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Chomsky

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  • Chomsky

    I'm interested in people's opinions on Chomsky.

    Last night I finished Hegemony or Survival. Reading the book was stressful - My blood alternated between boiling (anger), freezing (terrified) and lukewarm (depressed resignation).

    At times, I found it a bit hard to follow - there were references that maybe would've clicked more with Americans - but on the whole it was compulsive reading.

    I'm not completely naive and I think I have a reasonable idea of what's going on behind the headlines (coloured, no doubt, by my political viewpoints which are to the left), but I was shocked at some of things he writes about. If only half of it is accurate, it's deeply worrying.

  • #2
    Thank heavens you read! A lot of people in USA don't or even can't! especially writings by Chomsky.

    :)

    Comment


    • #3
      I live in the US and i can read. In fact, in my 21 years on earth i have yet to meet someone over the age of 7 that cant read.

      Comment


      • #4
        I once worked a telemarketing job for a few months.

        You basically read a script in that kind of job.

        "Hi, Mr./Mrs. [name]. This is Jerico R. calling on behalf of [company name] and Mothers Against Drunk Driving! Don't worry, were not calling to ask for a donation, but we're trying something a little bit different.
        I'm sure you're familiar with MADD, they do everything to prevent drunk driving, and help make the streets safer for you and your family.
        I don't know if you know this, Mr./Mrs. [name], but every [current stat] minutes in America, someone is killed at the hands of a drunk driver.
        Now that's a frightening statistic isn't it? yadda yadda yadda...
        You can help support MADD this year just by trying a short subscription to a popular magazine like Time or TV Guide.... yadda yadda..."

        So basically part of the interview was reading the script.
        There was a young lady who I'd guess was in her early 20's, could not do the script. She could barely read. Sad.
        They are out there!
        \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
        Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview

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        • #5
          I've known several smart people who can't read, both in the UK and in the US. Dyslexia, if undetected, can produce such people. One guy I knew could only travel routes he knew well because he couldn't read street directions. He would take incredibly convoluted routes. He was embarrassed about it, of course, but it wasn't any lack of education. So
          maybe that was the young woman's problem.

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          • #6
            Yes sir. I wouldn't rule out that possibility.

            I think when some people say, " I don't read" (like our President doesn't read the newspaper) doesn't mean they can't read, but meaning they don't do it for pleasure or to be informed. A lot of people use the internet, and you kind of have to know how to read to navigate yes?

            I think we are in trouble though as other activities replace reading for pleasure. Relying on the sound bites that TV offers, people spending countless hours online, not researching things, but just communicating with other people...
            person 1: "Hi all! I'm SWM 23 in San Bernadino. Any females here?"

            person 2: "Yeah! I once saw Snoop Dog up pretty close one time when he went to the big Hip Hop club here. I can rap mo betta than him. I think he's a punk ass beeeatch!"

            person 3: "Hi person 1! I'm Amber, swf 18. :giggles:

            ---------------
            People like video games! A video game can take hours upon hours to figure out.

            Between video games, the internet, and watching TV, there's a complete day for a kid these days!

            Ugh!
            sorry. don't mean to be depressing :(
            \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
            Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview

            Comment


            • #7
              Let me explain my earlier comment. I know that theres people out there that cant read. Nor am i making light of it. Im just saying that myself personally have never encountered anyone who couldnt read.

              People who WONT read however, i run into them all the time. We live in the world of the glowing one eyed god my friends.

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              • #8
                errrm Chomsky anyone :)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Chomsky is also a linguist that came up with several interesting ideas in the realm of psychology. The most famous is that the brain has a language acquisition device. This was in opposition to the idea that language was picked up behaviorally. One of my favorites is the idea that certain words have a heavy cognitive load to them and influence how we think. In fact languages themselves tailor how the people that use them think about the world. There’s many examples of how certain languages lack or express ideas that are not found in other languages. Recently, I looked up the translation of the term martial artist in Chinese and it turned out to be power dancer. That says something much different than the English term “war artist,� so Chomsky is pretty interesting there.

                  I have read some of his political stuff and a brief biography of him. I seems to me that much of his work revolves around the idea that various actions around the world are immoral. I find this to be kind of a poor argument. His biography indicates that he was raised amongst very religious people that were very politically active. Unless the whole biblical thing is true, the morals in it don’t apply to anyone that doesn’t believe it. It’s pretty clear to me that the rich and powerful, and governments in general, rarely care about morals and follow at best a pragmatic philosophy. So, I think that Chomsky attempts to take the ideas of a fantasy story and apply them to US and world affairs. The problem is that he seems to see Western morals as a universal when they are not. Not all cultures will follow the ten commandments regarding our existence.

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                  • #10
                    I guess that would explain why we live in a cess pot and not melting pot?

                    ---------------------
                    I've mentioned Chomsky at least a couple of times in here.
                    One of them is on this page....

                    [broken link]

                    There's talk about psychology as well.
                    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-09-2010, 12:19 PM.
                    \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
                    Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hmmm interesting points adlerian. You must have two brains mate, as you're far too clever :) .

                      Maybe I've missed your point, but I'm not sure I agree about him applying specifically western morals - surely it's wrong for the strong to oppress the weak whatever you're hemisphere?

                      Couldn't you also argue that the Nazis followed a "pragmatic philosophy" when butchering the East for Liebensraum? I agree that strong nations from the U.S. to the British Empire to the Romans usually have pragmatic goals (i.e. more power/control) at heart, whatever lies they invent to cover their actions.

                      I worry about how much US Politicians justify their actions by invoking words such as "it is in the United states' best interests" without qualifying what that will means in practice. Mass killing in South America was no doubt good for U.S. business, but shouldn't we be outraged and try to stop it (god knows how)?

                      The problem as I see it isn't that the U.S. "ruling elite" is any worse than many others both now and historically. The problem is the unbelievable and totally unprecedented power they wield, both economically and militarily. Combine this with a complacent and coporate controlled media and the world seems close to being completely in the grip of this "ruling elite". Witness Tony Blair's (left of centre, if you can believe it) submission. I believe he felt he had no choice and the retribution from the Bush Government would have been serious for the U'K's economy - personally I think he should have had more backbone!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        hmmm interesting points adlerian. You must have two brains mate, as you're far too clever :) .

                        Maybe I've missed your point, but I'm not sure I agree about him applying specifically western morals - surely it's wrong for the strong to oppress the weak whatever you're hemisphere?

                        Couldn't you also argue that the Nazis followed a "pragmatic philosophy" when butchering the East for Liebensraum? I agree that strong nations from the U.S. to the British Empire to the Romans usually have pragmatic goals (i.e. more power/control) at heart, whatever lies they invent to cover their actions.

                        I worry about how much US Politicians justify their actions by invoking words such as "it is in the United states' best interests" without qualifying what that will means in practice. Mass killing in South America was no doubt good for U.S. business, but shouldn't we be outraged and try to stop it (god knows how)?

                        The problem as I see it isn't that the U.S. "ruling elite" is any worse than many others both now and historically. The problem is the unbelievable and totally unprecedented power they wield, both economically and militarily. Combine this with a complacent and corporate controlled media and the world seems close to being completely in the grip of this "ruling elite". Witness Tony Blair's (left of centre, if you can believe it) submission. I believe he felt he had no choice and the retribution from the Bush Government would have been serious for the U'K's economy - personally I think he should have had more backbone!!

                        Anyway, there's my tuppence worth. :D

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheAdlerian
                          I have read some of his political stuff and a brief biography of him. I seems to me that much of his work revolves around the idea that various actions around the world are immoral. I find this to be kind of a poor argument. His biography indicates that he was raised amongst very religious people that were very politically active. Unless the whole biblical thing is true, the morals in it don’t apply to anyone that doesn’t believe it. It’s pretty clear to me that the rich and powerful, and governments in general, rarely care about morals and follow at best a pragmatic philosophy. So, I think that Chomsky attempts to take the ideas of a fantasy story and apply them to US and world affairs. The problem is that he seems to see Western morals as a universal when they are not. Not all cultures will follow the ten commandments regarding our existence.
                          I'm familiar with Chomsky's work, although I haven't read his biography. However, I don't recognise this characterisation of him as a religious figure. It is my understanding that his criticism of world leaders stems from a left wing libertarian viewpoint - anyway surely it is entirely legitimate to highlight the way in which the action of governments offend commonly accepted codes of behaviour, particularly when our leaders are quick to resort to language such as "good" and "evil" when justifying their actions.

                          Chomsky himself would no doubt agree wholeheartedly with the statement about the "rich and powerful" behaving pragmatically at best, and perhaps one could say he has devoted his life to proving this. I don't see how it can be argued that all morality comes from the Ten Commandments, or is exclusively "Western" or otherwise. The Buddhist five precepts, for example, bear a marked similarity to the Christian code of ethics, and the same goes for other religions. Morality, in some shape or form, is essential for society, and at it's most basic it comes from the imagination - the ability to empathise with one another. So all we need to do is to recognise that other humans are the same type of beings as ourselves (this is the stumbling block, with all the arbitrary divisions that have been erected). "Do unto others as you would have them do to you".

                          The alternative to Chomsky's approach would be the type of instrumental ethics outlined in Trotsky's "Their morals and ours" - the end justifies the means. But perhaps this explains why revolutions tend to eat themselves. I always thought that Marx was a moralist in denial - but with the "rich and powerful" spouting sanctimonious bulls**t as they sharpen their knives, perhaps this is an inevitable backlash.

                          I would love to read Chomsky's own views on morality, if anyone can steer me towards them. Perhaps there's a "morality acquisition device" (MAD!) similar to the language one. It seems to be so essential for our survival that it would not be surprising if evolution had caused it to be hardwired. I do remember reading (in the book "Emotional Intelligence") that psychopaths seem to have a bit missing from their brains. Perhaps all politicians should be given a scan before assuming power...
                          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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                          • #14
                            Hey guys!

                            I’m not defending pragmatism in the world nor am I supporting the strong vs. the weak mentality. I’m just saying that throughout history might makes right seems to be the rule. So, I can understand why a powerful country would feel the need to put its heel on the neck of every country that it could. It’s like taking out insurance against any other country becoming more powerful. I have often thought of America as a guy that has a beautiful, naked, and unconscious girlfriend that he has to defend from a pack of men circling around him. Who is friend and who is foe? Should the man hit first or wait and see who does what. Maybe it would be a good idea to make an example of someone and bash their head in. Really, this analogy could be given about any country, but throughout its brief history America proved to have a lot of resources and other things that are very enviable, so really its like having a girlfriend with a great body too. Personally, if I was in the situation that I described, I would give the advancing men warning then I would state that someone was about to get maimed. The girl is more important than the morality of my actions. You may disagree, but I see all this as the underlying reality of world affairs.

                            Anyway, I have read a little of Chomsky and he has used words like “immoral� and it seemed pretty clear from his biography that his thought took root in a religious community. From my study of psychology I have learned that morals and ethics are two different things. Ethics are situational and created by people. For instance it is unethical for a psychologist to date a patient, but it is not for a doctor. A soldier has combat ethics and those ethics differ greatly from say an accountant.

                            Morals on the other hand imply a universal set of values. If you think about ancient Japan you may recall that they had a warrior culture that thought emotions like compassion were weakness. The same goes for Rome. Vikings saw a heaven with battles that could go on and on and everyone would be OK. So, would you say that these civilizations were immoral? You could, but really they were just different. It’s all about situational ethos across the world. As an aside, in the field of group psychotherapy it is wise to look out for the “moral� client because they are usually very rigid self-righteous thinkers that are both finger pointers and miserably isolated. So, to believe that everyone in the world is going to respond to a moral approach is naive as they may not believe what you believe to be universal.

                            So, in my opinion any author that starts talking about fairness and morality is automatically not worth reading, unless you enjoy the dream of it all. I can only imagine what it would be like to run a country and I find it pretty scary.

                            Anyway, I personally wish that governments would react like Chomsky desires. The human struggle seems pretty pointless to me. I big meteor could be on its way or something, so we might as well enjoy each other. However, some people might find this to be a good reason to start killing each other harder, so there you go!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              psychopaths seem to have a bit missing from their brains.

                              It has been my experience that psychiatrists are known liars. Most of these studies where performed on what could be described as “retarded� violent offenders. Usually, these studies have a low sample size of say six people! Most often it is seen that these people have frontal lobe anomalies. However, most of these people committed crimes that were senseless. On the other hand there are people that commit heinous crimes that are part of some personal goal. These people do not show any problems with there brains.

                              I have worked with many many people that would qualify as psychopaths and at least on real serial killer, and its clear to me that these people are made not born.

                              Be skeptical about all the biological and genetic claims out there because they are all still theory. Also remember that the Nazis used similar arguments against the Jews. Psychiatrists in that time period believed that Jews were not capable of a full emotional range and were not entirely human. Much of this was based on Neanderthal/human hybrids that were found in Jerusalem. So, it was concluded that they might no be entirely human and so forth. So, concluding that bad behavior may be genetic can be bad business. I hate the current trend to do so as it seems so backward.

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