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Noam Chomsky – False Prophets

A great website for serious left wing commentary and news is ZDnet. They have a print edition available in the United States by subscription for just $19/year. As I much prefer reading things offline, I would subscribe were I physically able to receive the magazine.

Here are some excerpts from a 9000! word interview with Noam Chomsky. Chomsky’s first bon mot provides a vivid image for the current state of intellectual property rights.

Even the free trade agreements, so-called, are highly protectionists, the extra-ordinary intellectual property rights go way beyond anything existed in the past those are purely protectionist. They are designed to maintain monopoly rights for major corporations. If the currently rich countries had ever been faced with such rules, the US would now be exporting fish and fur.

At the end of the interview, there were three or four difficult letters to Noam Chomsky from readers who accused him of just hating the United States and having nothing productive to say. His evaluation of the situation strangely invokes biblical references.

There were people in the biblical period who we would call dissident intellectuals, they’re called Prophets. It’s a bad translation of an obscure Hebrew word. But if you look at what the Prophets were saying, it’s what we would call dissident intellectuals. Geopolitical critique, a call for justice and freedom and so on. Yes, that’s dissident intellectuals. How were they treated? Well? No, they were denounced as haters of Israel. They were driven into the desert, they were imprisoned, reviled. Now, there were intellectuals at that time who were very highly respected, namely the flatterers at the court. Hundreds of years later they were called false prophets. That’s the way it works. It’s the flatterers at the court who are typically the mainstream of the intellectuals.

So Noam Chomsky sees himself as part of a Hebrew tradition stretching back to the beginning of recorded time. Quite a neat end run around the self-hating charge.

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