Just before I do (because it is related), can I recommend Michael Tomasky's take-down of Michael Moore as a "blowhard"? I got there via Martin's post on the "anti-imperialist reflex" of the "post-left" (that also applies to Chomsky). Another person taking apart the anti-imperialist left, or "Manichean left" as he calls it (and he includes Chomsky), is Michael Bérubé in his new The Left At War - read a free sample here and a review here. Angilee Shah sums up:
Bérubé pits Noam Chomsky against Stuart Hall; the divide lies between what Bérubé calls the “Manichean left,” which did not just oppose the Iraq war but supported resistance to America’s intervention, and the “democratic left,” which maintains that, though U.S. foreign policy is not always guided by virtue, there is still space for the defense of human rights in the international sphere. To put it another way, one side of the left adopted the position that state sovereignty is supreme and another said that the world has a responsibility to protect repressed people. These seemingly irreconcilable principles — both which have become hallmarks of leftist thinking — collided on 9/11. “The left suffered for decades because one branch of the family tree was willing to tolerate a certain degree of tyranny if it advanced the material well-being of the peasants or proletariat,” Bérubé writes. “The left does not now need another branch whose position on tyranny is that tyranny is bad, but tyrants can only be legitimately overthrown by their victims.”And, finally, Scott McLemee has slaughtered another sacred cow of the post-left, Brother Cornel West. He also responds to his critics here.
With a Democrat in the office, about to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, this argument leaves the left in an awkward position. Can those on the left support Obama’s position even though Chomsky predicted that the war in Afghanistan would become a “silent genocide”? Bérubé is ultimately optimistic that a middle ground can be found in a “democratic-socialist, internationalist left” that encourages “a capitalism with a human face,” and insists on human rights at home and abroad.
So, here we are. Ali G interviews Noam Chomsky, humourless ponce.
Oh, for the sake of fairness, here are two defences of Chomsky, from Slack Andy and from Phil Dickens.