Monday, 26 September 2005

In the Mail

The following came in the mail today, after an exchange of e-mails with the publisher:
Please find enclosed your complimentary copy of Imperial Ambitions by Noam Chomsky.
Timely, urgent, and powerfully elucidating, this important volume of previously unpublished interviews conducted by award-winning radio journalist David Barsamian features Noam Chomsky discussing America's policies in an increasingly unstable world.
[...]
I hope you find Imperial Ambitions to be a stimulating and interesting read. If you mention it on your blog or site please let me know so that I can forward the author a link.

Holtzbrinck Publishers

Both sides of politics have a worrying trend: to turn into mutual admiration societies, where each side is so convinced of their own rectitude that they never read a conflicting opinion.

I have the highest of respect for Noam Chomsky's intellect, just as I have an abiding loathing for his role as apologist for Pol Pot when the Killing Fields were at the height of their operation - and worse, afterwards, even when it was obvious to everyone what had been going on.

I read P.J.O'Rourke for entertainment, and for affirmation that indeed, the Lefties are a bunch of clueless Moonbats. But I don't learn much from him, however much I enjoy his wit and insight.

I have higher hopes for Noam Chomsky's work, for one thing, my blood pressure has been a bit low, and could do with some raising. But the very best part is the last line of the publisher's letter. Chomsky's fault so far has been to see the many faults of the USA, some grievous, some trivial, and from them deduce that the US is the source of all evil, thus everything in opposition is automatically good. He's at his best when criticising the US for every pecadillo, no matter how minor (and some of them are rather worse than that). He's at his worst when ignoring the atrocities and excusing the mass murders of anyone remotely opposed to the USA.

Maybe, just maybe, he might consider an alternate viewpoint. One from the ass-end of the world, where we've suffered from US agricultural subsidies and, frankly, some considerable US arrogance (Of course Australians are known for their self-effacement, shyness and modesty). But where we don't unreservedly condemn Hiroshima, while excusing the Rape of Nanking. Where we make a distinction between sometimes grievous lapses from a state of grace, and utter and unalloyed Evil.

And I'll try to put aside my prejudice, and read the book with a critical but unbiased eye.

As for the publishers, they get it. They want to increase the book's sales, and they figure the best way of doing that is to get publicity. Any publicity. Anything to get a "buzz" going, a grass-roots debate. They recognise the power of the blogosphere here, it's one thing it really is good at. So they're not just sending it to the usual suspects who will give it uncritical aclaim, they're even sending a copy to a relatively small political blog on the other side of the planet.

Alas, it seems a lot on the Right refused the offer. Pity. Seriously, Noma Chomsky is a man of great intellect, we should be engaging with him, not ignoring him.

The enemy should never be ignored.

Any gems amongst the dross should be found, exposed, and highly prized (if only for their scarcity value). And any great piles of foetid, steaming used food should be exposed for what it is too. Assuming I find any. Bets, anyone?

The review will be appearing in early October. I'll try to make it Just, and maybe even a little Merciful, as I hope any reviewer would treat a work of my own. And monster of ego and arrogance that I am, evn I don't consider myself to be in Chomsky's intellectual league, no matter how muddle-headed and plain wrong he may be.

I'll try. Really I will.

3 comments:

Sofocleto said...

Noam Chomsky:
The US attack on Iraq demonstrates once again that propaganda can be an effective tool for war mobilization. The Nazis understood this very well. Hitler said, "The broad mass of a nation will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one." Then he added, "By shrewd and constant application of propaganda, heaven can be presented to the people as hell and vice versa, the wretchedest existence as paradise." The Bush Administration, with its stage managed photo-ops and ever shifting spiral of assertions and allegations, was able to convince a large number of Americans that Iraq was responsible for September 11, had ties with al-Qaeda and posed an imminent threat to the U.S. None of these claims, or the many others that cascaded from Washington, was based on evidence. Yet many Americans, egged on by the media, went along. Most of the rest of the world, in stark contrast, was not at all convinced by the Bush PR campaign.

Zoe Brain said...

No, they were convinced by the far more extensive and well-funded Anti-Bush campaign.
Vide the small exposure of Chrenkhoff's multi-page "Good news from Iraq" and "Good news from Afghanistan" (remember Afghanistan?) articles, compared with the constant predictions of Civil War, 100,000 deaths and millions of refugees etc.
Some of which was honest but mistaken reporting, but much of which is just the left-of-centre journalistic culture "spinning" stories, often without the author being aware of it.

Dr_Funk said...

Zoe,
You're a far fairer blogger than I would have been. I would have binned that book the moment I got it. Looking forward to the review.