Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ancient Cuts to Chomsky

Oliver Kamm points to an utterly wonderful review by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. of Chomsky's "American power and the New Mandarins". This is a very early case of his skills at selective quotation (or invention) being caught out. As Kamm points out the debate involves some unequal skills:
The participants comprise the critic Lionel Abel, the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jnr (who died three weeks ago) and the non-historian Noam Chomsky

Of course I was a fan of Chomsky in 1969, and resistant to his utter intellectual dishonesty. I am past that now and glad of it.
As Kamm says,
What an extraordinary man the world's top public intellectual is.



At 5:52 PM, Blogger Martin said...

This is rather typical of Chomsky critics. Rather than deal with the issues he raises, they look for anything that might be amiss and when they find it thats all they want to talk about. Because of course they cannot contend with his overall argument. And poor Schlesinger was so obviously angry---most of his comments are in fact simple ad hominem attacks and unworthy of a serious historian. To be fair, he and his ilk are the subject of one of Chomsky's chapters and he was clearly defensive.

It is also important to recognize how quickly Chomsky owned to his mistake (a rather minor one considering the historical range he was covering) in this, his first book on the subject. But very telling that your sources only see the mistake and refuse to engage him in any serious debate. They will of course have to stick to the first edition for the rest of their lives.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:07 AM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

Hmm if you think his critics refuse to engage him you just ain't reading them.
As for why the criticism Schlesinger makes is typical of critics of Chomsky, one reason might be Chomsky's own carelessness with the historical record. This seems pretty well-established.
In engaging with 'issues' I prefer people who argue honestly.
That Chomsky confesses when caught out by Schlesinger is, I supose, somewhat commendable.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Martin said...

I do read them though (I read SChlesinger's attacks) but they are unimpressive. They do not engage Chomsky s points but rather focus oin a minor detail. And I see Kamm is still working from 1969.

Is there anyone serious I should read about this? Please dont suggest Dershowitz.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Martin said...

I now see that poor Kamm is obsessed with Chomsky. The poor fellow restricts himself to such minor elements of Chomsky's work and when you study his critiques you see he is more egregiously guilty of the crimes he attributes to Chomsky than Chomsky ever could be.

Kamm is simply not to be trusted. He is too dependent on trashing (and in no scholarly way) Chomsky.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Alan Adamson said...

Hmm Oliver Kamm seems to me a guy whose opinions are worth tracking and I track them. Chomsky is a comparative bad joke. Of course you are entitled to your opinion, however predictable it is.


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