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Forum Post: Chomsky on Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel

Posted 6 years ago on March 6, 2012, 8:10 p.m. EST by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

BDS is antisemitic and is about " the destruction of Israel "




In March 2011, Haaretz reported that many artists, academics and celebrities have supported and participated in the cultural boycotting of Israel.[45] Artists who have voiced support for the campaign or cancelled appearances in Israel citing political reasons include musicians Elvis Costello[46], Brian Eno[47], Gil Scott Heron[48], Pete Seeger[45], The Pixies[46], Roger Waters[46][45], writers Eduardo Galeano and Arundhati Roy[49], filmmakers Ken Loach[50] and Jean-Luc Godard.[51] Artists who have voiced oppposition to the campaign include writers Umberto Eco[52], film makers Joel and Ethan Coen,[53] and musicians John Lydon[54] and Gene Simmons.[45] Many musicians such as Elton John, Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Metallica, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Ziggy Marley have chosen to perform in Israel in recent years.[52][55] Novelist Ian McEwan, upon being awarded the Jerusalem Prize, was urged to turn it down, but said that "If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed...It's not great if everyone stops talking."[52] In August 2011, the American National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) endorsed the BDS campaign against Israel.[56] The Irish Dance production Riverdance performed in Israel in September 2011, and despite requests that it boycott Israel, Riverdance posted this statement on their website: "Riverdance supports the policy of the Irish Government and indeed the policy of every other EU state that cultural interaction is preferable to isolation."[57] The show then proceeded as planned. [edit]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called on the international community to treat Israel as it treated apartheid South Africa and supports the divestment campaign against Israel.[58]

[edit]Noam Chomsky In 2010, Noam Chomsky, the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize recipient and a prominent pro-Palestinian activist was interviewed regarding the BDS movement and stated that its "hypocrisy rises to the high heavens". He said that its goal was "the destruction of Israel". He said that it's "not a call from the Palestinian people". He said that anything that targets Israel alone can be attacked as antisemitism and "unfortunately this is with justice". He stated that BDS campaign harms the "whole movement". It harms the Palestinians and it is a gift to the Israeli hardliners and their American supporters, because the BDS's "hypocrisy is so transparent... why not boycott the United States?.. Israeli crimes [are] a fragment of US crimes, which are much worse". He also argued that the Palestinian people don't support boycotting Israel and that the BDS movement is run by people who falsely claim to represent the Palestinian people. [59][60]

IMHO Noam is a "left Zionist" and not an "anti Zionist". This is why he deflects attention away from the Israel Lobby and opposes the efforts to boycott, divest and sanction (isolate) Israel as "hypocrisy" that the Palestinans themselves oppose. That's where he's at.



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[-] 6 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Noam Chomsky is a left-gatekeeper fraud. A government paid pied piper tasked with misleading the left and drawing the boundaries of "acceptable dissent".

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

It looks that way, doesn't it?

[-] 4 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=left-gatekeeper+chomsky+goodman for more info.

Found this there: http://blog.mystrangemind.com/2005/10/noam-chomsky-controlled-asset-of-new.html :

"Noam Chomsky is often hailed as America’s premier dissident intellectual, a fearless purveyor of truth fighting against media propaganda, murderous U.S. foreign policy, and the crimes of profit-hungry transnational corporations.

"He enjoys a slavish cult-like following from millions leftist students, journalists, and activists worldwide who fawn over his dense books as if they were scripture. To them, Chomsky is the supreme deity, a priestly master whose logic cannot be questioned.

"However, as one begins to examine the interviews and writings of Chomsky, a different picture emerges. His books, so vociferously lauded in leftist circles, appear to be calculated disinformation designed to distract and confuse honest activists. Since the 1960′s, Chomsky has acted as the premier Left gatekeeper, using his elevated status to cover up the major crimes of the global elite.

"His formula over the years has stayed consistent: blame “America” and “corporations” while failing to examine the hidden Globalist overclass which pulls the strings"

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

"America" as it is and the corporations do deserve "blame." As for a hidden Globalist overclass, I guess you are onto something there. They meet regularly (and those who notice these meetings are demonized as conspiracy theorists). I would guess that at these meetings (Davos, Bilderberg, Bohemian Grove) the 0.001% are not just swapping recipes and wives.

[-] 1 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago


[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

dumb and dumber - is there another way to see you two - your boy alan dershowitz keeps banging that drum - respond with evidence if you can (i know you can't so just rant a bit - or maybe be smart and go sulk in front of the tv!) Comments on Dershowitz Noam Chomsky chomsky.info, August 17, 2006 Alan Dershowitz’s regular little performances are eminently ignorable, including the one reproduced below. But since I’ve been asked several times for comments on this one, a few follow.

Dershowitz’s opens by writing that “Chomsky is circulating a letter which he got two naïve Nobel Prize winners--the playwright Harold Pinter and the poet José Saramago--to sign.” The rest goes on with “Chomsky claims,” etc., and ends with a warning to those who “sign a Chomsky letter without checking its contents. If they don't, it tells us how little they value truth.”

Let’s take it apart, piece by piece.

As Dershowitz knows, the letter was written and circulated by John Berger, who approached the “two naïve Nobel Prize winners,” as well as me and several others. In the normal fashion, some of us had suggestions about the text, and then helped him to circulate it.

By Dershowitz standards, this fabrication is very minor, but it is of some interest nonetheless. Dershowitz readers will be aware that whenever his sensitive antennae pick up a phrase that might be critical of Israeli government policies, if my name is even remotely associated, it quickly becomes the “hard left gang of Israel bashers” led by the evil demon Chomsky. Why the consistent fabrications over the past 36 years – which, of course, merit no response? Dershowitz and I know very well, but others may be intrigued, so I might as well make the reason public for the first time. His pathetic behavior traces back to what was probably our first contact. In April 1973, Dershowitz wrote a scurrilous attack in the Boston Globe against Israel’s leading human rights activist, Dr. Israel Shahak, the chairman of Israel’s League for Human and Civil Rights, in which he even went so far as to support a government effort to destroy the League by methods so outrageous that they were at once declared illegal by the Israeli courts. I responded, correcting his slanders and fabrications – that is, every single substantive statement. He then tried to lie his way out of it, even descending to falsification of Israeli court records. I responded again, citing the actual court records and responding to his new lies and deceit.

The incident demonstrated conclusively that Dershowitz is not only a remarkable liar and slanderer, but also an extreme opponent of elementary civil rights. That is crystal clear from the correspondence, reproduced below. Dershowitz flew into a fury over the exposure, and ever since has produced a series of hysterical tirades and lies concerning some entity in his fantasy world named “Chomsky,” who lives on “planet Chomsky.” That is his standard style when he is exposed, reaching truly grotesque levels in his efforts to discredit Norman Finkelstein (and even his mother, probably a new low in depravity) after Finkelstein’s meticulous documentation of Dershowitz’s astonishing lies in his vulgar apologetics for Israeli crimes (Beyond Chutzpah).

[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

Chomsky and Finkelstein's position on BDS is closer to that of Dershowitz than is mine. I have no afinity with Dershowitz, and I don't understand why you try to link me to him. Like I said, your boy Noam is closer to the opinions to Dershowitz than I am.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

you keep showing your ignorance - well, everyone is good at something

[-] 0 points by Mowat (164) 5 years ago

Thank God there are still some smart people around to discover fraudulent chimps.

Thanks @nomdeguerre.

[-] -1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

a gov't paid pied piper - boy are you stupid - you and your little pal here should keep your echo chamber going - you're from brooklyn - you should be ashamed of yourself - oh i forgot - you're too stupid to feel shame

[-] 0 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Sorry, Noam's a tired, washed up old whore -- nobody's buying what he's selling. It happens to all prostitutes in time.

[-] -1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

more well thought out arguments - what a surprise that you can do nothing but name calling - like a little boy. make an argument - marshal your evidence - you can't i forgot - you are an idiot how could you do anything. he packs the room where ever he speaks - does anyone listen to you - too bad - you have so much to say like this gem - "Noam Chomsky is a left-gatekeeper fraud. A government paid pied piper tasked with misleading the left and drawing the boundaries of "acceptable dissent". - i guess that puts you to the left of chomsky - a true dissident - you are an idiot

[-] 1 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Thanks for bumping this discussion of Noam's intellectual, moral bankruptcy.

[-] 0 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

i must be missing something - you make no sense at all - goodbye

[-] 0 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Again I thank you (boy, are you stupid).

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago

and you on the other hand are really smart - here is the evidence -"Noam Chomsky is a left-gatekeeper fraud. A government paid pied piper tasked with misleading the left and drawing the boundaries of "acceptable dissent". - anyone who knows anything can tell that you are hoist on your own petard! - "better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and dispel all doubt!"

[-] 1 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 6 years ago

Good, I'm glad you had the last word.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 6 years ago


[-] 2 points by ogrdanny (73) from Grand Rapids Charter Township, MI 6 years ago

Sounds more like he's arguing for some kind of 'more nuanced' campaign that targets specifically those aiding in attacks on Palestinians rather than Israel as a whole. I don't know what that would look like.

[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

There is nothing "nuanced" about Chomsky's attack on BDS. He says it represents the height of hypocrisy, it's anti Semitic and it doesn't represent the wishes of the Palestinians. There even is a very courageous group of Israeli Jewish people who support BDS! And the government of Israel has passed a law allowing civil damages against anyone (in the world?) who advocates BDS.

If Chomsky has some constructive criticism, some friendly advice, he has a very odd way of posing it.



[-] 1 points by Mowat (164) 6 years ago

They will use all kinds of tricks in order to fulfill their dreadful agenda: Control of the world.

Chomsky is one of them.

See what great people said about them:


[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

You are attacking all Jewish people. I'm not down with that. Go away.

[-] 2 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Agree 100% 5440! Jewish people have no monopoly on crookedness and dreadful agendas. Plenty of Jews have opposed such ideas coming either from other Jews or other people generally.

Unfortunately those with the money - whether upholding y----h, jebus or aloha - have only REALLY dreadful agendas to fulfil.

[-] 0 points by Mowat (164) 6 years ago

Not all, but most of them. When was the last time you got into contact with a Jew who minds his own business and does not get involved in politics and other society-controlling activities?

How come they (s)elect the president of the US every time? It's collective strength!

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

Jewish people do tend to be very political. Now being political is "minding your own business" in a sense, wouldn't you agree?

Jewish people do believe that they are besieged and that as individuals at least they have to be involved with making the world safer (for them at least). This puts them all over the political map.

I think they're out on a ledge and in the best of all worlds someone could help them climb down.

[-] 1 points by Mowat (164) 6 years ago

"Safer (for them at least)" and more to their advantage whether wrong or right. Did you not realize how all the UN condemnation resolutions against Israel were vetoed by the US? Was that for safety concerns?

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

I'm referring to the belief of most Jewish people that they are always in danger no matter who why or what. I do not favor Israel and I do not appreciate the US government protecting Israel's illegal actions in the UN.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

all presidents have been christian for 100s of years

[-] 1 points by Mowat (164) 6 years ago

That is intentional. Low-profile work has the advantage of avoiding suspicion. But they surround any president with their influence and dictate the decisions he makes. The latest example is the pressure being exerted on Obama to enter a war with Iran for Israel.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

that pressure is fluff

Iran's not going to invade anyone

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Many people like Chomsky, me included, but I don't see him as some sort of guru. He's a good linguist, but when it comes to discussing human nature, I'd much prefer a Daniel Dennett or someone like that over Chomsky (although maybe Dr. Chomsky would as well)?

[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2006 Why Chomsky’s Linguistic Theory Has To Be Wrong

One of the problems in criticizing Chomskyan theory in linguistics is that it can be a bit . . . well, arcane. The terminology is not very accessible to any but specialists. Few outside the Chomskyan priesthood actually do understand the buzzwords, and there is no effort whatsoever to make these ideas accessible to the general reader. The public often hears some snippet reporting the latest startling conclusion, with little idea as to how it was arrived at. Another problem is that Chomskyan theory is constantly being revised, much like the old Soviet five-year plans. I doubt that when the Sixties-era Chomskyans were exploring the old and discredited theory of transformations, they had any idea that turn-of-the-millennium Chomskyans would be examining probes and goals. Finally, the biggest problem is that key problems in linguistics can be quite complicated, requiring not merely an expert-level knowledge of grammar, but a willingness to follow proofs which can run to great lengths.

And so what might be desired is to come up with a very simple example which might show the world that the fundamental ideas underlying Chomskyan theory are flawed. There are probably many such ideas, if one scoured enough of any given language, but one will do for a start.

Let’s start with these examples:

The bible is one of the only books that survived the fire. George was one of the only lieutenants who were promoted to captain.

We hear or read sentences like this all the time – in news reports or in magazines and journals. Writers use this structure, editors approve it, and readers or listeners think they understand it. The only problem is this: such sentences are meaningless. The problem is in the word only. It does not mean few.

What does it mean, then? Note that we could say: Cars are owned by only one million Chinese. One million is a lot of people, but compared to the total population of China, one million is a small number.

So the meaning of only is not few, but relatively few. Now if you are a true-blue Chomskyan, you believe that grammar is innate. The brain automatically and correctly employs the various grammatical structures of your language, because these structures are built in and ready to go. But clearly people are misusing this structure, even those who are educated and possess the ability to speak and write well.

What is lacking in examples such as the above is some way of showing ‘how few.’ One grammatical way of doing this is as follows: The bible is one of (the) only three books that survived the fire. (out of a possible one thousand in the house) George was one of (the) only five hundred lieutenants who were promoted to captain. (out of a possible eight hundred being considered for promotion.) Guang was one of (the) only one million Chinese who owned a car. (out of 1,200,000,000 living Chinese.) We have to show only three out of one thousand, only five hundred out of eight hundred, etc., because the purpose of the only structure is to show how relatively few an occurrence was in comparison to the maximum possible occurrences (one thousand books saved, eight hundred lieutenants promoted, 1.2 billion Chinese car owners).

Another way of showing relatively few does not require placing a number after only. I could hold up three books in my hand and say: These are the only books saved from the fire.

You could count the three books in my hand or otherwise perceive that the number was very small, and you could then deduce that the number of surviving books was relatively small. Let’s call this the deictic structure.

But the facts are pretty clear: a great many people do not automatically know how to use this structure properly, and many more hear or read the structure and think they understand what it means when in fact it is only meaningful if one mistakenly assumes that only means few.

If Chomskyan theory were correct, this could not be the case. Everyone would know innately the difference between few and relatively few. Everyone would know that, except in the demonstrative structure, a number must follow only, and each speaker or writer would include it in one’s speech or writing; if it were inadvertently left out – as people often do make mistakes when they speak or write – everyone hearing or reading such speech or writing would pick up the error instantly, as they do when they hear or read common errors.

The facts I have described illustrate a clear violation of Chomsky’s main premise. And so when we say that people learn a language, including one’s own, this doesn’t mean that one merely turns a switch and all the structures light up in the brain. It means that we learn the structures by imitation, by analogy, and by a logical building process which goes on for many years. Some people master all the various structures relatively quickly, some get most of it but miss a few things, and some never gain much mastery over language. One can see this phenomenon in daily life, and it’s perfectly obvious and irrefutable, even though, as in the example above, it invalidates Chomsky’s theory.

[-] 2 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Yes, I was convinced that Chomsky's language theories were bogus when I read - wait for it - "Chomsky for Beginners". Even Skinner's pigeon-driven spacecraft made more sense than Chomsky's talking spacecraft - while Wittgenstein's statement about language being learnt by practice is so obviously true.

That there could be no universal grammar is clear to anyone who has learnt more than one foreign language. Even German is remarkably different in word order while Semitic languages have their triradical verb system.

There is nothing in common among them but, due to the fact that there are so many languages, surprising parallels between distant languages come up all the time.

For example, the use of duals (as opposed to singular or plural) found in Semitic languages like Hebrew & Arabic are also found extensively in Australian Aboriginal and New Guinean languages. That is, the same things recur independently - and they are dropped, just as duals are dropped in other Semitic languages like Syriac and Mandaic.

But attacking Chomsky does NOT make me love Burrhus Skinner! Which reminds me - why I love the Simpsons! When I was in primary school my parents drove me there, every morning, turning into a street called Chalmers Road.

Now when I visit my elderly mother and go to the shops for her my Tourette's Sydrome is activated every time I turn into that street - "SkinNERRRR!" Better than being a Chump though!

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

I really have no idea what the hell you're talking about. I've read a book by Chomsky, and many of his linguistic theories come from solid empirical observation (for example, the idea that our neurological and anatomical design is particularly well adapted for language). There's been studies tracing children from birth, and even when reared in very poor environments, children appear to "automatically" learn language (suggesting the trait was selected for). At this point, this idea is not very controversial. He obviously goes further, and extrapolates hypothesis' from this research that may be somewhat controversial.

Also, I've heard Chomsky give speeches, and he doesn't overreach. He understands the limits of our knowledge concerning human nature. That he's an optimist, sure, does he give humanity the benefit of the doubt, maybe, but I'm not sure what's so bad about either tendency? I'm quite sure he's wrong about some things, and he's well grounded enough to realize that he's probably not right about everything.

But so fucking what?

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

The implications of Chumpo are much worse than you say.

Chomsky's hankering for a universal grammar is his way of trying to unite mankind around a bizarre ideology - in this way following Proudhon, who had similar ideas. It is rather like Whitehead and Bertrand Russell at the end of the 19th century, who thought that everything could be reduced to mathematics so that arguments over things and qualities would not be required - only "let us calculate."

Chompo panders to such nonsense. While he rightly rejects Skinnerian behaviorism, he has nothing to replace it with - but in lieu of having to support the genetic basis of language (and its obvious racial implications which he clumsily evades) he is reduced to nonsense such as universal grammar!

By "universal grammar" Chompo means something innate in language - but this innateness simply means the capacity for human language, an obvious truism that hardly requires meaningless fancy words like "universal grammar."

Hence Chompo does NOT understand the limits of knowledge concerning human nature. He fails to grasp the radical implications of human character - the fact that individual human characters are so different and the greater fact that democratic procedures completely ignore these vital differences.

He would acknowledge such character differences if you asked him - (he would have to because they are so bloody obvious) - but he would acknowledge these only to trivialize them, since the real point of my bringing them up is that character differences will become the basis for a new caste system as libertarianism in both its capitalist (Skinner) and anarchist (Chomsky) forms crumbles away as the GFC erodes capitalism's credibility once and for all.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Chomsky adequately clarifies that he simply views language as a trait that was selected for, he doesn't postulate some sort of mystical universality of language (even if he unduly romanticizes this phenomena). Like I said, he might try to say that developments in our understanding of language reveal something about human nature, which may not be fully supported by the evidence (like multiple repeat studies, decades of peer review, and all the stuff we like to have before we call a hypothesis a theory), but he well understands that his hypothesis is just that ... a hypothesis.

Yes, maybe he fills gaps in our understanding of human nature with overly optimistic assumptions, but you also have to distinguish between Chomsky the political activist, progressive author, and so on, and Chomsky the academic linguist. Like I said, I've read one of his books, and he didn't make any outlandish claims, or present the evidence in a skewed way.

The fact is a biologically normal human child (with no serious mental infirmities), will learn language merely by being exposed to it (irrespective of how poorly or well he or she is reared). Obviously, environment is also a very influential factor in human intellectual development (but no one is denying that fact). However, I would argue for many of things Chomsky is arguing for, even without any assumptions regarding human nature. What if we found out that our nature isn't as great as we would have hoped, does this mean we should revert to savagery in response?

Of course not, and indeed, it shouldn't weaken our morality at all. It helps us when we understand our own nature, both the good and bad aspects of it, because then we know what impulses to guard against, and which impulses should be nurtured.

No one is naive enough to argue that humans lack any bad propensities, if that were true, there wouldn't be as much bad in the world as there is, or has been throughout our history.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Well fmj,

You state that: "Chomsky adequately clarifies that he simply views language as a trait that was selected for, he doesn't postulate some sort of mystical universality of language"

The point is that all we know is that normal human babies will pick up whatever language they hear as they grow - it is a "mystical universality".

As for whether language was a trait selected for - this would clearly be true for verbal language as a whole, since human abilities over higher apes essentially reside in this language use. (Baby chimps and humans are much the same until humans start to speak).

To say that there were language traits (plural) that evolved and were selected for is something that perhaps Chomsky himself would even deny if confronted.

If you read his essay "Psychology & Ideology" in his book "For Reasons of State" you can only conclude that there must be racial differences in language trait selection - and that some have been left behind.

Now Chomsky actually makes the connection here - but curses anyone who then makes the clear obvious and quite logical racialist deduction. This is going beyond this thread though so I will have to put up a new post.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

The thing is, all our traits were selected for (or else it wouldn't exist); and there's nothing mystical about it. Evolution is a very logical process. Changes or mutations in the genome happen in a variety of ways, but when a change causes an even slight advantage in terms of survival and reproduction, it succeeds (and it's just that simple).

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

No, it is not as simple as that. Not all traits arise by selection by any means. You are following the Richard Dawkins theorizing where he even implies that the mutations creating the template for natural selection to work upon are themselves "naturally selected."

The alternative was put by Elizabeth Vrba, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould - the notion of exaptation, that a feature otherwise existing or selected for would find a totally different use.

Slight advantages are usually not enough for survival. What happens is that mutations, through random recombination, end up together and cause a magnified effect on the organisms to be selected.

We have no evidence for a gradual language-ability acquisition between the chimp-human ancestor 10 my ago (Alan Wilson & Co. say 5 my but that's clearly false) and humans today. The evidence points to the mere accumulation of brain complexity (brain size up to a point) probably at the Homo habilis stage.

The language ability is selected only in the sense of being present or absent. There is no gradual selection of language ability as we find nothing between chimp & ourselves - only a few unfortunate people with missing genetic material and severe language defects.

It is an emergent property, emerging suddenly and favoring those Homo who had this against those Homo/Australopithecines that did not! I think even Chompo would concede this point!

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

Right, sort of like the distinction between analogous and homologous traits (related, although not exactly the same thing) , but I didn't mean to dispute the idea of cooption or co-opted adaptation. My point was more general. Evolution is why we're here. All of our traits have an evolutionary history, and the processes that produced those traits can be understood through relatively simple logic.

An existing trait can certainly be coopted for new use, but understanding why this happens is I think straightforward. Simply stated, if the environment changes, and an existing trait can adapt to those new environmental conditions (and the organism is better suited for survival as a result), then it's more likely that trait will become more dominant in the next generation, and the next, and so on. It could even be true that an existing trait is coopted for new use where there's no environmental change, or the change is caused by the species simply moving from one location to another (maybe because of some sort of pressure), or a number of other ways.

Sometimes a small change in genotype can create a big change in phenotype. It may be less likely, but possible nonetheless, and given enough time and enough random changes, it will happen.

I mean, I really don't like the idea of calling traits "innate" (I think the implication is misleading). I also didn't mean to imply natural selection is the only way organisms change over time. But the fact is, even with an existing feature adapted for new use, the feature was still selected for at some point in time.

My larger point (which is starting to get lost here) was that liberal leaning activists tend to like Chomsky because of his political views, not necessarily because of his scientific work. Yes, in some cases Chomsky tries to link the two, and I would agree with the contention that some of his assumptions may be grossly premature, and obviously trying to support a political theory with assumptions regarding human nature that are not well settled in the scientific community, is problematic.

However, this isn't a reason to wholly reject Chomsky's political ideas. I don't think ideas like participatory democracy requires an exhaustive biological explanation. It is helpful to understand human nature to the extent we're actually able to, but I think the extent we're able to is enough to inform a political view. Our understanding of human nature doesn't only come from evolutionary biology, it also comes from history and philosophy and art and many other things.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Yes I am quite satisfied by your reply re evolution.

It is also true that "liberal leaning activists tend to like Chomsky because of his political views." But this is the nub of the problem.

The liberal-leaning students, by which I imagine you mean libertarians or even "vaguely left people" tend to have a democratic-egalitarian idea of the world and are trying to achieve such a world as their goal.

But the trouble starts here. Since Chomsky appeals to them they adopt his ideas of egalitarian genuine democracy. But the point is that Chomsky's and the liberals' shared goal is a false promise.

There is of course no evolutionary justification or repudiation of democracy one way or another and instead democracy and egalitarianism are based on philosophical positions - particularly on those of Aristotle and Democritus in the ancient world and the mushy liberal thinkers (of Britain primarily) in later times - Locke, Spinoza, Mill and Bentham. Darwin has no role here, though some fantasize otherwise.

Human character is radically different between individuals. It is not hereditary - which was the fundamental Nazi mistake, one which Nietzsche escaped from before he went insane - hence we have to set up a system that respects human character differences. Democracy and egalitarianism cannot do this because they are constitutionally blind to such an obvious thing as human character differences.

Democracy and egalitarianism when genuinely and consistently applied, NATURALLY tend to elect mediocre people to power - because these sort of people are more tolerant and pleasant since they tell people what they want to hear (Obama proves this for starters).

These same mediocre people will fail to grasp the bigger issues while telling the Chumps (believers in Chomsky's principles) that the solutions to mankind's problems are LOCAL solutions primarily.

Hence these democratic egalitarian institutions will break down catastrophically in the event of major crises e.g. energy failures, major wars, prolonged and worsening economic collapse. THIS IS WHY I WHOLLY REJECT CHOMSKY'S IDEAS.

The only way you could convince me otherwise is PROVE to me that such energy failures, wars and economic collapse CANNOT happen (presumably because somehow the egalitarian democratic principles will spread across the world and "win over" the masses). You need a bit more evidence than that!

Until then - I say "Dump the Chump!"

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

One error in this view is the assumption that true democracy would tend to favor mediocre leaders. We don't need to travel back to ancient Athens to understand how this works, we can look at modern Switzerland as an example of how direct democracy can work very effectively. I would even say ancient Athens is not the ideal example, because there's various factors that distorts the analysis. For instance, ancient Athenians owned slaves (and many of them), the discovery of a large ore of silver was largely responsible for their wealth, and women were viewed as chattel.

However, considering modern examples like Switzerland, I certainly find no empirical support for your contention ... that democracy tends to favor mediocre leaders.

When you hold Nietzsche out as your favorite guru, I really have to question the merit of your position. It's not that I don't like some aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy, but I find the elitist aspect of his philosophy disturbing. I mean, it's really about what we value, when we try to search for the "ideal" social structure. Either we want people to have more power over their own lives, or we don't. This idea is a virtue, it may even be somewhat axiomatic, and maybe you don't find axiomatic virtues very satisfying. Maybe you think a world where people can be complacent, is a more desirable world (because complacency is the enemy of democracy). Or maybe you think some metric that has nothing to do with the quality of life of the average person, should determine what our society looks like. Or maybe you think people need to be ruled, and governing ourselves is a less effective means of providing for our own well being.

Well, I disagree with all of the above, and I think history decisively supports my view. More liberty has almost always resulted in more prosperity. Enlightenment has almost always resulted in better quality of life, better treatment of human beings, etc.

I'm not searching for Nietzsche's superman, and I don't think society ought to be either. Uber-narcissism may have some momentary romantic appeal, until we think about it, until we see its consequences, and then it should become clear, we should be striving for a society where everyone is a super person, a super society, not an individual savior.

People do have different abilities, and no one is deluding themselves to the contrary. But in a good society, we maximize individual abilities. It surely cannot be stated that we're doing that now. I'm quite sure most people could handle learning science and mathematics (at least up to a certain level), I'm quite sure most people can handle learning history, philosophy, economics, literature, and at least some amount of computer science. However, our culture doesn't promote these things. We may pepper our rhetoric with how great these things are, but we have a strong dose of anti-intellectualism in our culture, so we haven't even bothered to try and see what happens when everyone is well informed.

Really, why would we even want to entertain the idea that some goals, no matter how good they are, are just impossible to achieve ... without even trying to achieve them? I think this idea is just horrible.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

I am amazed at your last statement. Even Oscar Wilde in "The Soul of Man under Socialism" writes that Utopia is a place at which we land but we then set off once more to somewhere better. This is an ongoing process without a FINAL end for humanity. Hence the final goal is impossible but the journey and the continual striving is vital.

Athens is a joke - and democracy caused its fall by its inordinate demands on the Spartans (read USA demands on Iran and China today!). Athens' later preeminent philosopher Plato cursed democracy - and no wonder, since he lived through the Peloponnesian War to see Athens collapse from its democratic fantasies in war with undemocratic Sparta.

A better example of what you are thinking of would be Winston Churchill - elected to power because Britain had blundered into a major war. But Churchill understood Hitler because he thought like Hitler i.e. an extreme nationalist. He was voted out at the end of the war because people wanted socialism and to get rid of the Empire.

Had Churchill been voted in, he would have tried to hold onto India. How many hundreds of thousands of British soldiers would have died - or would they have mutinied first?

This is the best example I can think of for democracy having a good effect, but the post-WW2 era marked the return to capitalist growth under Keynesianism/New Deal. We are now past that phase since economic growth can only be at the expense of other humans and the planet itself. Hence "more liberty" will NOT now result in more prosperity since "liberty" ends up permitting more laissez-faire capitalism - AND THE ONLY WAY THE LATTER CAN BE CONTROLLED IS THROUGH POWER AND DOMINATION OVER CAPITAL AND CAPITALISTS. Chomsky and Co. deny that this is necessary since they will not even look at the issue except to misrepresent it i.e. Dump the Chump!

This is where Nietzsche, a staunch environmentalist, comes in. He realized the need for power and for those who are best to rule - to get these people recognized (the superman as you say) and to promote them to power (such recognition would be akin to acclamation for Roman emperor election but there are many other issues not considered in that earlier age).

As for democracy NOT electing mediocre leaders - do I really need to waste words refuting a claim that is patent nonsense? Yeah, occasionally you get a good leader but as often as not he or she is sidelined by a democratic populist.

Your reference to Switzerland I often have thrown at me. Switzerland is rich firstly because it was one of first two capitalist countries - so became a finance centre, unlike Holland's mercantile efforts. More importantly Switzerland hosts so many secret bank accounts from so many richniks across the world, hence it is ALWAYS rolling in money relative to other countries - and it has low defense spending requirements. Its cantons certainly work democratically - but if OWS succeeds globally and the cash flow to the Swiss bank accounts then stops you will see a very different Switzerland! I.e. Switzerland is an irrelevancy and a false hope for a democratic future since it is one of the rich parasites on the world body!

Switzerland is so rich it can afford mediocre leaders, likewise Australia and many small countries that shelter under the US umbrella of capitalism.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

So you effectively believe more authoritarianism is the answer? It's funny, I've critiqued ancient Athens in numerous posts (their wealth was due to massive reserves of silver, they had slavery which they used aggressively and often, women were considered chattel, etc.), but the same objections you raise pertaining to Switzerland are very common (the social democracy of Norway is usually critiqued on similar grounds).

If you'd like a better example, travel to many of our western states. Some states in the US allow referendum voting, recall elections, and so on. I simply think this right should be extended to all states (although I think this could be accomplished at the state level).

Moreover, what was so bad about the provision in McCain Feingold that was overturned by Citizens United? Maybe some slight modifications were in order, but to completely overturn the provision I think was a bad mistake. Or what about Glass Steagall, which provided us with a stable financial system for 70 years? I have this funny inclination, I think being able to prove and demonstrate the merit of an idea, should precede its large scale implementation. So as to your proposed authoritarian society and implementation of a class system, let me put it bluntly, no way, no how, no thanks, not now, not ever.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Of course there will be authority - since we now live in a time of scarcity. Marx & Engels hoped for socialist abundance. It did not occur to them that capitalism would hold on until it began to wreck the planetary ecosystem with a simultaneous buildup of sheer human numbers, hence one has to go beyond their thinking.

Yet obviously there are many crooked authorities - so it vital not only to get the people with best character to rule but also HAVE THE CORRECT AUTHORITARIAN PRINCIPLES in the first place. At present, people merely deny the need for the latter, thinking that democracy (= anarchy) will solve mankind's problems.

I am not an American so am unfamiliar with McCain Feingold.

As for the stable financial system in the last 70 years, this was merely due to the massive postwar economic growth, first through Keynesianism then thru the massive debt loads accrued since 1972. The debt, as you know, cannot be canceled without causing Wall Street to collapse since the whole financial system is based on the elite getting enormous interest payments from the suckers who borrowed.

As for many US states, e.g. California, having "referendum voting, recall elections" etc., all this is done merely to serve middle class interests - and they have used this very effectively.

For example, California's Proposition 19 (I think that is the correct number but you will probably recognize what I am about to write).

Proposition 19 was voted in by citizens referendum. It ensured that any moneys received by a local council re the sale of property could NOT be used to fund the local secular "council" school system. Since most poor kids (Latinos and Blacks in particular) have to attend such schools, this disadvantages them very greatly relative to the middle class who can afford private schools.

Hence the citizen based referenda have only entrenched the divide of rich and poor, the post-War boom maintaining the illusion of ever-increasing wealth, the trickled-down effect and solidarity among the masses.

Stuff like referendum voting are not what you "genuine democrats" really want. They represent middle class interests. Hence when the poor, getting poorer, finally revolt, the end result will not be a democratic paradise but rather a coercive new regime. Will it be a middle class based fascist regime - which "referendum voting" will lead to quite peacefully and democratically - or will it be a "superman Nietzsche-type authority" where the best will rule (and by this I do NOT mean one-man or one-woman rule)?

The idea of "genuine democracy" is not an option at all since it represents the naive hopes of the optimistic and the stupid. Hence OWS is a learning experience - if it wants to be effective, it will have to take power and authority and acknowledge the need for leaders and their authority!

So the answer is not just "more authoritarianism" but the correct type of authority with the correct philosophical understanding.

[-] 1 points by Quark2 (109) 6 years ago

I like the way you think.

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

"Grammar is innate?" okay.........

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 6 years ago

No, grammar is not innate (nor does Chomsky say such a thing) ... but that's a scientifically naive statement (and I don't have time to give you a biology lesson right now, but I heard www.khanacademy.org is a pretty good place to learn some basics).

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

useful for logic

[-] 1 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

grammar is not innate. that's just plain silly.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

If Chomsky's overtly antipathetic position towards BDS had been the norm in boycotting Apartheid South Africa, the apartheid state there would still be in power despite the opposition of the majority even of its white inhabitants!

What makes Israel so much harder is the religious dimension and that the vast bulk of Zionists are Christians, mostly in the USA.

Chomsky's anarchist credentials render him incapable of dealing with the situation because he can only criticize any power-holding institution destructively, since, as an ideological anarchist, he cannot cope with the fact of power relations and the need for a new power structure to emerge in order to combat Israeli power successfully. Talk of egalitarian democratic "anarchist" approaches here is a waste of time and effort!

For him a new power structure can only be "anti-semitic" hence any approved-of actions against Israel can be permitted only to be minor and thus essentially ineffective (i.e. feel-good playacting for anarchists). The political left will never get anywhere with the likes of Chomsky dictating the rules!

[-] 2 points by ShubeLMorgan2 (1088) from New York, NY 6 years ago

Had Chomsky come out against the boycott of racist apartheid South Africa in the day he'd have lost all credibility. It's good to take his attack on BDS to its absurd logical conclusion- that Desmond Tutu, Elvis Costello, and the Presbyterians' "anti Semitic hypocrisy" " rises to the heavens."

[-] 2 points by fiftyfourforty (1077) from New York, NY 6 years ago

Most certainly, had there been a Chomsky blocking the boycotts against apartheid South Africa we might already have read of the untimely deaths of Tutu and Mandela, apartheid might still be the rule in South Africa and this same Chomsky type would be warning us against drawing any conspiratorial conclusions from that.

Well, I'm not going to attack the way that OWS functions. Sure it seems to an outsider (like me) to be a cumbersome and non productive way of making decisions and culturally I can't really wrap my head around the people's mic, the hand signals, blocking, etc. The fact is though that in half a year with almost no money and against the MSM the Occupy movement has turned the discourse in this country around and does in fact functionally call actions, meetings, events. Maybe down the road it will have to change to a more hierarchical structure. Maybe that fork in the road is already here and I just don't know it.

[-] -1 points by BlackSun (275) from Agua León, BC 6 years ago

Too true. But I thought this guy was the guru of the Left? At least a lot of people around here seem to believe he is.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Dear BlackSun,

How right you are in that many think of Chomsky as representing the only progressive form of the Left.

However he is an Anarcho-Syndicalist (Libertarian Socialist) which means that he denies all authority through the anarchist credo "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

If this observation is taken as sacred truth then Israel will never be overthrown since its opponents will never have the POWER to do so because all such power relies on authority - which Chomsky has designated beforehand as corrupt in proportion to its power.

Chomsky's intellectual lineage derives from Proudhon (who preempted Chomsky's now-discredited language theories) and Bakunin, the leading 19th century anarchist, whose dispute with Marx broke up the First International.

The Second International, founded in response, led to a mainly reformist outlook, this becoming the norm in WW1, when Lenin and others broke from it.

The Third International, founded by Lenin & Co., merely led to the Stalinist State and has become the favorite bogey of anarchists who quote Bakunin and say "We told you so"!

The Fourth International was founded in failure as Trotsky seemingly broke ideologically from Stalin by claiming that Stalin's policies ensured Hitler's coming to power.

The point of course is that none of these proved to be correct in their approach - but the Soviets did support Communists in China and showed the Red Army how to fight in a conventional manner. Today, China's economic success is undoubted - its communism may yet collapse in fact (as well as in name) but it demonstrates the effectiveness of authoritarian as opposed to democratic rule.

It is the sacred dogma of the Western Left, Chomsky included, to curse Deng Xiao Ping for the crushing of the Tienanmen Uprising. But my point is: Deng was merely reviving Lenin's NEP!

What the Chomskyites and anarchists fail to understand is that if the Tienanmen democrats had succeeded and the Communist Party was overthrown, these democrats would have permitted the West to buy up all China's state companies, returning China to the economic situation of the Boxer Rebellion period, WHILE THESE DEMOCRATS THEMSELVES BECAME FAT COMMISSIONAIRES - a comprador bourgeoisie living off a Chinese populace enslaved in foreign-owned companies.

The point is: power relations have to be considered and understood. The anarchistic dismissal of such in favor of "egalitarianism" and "democracy" is merely a front for the continuation of capitalist power and control - this socio-economic power being enshrined as the core principle in the USA, Israel and the West generally.

Hence OWS cannot deal effectively with the BDS issue or capitalism generally until it begins to confront the issue of power relations. Clearly, much discussion is required first!

[-] 1 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

Consider, for that discussion, Manuel De Landa's point on meshworks and hierarchies and how it might relate to your points on the limits of Chomskian-style idealized libertarian socialist meshworks.

From De Landa: http://www.t0.or.at/delanda/meshwork.htm "To make things worse, the solution to this is not simply to begin adding meshwork components to the mix. Indeed, one must resist the temptation to make hierarchies into villains and meshworks into heroes, not only because, as I said, they are constantly turning into one another, but because in real life we find only mixtures and hybrids, and the properties of these cannot be established through theory alone but demand concrete experimentation. Certain standardizations, say, of electric outlet designs or of data-structures traveling through the Internet, may actually turn out to promote heterogenization at another level, in terms of the appliances that may be designed around the standard outlet, or of the services that a common data-structure may make possible. On the other hand, the mere presence of increased heterogeneity is no guarantee that a better state for society has been achieved. After all, the territory occupied by former Yugoslavia is more heterogeneous now than it was ten years ago, but the lack of uniformity at one level simply hides an increase of homogeneity at the level of the warring ethnic communities. But even if we managed to promote not only heterogeneity, but diversity articulated into a meshwork, that still would not be a perfect solution. After all, meshworks grow by drift and they may drift to places where we do not want to go. The goal-directedness of hierarchies is the kind of property that we may desire to keep at least for certain institutions. Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental attitude towards the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what the complexity of reality itself seems to call for. To paraphrase Deleuze and Guattari, never believe that a meshwork will suffice to save us."

Or, from a different direction, consider a conservative take on propertarian libertariansim (a different flavor of libertarianism) by The American Conservate: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017/ "The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. Simple physical security, which even a prisoner can possess, is not freedom, but one cannot live without it. Prosperity is connected to freedom, in that it makes us free to consume, but it is not the same thing, in that one can be rich but as unfree as a Victorian tycoon’s wife. A family is in fact one of the least free things imaginable, as the emotional satisfactions of it derive from relations that we are either born into without choice or, once they are chosen, entail obligations that we cannot walk away from with ease or justice. But security, prosperity, and family are in fact the bulk of happiness for most real people and the principal issues that concern governments." (Also essential to happiness are community and health, but those are not current conservative talking points...)

So, it is quite a challenge in practice to come up with a workable system that has appropriate mix of hierarchies and meshworks relative to some widely shared vision of a healthy, joyful, prosperous, and intrinsically&mutually secure society. Chomsky contributes greatly to that dialog (because he is right that much happiness is found in the local), but as you suggest, the big picture is even larger (because it would be incorrect to say only the local determines our lives). This is sort of like there are global long term weather patterns even when there are local weather patterns too. It is a big challenge to see how the different scales of organization do (or should) relate to each other.

[-] 0 points by Dumpthechump (96) 6 years ago

Thank you derek for your very informative posting. I will be looking up your links.

De Landa's points are powerful - most people just want security prosperity and family i.e. local solutions - but when one applies such democratic local solutions the overall situation is chaos, anarchy and/or war because one democratic local choice does not fit with another, especially when resources are depleting.

For example the overuse of petroleum and the grave threat posed by the energy crisis as oil and gas disappear.

In Chomsky's case he clearly makes the case for the local - but he simply will only cherry-pick parts of the bigger picture, and for this, his activities, and those of his Chumps, do much more harm than good - and not just re BDS!

[-] -1 points by BlackSun (275) from Agua León, BC 6 years ago

Best post I've seen in a long time! But. Authoritarianism can take many forms that can be successful. Communism, fascism are two of them. Dictatorship (as in much of Afrika) seems to be a miserable failure.

[-] 3 points by derek (302) 6 years ago

You might find of interest a free online book by Prof. Bob Altman called "The Authoritarians" http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Also on the theme: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarianism "Authoritarian political systems may be weakened through "inadequate performance to demands of the people." Vestal writes that the tendency to respond to challenges to authoritarianism through tighter control instead of adaptation is a significant weakness, and that this overly rigid approach fails to "adapt to changes or to accommodate growing demands on the part of the populace or even groups within the system." Because the legitimacy of the state is dependent on performance, authoritarian states that fail to adapt may collapse."

Also maybe of interest: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/opinion/09friedman.html "One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down. Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.” Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions."

Please also see my other comment above.