Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chomsky on Imperialism

I'm not going to speak too much on the decision of Obama to send more troops to Afghanistan. Those that know me know my views on American imperialism. Just because it is a Democratic President signing the orders doesn't make it any more right. Famous linguist and progressive Noam Chomsky spoke Thursday at Columbia University. His subject - "hypocrisy and "schizophrenia" in American foreign policy":

Chomsky Speaks on US Imperialism

by Claire Luchette

According to Noam Chomsky, all U.S. leaders are schizophrenic.

... Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to Columbia on Thursday to discuss hypocrisy and "schizophrenia" in American foreign policy from the early settlers to George W. Bush.

Chomsky, often considered one of the fathers of modern linguistics, is also well known for his controversial criticism of the United States' actions in international politics.

... Discussing the United States as an international player, he said, "To this day, the U.S. is reverentially admired as a city on a hill." Chomsky characterized this as an imperialist policy, "a conception that we are carrying out God's will in mysterious ways."

He argued that the U.S. sacrifices democratic principles for its own self-interest, and tends to "focus a laser light on the crimes of enemies, but crucially we make sure to never look at ourselves."

Democracy, he said, is "supported if it defends the strategic and economic objectives of the United States."

The U.S. is losing its status as the "city on a hill". We cannot engender change in the world when we seem mired in the past at home. Flat-earthers, xenophobes, the military and corporations hold sway instead of individuals and ideas.

"In the United States, the political system is a very marginal affair. There are two parties, so-called, but they're really factions of the same party, the Business Party." -- Noam Chomsky


Laura said...

This really upsets me. It seems like human nature to never turn the critical eye on yourself. Maybe it's our fascination with "Truth" and certitude? I mean, if we know our way is the "True" way, then why examine it for flaws?

There was a commentator on one of the MSNBC shows recently, (I can't remember if it was Hardball, Olbermann, or Maddow), who hit the nail on the head:

No amount of military force can create an Afghan national identity where none has existed before.

dbackdad said...

The MSNBC guy had it right.

As for our "certitude", I fear too much of it comes from religious text, whether it be the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, whatever. If we feel God is sanctioning us (specifically us), then it is hard for us to do wrong.