NYT: interview w/Chomsky

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Nov 3 21:48:12 MST 2003

With our friends and allies we "discuss". With
our opponents, the rulers and government,
we "criticise". There is quite a considerable
difference between the two words and the
approaches and attitudes they signify.

The "criticism" of Chomsky by made by the
Cranky Yankees was definitely ultraleft as it
essentially used inflated, high-blown rhetoric
to read him out of the movement and struggle.
For these people, it seems, their big campaign
and energy is MAINLY aimed at others on the
left, and above all at people who are the most
strongly anti-imperialist, such as Chomsky.

The Spartacists describe Chomsky as an
"all-purpose anti-Communist". Hillson
dredges up stupid statements Chomsky
made a dozen years ago, quotes them out
of context, and puts Chomsky in the bag
of "those who, withering under fire,
abandon [Cuba]".  Hillson often does
good work defending Cuba, but at times
he goes off the deep end in writing those
he disagrees with out of the solidarity
movement with Cuba.

Certainly the approach Chomsky took in
Cuba during his recent visit, reflecting a
militant solidarity is one which these crank
critics should recognize. Alas, these people
who write tens of thousands of words of
ritualized condemnation aimed MAINLY
at others on the political left, oddly fall
silent when the people they so militantly
"criticize" don't act as the critics exclaim.

Their method cuts across joint work and
the necessary unity needed to conduct it.
They owe Chomsky an apology, but the
remain utterly silent. Their main purposes
are to score rhetorical points, not to find
ways to work together confronting the
common adversary in the struggle.

Discussion of the problems of and the
implications of signing documents like
those of Joanne Landy? That's both fine
and appropriate, but reading people like
Chomsky and Zinn out of the movement
as the cranks did was going to far out into
ultraleft field. It only poisons discussion
and makes cooperation on areas where
people agree much more difficult.

We all get carried away from time to time,
me included, but it's essential to find ways
to discuss areas of difference in respectful
ways so that disagreements can as much as
possible be resolved in the interests of joint
work toward common objectives. This is
what the "Cranky Yankees" have forgotten,
in my opinion.

Eli Stephens wrote:

criticizing Chomsky himself is perfectly
legitimate, and not even remotely "ultraleft."

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