Thank God for Podcasts. They mean I don’t have to miss out on a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting interview with “the most important intellectual alive,” Noam Chomsky of course.
What was especially interesting this time — and different from other interviews — was the extent to which he opens up about his personal life from childhood on and how he came to be where he is today.
I copy here a few of the comments from the Late Night Live webpage with the audio links, and some other videocasts:
Chomsky’s speech on receiving the Sydney Peace Prize and other (more political) interviews at the Sydney Opera House are also linked.
Chomsky always surfaces a smile of recognition from deep within my subconscious. His gravelly considered delivery articulates insightful critique of the greedy and powerful, and soothes this troubled soul. He’s someone who understands the hypocrisy and dangers of the dominant culture, clearly outlining key issues otherwise shrouded by their complexity. I know he doesn’t like it, but his values and opinions are leadership incarnate, perhaps precisely because he discourages ‘followers’. He can’t avoid setting us all a fine example by his conduct. He respects history and thinks clearly.
By Tom Rosch:
Allow me to thank the ABC, Mr Adams, and (the gender-indeterminate 🙂 Kris Short for
* doing an interview with Chomsky that is not solely political. The first ~third of the interview concerns his family and youth, the second is about science and scientists in his early and later years. If you haven’t studied his scientific innovations (e.g., any adequate CS/informatics dept has undergrads do generative grammar, any adequate psych dept does biological basis of language, and his POTS thesis is important to modern psychology, sociology, and history of science (being critical to the takedown of behaviorism)) it’s easy to forget that he became a brilliant political critic and theorist (largely) *after* making several Nobel-class contributions to the human sciences and information theory. . . .
By Susan Dirgham:
Dear Phillip and Kris,
A wonderful interview! It was interesting to learn about Chomsky’s family background and his studies.
What I highlighted after I checked my notes was
1. After WW2, plans were laid in the US for it to dominate the world. (It is a work in progress, obviously.)
2. There was a sense in some areas of study, eg human science, that everything was ‘basically solved’. (I get the feeling many of us in Australia are ‘living’ that belief; now what we have left to do in life is simply enjoy it.)
3. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t understand, the bigger the gaps you find. . . .
4. We voice great moral indignation about other people’s atrocities, but we are blind to our own. (Yes! A no-brainer. . . . )
5. Dissident intellectuals are very badly treated. (Dissident journalists and politicians no doubt are very badly treated since they are becoming such rare breeds. Anyone can be a dissident intellectual on the internet; you are not badly treated, just ignored. But on the airwaves?)
6. “Anti-Americanism” is a totalitarian concept. (And what about being ‘unAustralian’?)
7. Debates are held within the “Washington framework”. “Objectivity” is found within that framework. If you are critical of that framework you are being ‘subjective’ etc. . . .
8. Republicans represent an extreme faction of the corporate elite and use fear, irrationality, and religious extremism to get a mass base. . . .
9. On the question of limiting the scourge of war, Europe has been a success since WW2. (What about Bosnia? There are lessons to learn there. . . . .)
[Neil’s note: Bosnia et al were covered in his comment on the unthinkability of big powers continuing to go to war with each other given the unprecedented destructiveness of modern weaponry — so they now make wars on the weak.]
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