Thursday, January 26, 2006

Special Dispositions for Chomsky - What Would Emma Have Thunk?

So the great bespectacled Chommers has come and gone? What a build up there was - and as a whole the events themselves were just an interesting quirk to after work hours rather than the mind shattering revelations some were expecting. The humourous highpoint was the special disposition he was given by the state to enter the country, what a way we've come as anarchists from the Palmer raids that saw Goldman and other anarchists deported from the states. The low point was the passive consumption of his politics by so many, or maybe this is just an activist disdain for the huddled masses?

I came across some anecedote from an activist in the 1970's who described how when Howard Zinn rolled into town his talks would be witty, with a flowery acerbic delivery that you could really enjoy sitting through, where as when Chomsky came on it was as if a cloud of guilt hung over the audience as each person felt they should have a note book and pen out taking down references. You could see that in his talks this week alright. But the bloke seems well aware of his purpose, it gets illustrated in Manufacturing Consent where you have something like 40 pages asserting the propaganda model then maybe 400 or something where he relentlessly, and as objectively as possible illustrates the model in practice. That seems to be what he does in his lectures as well, the sort of assertions that govern most left wing rethoric and educational talks are backed up with a relentless potted history and critique that is usually lacking.

He seems intent on highlighting dichotamies which is something of a nifty rethorical device. For instance in his tuesday talk, his "conservative recommendations" (his words) for American foreign policy were not his own opinion, but were preferential options agreed by the overwhelming majority of the population as sourced in opinion polls in the mainstream press. In this illustration that the actions and expressions of the ruling elite there are soo removed from the desires of its people there lies an implicit critique of contemporary democracy, that is expressed without resorting to slogans and assertions that are sometimes groundlessly put forward as political arguments. There's certianly something to learn from this style - especially given the inability of elite circles to argue back against him. If he confuses people its probably a good thing, as in challenging so many of the assumptions of popular belief you undermine a lot of presupposed ideas and at least people might be tempted to explore a little more the foundational basis of their own views.

One thing that got to me was the obvious seperation from engagement in political activism among the people that went to the talks, and not just anarchist activism, but activism of any form. As if attending Chomsky was an act within itself. This was all the more clear as I was giving out a free anarchist paper outside, in the RDS one of my fellow paper pushers from the cheap seats raised the refusal of people to accept a free paper which challenges on a regular basis the dominant ideas of power as a question to Chomsky himself, (while simultaneously predicting his immeninent demise and waving a hi vis jacket around like a loon) - he linked it to an "intentional ignorance" in his answer.

Perhaps Chomsky's chief failure is that his arguements are too much of a critique and he merely expresses the pro-active challenges to power as an afterthought to critiquing it. In the talk with the WSM he was remarkably chirpy about the prospects for the future in terms of a deepening of democracy and radical social movements - but if he was the expression of sixties dissent and started off in meetings of 5/6, on a pessemistic note there are far too many radical political meetings of 5/6 - so what do these 1000 that attended each talk be at? How do they envision change coming about and are just who exactly are they waiting on to carry it out? At the WSM talk he reasserted much of his writings on anarchism. He is a very repeative man, with much of what he was saying practically coming verbatim from texts like Notes On Anarchism.

More than anyone he is a populariser of radical ideas, as the proliferation of articles on the net, books in every bookshop in the country and the minor media feeding frenzy this week illustrates. Its probably fair to equate him with some of his own heroes such as Paine who developed a huge low level, quite but prevalent popularity for certain ideals.

Best of print: For anyone who missed the UCD Tuesday talk, there's a good review of it in the latest Village by Harry Browne, as well as a very personal letter he sent to Chomsky highlighting his use/abuse for politial gain at the hands of Amnesty. It should be on the net later in the week if ye miss it in the shops.

Best of the web: Catch the Tuesday night session in UCD (webstream of thursday session) the bloke doesn't half no how to digress. The WSM session should be up on Indymedia in video form soon as..
Sarcy Indymedia contributer tackles the D4 quifed Amnesty muppets in Moaning is half way to a solution..Thumped has an interesting discussion on the great debate between Chomsky and Foucault...Some of Chomsky's thoughts on po-mo here...Terrifying photo of Chomsky over here on Aauld Rotten Hat FC...RTE does its share on Prime Time as does Newstalk and grumpy Dunphy..

Worst of the web:
Tedious debate on on the visit. More UCD idiots get themselves tangled up in knots of purposeful mishearing, their adult equivilents find themselves equally as perplexed.

UPDATE: Kevin Myers is an irritating twat. Journo muppets who are paid to speak out of their dill can be irritating enough, but this bloke is on a whole other level. Here he is ranting about Chomsky, in a diatribe accusing him of being like an autistic child faced with the impposibility of escaping observence of patterns. Nicely torn asunder here.

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