March 30, 2012 at 3:37 am #87716
At least, you cannot say Chomsky is inconsistent. http://www.state-journal.com/news/simple_article/5167920 kcrob2001- With the government structure we have now I see no reason to vote for candidates who run for office under that structure. It seems to me that in voting one has to pick the lesser of two evils rather than vote for a respected candidate. Do you vote, or see the need to?Noam Chomsky- I agree. One has to pick the lesser of two evils, and there are substantial differences. If I were in a swing state, I’d vote against any Republican (hence necessarily for Obama).kcrob2001- I think Obama will win because there is no credible Republican candidate. I certainly would rather he get re-elected than to see the likes of Mitt Romney in the white house.Noam Chomsky- I hope you’re right, but there are a lot of uncertainties. Vote for the man who turned out to be even more right-wing than Bush was! Obama wages multiple wars and plans others. Promoted regime change in Libya and now in Syria. After the earthquake, he militarised and occupied Haiti. Conducts illegal drone attacks inside foreign countries such as Pakistan,Yemen and Somalia. “A no greater friend has Israel got ” he proudly claims.He authorised indefinite detention without trial and carried out summarily execution of US citizens.He promotes “shared sacrifice” to force ordinary people to sacrifice for his Wall St backers who he bailed out.The 99%, the unions, the poor and the minorities, in an economy of growing poverty and unemployment, he has thrown them overboard and wages class war against them to serve wealth and power interests alone. As Billionaire Soros says “If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them.”But still Chomsky insists that there is and recommends voting for what he views as the lesser evil and i still maintain he is wrong to do so.March 30, 2012 at 10:23 am #87717
That Obama has been worse than Bush on some issues, for example foreign policy, is an argument Chomsky has made himself, so I don’t see how you can offer it in support of an argument against him. The key point in that interview is this:”Obama is quite different from the Republican candidates, and the constituencies of the two political organizations differ, which helps lead to different policies. Over a long stretch, for example, working people have made out better under Democratic than Republican administrations …”Chomsky votes for the party that is most likely to lead to the most positive outcome for the working class, a decision he bases on the best available evidence and research. It’s not a hard point to understand. Indeed, I know most sensible SPGB members understand it perfectly well: privately, many SPGBers will admit that they prefer to see a Labour win than a Tory one (you’d have to be mad not to), and I have known a few members admit to voting secretly for “lesser evil” candidates. Good on them.March 30, 2012 at 11:40 am #87718ALBKeymaster
I know that when a few years ago we did a Survey of Socialist Standard readers we were surprised to find that about 25% of them had voted Labour at the previous election (which might have been the 1997 one when the Tories were kicked out), but those would have been sympathisers and maybe even why they remained sympathisers and didn’t become members.As to members voting for other parties, I’ve heard of resigning members and recently ex-members voting for the Green Party, Scargill’s SLP or Respect (and they was a member who was expelled for voting for the SDP). But of course that goes against the Lesser Evil argument as doing this, under the present election system, risks splitting the anti-Greater Evil vote and letting them in. I don’t think Chomsky would have approved either.If it’s not an impertinent question, when you and Dave Flynn resigned the previous time, you (plural) said that one of you had voted Labour and the other had voted Respect. Which way did Dave Flynn vote? And what do you recommend I do in my part of the world where the Labour Party is a non-starter and it’s a 19th scenario between Liberals and Tories (at the last election the effective choice was between a millionaire Liberal and a billionaire Tory)? Vote Liberal to keep the Tories out?March 30, 2012 at 11:45 am #87719
Dave voted for Labour, which I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my saying. I wouldn’t presume to advise on your own voting. Perhaps the Liberal — does he do any good locally?March 30, 2012 at 11:46 am #87720
Stuart, if Chomsky is talking about the long stretch, he omits to take into account that for a long period of its existence the Democratic party consisted of racist Southern Democrats and some of the concessions to the Northern working class was made upon the condition of the acceptance and continuing segration and exploitation of blacks in the Democrat-controlled Southern states. “Democrats had majorities in the House every election from 1930 to 1992 (except 1946 and 1952). Most southern Congressmen were conservative Democrats, however, and they usually worked with conservative Republicans.” – From Wikipedia The trouble with American politics it has been moved so far to the right that we forget that the policies of the so-called liberals are still fundamentally right-wing. Nor is it just foreign policy as you seem to believe. What happened to the pro-union legislation Obama once promised? Forgotten. What happened to universal healthcare – now a watered down version of Obamacare, inspired by the republican Nixon’s proposals and an adaptation of Romney’s own. 50 Million in the US without medical insurance. The Heathcare reform aims to add 32 Million to insurance by 2014. That still leaves nearly 20 Million without coverage. For those 20 Million it is clearly not universal, many being migrants. Chomsky has made a value judgement upon what constitutes a lesser evil – i beg to differ from it and although he has asserted that there is good evidence , he has never produced or cited the evidence in any of the interviews. I am sure he has some so perhaps you can provide it for me to study, Stuart. We could argue that most of the 19th C reforms to the benefit of the working class in the UK was from the Tory Party and not the Liberal Party therefore historically we should be voting Conservative. In America who were the slavery abolitionists – the Republicans. Much of the Democratics pro-labour credentials are probably from the New Deal and Rooseveldt, the rest was fought and won by labour movement against both Democrat and Repubican presidencies. Chomsky’s endorsement of Obama reinforces the AFL/CIO endorsement of him rather than challenging it. tHE Communications Workers of America union leader condemned Obama legislation for making it harder to organize workers in the airline and rail industries. As here in the UK Obama has increased federal workers pension contributions . Health and safety legislation has been delayed. Employee Free Choice Act which would have made it easier for all workers to unionize by allowing them to bypass secret ballot election if they so choosed, he allowed to die entirely. He hasn’t didn’t given a single major speech on the subject of workers’ rights. Obama’s most recent State of the Union address did not mention the attacks on workers’ rights at the state level, in places like Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. In fact, United Electrical Workers union Political Director Chris Townsend argues that the most high-profile comments the Obama administration has made regarding labor law have been speeches attacking teachers unions. Townsend points to a speech by Obama at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March of 2009 calling on teacher unions to allow more flexibility in their contracts; he also points to the president’s remarks endorsing the mass firing of unionized teachers in Central Falls, R.I., in March 2010. Townsend, whose union is not endorsing Obama for re-election, worries that by glossing over Obama’s deficiencies, the federation’s unions hurt their credibility with their own members.“Why should union leaders—from shop stewards right up the national union president —why should we sacrifice our hard-earned credibility with our members for the sake of some politician? Do they sacrifice any of their precious credibility for us, in our battles with the bosses? Rarely, if at all, and only at election time. The membership knows this, and there’s no point in trying to conceal it or gloss over it with good-news-only press releases. It’s bad enough we are locked in this two party trap. We don’t have to make it all worse by not leveling with the members about what we are really facing.” Exactly! And Chomsky commits the same crime in my view by recommendations to overlook Obama’s failings because in the long stretch things might be for the better ! As for the lesser evil here is the view of South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt who has refused to endorse Obama, in a state where its governor has said publicly that “unions are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina,” disagrees with this approach. “I run one of the only state federations that did not endorse our Democratic nominee for governor last time around,” says Dewitt. “He was a nice guy, but he did not know how to say the word—union.” Dewitt says that unions also hurt their credibility with their members when they go all out for Democrats who are lukewarm at best in their support for organized labor. “I spend half of my time trying to talk to membership upset with their international. We have to act like labor leaders and not corporate labor leaders,” Dewitt says. “We don’t have strong labor leaders. They are always making a deal on something. I don’t know how we keep [union members] in places like South Carolina if we don’t truly represent them.” http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/not-all-labor-leaders-happy-with-afl-cios-obama-endorsement/ As i have argued here, and before, on the issue of voting for the lesser evil, i feel Chomsky breeds illusions which will ultimately lead to disillusionment, and little counter evidence has been produced by you to prove otherwise, Stuart, except by evoking the authority of the great man himself as the argument for the lesser evil.March 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm #87721
If it’s the evidence you’re interested in, why not email and ask him? He’s usually good at replying (though as a matter of basic courtesy and decency you might want to keep your message shorter than the stuff you burden us with on here). I’ve never questioned the authority of the great man on this issue because his point seems to me to be blindingly obvious. If not to you, then question away.March 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm #87723
Chomsky is a great man, and if saying so irritates Gnome, so much the better! I think he’s more than great: I think he’s wise, an enlightened being, a boddhisattva. There, I’d hate to leave this forum for the weekend without leaving the cynics and scoffers something to sneer at. Cheerio.March 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm #87724
“Unless this was intended to be a tongue in cheek description I’m simply staggered to see such sanctimonious sycophancy on a socialist forum” ;-p I may criticise Chomsky but i do find him to be a great thinker. Indeed, your criticism requires qualification. “We are not hero-worshippers, and we are keenly conscious of human frailty. Fulsome flattery and empty phrases are not our way, but we know how to estimate the worth of a man.” http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1920s/1929/no-297-may-1929/death-comrade-jack-fitzgerald If you challenge Chomsky’s merits, its up to you to demonstrate that and simply not make assertions and repeat the fault i lay upon Stuart on in this discussion. Many comrades describe Marx and Engels as great for all their faults, and they were not few. The Standard has described Engels as great.”Marx, together with his great co-worker, Frederick Engels” (my emphasis) While we consider ourselves as historic materialists we do not deny the influence of individuals upon ideas.”Hook’s theoretical treatment of the role of “great men” in history is essentially sound and far closer to Marx than the absurd view sometimes put forward as Marxian that their historic influence is practically negligible.”http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1930s/1933/no-347-july-1933/understanding-marx March 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm #87725AnonymousInactive
I agree with Gnome. Great men? Rubbish!How many ‘great men’ have starved to death before reaching the age of 5 ? How many great men have spent their lives down the mines producing coal so that other great men could keep warm while becoming great? My father was a great man but was too busy making profits for the mine owners to write a book.March 31, 2012 at 11:20 am #87726AnonymousInactive
“If I have been able to see far it is because I have stood on the shoulders of society at a certain stage of its development” I could accept that!April 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm #87727PeepsParticipant
At 61 the tiny footsteps I have taken to reach a political view has come from people that I feel have enlightened me towards a belief that a socialist system is inevitable although not in my lifetime. People like John Lennon, Noam Chomsky, Bill Hicks and numerous others have induced a need for me to look and understand what I perceive to be open, honest and true. They didn’t force me to be something other than me, to understand life upon this nondescript planet as simple. I was taken through a regime (SCHOOL) that didn’t allow me to think for myself I therefore needed imput from external sources, finding those sources were dificult as other factors impeded my progress (CAPITALISM).But through the smoke screen, untruths and media I stumbled upon those that seem to make some sense of my being. A belief that there are alternatives to a common understanding of what politics really is. Socialism is certainly a herculean task for anyone that wishes to educate others that need it. Three reasons for socialism are food, clothing and shelter, the average person finds this difficult to understand although require them. I also feel that the higher their intellegence the harder my task becomes, it seems they feel they are above basic understang of life as it should be. So all i wish to add is that my fight for an understading for them to acknowledge a system of society (SOCIALISM) can be established if they could find it within themselves to turn off their TVApril 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm #87729Hic RhodasParticipant
I think Chomsky its a good scientist and a politically honest man compromissed against the injustice and change of society. But it’s in that later question when he has dificulties. Can we say he’s a conscient socialist?. I’m not sure but would like to know your oppinions in that sense.
In the reaseach of language he has obtained original results. But unfortunately he has’t made such an effort in order to achieve a coherent political system. He has written a lot about the lies and crimes of sistem, but he’s definition like ‘libertarian socialist’ is very loose. He has denounced the soviet system like State Capitalism, but he have expectations in Chavez and such peculiar left. Or his vision on geopolítics assumes the schema imperialism-antiimperialism, more than a conscient fight of classes.
If he is a Boddissatva, it’s too dificult to me to say.
Salud.April 13, 2012 at 4:39 am #87730
Taking the thread title why some people think Noam Chomsky is wrong, here is a link trying to explain why one person thinks he is wrong – unfortunately – it concerns his language/grammar theory, not his politics. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/books/review/language-the-cultural-tool-by-daniel-l-everett.html?nl=books&emc=edit_bk_20120406April 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm #87731Hud955Participant
Great man? I think Chomsky has a capacious intellect, and I admire him for his tireless work at exposing capitalist ideology, but his reliance on simple rationalism makes his work useful only as a source of information, not analysis.
Having said that, I did follow up some of his references once and found that his scholarship is not always as trustworthy as his adulators believe.April 14, 2012 at 3:18 am #87732
StuartW has on a few occasions defended Chomsky’s lesser evil option by arguing that according to Chomsky, Democratic administrations have been more beneficial to the working class than the Republicans. I asked for some references for Chomsky’s conclusion but Stuart has not yet replied. Chomsky has made a judgment call, but it doesn’t make it or him infallible. In 1996, Peter Edelman resigned from his post as assistant secretary of Health and Human Services to protest the welfare reform the Democrat Clinton administration had just enacted. At the time, Edelman told his staff: “I have devoted the last 30-plus years to doing whatever I could to help in reducing poverty in America. I believe the recently enacted welfare bill goes in the opposite direction.” The old program dates from the New Deal; it gave states unlimited matching funds and offered poor families extensive rights, with few requirements and no time limits. The new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, created time limits and work rules, capped federal spending and allowed states to turn poor families away. Many people found the system more hassle than help, a gauntlet of job-search classes where absences can be punished by a complete loss of aid. Some states explicitly pursue a policy of deterrence to make sure people use the program only as a last resort. Some states took new steps to keep the needy away. They shortened time limits, tightened eligibility rules and reduced benefits (to an average of about $350 a month for a family of three). Since 2007, 11 states have cut the rolls by 10 percent or more. They include centers of unemployment like Georgia, Indiana, Rhode Island, and Michigan. Arizona cut benefits by 20 percent and shortened time limits twice — to two years, from five. “My take on it was the states would push people off and not let them back on, and that’s just what they did,” said Peter B. Edelman, now a law professor at Georgetown University “It’s been even worse than I thought it would be.” recently re-stated in the New York Times. Liberal critics had warned that its mix of time limits and work rules would create mass destitution — “children sleeping on the grates,” in the words of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat. Recent studies have found that as many as one in every four low-income single mothers is jobless and without cash aid — roughly four million women and children. Just one in five poor children now receives cash aid, the lowest level in nearly 50 years. Paul Ryan, the top House Republican on budget issues, calls the current welfare program “an unprecedented success.” Mitt Romney said he would place similar restrictions on “all these federal programs.” Rick Santorum, calls the welfare law a source of spiritual rejuvenation. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, who helped draft the 1996 law as an aide to House Republicans and argues that it has worked well.Obama spoke favorably of the program in his 2008 campaign — promoting his role as a state legislator in cutting the Illinois welfare rolls.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/us/welfare-limits-left-poor-adrift-as-recession-hit.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&sq=Peter%20Edelman&st=cse&scp=1 As I say, I require proof from Chomsky that the Democrats, in contrast to the Republicans, deserve to be favoured by workers in the approaching election. But, of course, we can all cherry-pick our facts – me, included ! As an aside, even if we are generous and accept that it was just a bad call in the drafting of the welfare legislation, it still confirms that well-meaning politicians and their well-intended palliatives often do not have the desired effect and can sometimes back-fire with new additional problems – yet another confirmation of what the SPGB has often pointed out in the past in its case against reformism and the political parties that promote it.
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