate and when, what's going to be convincing. You internalize the modes of rational inquiry, which happen to be much more advanced in the sciences than anywhere else. On the other hand, applying relativity theory to history isn't going to get you anywhere. So it's a mode of thinking.

In fact, the entire idea of "white male science" reminds me, I'm afraid, of "Jewish physics." Perhaps it is another inadequacy of mine, but when I read a scientific paper, I can't tell whether the author is white or is male. The same is true of discussion of work in class, the office, or somewhere else. I rather doubt that the non-white, non-male students, friends, and colleagues with whom I work would be much impressed with the doctrine that their thinking and understanding differ from "white male science" because of their "culture or gender and race." I suspect that "surprise" would not be quite the proper word for their reaction.

Chomsky has stated that his "personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in The Enlightenment and classical liberalism" and he has praised libertarian socialism. He is a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism and a member of the IWW union. He has published a book on anarchism titled, "Chomsky on Anarchism", which was published by the anarchist book collective, AK Press, in 2006.

One can, of course, take the position that we don't care about the problems people face today, and want to think about a possible tomorrow. OK, but then don't pretend to have any interest in human beings and their fate, and stay in the seminar room and intellectual coffee house with other privileged people. Or one can take a much more humane position: I want to work, today, to build a better society for tomorrow -- the classical anarchist position, quite different from the slogans in the question. That's exactly right, and it leads directly to support for the people facing problems today: for enforcement of health and safety regulation, provision of national health insurance, support systems for people who need them, etc. That is not a sufficient condition for organizing for a different and better future, but it is a necessary condition. Anything else will receive the well-merited contempt of people who do not have the luxury to disregard the circumstances in which they live, and try to survive.

Chomskyan models have been used as a theoretical basis in several other fields. The Chomsky hierarchy is often taught in fundamental computer science courses as it confers insight into the various types of formal languages. This hierarchy can also be discussed in mathematical terms and has generated interest among mathematicians, particularly combinatorialists. Some arguments in evolutionary psychology are derived from his research results.

The 1984 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine and Physiology, Niels K. Jerne, used Chomsky's generative model to explain the human immune system, equating "components of a generative grammar … with various features of protein structures". The title of Jerne's Stockholm Nobel lecture was "The Generative Grammar of the Immune System".

Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who was the subject of a study in animal language acquisition at Columbia University, was named after Chomsky in reference to his view of language acquisition as a uniquely human ability.

Famous computer scientist Donald Knuth admits to reading Syntactic Structures during his honeymoon and being greatly influenced by it. "…I must admit to taking a copy of Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures along with me on my honeymoon in 1961 … Here was a marvelous thing: a mathematical theory of language in which I could use a computer programmer's intuition!".

Another focus of Chomsky's political work has been an analysis of mainstream mass media (especially in the United States), its structures and constraints, and its perceived role in supporting big business and government interests.

The model attempts to explain this perceived systemic bias of the mass media in terms of structural economic causes rather than a conspiracy of people. It argues the bias derives from five "filters" that all published news must "pass through" which combine to systematically distort news coverage.

The first filter, ownership, notes that most major media outlets are owned by large corporations. The second, funding, notes that the outlets derive the majority of their funding from advertising, not readers. Thus, since they are profit-oriented businesses selling a product—readers and audiences—to other businesses (advertisers), the model would expect them to publish news which would reflect the desires and values of those businesses. In addition, the news media are dependent on government institutions and major businesses with strong biases as sources (the third filter) for much of their information. Flak, the fourth filter, refers to the various pressure groups which attack the media for supposed bias. Norms, the fifth filter, refer to the common conceptions shared by those in the profession of journalism. (Note: in the original text, published in 1988, the fifth filter was "anticommunism". However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been broadened to allow for shifts in public opinion.) The model describes how the media form a decentralized and non-conspiratorial but nonetheless very powerful propaganda system, that is able to mobilize an élite consensus, frame public debate within élite perspectives and at the same time give the appearance of democratic consent.

They also test their model against the case that is often held up as the best example of a free and aggressively independent press, the media coverage of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. Even in this case, they argue that the press was behaving subserviently to élite interests.

In the spring of 1969, he delivered the John Locke Lectures at Oxford University; in January 1970, the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lecture at University of Cambridge; in 1972, the Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi; in 1977, the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden; in 1988 the Massey Lectures at the University of Toronto, titled "Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies"; in 1997, The Davie Memorial Lecture on Academic Freedom in Cape Town, and many others.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In addition, he is a member of other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, and others. He is twice winner of The Orwell Award, granted by The National Council of Teachers of English for "Distinguished Contributions to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language" (in 1987 and 1989).

He is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Department of Social Sciences.

Chomsky is a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of MIT Harvard Research Journal.

In 2005, Chomsky received an honorary fellowship from the Literary and Historical Society.

In 2007, Chomsky received The Uppsala University (Sweden) Honorary Doctor's degree in commemoration of Carolus Linnaeus.

In February 2008, he received the President's Medal from the Literary and Debating Society of the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Chomsky has an Erdős number of four.

Chomsky was voted the leading living public intellectual in The 2005 Global Intellectuals Poll conducted by the British magazine Prospect. He reacted, saying "I don't pay a lot of attention to polls". In a list compiled by the magazine New Statesman in 2006, he was voted seventh in the list of "Heroes of our time".

Actor Viggo Mortensen with avant-garde guitarrist Buckethead dedicated their 2006 album, called Pandemoniumfromamerica to Chomsky.

Much of the criticism of Chomsky revolves around his political views and he describes himself as a libertarian socialist, a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism. His status as a key intellectual figure within the left wing of American politics has resulted in a great deal of criticism from all across the political spectrum and has led to a number of notable controversies.

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Politics of Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky at an antiwar rally in Vancouver, Canada in 2004.

Noam Chomsky is a widely known intellectual, political activist, and critic of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments. Noam Chomsky describes himself as a libertarian socialist, a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism and is considered to be a key intellectual figure within the left wing of American politics.

Chomsky is one of the best-known figures of the left although he doesn't agree with the usage of the term. He has described himself as a "fellow traveller" to the anarchist tradition, and refers to himself as a libertarian socialist, a political philosophy he summarizes as challenging all forms of hierarchy and attempting to eliminate them if they are unjustified for which the burden of proof is solely upon those who attempt to exert power. He identifies with the labor-oriented anarcho-syndicalist current of anarchism in particular cases, and is a member of the IWW. He has shown both great support and admiration for Karl Marx and his works. Viewing the "Communism" of the 21st century as an appalling representation of the man and his ideas. He believes that libertarian socialist values exemplify the rational and morally consistent extension of original unreconstructed classical liberal and radical humanist ideas to an industrial context.

Chomsky has further defined himself as a Zionist, although he notes that his definition of Zionism is considered by most to be anti-Zionism these days, the result of what he perceives to have been a shift (since the 1940s) in the meaning of Zionism (Chomsky Reader).

Chomsky is considered "one of the most influential left-wing critics of American foreign policy" by the Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers.

Chomsky believes that acts he considers terrorism carried out by the U.S. government do not pass this test, and condemnation of U.S. policy is one of the main thrusts of his writings which he has explained is because he lives in the United States, and thus holds a responsibility for his country's actions.

He has also criticized stay-behind operations such as Gladio, NATO's secret paramilitary anticommunist organizations during the Cold War.

Chomsky has been a consistent and outspoken critic of the United States government, and criticism of the foreign policy of the United States has formed the basis of much of Chomsky's political writing. Chomsky gives reasons for directing his activist efforts to the state of which he is a citizen. He believes that his work can have more impact when directed at his own government, and that he holds a responsibility as a member of a particular country of origin to work to stop that country from committing crimes. He expresses this idea often with a comparison of other countries holding that every country has flexibility to address crimes by unfavored countries, but is always unwilling to deal with their own.

He also thinks that the United States as the world's remaining superpower acts in the same offensive ways as all superpowers. One of the key things superpowers do, Chomsky argues, is try to organize the world according to the interests of their establishment, using military and economic means. Chomsky has repeatedly emphasized that the overall framework of U.S. foreign policy can be explained by the domestic dominance of U.S. business interests and a drive to secure the state-capitalist system. Those interests set the political agenda and the economic goals that aim primarily at U.S. economic dominance.

His conclusion is that a consistent part of the United States' foreign policy is based on stemming the "threat of a good example." This 'threat' refers to the possibility that a country could successfully develop outside the U.S. managed global system, thus presenting a model for other countries, including countries in which the United States does have strong economic interests. This, Chomsky says, has prompted the United States to repeatedly intervene to quell "independent development, regardless of ideology" in regions of the world where it has little economic or safety interests. In one of his works, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Chomsky argues that this particular explanation accounts in part for the United States' interventions in Guatemala, Laos, Nicaragua, and Grenada, countries that pose little or no military threat to the U.S. and have few economic resources that could be exploited by U.S. business interests.

Chomsky understands the U.S. economic system as being primarily a state-capitalist system, in which public funds are used to research and develop pioneering technology (the computer, the internet, radar, the jet plane etc.) largely in the form of defense spending, and once developed and mature these technologies are turned over to the corporate sector where civilian uses are developed for private control and profit.

Chomsky often expresses his admiration for the civil liberties enjoyed by U.S. citizens. According to Chomsky, other Western democracies such as France and Canada are less liberal in their defense of controversial speech than the US. However, he does not credit the American government for these freedoms but rather mass social movements in the United States that fought for them. The movements he most often credits are the abolitionist movement, the movements for workers rights and union organization, and the fight for African-American civil rights. Chomsky is often sharply critical of other governments who suppress free speech, most controversially in the Faurisson affair but also of the suppression of free speech in Turkey.

Chomsky made early efforts to critically analyze globalization. He summarized the process with the phrase "old wine, new bottles," maintaining that the motive of the élites is the same as always: they seek to isolate the general population from important decision-making processes, the difference being that the centers of power are now transnational corporations and supranational banks. Chomsky argues that transnational corporate power is "developing its own governing institutions" reflective of their global reach.

According to Chomsky, a primary ploy has been the co-opting of the global economic institutions established at the end of World War II, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which have increasingly adhered to the "Washington Consensus," requiring developing countries to adhere to limits on spending and make structural adjustments that often involve cutbacks in social and welfare programs. IMF aid and loans are normally contingent upon such reforms. Chomsky claims that the construction of global institutions and agreements such as the World Trade Organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Multilateral Agreement on Investment constitute new ways of securing élite privileges while undermining democracy. Chomsky believes that these austere and neoliberal measures ensure that poorer countries merely fulfill a service role by providing cheap labor, raw materials and investment opportunities for the first world. Additionally, this means that corporations can threaten to relocate to poorer countries, and Chomsky sees this as a powerful weapon to keep workers in richer countries in line.

Chomsky takes issue with the terms used in discourse on globalization, beginning with the term "globalization" itself, which he maintains refers to a corporate-sponsored economic integration rather than being a general term for things becoming international. He dislikes the term anti-globalization being used to describe what he regards as a movement for globalization of social and environmental justice. Chomsky understands what is popularly called "free trade" as a "mixture of liberalization and protection designed by the principal architects of policy in the service of their interests, which happen to be whatever they are in any particular period." In his writings, Chomsky has drawn attention to globalization resistance movements. He described Zapatista defiance of NAFTA in his essay "The Zapatista Uprising." He also criticized the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, and reported on the activist efforts that led to its defeat. Chomsky's voice was an important part of the critics who provided the theoretical backbone for the disparate groups who united for the demonstrations against The World Trade Organization in Seattle in November of 1999.

Chomsky is deeply critical of what he calls the "corporate state capitalism" that he believes is practiced by the United States and other western states. He supports many of Mikhail Bakunin's anarchist (or libertarian socialist) ideas. Chomsky has identified Bakunin's comments regarding the totalitarian state as predictions for the brutal Soviet police state that would come in essays like The Soviet Union Versus Socialism. He has also defined Soviet communism as "fake socialism," particularly because any socialism worthy of the name requires authentic democratic control of production and resources as well as public ownership. He has said that contrary to what many in America claim, the collapse of the Soviet Union should be regarded as "a small victory for socialism," not capitalism. Chomsky was also impressed with socialism as practiced in Vietnam. In a speech given in Hanoi on April 13, 1970, and broadcast by Radio Hanoi the next day, Chomsky spoke of his "admiration for the people of Vietnam who have been able to defend themselves against the ferocious attack, and at the same time take great strides forward toward the socialist society." Chomsky praised the North Vietnamese for their efforts in building material prosperity, social justice, and cultural progress. He also went on to discuss and support the political writing of Le Duan.

In his 1973 book For Reasons of State, Chomsky argues that instead of a capitalist system in which people are "wage slaves" or an authoritarian system in which decisions are made by a centralized committee, a society could function with no paid labor. He argues that a nation's populace should be free to pursue jobs of their choosing. People will be free to do as they like, and the work they voluntarily choose will be both "rewarding in itself" and "socially useful." Society would be run under a system of peaceful anarchism, with no state or other authoritarian institutions. Work that was fundamentally distasteful to all, if any existed, would be distributed equally among everyone.

One can, of course, take the position that we don't care about the problems people face today, and want to think about a possible tomorrow. OK, but then don't pretend to have any interest in human beings and their fate, and stay in the seminar room and intellectual coffee house with other privileged people. Or one can take a much more humane position: I want to work, today, to build a better society for tomorrow -- the classical anarchist position, quite different from the slogans in the question. That's exactly right, and it leads directly to support for the people facing problems today: for enforcement of health and safety regulation, provision of national health insurance, support systems for people who need them, etc. That is not a sufficient condition for organizing for a different and better future, but it is a necessary condition. Anything else will receive the well-merited contempt of people who do not have the luxury to disregard the circumstances in which they live, and try to survive.

Another focus of Chomsky's political work has been an analysis of mainstream mass media (especially in the United States), which he accuses of maintaining constraints on dialogue so as to promote the interests of corporations and the government.

Edward S. Herman and Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media explores this topic in depth, presenting their "propaganda model" of the news media with several detailed case studies in support of it. According to this propaganda model, more democratic societies like the U.S. use subtle, non-violent means of control, unlike totalitarian systems, where physical force can readily be used to coerce the general population. In an often-quoted remark, Chomsky states that "propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state" (Media Control).

The model attempts to explain such a systemic bias in terms of structural economic causes rather than a conspiracy of people. It argues the bias derives from five "filters" that all published news must pass through which combine to systematically distort news coverage.

The model therefore attempts to describe how the media form a decentralized and non-conspiratorial but nonetheless very powerful propaganda system that is able to mobilize an "élite" consensus, frame public debate within "élite" perspectives and at the same time give the appearance of democratic consent.

Chomsky and Herman test their model empirically by picking "paired examples" — pairs of events that were objectively similar except in relation to certain interests. For example, they attempt to show that in cases where an "official enemy" does something (like murder a religious official), the press investigates thoroughly and devotes a great amount of coverage to the matter, but when the domestic government or an ally does the same thing (or worse), the press downplays the story. They also test their model against the case that is often held up as the best example of a free and aggressively independent press, the media coverage of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. Even in this case, they argue that the press was behaving subserviently to "élite" interests.

Chomsky's statistics seem to refer to the fact that only about 6.5 percent of the land in Israel is privately owned (some by Arab Israelis). Of the rest, almost 80 percent is owned by the governmental agency called the Israel Land Administration. ILA land is not sold but leased; by law, it is available to be leased by all Israelis, Jewish, Arab and others. About 13 percent is owned by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). In September 2007, an Israeli high court ruled that the JNF must allow non-Jews to buy its land.

Arab Israelis, who make up about 20 percent of Israel's population, possess roughly half of the 6.5 percent of land that is privately owned. (As of 2002, Arabs owned 713,000 dunams — or 48 percent — of the total 1,480,000 dunams of privately-owned land, according to Arab Israeli geographer Rassem Khamaisi.

It is however worth noting that all Israeli Supreme Court rulings and rights of ownership mentioned apply to Israeli citizens of Arab origin, who make up a small minority of the total Palestinian population. Chomsky is also known for his criticisms of the Israeli settlement activity, which transfer ownership of land within the occupied Palestinians territories to Israeli settlers. Critics call this transfer illegal, citing the Geneva conventions and other international law.

Q: What about recent incidents in Europe and the Arab World? It would seem to involve rather acrobatic leaps of logic to say that these are not anti-Semitic.

Chomsky: What's talked about in Europe is something quite different. In Europe, there's a large Muslim population, and much of it has been driven to fundamentalist Islam. They display hatred towards Jews that is a reflection of Israeli practices. I mean, if you carry out a brutal and vicious occupation for thirty-five years, subject the people to humiliation and degradation, break their bones and steal their land and resources, it has consequences. Sometimes the consequences can be quite ugly and among them is the burning of synagogues in France. Yes, it's anti-Semitism. But Israel insists on it. Remember, Israel does not call itself the state of its citizens. The high court in Israel declared over forty years ago that Israel is the sovereign state of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora. That means Israel is my sovereign state, but it's not the sovereign state of its Palestinian citizens. Well, if that's what you declare yourself to be, then you can hardly blame critics of Israeli policy for having negative attitudes towards Jews. After all, it's my sovereign state-why shouldn't they go after me? This is one of many respects in which insisting on a state that is fundamentally racist in its basic character and declares itself to be the state of Jews everywhere is harmful to Jews. So to call these manifestations, 'anti-Semitism' is misleading.

Chomsky is elsewhere asked what "theoretical" tools he feels can be produced to provide a strong intellectual basis for challenging hegemonic power, and he replies: "if there is a body of theory, well tested and verified, that applies to the conduct of foreign affairs or the resolution of domestic or international conflict, its existence has been kept a well-guarded secret," despite much "pseudo-scientific posturing." Chomsky's general preference is, therefore, to use plain language in speaking with a non-elite audience.

Chomsky has shown cynicism towards the credibility of postmodernism and poststructuralism. In particular he has criticised the Parisian intellectual community; the following disclaimer may be taken as indicative: "I wouldn't say this if I hadn't been explicitly asked for my opinion — and if asked to back it up, I'm going to respond that I don't think it merits the time to do so" (ibid). Chomsky's lack of interest arises from what he sees as a combination of difficult language and limited intellectual or "real world" value, especially in Parisian academe: "Sometimes it gets kind of comical, say in post-modern discourse. Especially around Paris, it has become a comic strip, I mean it's all gibberish ... they try to decode it and see what is the actual meaning behind it, things that you could explain to an eight-year old child. There's nothing there." (Chomsky on Anarchism, pg. 216). This is exacerbated, in his view, by the attention paid to academics by the French press: "in France if you're part of the intellectual elite and you cough, there's a front-page story in Le Monde. That's one of the reasons why French intellectual culture is so farcical — it's like Hollywood" (Understanding Power, pg. 96).

Chomsky became one of the most prominent opponents of the Vietnam War in February 1967, with the publication of his essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals" in the New York Review of Books.

Chomsky also participated in "resistance" activities, which he described in subsequent essays and letters published in the New York Review of Books: withholding half of his income tax , taking part in the 1967 march on the Pentagon, and spending a night in jail. In the spring of 1972, Chomsky testified on the origins of the war before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by J. William Fulbright.

Chomsky's view of the war is different from orthodox anti-war opinion which holds the war as a tragic mistake. He argues that the war was a success from the US point of view. According to Chomsky's view the main aim of US policy was the destruction of the nationalist movements in the Vietnamese peasantry. In particular he argues that US attacks were not a defense of South Vietnam against the North but began directly in the early 1960s (covert US intervention from the 1950s) and at that time were mostly aimed at South Vietnam. He agrees with the view of orthodox historians that the US government was concerned about the possibility of a "domino effect" in South-East Asia. At this point Chomsky diverts from orthodox opinion - he holds that the US government was not so concerned with the spread of state Communism and authoritarianism but rather of nationalist movements that would not be sufficiently subservient to US economic interests.

In 1975, the Indonesian army, under the command of President Suharto invaded East Timor, occupying it until 1999, which resulted in between 80,000 and 200,000 East Timorese deaths, (A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor cited a lower range of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness.) a death toll which is considered “proportionately comparable” to the Cambodian genocide.

Chomsky argued that decisive military, financial and diplomatic support was provided to Suharto’s regime by successive U.S. administrations; beginning with Gerald Ford who, with Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State, provided a ‘green light’ to the brutal invasion. Prior to the invasion, the U.S. had supplied the Indonesian army with 90% of its arms, and “by 1977 Indonesia found itself short of weapons, an indication of the scale of its attack. The Carter Administration accelerated the arms flow. Britain joined in as atrocities peaked in 1978, while France announced that it would sell arms to Indonesia and protect it from any public "embarrassment". Others, too, sought to gain what profit they could from the slaughter and torture of Timorese.” This humanitarian catastrophe went virtually unnoticed by the international community.

Noam Chomsky attempted to raise consciousness about the crisis at a very early stage. In November 1978 and October 1979, Chomsky delivered statements to the Fourth Committee of the U.N. General Assembly about the East Timor tragedy and the lack of media coverage.

Australian historian Clinton Fernandes, writes that “When Indonesia invaded East Timor with US support in 1975, Chomsky joined other activists in a tireless campaign of international solidarity. His speeches and publications on this topic were prodigious and widely read, but his financial support is less well known. When the US media were refusing to interview Timorese refugees, claiming that they had no access to them, Chomsky personally paid for the airfares of several refugees, bringing them from Lisbon to the US, where he tried to get them into the editorial offices of The New York Times and other outlets. Most of his financial commitment to such causes has – because of his own reticence – gone unnoticed. A Timorese activist says, “we learnt that the Chomsky factor and East Timor were a deadly combination” and “proved to be too powerful for those who tried to defeat us”.

While Chomsky was in Turkey for the trial he traveled to the southern city of Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of the Kurdish population in Turkey, where he delivered a controversial speech, urging the Kurds to form an autonomous, self-governing community. Police handed recorded cassettes and translations of the speech over to Turkish courts for investigation a few days later.

In June 2006, Turkish publisher Tas was again prosecuted, along with two editors and a translator, for publishing a Turkish translation of Manufacturing Consent, authored by Chomsky and Ed Herman. The defendants were accused “under articles 216 and 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for "publicly denigrating Turkishness, the Republic and the Parliament" and "inciting hatred and enmity among the people". The courts disallowed the authors from testifying on behalf of the defendants. In December 2006, the four defendants were acquitted by Turkish courts. Tas still has several cases pending for the publishing of other books.

Chomsky has rarely appeared in popular media outlets in the United States such as CNN, Time Magazine, Foreign Policy and others, however his recorded lectures are regularly replayed by NPR stations in the United States that carry the broadcasts of Alternative Radio, a syndicator of progressive lectures. Critics of Chomsky have argued his mainstream media coverage is adequate, and not unusual considering the fact that academics in general often receive low priority in the American media.

When CNN presenter Jeff Greenfield was asked why Chomsky was never on his show, he explained that Chomsky might "be one of the leading intellectuals who can't talk on television. If you got a 22-minute show, and a guy takes five minutes to warm up, he's out". Greenfield described this need to "say things between two commercials" as the media's requirement for "concision". Chomsky has elaborated on this, saying that "the beauty of is that you can only repeat conventional thoughts". If you repeat conventional thoughts, you require zero evidence, like saying Osama Bin Laden is a bad guy, no evidence is required. However, if you say something that is true, although not a conventional truth, like the United States attacked South Vietnam, people are going to rightfully want evidence, and a whole lot of it as they should. The format of the shows do not allow this type of evidence which is one of the reasons concision is critical. He's continued that if the media were better propagandists they would let dissidents on more because the time restraint would stop them properly explaining their radical views and they 'would sound like they were from Neptune.'" For this reason, Chomsky rejects many offers to appear on TV, preferring the written medium.

Since his book 9-11 became a bestseller in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Chomsky has attracted more attention from the mainstream American media. For example, The New York Times published an article in May 2002 describing the popularity of 9-11. In January 2004, the Times published a highly critical review of Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival by Samantha Power, and in February, the Times published an op-ed by Chomsky himself, criticizing the Israeli West Bank Barrier for taking Palestinian land.

Despite his marginalization in the mainstream US media, Chomsky is one of the most globally famous figures of the left, especially among academics and university students, and frequently travels across the United States, Europe, and the Third World. He has a very large following of supporters worldwide as well as a dense speaking schedule, drawing large crowds wherever he goes. He is often booked up to two years in advance. He was one of the main speakers at the 2002 World Social Forum. He is interviewed at length in alternative media. Many of his books are bestsellers, including 9-11.

The 1992 film Manufacturing Consent, was shown widely on college campuses and broadcast on PBS. It is the highest grossing Canadian made documentary film in history. Chomsky's popularity has become a cultural phenomenon. Bono of U2 called Chomsky a "rebel without a pause, the Elvis of academia". Rage Against the Machine took copies of his books on tour with the band. Pearl Jam ran a small pirate radio on one of their tours, playing Chomsky talks mixed along with their music. R.E.M. asked Chomsky to go on tour with them and open their concerts with a lecture (he declined). Radiohead has recommended Chomsky's works on their various websites and Thom Yorke in particular is an admirer. Chomsky lectures have been featured on the B-sides of records from Chumbawamba and other groups. Many anti-globalization and anti-war activists regard Chomsky as an inspiration.

Chomsky is widely read outside the US. 9-11 was published in 26 countries and translated into 23 languages; it was a bestseller in at least five countries, including Canada and Japan. Chomsky's views are often given coverage on public broadcasting networks around the world—in marked contrast, supporters say, to his rare appearances in the US media. In the UK, for example, he appears periodically on the BBC.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is known to be an admirer of Chomsky's books. He held up Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2006.

Some of the books are available for viewing online.

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Criticism of Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author and lecturer. Chomsky is widely known for his critique of U.S. foreign policy, beginning with his critique of the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Much of the criticism of Chomsky revolves around his political views and he describes himself as a libertarian socialist, a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism. His status as a key intellectual figure within the left wing of American politics has resulted in a great deal of criticism from all across the political spectrum and has led to a number of notable controversies.

Journalist Andrew Brown, in a 2003 article for the Guardian laments the focus on "Chomskyan" linguistics as opposed to other important and practically useful areas of linguistics, including the study of isolated, rare, and dead or dying languages. He gives the example of Larry Trask, who did important work in linguistic areas including the development of languages over time, the language used to discuss grammar, the famous mysterious linguistic isolate Basque, practical English usage suggestions, and fundamental undergraduate linguistics textbooks.

While Brown describes Trask as highly annoyed at the attention that "the Chomskyans" have received, Brown does state that Trask does accept Chomsky's basic contention as indisputable: that the human faculty for language is the result of evolved and innate skills. "I believe that human children are destined to learn language in much the same way that baby birds are destined to sing." However, Brown also quotes Trask sounding somewhat slightly less committal to this idea: "I am sympathetic to the proposal that our brains contain areas which are dedicated to language - though I don't want to be dogmatic about this, since the evidence is not yet overwhelming." (See Broca's Area and Wernicke's area).

Criticism also comes from generative semanticists, such as Paul Postal and Robert D. Levine, who engaged in heated debates with "Chomskyans" spanning the 1960s and the 1970s, now colloquially referred to as the "Linguistics Wars". Writing in The Anti-Chomsky Reader, Postal and Levine argue that "Much of the lavish praise heaped on his work is, we believe, driven by uncritical acceptance (often by nonlinguists) of claims and promises made during the early years of his academic activity; the claims have by now largely proved wrong or without real content, and the promises have gone unfilled." They also claim to "document four different instances of the several types of intellectual misconduct present in writing on linguistics; intentional deception; pretending for decades that a principle already shown to be false was still a valid linguistic universal; adopting other linguistics' research proposals without credit; and falsely denigrating other sciences to make his own work seem less inadequate." They write that Chomsky in his 1957 work Syntactic Structures "knowingly published a false assertion" regarding his passive transformation rule, despite himself giving counter-examples two years earlier. They claim that Chomsky continued to cite his "A-over-A principle" despite knowing that it had been falsified in 1967 by his student John R. Ross. They claim that Chomsky tends to adopt proposals that he had earlier rejected without attribution or credit, citing the Minimalist elimination of D-Structures in this connection. While it is important to note that, it may not be as straightforward to 'falsify' grammatical theories in linguistics as it is in mathematics or physics, by the 1980s, university funding for the projects of these early critics had ended, the "Linguistic Wars" had come to end. Furthermore, since that time, statements by these critics have been marked by not only by a lack of willingness among them to have originated Generative semantics, but conflicting claims as to who among them had done so.

Computational linguist Karen Sparck Jones complains that Chomsky's specific grammatical theories (Transformational Grammar, Government-Binding, Principles and Parameters and Minimalism) are difficult, if not impossible to implement computationally. Computational linguists who work with practical applications such as machine translation, information retrieval or question answering need grammar formalisms that respond to needs for both high efficiency (fast parsing), high coverage (large amount of structures of English, e.g., described) and detail (i.e. being specific enough to be implementable on a computer). Chomskyan-type grammars are often found lacking in these areas, so instead, they turn to formalisms such as Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar or Lexical Functional Grammar. On the other hand, Karen Sparck Jones does state that ' are all Chomskyans' in the very broad sense of working within a constituent structure formalism .

Steven Pinker criticizes Chomsky as being "militantly agnostic" about how language might have evolved, and says that Chomsky has become "increasingly hostile to the very idea that language evolved for communication".

Many people have argued that the evolution of the human language faculty cannot be explained by Darwinian natural selection. Chomsky and Gould have suggested that language may have evolved as the by-product of selection for other abilities or as a consequence of as-yet unknown laws of growth and form.... e conclude that there is every reason to believe that a specialization for grammar evolved by a conventional neo-Darwinian process.

We submit that a distinction should be made between the faculty of language in the broad sense (FLB) and in the narrow sense (FLN). FLB includes a sensory-motor system, a conceptual-intentional system, and the computational mechanisms for recursion, providing the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of elements. We hypothesize that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language. We further argue that FLN may have evolved for reasons other than language, hence comparative studies might look for evidence of such computations outside of the domain of communication (for example, number, navigation, and social relations).

This response has been challenged by Pinker and linguist Ray Jackendoff, who describe Chomsky's recursion-only hypothesis as "extremely unclear".

We argue that their characterization of the narrow language faculty is problematic for many reasons, including its dichotomization of cognitive capacities into those that are utterly unique and those that are identical to nonlinguistic or nonhuman capacities, omitting capacities that may have been substantially modified during human evolution.We also question their dichotomy of the current utility versus original function of a trait, which omits traits that are adaptations for current use, and their dichotomy of humans and animals, which conflates similarity due to common function and similarity due to inheritance from a recent common ancestor. We show that recursion, though absent from other animals’ communications systems, is found in visual cognition, hence cannot be the sole evolutionary development that granted language to humans. Finally, we note that despite Fitch et al.’s denial, their view of language evolution is tied to Chomsky’s conception of language itself, which identifies combinatorial productivity with a core of “narrow syntax.” An alternative conception, in which combinatoriality is spread across words and constructions, has both empirical advantages and greater evolutionary plausibility.

In American Power and the New Mandarins Dr. Chomsky twice (pp. 268, 319) printed a series of what he represented as direct quotations from what he called this "famous and important" speech: "All freedom is dependent on freedom of enterprise.... The whole world should adopt the American system.... The American system can survive in America only if it becomes a world system." The purpose of these Truman "quotations" was to prove that the United States had long been "using its awesome resources of violence and devastation to impose its passionately held ideology and its approved form of social organization on large areas of the world" (p. 318). Whether or not President Truman spoke these words is open for debate, but it is not completely unfounded.

There is one thing that Americans value even more than peace. It is freedom. Freedom of worship - freedom of speech - freedom of enterprise. It must be true that the first two of these freedoms are related to the third. For, throughout history, freedom of worship and freedom of speech have been most frequently enjoyed in those societies that have accorded a considerable measure of freedom to individual enterprise. Freedom has flourished where power has been dispersed. It has languished where power has been too highly centralized. So our devotion to freedom of enterprise, in the United States, has deeper roots than a desire to protect the profits of ownership.

The remarks at issue are not theorems deduced from Truman's text; rather, they are efforts to formulate concisely the essence of his remarks. By any reasonable standards, their accuracy seems to me undeniable.

The exchange continued in the March, May and June 1970 issues of Commentary, with Schlesinger having the last word.

In the first book that I wrote, American Power and the New Mandarins, in the first edition there’s a slight error, namely that I attributed a quote to Truman which was in fact a very close paraphrase, almost verbatim paraphrase of what he said in a secondary source. I got a note mixed up and instead of citing the secondary source I cited Truman. It was corrected within about two months, in the second printing. There isn’t a scholarly monograph that doesn’t have a similar error somewhere. There have been at least a dozen articles, if not more, using this to denounce me, to prove that you can’t believe anything that’s said by anybody on the left, etc. These are very desperate people.

An example can be found in a 1970 exchange of letters, between Chomsky and Samuel P. Huntington, who accused Chomsky of misrepresenting his views on Vietnam, writing, "It would be difficult to conceive of a more blatantly dishonest instance of picking words out of context so as to give them a meaning directly opposite to that which the author stated." One accusation was that Chomsky, by selectively omitting material and putting together quotes out of context, created the impression that Huntington advocated demolishing the Vietnamese society, when in fact Huntington had stated that peace would require compromise and accommodation on both sides.

Keith Windschuttle writes in the New Criterion that "Chomsky was well aware of the degree of violence that communist regimes had routinely directed at the people of their own countries. At the 1967 New York forum he acknowledged both 'the mass slaughter of landlords in China' and 'the slaughter of landlords in North Vietnam' that had taken place once the communists came to power. His main objective, however, was to provide a rationalization for this violence, especially that of the National Liberation Front then trying to take control of South Vietnam. Chomsky revealed he was no pacifist.

In Prospect Magazine, Oliver Kamm attacked Chomsky's political writings for, among other things, "judgements that have the veneer of scholarship and reason yet verge on the pathological." He wrote that in his analysis of the Vietnam War in American Power and the New Mandarins, Chomsky "does liken America's conduct to that of Nazi Germany." Chomsky responded to Kamm's accusations and Kamm replied in the letters page.

Chomsky has been criticized for opinions voiced in a number of articles and books in which he discusses the political situation in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 and the contemporary media response in the US during that period.

Space limitations preclude a comprehensive review, but such journals as the Far Eastern Economic Review, the London Economist, the Melbourne Journal of Politics, and others elsewhere, have provided analyses by highly qualified specialists who have studied the full range of evidence available, and who concluded that executions have numbered at most in the thousands; that these were localized in areas of limited Khmer Rouge influence and unusual peasant discontent, where brutal revenge killings were aggravated by the threat of starvation resulting from the American destruction and killing.

But if postwar Cambodia is more similar to France after liberation, where many thousands of people were massacred within a few months under far less rigorous conditions than those left by the American war, then perhaps a rather different judgement is in order. That the latter conclusion may be more nearly correct is suggested by the analyses mentioned earlier.

This argument was expanded in the pair’s 1979 book After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina and the Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology.

Vickery's analysis is the most careful attempt to sort out the confused facts to date. He accepts as plausible a "war loss" of over 500,000 for the first phase, calculated from the CIA estimates but lower than their conclusions (see note 31), and about 750,000 "deaths in excess of normal and due to the special conditions of DK," with perhaps 200,000 to 300,000 executed and a total population decline for this period of about 400,000.

Yet Chomsky’s moral perspective is completely one-sided. No matter how great the crimes of the regimes he has favored, such as China, Vietnam, and Cambodia under the communists, Chomsky has never demanded their leaders be captured and tried for war crimes. Instead, he has defended these regimes for many years to the best of his ability through the use of evidence he must have realized was selective, deceptive, and in some cases invented.

In more recent books Chomsky has written that the 1979 Vietnamese intervention which overthrew the Khmer Rouge government was morally superior to anything that the U.S. has done in several decades.

Chomsky was accused by Oliver Kamm in Prospect Magazine of misrepresenting former UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his book A New Generation Draws the Line. "He manipulates a self-mocking reference in the memoirs of the then US ambassador to the UN, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, by running separate passages together as if they are sequential and attributing to Moynihan comments he did not make, to yield the conclusion that Moynihan took pride in Nazi-like policies." Chomsky has responded to Kamm's accusations and Kamm has replied in the letters page.

In a January 16, 2002 interview with Suzy Hansen on the 1998 Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory strike, Chomsky stated, "That one bombing, according to the estimates made by the German Embassy in Sudan and Human Rights Watch, probably led to tens of thousands of deaths." Human Rights Watch replied that they had "conducted no research into civilian deaths as the result of U.S. bombing in Sudan and would not make such an assessment without a careful and thorough research mission on the ground." HRW had reported, in 1998, that the bombing had the unintended effect of stopping relief efforts aimed at supplying food to areas of Sudan gripped by famine caused by that country's ongoing civil war. Many relief agencies had been wholly or partially manned by Americans who subsequently evacuated the country out of fear of retaliation spurred by negative responses by the Sudanese government. A letter by Human Rights Watch to President William J. Clinton stated "many relief efforts have been postponed indefinitely, including a crucial one run by the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee where more than fifty southerners are dying daily". Chomsky's claim about the German Embassy in Sudan was correct, if inelegantly phrased. The source in question was the German Ambassador to Sudan (rather than the "Embassy"), Werner Daum, who wrote a report in which he called "several tens of thousands of deaths" of Sudanese civilians caused by a medicine shortage a reasonable figure. On June 11, 2004 in an interview with David Barsamian, Chomsky stated that it was indeed the German Ambassador and not the Embassy who made these statements, as the embassy is a building and cannot speak, so what "the embassy said" means is "the ambassador said".

In The End of Faith, writer Sam Harris supports the American military definition of collateral damage and criticizes Chomsky for not taking it into account.

Nothing in Chomsky's account acknowledges the difference between intending to kill a child, because of the effect you hope to produce on its parents (we call this "terrorism"), and inadvertently killing a child in an attempt to capture or kill an avowed child murderer (we call this "collateral damage"). In both cases a child has died, and in both cases it is a tragedy. But the ethical status of the perpetrators, be they individuals or states, could not be more distinct... For , intentions do not seem to matter. Body count is all.

Chomsky has pointed to Nicaragua vs. United States and stated that the Court "condemned what they called the 'unlawful use of force,' which is another word for international terrorism by the United States." David Horowitz responds that "... unlawful use of force is not another word for terrorism" and that the International Court of Justice has no authority over sovereign states unless they themselves so agree, which the US did not since the "Soviet Bloc police states" were outside its jurisdiction but they still sent judges to the court.

Another criticism regards Chomsky's claim that one of the causes of 9/11 was American opposition to democratic regimes. David Horowitz, in counterpoint, notes that Al-Qaeda supported the nondemocratic Taliban regime.

Chomsky has argued that an important explanation for US interventions in poor countries is fear that these nations may become good examples as alternatives to a claimed exploitative US hegemony. As examples of this threat of "contagious example" policy, Chomsky has used US opposition to popular movements in Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, and Nicaragua. David Horowitz responds that there are many examples of socialist nations but none have been good examples. Instead all have failed economically and have been repressive politically. "Chomsky seems to have missed this most basic fact of twentieth-century history: socialism doesn't work, and to the extent it does work, its results are horrific." Horowitz makes his case largely by comparing pairs of economies like North and South Korea, assuming the former to be a failed socialist economy and the latter a successful capitalistic one. Chomsky responds to such comparisons by pointing out that many of the supposedly "socialist" economies that have failed are in fact not genuinely socialist but totalitarianand that many of the "capitalist" success stories - including the United States - are due to protectionism rather than genuine free market capitalism . Other supposed failures of socialist economies, such as Cuba, Chomsky has explained by pointing to the severe economic, political, and military sanctions imposed upon them by the US. Finally, Chomsky has shown that the fear of a "contagious example" has in fact been clearly expressed in internal US government documents.

Some writers have criticized Chomsky's view of the motives of Western policy-makers.

In a 1969 exchange of letters, Stanley Hoffmann, a fellow opponent of the Vietnam War, criticized Chomsky "tendency to draw from an author's statements inferences that correspond neither to the author's intentions nor to the statements' meaning". Hoffmann states "Because I do not believe that our professed goals in Vietnam were obviously wicked, Professor Chomsky 'reads this as in essence an argument for the legitimacy of military intervention.' If he had not stopped his quotation of my analysis where he did, he would have had to show that my case against the war is exactly the opposite: 'worthy ends' divorced from local political realities lead to political and moral disaster" Further, "I detect in Professor Chomsky's approach, in his uncomplicated attribution of evil objectives to his foes, in his fondness for abstract principles, in his moral impatience, the mirror image of the very features that both he and I dislike in American foreign policy. To me sanity does not consist of replying to a crusade with an anti-crusade.".

Chomsky's views on Israel, his criticism of its policies and his writings on the Middle East, have been frequently criticized.

Alan Dershowitz and David Mamet have claimed that Chomsky tolerates violence against Israelis. Dershowitz claims in The Case for Israel, that Chomsky has falsely referred to Palestinians as "indigeneous people" and Jews as "immigrants", held double standards on racism by his association with Robert Faurisson and simultaneous accusations of racism against defenders of Israel, and for giving Israel the whole blame over the 1948 refugee crisis.

Chomsky has also been criticized for his alleged support for militant organizations such as Hezbollah which use antisemitic rhetoric. "Philosophically, of course, anarcho-socialist Chomsky has almost nothing in common with Hezbollah, which seeks to establish an Iranian style theocracy dominated by coercive enforcement of sharia religious law," wrote Tzvi Fleischer in The Australian in 2006, "But as Chomsky ... demonstrated many times ... anti-Americanism trumps everything else.".

In a 2006 visit to Lebanon Chomsky spoke in favor of the arming of Hezbollah. Ali Hussein of Ya Libnan criticized Chomsky, claiming that most residents of Lebanon oppose an armed Hezbollah because it undermines Lebanon's sovereignty.

Although he regularly condemns the Israeli government's actions in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Chomsky has recently come under fire from some pro-Palestinian activists for his advocacy of the Geneva Accord, which it is argued rules out a one-state solution for Israel-Palestine and negates the Palestinian right of return. Chomsky responds to this by arguing that the right of return, while inalienable, will never be realized, and stating that proposals without significant international backing—such as a one-state solution—are unrealistic (and therefore unethical) goals.

I will keep here to advocacy in the serious sense: accompanied by some kind of feasible program of action, free from delusions about "acting on principle" without regard to "realism"—that is, without regard for the fate of suffering people.

In 1979, Robert Faurisson, a French literary critic and professor of literature, published two letters in Le Monde which included claims that the gas chambers used by the Nazis to exterminate the Jews did not exist. The outrage caused by Faurisson's writings resulted in his conviction for defamation and subjection to a fine and prison sentence. Serge Thion, a French libertarian socialist scholar and Holocaust denier, asked Chomsky to co-sign a petition, together with hundreds of other signatories, all of whom supported Faurisson's right of academic freedom. The Jewish French historian Pierre Vidal-Naquet considered this petition to be a legitimization of Faurisson's denial of the Holocaust, and a misrepresentation of Faurisson's credentials and intentions. Having signed the petition Chomsky wrote an essay entitled "Some Elementary Comments on The Rights of Freedom of Expression", which was heavily critical of the French intellectual response. In this essay Chomsky determined that Faurisson was "a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort" but felt that this was irrelevant when defending absolute freedom of speech. Faurisson's editors subsequently used this essay as a preface to Mémoire en défense, Faurisson's book intended to defend his controversial views.

The simple truth, Noam Chomsky, is that you were unable to abide by the ethical maxim you had imposed. You had the right to say: my worst enemy has the right to be free, on condition that he not ask for my death or that of my brothers. You did not have the right to say: my worst enemy is a comrade, or a 'relatively apolitical sort of liberal.' You did not have the right to take a falsifier of history and to recast him in the colors of truth.

Chomsky has argued that his statements were limited to a defense of the rights of free expression of someone he disagrees with, and that critics subsequently subjected this limited defense to various misleading interpretations.

None. States are power centers. The only thing that imposes constraints on them is either outside force or their own populations. That's exactly why the intellectuals who we're talking about are so adamant at preventing people in the United States and Britain from learning the most elementary facts about themselves. . . . At the end, I think states ought to dissolve because I think they're illegitimate structures, but that's a long time.

In the same interview with Evan Solomon, Chomsky explained his focus.

A hypocrite is a person who focuses on the other fellow's crimes and refuses to look at his own. That's the definition of hypocrite by George Bush's favorite philosopher. When I repeat that I'm not taking a radical position. I'm taking a position that is just elementary morality. . . . What honest people are saying seems to be incomprehensible: that we should keep to the elementary moral level of the gospels. We should pay attention to our own crimes and stop committing them.

Also, Chomsky believes that US global hegemony is threatening human survival; hence, the need to draw attention to US policy. He points out that "the United States is still unique in military force. Nobody comes close; we are the military power." In his 2003 book Hegemony or Survival, he argues that "The choice between hegemony and survival has rarely, if ever, been so starkly posed." Quoting historian Arthur Schlesinger, Chomsky cites examples like the Cuban Missile Crisis in 'October 1962 the world was "one word away" from nuclear war.' In the same book, Chomsky continued.

Immediately after this startling discovery, the Bush administration blocked UN efforts to ban the militarization of space, a serious threat to survival. The administration also terminated international negotiations to prevent biological warfare and moved to ensure the inevitability of an attack on Iraq, despite popular opposition that was without historical precedent.

See Propaganda model#Criticism.

Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institute, in an article called Noam Chomsky, Closet Capitalist states that Chomsky, who has criticized tax havens and concentration of wealth, has himself (with a net worth of $2,000,000) used a trust to avoid taxation. "Chomsky favors the estate tax and massive income redistribution—just not the redistribution of his income." Schweizer argues that Chomsky has criticized the concept of intellectual property, a position Schweizer maintains is hypocritical in light of the fact that much of Chomsky's own material is copyrighted and distributed for a fee.

Chomsky has also been criticised by some for his apparent disbelief in 'conspiracy theories', notably those concerning the Kennedy assassination and the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

Kennedy ran afoul of the CIA because he departed from the cold war script in his dealings with the U.S.S.R., and on the critical issue of peaceful coexistence with socialism... As steeped in this cold war tradition as President Kennedy was, he nevertheless was capable of moving beyond the confines of cold war thought... I reiterate, what did Kennedy in was his effort to depart from this insanity. And on this score, in deciding to handle the assassination as they did, the left/liberal establishment revealed that when push came to shove, when they had to make a choice, this left/liberal establishment was more addicted to the military and the CIA than to the Constitution.

Chomsky is also criticized by anarcho-capitalists for his alleged statist tendencies and for his belief that government action can solve social problems by using laws and force.

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Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media

Manufacturing Consent movie poster.jpg

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) is a multi award-winning documentary film that explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, a linguist, intellectual, and political activist. Created by two Canadian independent filmmakers, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, it expands on the ideas of Chomsky's earlier book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, which he co-wrote with Edward S. Herman.

The film presents and illustrates Chomsky's and Herman's propaganda model, the thesis that corporate media, as profit-driven institutions, tend to serve and further the agendas of the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society. A centerpiece of the film is a long examination into the history of The New York Times' coverage of Indonesia's invasion and occupation of East Timor, which Chomsky claims exemplifies the media's unwillingness to criticize an ally.

Until the release of The Corporation (2003), made by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan, it was the most successful documentary in Canadian history, playing theatrically in over 300 cities around the world; winning 22 awards; appearing in more than 50 international film festivals; and being broadcast in over 30 markets. It has also been translated into a dozen languages.

Chomsky's response to the film was mixed; in a published conversation with Achbar and several activists, he stated that film simply doesn't communicate his message, leading people to believe that he is the leader of some movement that they should join. In the same conversation, he criticizes the New York Times review of the film, which mistakes his message for being a call for voter organizing rather than media critique.

Mark Achbar edited a companion book of the same name. It features a copy of the script annotated with excerpts from referenced and relevant materials as well as several comments from Chomsky interspersed throughout. Eighteen "Philosopher All-Stars" baseball cards (as seen in the film) are also included. On the back of each card it includes a short summary of the person, some of their major works and a series of quotations attributed to the individual. The people featured as cards in the set are: René Descartes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Mary Wollstonecraft, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Sojourner Truth, Karl Marx, Sitting Bull, Rosa Luxemburg, Peter Kropotkin, Emma Goldman, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and Avram Noam Chomsky. The book made the national bestseller list in Canada.

The first half of the book, hyperlinked to the relevant portions of the film's audio, is available online from Z Magazine.

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Source : Wikipedia