“Who Cares? It’s Only Chomsky” (Left Edition)

What with all the hosannas pouring in for Chomsky upon the announcement of his impending move to from MIT to the University of Arizona, Tucson, it’s worth pointing out, for the umpteenth time, that many of these derive from those who have repeatedly expressed complete contempt for his views.

To take two recent examples, Chomsky’s endorsement of a lesser-evil vote was greeted with an outpouring of hostility, and to this day will provoke the charge that he was a “despicable hack” for the Democratic Party, as one of them put it at the time. Another was his support for the Sanders candidacy and its subsequent post-electoral mobilization. This was also greeted with the usual snickers at the doddering fool who can’t recognize the obvious fact that this was only the latest “sheepdog” deployed to herd the left into the graveyard for left movements which is the Democratic Party. 

Finally, Chomsky’s recent criticism of self-described “antifacists” advocating the initiation of violent confrontations with the right brought forth this charming Facebook rejoinder from a character named Sebastian Budgen.

“Maybe we should simply snigger at ‘postmodernism’ and explain the facts of US foreign policy to the Nazis? That will surely change their minds…”

A commenter on the threat attempted to argue by reasserting Chomsky’s position that advocating “street brawls *is* the answer to their prayers.” He then went on to note that “even arguing that this is dumbassery even from a purely strategic point of view is practically the same as singing ‘sing heil’. Fucking hegelianism and its resilience… Street brawls will not push faster into the new “stage” in history; it is merely going to get people killed and guarantee that right-wing extremism grows.”

Presumably this position was so idiotic that it merited nothing but contempt. “Fuck off” was Budgen’s response.

It’s worth mentioning that Budgen is by no means marginal: he is a senior editor at Verso, perhaps the left’s pre-eminent publishing house. He is also a contributing editor at Jacobin where it can be assumed he exerts significant influence. In this connection it should be noted that Jacobin, while routinely rolling out Chomsky’s endorsement for fund raising purposes, conspicuously failed to publish a piece by Chomsky advocating for the lesser evil position during the run up to the election.

Their view that “the left was under no obligation” to defeat Trump was unopposed and was reflected by and probably influenced much of its readership. The likely consequence  was the tragedy we will be living with every day for the next three years if not longer-assuming we survive that long. (Chomsky, in fact, also believes this to be the case: in fact, he predicted this result in June of last year.)

I suppose the bottom line of this is while the left is sure to issue pro forma hosannas on occasions like this, there is a huge amount of contempt for his stated views.

In my opinion, we would be better off if the situation was reversed.

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