Noam Chomsky will be ninety in a couple of years. His has been a remarkable life. Fifty years ago, his name was mentioned as the equal or Freud or Marx or Keynes- or other such meretricious Messiahs to our embattled bildungsburgertums ; promising milk and honey, in one or more of the various Academic Wildernesses of utterly worthless Credentialized Careerism.
I should explain, this was at a time when Freud and Marx were considered to have made fundamental discoveries of an essentially scientific kind and Nixon had embraced Keynes to the extent of proclaiming a 'Prices & Incomes Policy'- i.e fucked up so massively he had to be impeached.
Now, however, Chomsky is considered stupider than Ali G- not because he fucked up Second language learning and, in some American School Districts, even First Language literacy- by and large both were positive developments- but because he has rigorously re-purposed the General Intelligence he alone denies he has to always says the stupidest thing possible- even when it is boring rather than funny.
What went wrong?
Noam came of excellent stock; his father was a great expert in Hebrew; his mentor- Zellig Harris- was brilliant and just ten years older than himself; at M.I.T he had the chance to get in on the ground floor of the Information Technology Revolution which has given us such things as Siri and Google Translate; his main political influences, anti-Stalinists like Rudolf Rocker and Anton Pannekoek, were in tune with a technocratic depoliticizing Zeitgeist which permitted a stable, if loveless marriage between Rawlsian Equity and Hayekian Liberty; while his own personal life was blissfully uxorious and bountiful of progeny.
Yet, intellectually, he has but unmade alliances and laid waste the laboriously cultivated estates of his own designated heirs for no better reason, it appears, than a certain shallowness of mind and callowness of heart which strategised minimalism to achieve a sort of tautological multiple realisability such that he himself would be disqualified him from achieving any Punctum Archimedis insight into those two subjects, alone, whose government he had overthrown.
The answer is that he was employed as at an American University and thus was under pressure to publish or perish with the result that his Idionomic Research Program- i.e. his petty bourgeois 'integrity' as a skilled 'knowledge worker'- could with the greater virtuosity do both by means of precisely the sort of paranoid Pannekoekean putsch he would dedicate the remainder of his life to discovering everywhere except in the government of his own oeuvre. In other words, Chomsky is the name of an algorithm which makes a distinction only to elide it by saying it makes no difference which is why the distinction must, minimally, yet again be made.
This, admittedly, is not the common-sense view. After all, Chomsky was employed at an American University during the only decade when Professors had some relevance to Politics because of the Vietnam War and the Conscription it entailed.
Put yourself in Chomsky's shoes. The year is '68. The Tet offensive is at its height. That fucking 19 year old gormless hippie chewing gum in your lecture hall should be getting his head blown off by gooks not sitting in front of you making excuses for why his term paper will be late.
What makes things worse is that fucking fraud Foucauld is probably storming the Bastille at the head of hordes of randy students demanding superior facilities for fornication- this being France's comeuppance for having tricked the US into the Vietnamese quagmire before doing a runner itself- with the result that De Gaulle himself has to flee for fear of loosing his anal cherry to Daniel Cohn Bendit.
According to this view, Chomsky turned political because prolonged contact with 'students'- as if the possibility of a Mentalistic Paideia, as opposed to a Mechanical Productivity, were not epigenetically foreclosed between the ages of 19 and 29!- is profoundly demoralizing. The natural instinct, at least for men with kids of their own, is to wish to see these soi disant students being blown up or shot on an industrial scale.
Since the gooks were too fucking lazy to send more than 50,000 body-bags home, obviously, it was up to the U.S Army and National Guard and the Feds and all them Fascist bastards to kill or otherwise fuck over the little shits who keep turning up year after year at Uni and stinking up the place with their pheromones and bongs and cheap deodorant.
Why won't these students just fucking attack the Pentagon already and get machine gunned or nuked or whatever till they are all fucking dead?
What is the point of their stinking up our lecture halls in the name of getting an 'education' if they can't take the hint that they should just kindly fuck off and get shot already?
Fuck is their major malfunction?
The answer has to do, obviously- because we're talking about American students in the Sixties who had been brought up on TV- with Capitalist Media mindlessly 'manufacturing consent'.
In the same way that the German proletariat, in the opinion of Pannekoek, had lost its revolutionary potential because of a civilizing contact with the Self-employed and Government Servants and Army Officers and so on, so too had those vicious young cannibals we see entering our campuses every Fall, been civilized by 'I love Lucy' and 'Peyton Place'. That's why they don't simply eat each other or attack the Barracks so as to feast upon the brains of the hapless young soldiers there.
Chomsky, not content with crediting Descartes with an atheistic linguistics, now proceeded to denude Plato of his characteristic theory of methexis before going on to completely miss the point of Orwell's 1984.
Orwell's problem, on the above view, is just the dual of Plato's problem. The protocols for 'Knowing' and 'Understanding' are costly and impose a risk because they can have intensional effects, i.e. corrupt other files- so it is better to have minimal & air gapped- or else just-in-time mimetic- doxastic commitments.
Bizarrely, Chomsky thinks Plato's problem cashes out as Sciency stuff (as opposed to Anthropic Principle question begging) and is interesting whereas Orwell's problem is the familiar bleeding heart scandal of how like everybody knows, but nobody is doing anything, about the suffering of trillions of starving Secular Socialist Sanjeev Sabhloks who are being systematically raped, sodomized and forced to commit suttee by the Hegemonic Neo-Liberal Nomenklatura despite this being a blatant violation of the Eighteenth Amendment (coz shite like that tends to go down when I bin drinkin) not to mention Grotius's fundamental principle of Natural Law which says Dutch people get to enslave Tamil peeps and starve them to death on their Ceylonese plantations coz, fuck u Mennonites, that's just the Law okay?
Compared to Chomsky's minimalist program of telling the stupidest lies possible because Science and Politics are immiscible, Ali G's reflexive 'is it coz I iz Black?' resolves the Race Hazard of their univocity in a manner reminiscent of, the Catholic, Rudolf Rocker, resolving the central aporia of Jewish Anarcho-Syndicalism such that the doors to genuine Popular Sovereignty are thrown open at Westminster with the withdrawal of all Whips and the apotheosis of Black Rod like in dat porn film I once saw.
(This is the text of my comment on a post on 'Orwell's fatal attraction to Democratic Socialism')