Thursday, March 23, 2006

Noam Chomsky's secret shame

I will be the first to admit that I have feelings which are not entirely positive about my school. At this point, though, school and I have pretty much learned to live with each other.

There is one thing, though, that never fails to bring up the bile. And that is when someone, upon learning where I go to school, says, "Oh, you must know Professor Chomsky!" At this point, I must carefully control my facial muscles, to prevent them from assuming a snarling rictus of fury. Then I politely inform the person that Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics, and not political science. So I have no contact with the man.

So it was with unspeakable delight that I read a story this morning about Chomsky's hypocrisy. (h/t: Dean.) It seems that the anti-capitalist hero of pot-smoking America-haters everywhere is a capitalist. Imagine that.

One of the most persistent themes in Noam Chomsky's work has been class warfare. The iconic MIT linguist and left-wing activist frequently has lashed out against the "massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich," and criticized the concentration of wealth in "trusts" by the wealthiest 1%. He says the U.S. tax code is rigged with "complicated devices for ensuring that the poor -- like 80% of the population -- pay off the rich."

But trusts can't be all bad. After all, Chomsky, with a net worth north of US$2-million, decided to create one for himself. ...

Chomsky favours massive income redistribution -- just not the redistribution of his income. No reason to let radical politics get in the way of sound estate planning.

There's plenty more, and it's damning, but not surprising. The man clearly has few scruples. In the fall of 2001, I attended one of Mr. Chomsky's talks. He said that the American invasion of Afghanistan would cause the deaths of millions of Afghans by starvation, and further that this was the purpose of the invasion.

(I should not need to add that he was very wrong on both counts. Americans labored very hard to save the lives of people who would have died of starvation that winter had the Afghan civil war continued without our intervention. The warlords there are not so tender-hearted as we are.)

At this moment I knew two things. First, Noam Chomsky is not a serious thinker or writer about international politics. Second, Noam Chomsky is not a friend of America. And so it is with great pleasure that I find him being exposed as a hypocrite: the dedicated Marxist who is just as dedicated to acquiring capital, and preventing the government from taking it away through taxes.

Now that he's been outed, maybe he can finally admit what so many of us have long suspected: His capitalism-o-phobia was only a ruse to cover his own secret capitalist yearnings. Come on out of that closet, Noam. Being a capitalist is nothing to be ashamed of. It's beautiful, it's natural.

It will be difficult for some of your followers to accept your money-philia, but who are they to tell you who or what to love? And could it be that some of those anti-business hippies are suffering from the same secret shame?

Maybe it's time for a tearful confession, perhaps on Oprah. It might sound something like this:

"Good afternoon. Throughout my life, I have grappled with my own identity, who I am. As a young child, I often felt ambivalent about myself, in fact, confused.

...from my early days in school until the present day, I acknowledged some feelings, a certain sense separated me from others. But because of my resolve and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I though was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, good things and all the, quote, right things of typical adolescent and adult behavior.


At a point in every person's life, one has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world, not as we may want to see it or hope to see it, but as it is.

And so my truth is that I am a capitalist American, and I am blessed to live in the greatest nation, with a tradition of civil liberties, the greatest tradition of civil liberties in the world, in a country which provides so much to its people."

There, now. That's not so bad, is it?


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