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Why the Chomskians Are Mistaken
34. Their propagandistic goals and methods. As is well-known, the chief spokesperson for these theories not only propagandizes on behalf of these linguistic theories but is also engaged in a parallel propagandistic pursuit as he does so. More recently, both in the film Manufacturing Consent and elsewhere, he has denied any real connection between his linguistic and political pursuits, but his definitive bibliographer E.F. Konrad Koerner states the following as of 1978:
I recall that he regarded his political writings as an integral part of his scholarly output which should not be divorced from his linguistic work, a position, however, which I did not share and have chosen to ignore.
Koerner, it should perhaps be noted, has occupied a central place among the scholars critical of Chomskyin this author's view he is par excellence the greatest living linguist, linguistic historian, and linguistic historiographer, as a glance at his amassed publications will readily confirm.
Chomsky has often been criticized for his political initiatives, which according to some have placed him in the same camp as apologists for Hitler's genocide and even defenders of a more recent genocide in Cambodia. Whether or not these criticisms are true, it is certain that his most recent position on Kosovo has also aligned him with some very strange bedfellows and allies:
Far-right US critics of the "New World Order" and all foreign intervention;
Stalinist hard-liners in Moscow nostalgic for authoritarianism and Pan-Slavism;
reactionary neo-nazi elements in Germany who applaud the overall stance of the Serbian regime;
a gangster-ridden, totalitarian, nationalistic leadership clique in Belgrade; and
(perhaps most innocently) extremist and proselytizing forces within the Greek/Serbian Orthodox church.
With such friends, is any further attack truly necessary? It is difficult to discover any sort of humanistic or liberal rationale for this position, just as it is difficult to see anything truly "radical" in it. The author of this point confesses a certain degree of personal bias in this matter, in that he knows Yugoslavia fairly well both through travel and family ties (his father came from a Hungarian-Jewish enclave near the city called Ujvidek in Hungarian, Novi Sad in Serbian). From the beginning of this crisis he felt that Chomsky's proclamations showed extensive ignorance of the full ethnic complexity of the entire Balkan region (and especially of Yugoslavia) in their attemptnot unlike his linguistic theoriesto fit this very real and complex region into an abstract theory of putative relationships, in this case based on predetermined political values.
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This piece is Copyright © 2000
by Alexander Gross, with specified
portions Copyright © 2000 by
Sergio Navega. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
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