Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chomsky Pulls a Godwin

I like Noam Chomsky. He's that reliable old warhorse for the Left, always ready with a critique of the American Empire brutalizing third world peasants. But I have two problems with him --

1) He spends way too much time fussing over South America.

2) He clearly knows fuck-all about anywhere else.

While this latest is a good analysis of the current state of globalism, it's undermined by Chomsky painting some pretty broad -- and pretty wrong -- strokes concerning Germany and Europe at large. As far as Thilo Sarrazin, his recent book is less about the dangers of the mud races and more a reaction to immigration. He hit it big because he managed to articulate a very un-PC frustration Germans have with all the new Muslim faces settling into their country.

However, Germany's immigration situation is a hell of alot more complicated than just skin color. Presently, the native population does not have the birthrate to keep things running through this century. The immigrants do and anyone over there with any sense is arguing that, contrary to Sarrazin's fussing, Germany actually needs immigrants! That's the context of Merkel's assertion that multiculturalism has failed -- she was making a mea culpa to the German government's failure to properly welcome and assimilate all these newer, browner Germans. To leave that out, as Chomsky did, and to cast her words as further proof of some resurgent racism isn't just irresponsible, it's intellectually lazy. Noam, we expect more from you!

Hitler ate sugar!

But more importantly -- and what really set me off -- is Chomsky falling into the same old "if X then Nazis" logical fallacy. The US is nowhere near the condition of Weimar Republic Germany and Europe even less so. The many intersecting forces that lead to Hitler's rise to power included a global depression beyond what we're now experiencing, a multitude of political movements that engaged in real and serious violence to achieve their goals (no, those pussies in the Tea Party are not in any way comparable), and a mixture of resentment over Versailles and longstanding martial traditions just to name a few. And that second part, the politics of the era, is something that bears repeating -- I cannot emphasize enough how eager these people were to fight and die for the almighty Cause and that holds across the political spectrum of the time. Say what you want about the decline and decadence of Western Civilization, at least we're comfortable and stable enough not to be personally executing our own neighbors in the name of revolutionary ideals. Pre-1945 Europe was really an alien planet, more vicious and committed to killing each other than the bloodiest slum in Somalia. Not even the US, with its rapid descent into neofeudal Hell, can compare because even now Americans are more driven by reality TV and broadband porn than by nebulous sociopolitcal theories.

And as far as Chomsky's assertions about the National Front in Britain... Okay, the Brits are a bunch of racist wankers. I'll give him that.

1 comment:

  1. "Comfortable and stable enough" is the key. Americans, and much of the Western world, have been so hypnotized by relentless consumer culture that the pursuit of revolutionary ideals just doesn't seem terribly necessary. Once upon a time Chomsky's oratory and philosophy may have given rise to a movement, but I doubt we'll see anything like that now.