Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chomsky (Noah Delk, #H1)

Posted for Noah Delk (#H1)
Although renowned for his contributions to the field of Linguistics (and to philosophy with the introduction of the idea of the Language Acquisition Device and Generative Grammar), Chomsky has also spent time in the spotlight for his political activism. Even though most of his recent receptions have been more negative due to his progressively radical views and his increasing outspokenness, he continues to be a fairly prominent political figure, and is mostly admired throughout the language and linguistic communities. His political (and Philosophical) views are not always very popular, as he typically identifies as anarcho-syndicalist, and is a fan of libertarian socialism. He holds traditional anarchist beliefs, and only supports authority when its existence is necessary and justifiable. He is also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (http://www.iww.org/) , a labor union with allignments with both the Socialist and Anarcist parties. In this post, I would like to hit his major beliefs, such as political systems, his beliefs on human rights, and his thoughts on Israel (which are interesting, since he was raised Zionist/ Jewish). I do wish to say that these views are not mine, but Chomsky’s.


    Chomsky is rarely a fan of a political systems. He sees himself as more of an anarchist-libertarian-socialist, and is very critical of most governments, especially the United States (all though he is a United States Citizen). To him, governments represent oppression and the lack of freedom. Additionally, governments represent the upholding and pondering to of the upper classes, and the very rich. For example, the United States government has close ties to the 1%, and large corporations, declaring that corporations are in fact people. This is something that he opposes, along with the entirety of the ruling elite class.

    In regards to the United States, he is extremely critical of our foreign policy. He doesn’t like that we like to shove our noses into other nations businesses, like in the Vietnam war, and the Shah governments set up in Iran. He finds it to be very hypocritical, since we preach practicing democracy and claim that our actions have spreading democracy and freedom at their root. However, we also have a history of aligning ourselves with non-democratic governments. For example, the Chilean dictatorship under Pinochet (which was aided in order to prevent Chile from becoming a socialist state under their pre-coup socialist president, Salvador Allende), and for their secret aid of the Contras in Nicaragua. Acts such as these do not line up very well with the image of spreading “democracy”, but more as preventing the increase of the sphere of influence of our rivals.

Chomsky is also known for being a huge proponent of free speech, and this issue has been one that has brought lots of controversy on him. He greatly opposes censorship, and as can be seen above, all opinions must defended according to Chomsky, even those one does not agree with.

An example of controversy that he has caused is found within the case of his supporting the free speech of Robert Faurisson. Faurisson is a French lecturer who denied the existence of Nazi death camps, and was met with expected opposition. Since Chomsky supported and tried to defend his right to free speech, even when that free speech involved denying the Holocaust, Chomsky thought it right for Faurisson to be able to say what he wanted, and thus ensued a firestorm.

Finally, Chomsky has had an interesting history with the nation of Israel. As was mentioned in a previous post, Chomsky was born and raised Jewish, and held Zionist beliefs. As was also previously mentioned, Chomsky was unable to live long term in Israel due to the immense hate for their Arab neighbors that he saw, and could not allow himself to live in such an environment. In modern times, Chomsky has been one of the most prominent critics of the nation of Israel. As can be seen in the following video, Chomsky was not a supporter of the creation of the state of Israel, even though he was called a Zionist. Now, although he says he is still a Zionist, he claims that his Zionism would now be considered anti-Zionism.


Because of his criticism of Israeli politics and policies (much like in the United States), and support of the Palestinian effort, he has been barred from entering the state of Israel since 2010.

Although he has had his reputation diminished to a degree as he has aged, and as he has become more outspoken, he is still considered an authority on language, and also is referred to as the father of modern language. His opinions are respected by many, and resented by many, but he is still a man who has had great ideas. To conclude this series of posts about the life and ideas of Avram Noam Chomsky, I would like to share one last quote:

Thanks for reading!


  1. Some of my heroes have good ideas, others have a passion for the free exchange of ideas. Chomsky's not a hero of mine, but I admire his willingness to enter the political fray when his prestige in linguistics gives him every opportunity to lead a quiet and cushy ivory tower life. It's because he cares.

    You might be interested in what Carlin Romano has to say about Chomsky in his book "America the Philosophical." Romano's less of a fan than I, even, but he acknowledges C's philosophical importance.

  2. I will definitely look into that! My views and Chomsky's rarely align, although as a Linguistics student, I admire him for his contributions to our field. I'm sure it will be an interesting read.