Noam Chomsky is a very serious man

On Friday last, at the end of a post praising New Scientist‘s series exploring ways to make the world a better place, I said that I would make a further comment on this noble project.

New Scientist asked various thinkers and doers to comment briefly on what they consider would improve the world. So far we’ve had contributions from Richard Dawkins, Wolfgang Lutz, Wallace Broecker, Ray Kurzweil and Margaret Atwood, among others.

The published comments are in wordbite form, which has its limits, but they illustrate the thinking of these creative individuals, and serve as a collection of constructive contributions to a whole. Each thinker and doer featured has their pet projects and prejudices, but that’s fine.

Then we have the renowned Noam Chomsky, sometime linguist and rent-a-gob chatteratus…

“I’ve been thinking about your question – how to make the world a better place – since receiving your letter. Actually, it’s what I write and speak about all the time. A serious effort would be out of place here, and every brief response I think of seems trite or inadequate, requiring more explanation and background.”

Chomsky is supposedly the world’s public intellectual numero uno, yet this is the best he can come up with? Actually, it serves to expose the vacuity of a thinker held in regard by many, with one Noam Chomsky most prominent among them. Maybe that’s why New Scientist decided to publish this pathetic response to a perfectly reasonable question. A question that others answered in the spirit in which it had been posed.

Now I’m not one of those jumped-up bloggers who spends inordinate amounts of time reading and fisking Chomsky in fine detail. Or calling for the learned professor’s MIT tenure to be withdrawn on the grounds that the holder is a waste of space, or worse, an intellectual fraud. It has been years since I read anything by Chomsky beyond the first paragraph, and the only reason I take him at all seriously is that others, some of whom should know better, continue to do so. Also, as a self-styled anarchist, Chomsky is part of a political tradition with which I am loosely associated.

Anarchist my arse. True libertarian thinkers are marked by their individuality and creativity. Chomsky is in stark contrast a totalising intellectual: an ideological obsessive and enemy of the open society. Going by his words above, he is also a complete prat.