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Monday, March 10, 2003

Follow-Up: David Horowitz, Noam Chomsky, and Richard Rorty (a gifted philosopher, once associated with the radical left, and now its steadfast enemy)

A couple of emails came in asking for some more information about David Horowitz, Noam Chomsky, and --- since I've discussed at length the important philosophical work of Richard Rorty, the only distinguished and original thinker to associate with the radical left for years, until his rupture in the late 1990s ---Rorty too.

In a recent lengthy book about Rorty's important, if highly contested, philosophical work that gathered many of the most influential philosophers of the current generation in both the English-speaking world and the EU, Rorty and His Critics, edited by Robert Brandom, Rorty was asked whether he isn't "ashamed" of having had some influence on the rabid, politically correct Academic Left that now flourishes in the more murky corners of American academia --- womens' studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, literary theory, sociology, quite a few second-rate historians, and the like. No, not ashamed he replied --- only "chastened". He then went on to define the Academic Left --- the avant-garde of which now consists of aging radicals of the Vietnam war era, their bellies sagging and sprawling outward, their lives filled with comfy high-style affluence while they fulminate endlessly against the alleged evils of capitalism, American life, American democracy, and American foreign policy --- calling it the School of Resentment, a term he got from the well-known critic Harold Bloom (likewise a chastened former radical) . . . tiresomely self-righteous and self-congratulatory, politically useless, and semi-literate.

For the intelligent if brief customer reviews of Rorty and His Critics, at Amazon, click here.

Part One

Joe Campo is a Ph.D. candidate in history, specializing in diplomatic and military affairs at UCSB. His query actually came in last fall, to which the following reply was sent to the gordon-newspost listserver.

Joe: Many thanks. I don't know much about Chomsky's biography, unlike say Rorty's or Horowitz's or Ronald Radosh's. Rorty grew up in a well-to-do Marxist family in New York, Trotskyite (at they hated the Stalinists): a prodigy, he went to the Univ. of Chicago at the age of 15, then got a Ph.D. and moved eventually to Princeton, a fount of analytical philosophy in the 1950s (mainly by drawing Harvard Ph.D's trained by Quine and Davidson and Carnap at Chicago and then UCLA, plus some Oxford linguistic philosophers who soon got bored with the subject, something I can well understand . . . having been immersed in it myself), and became a wonder-boy of analytical philosophy until he discovered some Continentals and, even more, Dewey, and forged his influential positions today. Chomsky, I know, revolutionized linguistic theory (theory of language, is it innate or learned, what does it say about the mind vs. the brain, or humans vs. non-humans etc) in his Ph.D. thesis; and since his director was the major scholar in the world that Chomsky attacked, he had to move on to MIT. His influence in linguistics and philosophy has been enormous, though also challenged by later generations.

Beyond that, you'd have to know what his background was that produced his views. Yes, it's his right as a citizen to write on any subject, including capitalism, globalization, US foreign policy, and the like; and yes, you're right -- he's not qualified in any specialized way, is very careless with his evidence (Horowitz had a group at Frontpage dissect Chomsky's book on the origins of the Cold War and found it crammed with mistakes and distortions), and trades on his justified reputation as a great scholar in another area. That isn't unusual. The Soviets loved to trot out famous European artists and intellectuals who knew nothing about the Soviet system other than what they believed should be true: Picasso, Sartre, on and on . . . all apologists for one of the two or three most murderous regimes in world history.

If he's read, it's probably by true believers (anyone else confused or bewildered most likely), and so you consider his outpourings on foreign policy as essentially theological confirmation for the flocking faithful.

Part Two: Rorty, Horowtiz on Chomsky,

Here is a good interview with Rorty that gives some of his early background and training and professional switches. Rorty Interview

And here is a summary of Horowtiz's findings, in two parts called the "Sick Mind of Noam Chomsky," about a year old.Sickie 1 Sickie 2


Part Three

Here, additionally, is Horowitz responding to an interview with Chomsky in which Chomsky was asked about Horowitz's assaults. I insert it here: its' brief and also very revealing about Horowitz's views that he lived a shameless lie as a Commie and Radical. He, Horowitz, who knows Chomsky, speculates that its Chomsky's self-loathing as an American and Jew that explains his ongoing dogmas.

The World's Most Shameless Liar Unloads Some More By David Horowitz FrontPageMagazine.com | October 22, 2001

Interlocuteur to Horowitz:"Here's what Chomsky has to say about your inane, baseless, and disingenous attacks on him:

QUESTION: ... Are you upset or shocked by Horowitz's extraordinary attack on you [a column entitled " The Sick Mind of Noam Chomsky" in which he describes Chomsky as a "pathological" "ayatollah of anti-American hate"]?

CHOMSKY: I haven't read Horowitz. I didn't used to read him when he was a Stalinist and I don't read him today. Haven't seen it."

S. Barnable

Horowitz replies:

Typically counting on his worshipful followers, S. Barnable included, to be utterly unquestioning of pearls dropping from the Master's lips, Chomsky just lets go a load of lies in the most contrivedly casual fashion he can muster as if being identified as a sick hater of himself and his country should have no impact on a superior being.

It's true that I was born to Stalinist parents. Mea culpa! I have of course written about my political upbringing at length in Radical Son, but how insensitive to refer to that in the present context. Not even Senator McCarthy stooped so low as to condemn adolescents for their parents' indiscretions.

As a college freshman in 1956, I declared my own political identity as an anti-Stalinist "new leftist." I strenuously opposed the Soviet invasion of Hungary, at great filial cost within the household. Ever since that time that is for my entire writing career in the left until my last piece was submitted to The Nation twenty years later in 1979, I was a vocal anti-Stalinist.

I was the foremost champion in the New Left, for example of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipalego. Everything I wrote had the stamp of anti-Stalinism, to the point that some people accused me falsely of being a Trotskyist i.e., a follower of Stalin's most hated rival. I have actually written whole books against Stalinism (e.g., Empire and Revolution), which is more than one can say of Noam Chomsky who in his current writing repeats the entire litany of the Stalinist lies about the United States without so much as an attribution.

If Chomsky had never read anything I wrote as a leftist, it might be argued that this was a kind of white lie of omission, albeit a calculated slander and therefore exceptionally repulsive. In fact Chomsky was very familiar with my work as a leftist throughout the Sixties and even cited my words in a very flattering way in his 1972 book Problems of Knowledge and Freedom. So we are dealing here not only with a particularly vicious liar but an exceptionally cynical one at that. As I have also divulged elsewhere, Chomsky once wrote me not one but two six-page single-spaced letters teeming with vituperation and insult in response to a mild and respectful criticism I had made of him in my 1979 article in The Nation. I must emphasize painful as it is for me to do so that in 1979 I still respected Noam Chomsky as a fellow new leftist. But these letters changed my view of him utterly, even before I had a chance to reassess his political chicanery.

These letters were, in fact, the first indication I had that Noam Chomsky was a nut case. Not just someone with whom I was beginning to have political disagreements, but a full-blown wack job. Nothing he has written since has done anything but increase this impression which I can assure you is shared by many. To make myself eminently clear, let me draw a parallel to make the distinction. Al Sharpton is an embarrassing buffoon and a disgusting racist. But he is not a loony. Louis Farrakhan is a loony. And so is Noam Chomsky.

It is my guess that Chomsky's mental disorder emanates from a pathological hatred of his American and Jewish identities. He is incapable of reasoned discussion. His reaction to even dispassionate criticism remains vituperation and denial. Consider only his recent non-responses to his long-time defender and friend Christopher Hitchens a man with whom I have profound disagreements but whom I eminently respect.

Having said my piece, here allow me to note that we have distributed 50,000 copies of "The Sick Mind of Noam Chomsky" to 20 odd campus communities (which we shall be listing on this site). We are printing a new version of the pamphlet, which contains both articles and will be called The Ayatollah of Anti-American Hate. We are printing another 50,000 of these for distribution at MIT, Harvard, Amherst and other Chomsky infection sites.

We welcome contributions to fund further printings of this pamphlet. $100 will fund 1,000 copies, which we will immediately put in the hands of student victims of the Chomsky plague. To contribute, click here here or call 800-752-6562.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ -------- David Horowitz is the author of numerous books including an autobiography, Radical Son, which has been described as "the first great autobiography of his generation," and which chronicles his odyssey from radical activism to the current positions he holds. Among his other books are The Politics of Bad Faith and The Art of Political War. The Art of Political War was described by White House political strategist Karl Rove as "the perfect guide to winning on the political battlefield." Horowitz's latest book, Uncivil Wars, was published in January this year, and chronicles his crusade against intolerance and racial McCarthyism on college campuses last spring. Click here to read more about David