[Marxism] Chomsky and Syria

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Wed Apr 13 23:04:11 MDT 2016

from Sam Charles Hamad's Facebook page -

It is quite funny to hear Noam Chomsky referred to as a 'dissident'. The
term 'dissident' initially referred to people who oppose authritarian
states - people who suffer due to this opposition. Noam Chomsky has never
suffered - he's worked his entire life at the top university in the world
and has had an extremely lucrative career in writing books, many of which
are just flatly terrible (and even when I was a paid-up member of the
Chomsky fan club, I conceded that most of his literary output
post-Manufacturing Consent was almost solely about making money), as well
as constant speaking tours and appearances around the world. He does this

The moment it dawned on me just how much of a dissident Chomsky isn't was
when I heard Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a genuine dissident who was locked up in
a Baathist dungeon in Syria and forced to flee the country, speak of how
Chomsky ignored and was hostile to not just him, but other genuine
dissidents - other dissidents who have risked and sacrificed so much just
because they believe in something. He was hostile to them because they were
an inconvenience to both Chomsky the myth and Chomsky as the
one-dimensional conservative - the Chomsky who is so wrapped up in the
internal politics of fringe US left opposition to the US state that he
can't countenance any kind of politics that requires one to think outside
that paradigm. And it's an extremely valuable paradigm if you narrow your
understanding of the world to imagining that the every single phenomena,
and the agents of such phenomena, must be reduced to the real or imagined
machinations of the US, even in situations, such as Syria, where the US is
by no means the greatest evil (though it has certainly played an evil

I was reading a Syrian stating, ironically, that during the early days of
the revolution, one of the first figures that people turned to in terms of
intellectual output was Noam Chomsky. She said that even they they weren't
greatly familiar with Chomsky, around student circles and the organic
outlets of rebellion that took place, his work was what some people were
reaching out for. Chomsky, the great dissident - I imagine now, like Yassin
al-Haj Saleh, they understand, when they hear him calling for the US to
team up with the fascist Assad who has murdered well over 300,000 people
and when he completely ignores the voices of revolutionary Syrians in
favour of the openly pro-Assad Patrick Cockburn, that they understand the
myth of Chomsky.

"I have read Noam Chomsky for years and translated a book of his after my
release from prison. I also helped translate a book about him. Not once
have I seen in all his abundant work anything in reference to the Syrian
people’s feelings about theAssads’ colonialism. He may have mentioned in
passing something about the brutality and tyranny of the Assad regime, but
that was it. All his views revolved around the United States and Israel. He
doesn’t see us. He sees the Palestinians to some extent. Three years ago a
few Syrian and Lebanese friends met with him in Beirut. The man knows very
little and didn’t seem compelled to listen to his mostly young
interlocutors. And it looked like he was irritated with them after the
meeting because, instead of them listening to his views, they expressed
theirs. I am talking here about a man with indisputable courage and morals,
but the traditional Western left is incomparably less courageous and
ethical than that in the region."

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