Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Response to Paul Bogdanor's Top 200 Chomsky Lies

So there's this guy by the name of Paul Bogdanor that apparently has as his mission to discredit Noam Chomsky. I have no real problem with that in principle. If you think somebody harms the world by misleading people and you think discrediting them would help prevent others from being led astray I suppose that's fine.

As an admirer of Chomsky I'm frequently pointed to Bogdanor's work in refutation of Chomsky. Bogdanor is published. In fact he contributed to an anti-Chomsky book by David Horowitz. Whatever one may think of Horowitz, you have to admit he's at least a fairly prominent pundit. So one might on the surface not expect Bogdanor to be a complete hack. Or would you? I guess I'm trying to say that there are degrees of lunacy. Arch neocons like Horowitz of course are not well reasoned people, but while I think Horowitz is way off base he is frequently in the media, has published some widely read books, etc. So it's not like he's completely bonkers.

So I'm told to go look at Bogdanor's Top 200 Chomsky Lies. And so I have. Wow. It's really bad. This is not really worth responding to.

But on the other I am regularly pointed to this by Chomsky's critics. Perhaps it would be useful to take some time and address it. Maybe just some of it. To give a sense of how bad it is. That way I can at least have something to point to to explain why considering Bogdanor is not worthwhile.

So here I'm going to respond to the first 10 lies and then maybe in the future I'll respond to more. Or maybe I won't.

OK, so the first thing that needs to be kept in mind when addressing Chomsky's 200 supposed lies is this. What is a lie? If someone disagrees with me, does that mean they are lying? Obviously not. What if they rely on a source and that source turns out to be wrong. Is that a lie? I think it's pretty obvious that it is not.

What if someone makes an error? Does that mean they lied? What if they won't admit their error? That's not a lie. It could be a character defect. It could be worthy of criticism. But it's not a lie. Dictionary.com says that a lie is "a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive." It seems to me that merely knowing what a lie is would shrink Paul's list down to about nothing. But I haven't yet read them all, so we'll see. Here are his "lies" with Chomsky's words in blue, Bogdanor's in red, and mine in black. Bogdanor presents these in a countdown fashion, starting with 10 and ending with 1. I'm going to start with 1 just because it is so outrageous and must be emphasized. I'll take the remainder in the order they come from Bogdanor.

And these first 10 "lies" are under a section "10 Chomsky Lies About Communist Mass Murderers – General"

1. The Lie: “Of course, no one supposed that Mao literally murdered tens of millions of people, or that he ‘intended’ that any die at all.”20

The Truth: Mao spoke of sacrificing 300 million people, or half of China’s population. He warned that the policies he later adopted would kill 50 million people. Grain exported by the communists was sufficient to feed the numbers who starved to death, which they privately estimated at 30 million.21

This one is repeated constantly in discussion forums and blog comment sections as an example of Chomsky apologetics for Communist atrocities. In isolation it does sort of look like that. Bogdanor doesn't actually say that this is what Chomsky is doing. He presents it as if Chomsky thinks Mao wasn't expecting people to die from his policies. So we get a double whammy here. It's presented in a way that leads someone to have a mistaken understanding of Chomsky's views regarding Mao and secondly it's further mischaracterized by Bogdanor.

The solution as is typical is to just read what Chomsky said in context, which you can do here. But I'll summarize Chomsky's point.

Mao instituted polices that lead to famines in China. These killed tens of millions of people. Did Mao set out to starve people? No. What he did was he instituted polices that he knew would lead to massive death. But for him that was worth it. If he could have done it without killing so many he probably would have. But this does not absolve him. He is still guilty and justly condemned for this action.

In the same way Clinton bombed a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan. Did he do it because he wanted to see poor Africans die? Obviously not. But this is the only source for life saving drugs for many poor Africans. Clinton would know that large scale death would result. But he thought it was worth it. The fact that he would have probably preferred to avoid killing many thousands of poor Africans does not absolve him. He engaged in actions that lead to that predictable result. Just as we rightly condemn Mao for tens of millions of starved Chinese peasants we should apply the same principles to our own side. Or if anything we should be even more condemnatory towards our side since these are the ones we can control and are responsible for.

For Chomsky the emphasis is on the fact that Mao cannot be absolved. Bogdanor turns it into a quote that makes it appear that Chomsky is in fact attempting to absolve Mao. He further critiques it as if Chomsky is unaware that massive death was the predictable consequence of Mao's policies. I'd be tempted to call Bogdanor a liar, but in truth I expect he's just lazy.

10. The Lie: “in comparison to the conditions imposed by US tyranny and violence, East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise.”

The Truth: The communists murdered 4 million people in the Ukraine; 753,000 in Poland; 360,000 in Romania; 300,000 in Belarus; 200,000 in Hungary; 100,000 in East Germany; 100,000 in Lithuania; 70,000-100,000 in Yugoslavia; 30,000-40,000 in Bulgaria; 20,000 in Czechoslovakia; and 5,000 in Albania. Other atrocities included the murder of over 500,000 POWs in Soviet captivity and the mass rape of at least 2 million women by the Red Army.

The source is available here. The context is a speech a speech in Congress by Vaclav Havel who contrasted the Soviet Union and the US as one being a nightmare the other a defender of freedom, to great applause. Chomsky is not one to deny that the Soviet Union was a hideous and murderous regime. His point is that the US is a very murderous regime as well, and likewise a nightmare for many that suffer under its boot. The cartoonish presentation from Havel and self congratulation of those in Washington is kind of hard to take.

He asks us to consider Southeast Asia, Central America, and the West Bank. The West Bank is regarded as the world's largest open air prison by many respectable people. Malnourishment is severe. Unemployment is around 40%. Occasionally bombs are falling. The Soviet Union cannot claim a bombing campaign against any country that is on the scale perpetuated against Southeast Asia for their crime of preferring the wrong government. And in Haiti, with 70% unemployment where the lucky employed at the time Chomsky wrote this were making 38 cents per day, had a Haitian went to sleep and woke up in Poland, with high employment levels, state provided health services, and a functioning education system, they'd have probably thought they'd died and woke up in Paradise.

That's not to say that the Soviet Union was not responsible for massive atrocities. But in some places where US tyranny and violence is imposed, things are actually worse. I'd say that assessment, rather than being a lie, would more accurately be described as the truth. But if you don't agree that's fine. Reasonable people might not reach the same judgments on matters like this. So in other words one could decide that Chomsky is wrong, but you couldn't say that he lied.

9. The Lie: “Western norms require that we compare Eastern and Western Europe to demonstrate our virtue and their vileness, a childish absurdity… Elementary rationality would lead someone interested in alternative social and economic paths to compare societies that were more or less alike before the Cold War began, say Russia or Brazil… Such comparisons, if honestly undertaken, would elicit some self-reflection among decent people…”

The Truth: In Russia, Lenin’s food confiscations inflicted famine on over 33 million people, including 7 million children, and left 4-5 million dead; Stalin’s assault on the peasants killed another 8.5 million, half of them children.4 Brazil experienced nothing of the kind.

What is the relevance of listing various Soviet crimes? The point is that saying "Our culture is so much better because Britain is a better place to live than the Ukraine" is silly because Britain has been different for centuries. Russia and Brazil started at similar places prior to the Cold War. Since then Brazil has been subjected to US domination and Russia has been subjected to Soviet domination. In some ways perhaps Brazil is better, but in other ways (economically, with regards to access to health services) Russia is better. Honest comparison require that we consider countries that started from similar places. How is this a lie?

8. The Lie: “Internal [Soviet] crimes abated [after 1945]; though remaining very serious they were scarcely at the level of typical American satellites, a commonplace in the Third World, where the norms of Western propriety do not hold.”

The Truth: In 1947, the Soviets withheld food from famine victims, causing up to 1.5 million deaths.6 During 1945-53, there were over 300,000 officially recorded deaths in the Gulag; by 1953, the slave population exceeded 5.2 million.7 No American satellite – whether in Europe or in Latin America – was guilty of anything even remotely comparable.

Take a look at what Chomsky offers
in the context of this quote. Some evidence, this time in the form of testimony from a Guatemalan refugee, that in fact his assessment as we approach the 90's was true. Reasonable people might disagree. Chomsky if he were so inclined might offer additional evidence to support his claim. Bogdanor might offer counter evidence. All good. It's not a lie in any case.

7 The Lie: “In the Soviet sphere of influence, torture appears to have been on the decline since the death of Stalin… Since it has declined in the Soviet sphere since the death of Stalin, it would appear that this cancerous growth is largely a Free World phenomenon.”8

The Truth: Until the late 1980s, the Soviets ran 1,000 concentration camps where at least 2 million inmates endured constant violence. Torture was systematic in Soviet satellites in the Third World.9

Chomsky cites an Amnesty International report to justify his claim. Regurgitating the findings of respectable investigative human rights agencies is not lying.

6. The Lie: “Imagine the reaction if the Soviet police were to deal with refuseniks in any way comparable to the Israeli [anti-riot] practices that briefly reached the television screens.”10

The Truth: The Soviet police held 10,000 dissidents in psychiatric prisons and concentration camps. An estimated 50,000 were sent to uranium mines to die of radiation poisoning.11 Such practices elicited no reaction because the Soviets did not allow them to reach the television screens.

How is it a lie to imagine how people would react to certain violent images? Who is denying that the Soviets did in fact murder these thousands and more? Who is denying that they prevented such images from being broadcast? Nobody. But we should consider how we might have reacted if the images in fact had been broadcast. It's bizarre that Bogdanor regards this as a lie.

5.The Lie: “[Regarding] China’s actions in Tibet… it is a bit too simple to say that ‘China did indeed take over a country that did not want to be taken over.’ This is by no means the general view of Western scholarship.”12

The Truth: The Chinese invasion provoked massive popular uprisings. Mao welcomed the Tibetan resistance because it could be crushed by force. State terror and man-made famine had killed up to 500,000 Tibetans by the mid-1960s.13

Once again Chomsky goes on to source that claim and otherwise discuss the complexities of regarding it as expansionist. If Chomsky has been misled by his sources (Ginsburgs and Mathos) this cannot be called a lie.

4 The Lie: “It’s clear, I believe, that the emphasis on the use of terror and violence in China was considerably less than in the Soviet Union and that the success was considerably greater in achieving a just society.”14

The Truth: China’s communists officially stated that they had executed 800,000 in the first few years of their dictatorship; unofficially, they admitted to the massacre of 2 million in just one year. Concentration camps held an estimated 8 million, with 280,000 killed annually. The communists publicly declared that they had persecuted 20-30 million as class enemies in their first decade and that there were 100 million victims of the Cultural Revolution.15

What happened in China was really bad, but a reasonable person might have regarded what happened in the Soviet Union at that point as worse, especially given that Chomsky wrote this in 1971. Strange that this is regarded as a lie.

3-The Lie: “There are many things to object to in any society. But take China, modern China; one also finds many things that are really quite admirable… [In China] a good deal of the collectivization and communization was really based on mass participation and took place after a level of understanding had been reached in the peasantry that led to this next step.”16

The Truth: The communists reduced 550 million peasants to slavery. They forced at least 90
million to work on furnace-building projects alone. When famine resulted, they cut the food ration and used mass terror to stop the peasants eating their own harvest. Victims, including children, were tortured, buried alive, strangled or mutilated.17

I think to pretend that any one society fits neatly into a category of "pure evil" is really kind of infantile. You really aren't going to be able to find any society about which something positive can't be said. If pointing that out makes someone a liar then stating truths is lying. Nobody is disputing that the communists reduced 550 million peasants to slavery and engaged in a myriad of other horrors. Despite that there are obviously going to be SOME positive things that can be said about Chinese society at that time.

Chomsky wrote this in 1971, praising some of the structures that had been developed by that time. Note the reference to "modern" China. What has happened in China since then? Only the most massive reduction in poverty that has ever happened in human history. GDP/person in inflation adjusted dollars was $700 in China in 1971. By 2009 it had increased 10 fold. If you can't say something good about that society you are blind. This does not undo the past and present horrors, which are real and are acknowledged by Chomsky. But you can still draw lessons from their society.

2-The Lie: “Also relevant is the history of collectivization in China, which, as compared with the Soviet Union, shows a much higher reliance on persuasion and mutual aid than on force and terror, and appears to have been more successful.”18

The Truth: Its culmination was the Great Leap Forward, the worst man-made catastrophe in history, in which 30 million died.19

I think it's worth looking at the full quote here. After the word "successful" we get this: "See Thomas P. Bernstein, "Leadership and Mass Mobilization in the Soviet and Chinese Collectivization Campaigns of 1929-30 and 1955-56: A Comparison," China Quarterly, No. 31 (July-September 1967), pp. 1-47, for some interesting and suggestive comments and analysis."

So what is Chomsky saying? Collectivization in China was more successful than in the Soviet Union and likewise China was more reliant on persuasion and mutual aid. Does this mean that Chinese policies didn't induce massive famines or massive purges as well? No. Does Bogdanor present any reason for concluding that Chomsky's assessment is wrong? Once again no. He cites his source, which presumably would back his claim. If his source is wrong or if he's misused it, go out and prove it. To just respond to every non-nefarious observation about China with "But so many in China died" is beside the point.

I frankly don't see a single lie here. Bogdanor would think Chomsky is wrong on some of these points. I wouldn't agree with him. But how are these lies?

47 comments:

Sheldon said...

Good job. Its laughable that Chomsky is an apologist for the atrocities committed by Stalinist Communism. Reading Chomsky, especially back in the day when there was a SU, (or shortly thereafter) it was common for Chomsky to make a side comment or comparison with Soviet tyranny. And being familiar with the writing on the Marxist-Leninist left, I have at times read and heard gripes about Chomsky from Stalinist types.

Jon said...

Thanks Sheldon. And I'm enjoying your Michael Perelman recommendation.

Paul Bogdanor said...

This is, to my knowledge, the first time that a Chomsky apologist has even tried to challenge (some of) the 200 Lies, and the objections are so weak that, frankly, I'm surprised you've decided to publish them. It tends to confirm that nothing remotely persuasive can be said in Chomsky's defence. When I have some time to kill, I'll post a point-by-point response on my site.

lav said...

The best 'lie' is i guess somewhere among the last ones, where the lie and the truth is both from chomsky.

Jon said...

Paul, it's been 2 months. I eagerly await your reply. BTW I did say the West Bank above and should have said Gaza. The point is the same.

kelly g said...

Jon, thanks for putting together this post. Any idea why this bogdanor guy hates Chomsky so much? Is it some sort of jealousy thing or is he just another staunch defender of American authoritarianism?

Jon said...

Hi Kelly. You're welcome. Why the hatred from Bogdanor? Tough to say. I used to be a right winger and if I had to guess I'd say Bogdanor really believes Chomsky is evil and destructive. It's kind of part of an overall worldview. Chomsky of course threatens that worldview. People often react very aggressively and angrily to such things. A worldview is your paradigm for making sense of everything, and for humans we just really need to be able to make sense of things. Unanswered questions make us uncomfortable. People lash out to protect themselves from the discomfort.

That's pure speculation of course. I could be way off.

Stu said...

Good job Jon, Paul's arguments are so stupid and lazy the only reason that anyone would look at them is because someone in google likes to put charlatans in the service of empire at the top of the search results for Chomsky. This is ironic because this falls into Chomsky and Herman's media control model which google is apparently no exception. This idiotic slander spewed by these nimwits like paul bogdanor and david horowitz is so baseless and moronic google actually does Chomsky a service because they unintentionally make him look even better.

Stu said...

I'd also like to add that I've read Horowitz and Dershowitz's attacks on Chomsky. They are totally devoid of counterevidence and typical of scum lawyers (Dershowitz was on O.J. Simpson's defense team in the trial where O.J. won btw). Paul is among highly vitriolic and sociopathic company in his ridiculous attacks on Chomsky. Paul is a bullshitter with no regard to evidence or truth, liars at least know the truth to counter it, this stooge just makes hyperbolic arguments and ineffective red herrings.

Nick said...

It's been about six months and Bogdanor still hasn't attempted a rebuttal, which (I think) is pretty telling about the intellectual honesty of this guy.

Anyway, great response to the right-wing propaganda machine of Horowitz/Bogdanor.

Unknown said...

Stu,
Good connection to Herman/Chomsky's "propaganda model."

Nick

The View from Mt. Pelion said...

Bogdanor is a sad little fuck and I thank you for showing this to be the case.

I came across his examples of Chomsky's deceit purely by accident and couldn't believe what I was reading. His arguments range from the tenuous to the specious, which is exactly what you'd expect from a strident and unwavering ultra-conservative (I knew nothing of Mr Bogdanor prior to reading his "Top 200...", yet I feel fairly confident in my assessment of his character and his politics).

Personally, I don't always agree with Chomsky and, like any human, he gets stuff wrong, but not often.

Bogdanor's site is nothing short of a pathetic smear attempt and his failure to respond to your supposedly "weak" objections is telling.

Good one.

Emily Mackenzie said...

I believe Jon that you haven't refuted Paul Bogdanor completely and as such you haven't discredited the other facts that Chomsky has been reported to say and believe over the years. You have only selected a relatively small portion of facts about Chomsky, but you fail to tackle everything else? If you want to truly be open-minded, even at the risk of potentially changing opinions about Chomsky, that may be a good idea. After doing extensive research on Chomsky and hearing from his supporters, like yourself, I can definitely say alot of what he claims is not true.

Jon said...

Emily if you want to share untruths from Chomsky feel free. I'll be interested to see them. It's true I only addressed a small potion of Bogdanor's criticism. If there's a valid one I'll be happy to see it.

seven_six_two said...

Nice work! I've read a few of Chomsky's books, listened to some speeches, and saw him speak at a conference at our university. I found Bogdanor while searching for "better than noam chomsky", just in case I had missed someone. I read, oh, 2 or 3 of his "200 lies" paper before I realized what was going on. Not to mention the poor quality of his sources. Thanks for publishing this.

Honecker said...

Hi comrade. I'm Russian. I'm a mathematician with Keldysh Inst. Of Applied Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences. One can find out my scientific interests via this: http://arxiv.org/find/all/1/all:+Kurakin/0/1/0/all/0/1

may I provide my 5 cents to the topic?

I have enjoyed the following snippet from Mr. Bogdanor's book:

"...The Truth: Until the late 1980s, the Soviets ran 1,000 concentration camps where at least 2 million inmates endured constant violence..."

Well, you know, it's genious indeed. 2 mlns prisoners in late USSR - yes, that looks like truth. Approximately as much as in US. But, hah! - "concentration camps"!!

What does he mean? Did we fire our criminals like Hitler did with jews? What kind of "violence"? As far as I know from Hollywood movies, a jail in US is prectcally the same as in USSR. yes, jail is jail...

Unknown said...

Did Paul ever write back? Probably not. Silly rabbits always run, run, run.

Revolution-Evolution said...

Here you have an account of Chomsky's lies (or whatever) concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also Kosova. One might ask oneself how reliable the source/page is, but there are a lot of sources in this refutation of Chomsky's obvious lies, so it is definitely worth taking a look.

Chomsky is a great, acknowledged scholar, but he must also be criticized when he is wrong. And he is very wrong in some cases.

http://balkanwitness.glypx.com/chomskydenial.htm

Jon said...

R/E I agree with you that any errors from Chomsky should be acknowledged. Thanks for the source and I will check it out.

And though I haven't read your link yet I'd say be a little cautious with the word "lie". A person can be mistaken without having lied. Chomsky may be mistaken. He starts from a position of suspicion when he reads of the atrocities of enemies of the state. That's a reasonable initial presumption based on history. We should be dubious. I've read stories of how the Nazi's covered living children with wood and lit it up. No good sources came with the story. It's easy to hate on Nazi's so it becomes easy to contrive evil tales of their behavior. If you are interested in truth more than perpetuating useful wicked stories you have to keep these kind of propensities in mind. There's plenty of evil that is rightly attributed to the Nazi's, but invented wicked tales exist as well so if we are committed to the truth we should try to weed those out.

Honecker said...

European court in Strassburg "it said it could not rule on a further charge - that Russia had allegedly failed to properly investigate the 1940 massacre - because the Kremlin had not made vital documents available."

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15886702,00.html

Still, the West interprets this desicion as if "The Soviet secret police killed around 22,000 Poles in the Katyn forest near Smolensk and other places in April and May 1940"

West folks could have missed that since Gorbachev and Yeltsin, USSR and Russia has provided to Poland TONS of "documents".

Now, The European court makes a brilliant movve. It says: hay, give me documents to Moscow. But Moscow has given TONS of "documents".

So, the translation from Jesuitical of Deutsche Welle and European court into plain English (or Russian) sounds like this:

Yes, we ordered you to make falsified "documents" to prove you bloody russians and bloody Stalin killed those polish oficers. But you false "documents" are oif a very bad quality. We can not judje using this stuff. TONS of stuff.

Please make YOUSELF some NEW false "documents" for we to judje that Stalin, not Hitler killed 22,000 polish oficers.

Honecker said...

USA have thrown 1 mln tons to Laos. In Laos there are so many american bombs, that 40 years after they use those bombs in their economy:

http://www.usinfo.ru/laos.htm

I am not anti-American, but this is just a fact, that Americans should take, just as we Russians take that YES we killed ~4 mlns at Stalin times due to political accusals.

4 mlns, not any absurd "100 mlns" by Paul Bogdanor and his falsified sources.

The only serious analysis of Stalin's repressions can be based of official archives (both Russia and other countries), not anyone's fantasies. Soviet historian Zemskov in late 80's.

Google Zemskov. PAUL Bogdanor is out of scope of adequate discussion.

Honecker said...

USA - NATO crimes in Yougoslavia:

http://www.slobodan-memoria.narod.ru/nato.htm

Honecker said...

This is my old open letter to Tom Hanks
=================================
Dear Mr Tom Hanks
dereformizator
July 4th, 2011
Dear Mr. Hanks!

You can find it to be a surprise to receive such kind of message from me. But it is also a surprise for me to address you. Still I can't stay silent.

My name is Pavel Kurakin, I live in Russia, I am 40 and I am an applied mathematician. I used to think I am a fan of your movies. But some days ago I have seen your movie of 2007, "Charlie Wilson's War".

I thought a lot, how to formulate so as to get you thinking hard at the problem I want to point to you, instead of getting you just annoyed... Still, I think it is your choice to do one of these, not mine.

You know, when I was a schoolboy, I have seen in Soviet papers photoes of "toys" stuffed with explosive, found in Afghanistan by Soviet soldiers. And now I see that these were Soviet troops who made this dirty facsist meanness...

I do have some evidence from the press that these facsist "toys" were West - made, but I don't want to overload you with such details. I don't want you to think I provide you one more propaganda. Also, this evidence can be disputable.

Instead, I want to show you some broad picture. Just in two topics.

First. Did you ever think, WHAT kind of war did Soviet Army do in Afghanistan? In 1976 there was a communist revolution in Afghanistan, and Afghan leaders asked the USSR government for Soviet Army to enter their country. Brezhnev refused. But the situation in Afghanistan was becoming more and more instable. Afghanistan was a bordered neighbour of the USSR! And finally, super - extremist islamic revolution occurs in Iran. And at this moment Brezhnev decided to enter Afghanistan. Just to provide ANY so - so stable regime in that country.

I wonder, do many Americans understand, that USSR did exactly what US Army does now - protect all the West Civilization (USSR was a pert of it, in fact, as compared to Islamic world) from Islamic extremism?

Sorry, but I am almost sure that you don't know, that the Soviet Union helped Afghans to build ~60 large industrial, educational, infrastructural, health and transportation objects in Afghanistan. Including the Cabul Airport the US Army is using right now.

So - the "war" the Soviet Army did was to protect industrial cargoes from USSR on Afghan roads. Did you know this?

Second. Did you know that in 1962 Algeriа government asked many European governments to make extensive mine cleaning of their territory? ALL West countries refused OR assigned huge price for this. Where from were the mines? From former French occupation. The only country which agreed to make this HUGE job FOR FREE, was the Soviet Union. And, the Soviet Army did this job.

The job was: 1200 km along Algeria - Tunis border, and ~ 800-900 km along Algeria - Maroc border. Each kilometer had ~ 20,000 of French mines.

If you have a friend who knows Russian, ask him to translate this to you:

http://bg-znanie.ru/article.php?nid=20445

So, my question is, can you really imagine that the Soviet Union changed so radically its opinion on mines for Asian people from 1962 to 1979?

It's your choice to make your own resume. Thak you for reading this.

Jericho_Cain said...

Did Paul ever give his point-by-point response on his site? I can't find it.

Jon said...

As far as I know he has not replied.

Nandu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RCP said...

The documentation provided on the Balkan Witness site is overwhelming and should be addressed by Chomsky.

REGOR'S RANTS said...

Just read your defence of lie 1 and the post Chomsky made on ZNet.
"The centerpiece of the accusation was the Chinese famine of 1958-61, which accounted for 1/3 of the grim total. Of course, no one supposed that Mao literally murdered tens of millions of people, or that he "intended" that any die at all. Rather, these crimes were the outcome of institutional and ideological structures of the Maoist system, as discussed in the primary scholarly work on the topic by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and his colleague Jean Dreze.

So Noam believes that Mao did not 'intend' to kill millions. Just collateral damage then? And who developed and guided those institutional and ideological structures. Micky Mouse? Certainly Chomsky's analysis if not mendacious is criminally naïve. The biography of Mao by Jung Chang & Jon Halliday would indicate that Mao knew what was happening, but continued the exports of grain to the USSR. I wonder if Noam would defend the position taken by the British government during the Irish famine as a result of "institutional and ideological ....." The role of Mao's personality is important here in Mao's Great famine by Frank Dikotter confirms that Mao was a a depraved monster; sadistic, vindictive, cowardly and callous. And by the by Clinton was capable of ordering the attack on the plant to deflect interest from his sexual peccadilloes. After all he did order the execution of a black man who was learning disabled to prove that he was tough on crime.

So my question is, When is saint Noam going to give us his revised view of Moa. Don't hold your breath.

Jon said...

So Noam believes that Mao did not 'intend' to kill millions. Just collateral damage then?

Yeah. He knew they would die and didn't care. He was indifferent to their death. He knew his policies would lead to that result. And for this, according to Chomsky, Mao is a monster. It doesn't mitigate the situation that he didn't do it for the purpose of starving people. That was a side effect.

If that's true for Mao, isn't it also true for Clinton? Didn't Clinton know that the bombing would lead to the death of thousands? The fact that he bombed anyway, even though it wasn't for the purpose of killing all these people dependent on these medicines doesn't mitigate the situation.

And who developed and guided those institutional and ideological structures. Micky Mouse?

What the hell are you talking about? Are you suggesting that Chomsky doesn't regard Mao as responsible? The whole point is that Mas IS RESPONSIBLE, not Mickey Mouse. I find it odd that people can miss the point in this way.

The biography of Mao by Jung Chang & Jon Halliday would indicate that Mao knew what was happening, but continued the exports of grain to the USSR

Yes, and this is why Mao is justly condemned according to Chomsky.

When is saint Noam going to give us his revised view of Moa.

What revised view of Mao? It is obvious that you have grossly missed the point as Bogdanor has done, pretending that this is some sort of defense of Mao when it in fact is condemnation of Mao. Chomsky agrees with your condemnation of Mao but asks you to apply the same standard to American presidents. Since Mao's behavior is indefensible Clinton's behavior is likewise indefensible. But for the defenders of US violence the only sins that are worth talking about are the ones committed by others that we aren't responsible for and can't control.

Daniel Brockert said...

The thing that you need to understand about Chomsky as an admirer of his is that people like you are exactly what he's looking for. He's not interested in persuading people in the mainstream or changing their mind, which would be a lot of work. He's interested in filtering out the skeptics and cultivating a dedicated audience. That being said, the very fact that you'd at least read Republican books criticizing Chomsky shows that you have a much higher level of integrity and self-doubt than the idol you admire. What's necessary is a book about Chomsky's errors written by people with leftist commitments and thus would be taken seriously by those Chomsky is trying to reach.
Rather than get directly into debates about Chomsky's views, I'd like to recommend an amazing, thorough and richly argued book about propaganda by Jacques Ellul with the simple title "Propaganda." It's an excellent book, written by a French Marxist who is perfectly willing to criticize the Soviet Union.

Jon said...

Hi Daniel and thanks for your comments and book recommendation. I do also read some criticism of Chomsky from the left. Particularly those that criticize his views on Israel/Palestine. I've seen some of what at least appears to be reasonable criticism. Some not also, as you might expect.

Daniel Brockert said...

Dear Jon, that's good. Let me recommend an amazing criticism from a left-wing source. A guy named Bruce Sharp has written extensively about Cambodia. He has an extremely detailed article called "Averaging Wrong Answers" which literally critiques Chomsky's Cambodia writing line by line. In June 1977 Chomsky wrote an article title "Distortions at Fourth Hand" in which he challenged the credibility of authors claiming there was a genocide in Cambodia. In that same article he praised a pro- Pol Pot book as "scholarly" and "well-documented." To this day Chomsky lies about what he wrote in that article, including to me in private emails. Here is Chomsky's 1977 article http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19770625.htm
Now let me add that his attacks on the media coverage of Cambodia are already bad enough, but what he leaves out is worse. If you read the article you'll see that there is absolutely no mention of East Timor in it. Chomsky wouldn't begin talking about East Timor publicly until a year and a half later, at which point we can assume it was part of a campaign to save his credibility.

Jon said...

Hi Daniel,

I have seen criticisms of Chomsky's claims regarding the Khmer Rouge, but I have to say what I saw really wasn't fair at all to him and in fact misrepresented what he had said. If you are interested take a look at a blog post I wrote a while back which evaluated Brad DeLong's criticism. DeLong basically misrepresented what Chomsky had said.

http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com/2010/07/chomskys-views-on-khmer-rouge-distorted.html

Dr. Ferris said...

I agree with Bogdanor. These criticisms of his list are laughable, and his assessment about trying to defend Chomsky's decades-long campaign of Leftist shilling and lies is right on the money, but unlike him I must nevertheless commend you for your attempts at advocacy. Most Chomsky fans don't even try to defend his outrageous whoppers, instead depending on personal attacks and innuendo to protect this charlatan. If we're going to get at the real truth, we need more people like you to get courageous enough and reveal the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Chomsky's supporters.

So please. These are the first ten. There's 190 more. Give it your best shot, whenever you're ready. I really, truly, sincerely encourage your best efforts.

Jon said...

Well, it's been a while since I wrote this obviously and I guess I've sort of moved on to other things. Is it really worth it to go further? Take the first example I discussed. Chomsky is criticizing Mao and using it to make a point about how we should treat atrocities committed by our own side. Bogdanor takes that quote and tries to somehow make it appear that Chomsky is trying to get Mao off the hook. The point from Chomsky is not hard to grasp. But Bogdanor doesn't get it. I'm supposed to dig through another 190 examples of this kind of thing, find the source, read it in context (which maybe Bogdanor just didn't do) and explain the (simple) meaning? I think these 10 show us Bogdanor's modus operandi. This is not really about discovering truth. This is about smearing an individual, and doing whatever it takes to get it done, honesty be damned.

I think if you read through the comments you'll see that I'm not afraid to accept that Chomsky has made an error and been wrong. I'm not saying that other criticisms of him expressed here are valid, only that I'm open to accepting they are valid. I haven't explored them. If certain criticisms of him are valid this doesn't change the fact that he's right that Clinton engaged in a heinous crime when he bombed that pharmaceutical factory, a crime that led to the death of probably many thousands of people (we don't know for sure how many, but there are credible estimates that put the number around 40,000). At the end of the day what matters is not Chomsky himself but the issues. Obviously for Bogdanor this is not about the issues. This is about Chomsky. He wants to make Chomsky the issue (much like today the media wants to make Edward Snowden the issue, not the information he has disclosed). I think it was worth it for me to make a minor effort and expose Bogdanor's agenda here, at least for the kind of person that likes to casually throw his criticisms around like it is good reason to dismiss what Chomsky has to say. I feel my post here does show that he's not being truthful. So let's ignore what he's saying and get back to the issues. Exposing more of his untruths would probably help, but only marginally, so I guess in my estimation it's not worth the effort.

gflac said...

So, I am somewhat familiar with Chomsky and his writing, but am not by any means an expert. I do find his point of view interesting. I have looked at Paul Bogdanor's 200 lies list and read your responses. I think you are splitting intellectual hairs. When you deliberately ignore sources or facts that don't support your narrative you are being intellectually dishonest. I think Chomsky has sometimes been guilty of this. I came across a specific example today. Chomsky stated in an interview on Democracy now (about US intervention in Syria) that sept 11th was the ""It’s the first time since the War of 1812 that U.S. territory had been attacked.". I could site a half dozen examples, the most obvious being the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but that is beside the point. Being wrong about facts in some cases might be excusable, but if you wish to be taken seriously as a scholar, critic or person, misstating basic information to support your argument greatly diminishes your credibility. I don't trust statements of people who play fast and loose with facts. Here is a link to the audio and the transcript. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/11/chomsky_on_9_11_syrias_bloody#.UjDwEvuyWdo.twitter It is even somewhat more surprising that neither of the interviewers questioned him on this. It was more like a forum for Chomsky to hold forth than a substantive interview.

Jon said...

Chomsky is right and you are wrong, gflac, that's why the interviewer didn't correct him. Hawaii was not a US state when it was attacked. Pearl Harbor was a military base that existed in a land that was being occupied by the US, without the consent of the people.

Sometimes Chomsky sounds like he's making an error, but often that's because we've been fed so much propaganda that we don't know the truth, so truth sounds like error.

Adam Martin said...
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Adam Martin said...
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Adam Martin said...

What I didn't like about the list was posting just one sentence, or just a few words, and calling it a lie. Why not post the whole paragraph, so we can read it in context?

I looked through most of the list, and noticed that a few truths, were actually lies. The denial the United States was involved in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala is one obvious example. The last point about refuting bombing a city, with burned it to the ground, is pretty humorous. There are several other studies which suggest higher casualties, but of course he picked the smallest one. I'm almost certain he didn't even try to find out how they got that number. That brings me to my next point:

What I really can't stand about the whole debate in the first place. This is every fucking political debate that has ever happened (Republican/Democrats just to pick different ideologies):

R: A happened
D: No, B happened
R: No, A happened, and I can prove it with my source.
D: No, B happened, and I can disprove A with my source.
R: Here are six more studies all with my ideological leanings to disprove your source.
D: Well, here are 10 neutral studies, who just by chance received a large donation by some of our members, they disagree with all our your findings.
R: You just refuse to believe "The Facts"
D: No, it is I who have found the sources known as "The Facts."

At least, people with unsophisticated political views don't make you have to weed through 400 ideological footnotes.

Then, there's the gotcha argument that this list loves:

R: D said A in 1976, when he was 20, therefore he is wrong about everything.
*shows 4 more studies from leading public intellectual who can't possibly be ideological influenced.

Politics fucking sucks.

kropotkin said...

Bogdanor, are you simply a liar, or illiterate, or both? Not a single word you've said shows Chomsky to have lied about anything, though this is common in anti-Chomsky drool land. I'm still waiting for at least ONE person to 1)Actually read his material 2)Demonstrate that they have understood it 3)Make something resembling an argument. You, squirt, haven't even started Step 1 yet, and anyone at all familiar with Chomsky's work is quite well aware. Calling folks "Chomsky apologists" is itself ignorant. Here, let's make it simple for you:

The Anti-Chomsky Idiot
A) Chomsky Thinks X (which is factually incorrect)
B) No, Chomsky thinks Y, just as he says so here, here, here, here, and here. (which are factually correct)
A) YOU'RE AN APOLOGIST for Chomsky!!! You're in his cult! You can't see what's right there in his writings (the ones I've never read)
The End

Srnec said...

According to gflac, Chomsky said that 11 September 2001 was "the first time since the War of 1812 that U.S. territory had been attacked". Jon responded with: "Hawaii was not a US state when it was attacked. Pearl Harbor was a military base that existed in a land that was being occupied by the US, without the consent of the people."

Hawaii was U.S. territory in 1941, even though it was not yet a state. The original inhabitants of New York never gave their consent to U.S. rule either.

But if an attack on the World Trade Center orchestrated by foreign nationals in 2001 is an attack on U.S. territory, wouldn't an attack on the World Trade Center orchestrated by foreign nationals in 1993 also be such an attack?

This is what makes Chomsky infuriating. On the face of it, he's wrong. But we all know he's not stupid enough to make obviously false allegations. So, charitably, we try to figure out what he means. But who can tell? Do Pancho Villa's raids count? Does the Japanese fire balloon campaign of World War II count? Does the Civil War mean anything? The Black Tom explosion?

Aaron Carine said...

You haven't answered some of Bogdanor's main points. Chomsky said that Communist rule in Eastern Europe, and in the Soviet Union after 1945, wasn't as bad as what was going on in "U.S. satellites". Bogdanor claims that the Communists killed a gazillion people in those people in those times and places. If he is right, Chomsky is wrong. I doubt that Bogdanor's numbers for deaths in Eastern Europe are right, but you haven't done anything to refute him.

Aaron Carine said...

Also, there is no evidence for this claim that thousands of Sudanese died because Clinton blew up a factory. None of the people who have actually been tracking Sudanese mortality--the World Bank, USAID,UNICEF, and Human Rights Watch--have provided any support for this. The sources that Chomsky cites have not provided any evidence for it.
Leo Casey pretty much demolished it back in 2001. http://www.outlookindia.com/article/Let-Us-Not-Inherit-This-Ill-Wind/213529

Aaron Carine said...

Sorry about the typos.

Jon said...

If he is right, Chomsky is wrong.

I'm not here trying to prove that Chomsky is right and Bogdanor is wrong. If you read my post you know that Bogdanor fails to distinguish between a lie and an error. He may think Chomsky is in error, you may as well. I think Chomsky is right. I'd take Poland under Soviet domination over Haiti under US domination. You can disagree if you like, but that's my honest opinion, and perhaps Chomsky's opinion as well. So it's not a lie. I don't need to refute Bogdanor's numbers to establish this point.

Also, there is no evidence for this claim that thousands of Sudanese died because Clinton blew up a factory.

The point on this one is to expose Bogdanor's out of context citation, which he presents as if it's a defense of Mao. Chomsky in fact is condemning Mao. He's saying that Mao is justly condemned even though we wouldn't suppose that he enacted policies for the purpose of killing peasants. In the same way we should condemn Clinton for taking action that he would know (or he would at least expect) that the consequence of this is dead Africans now deprived of life saving drugs.

Note that the morality of Clinton's behavior is not necessarily based on what actually happened but on what he would expect would happen. The morality of a decision is based on the conditions that are known at the moment. If the worst isn't realized, this doesn't mean the action wasn't immoral. In the same way when Kruschev sent nuclear armed submarines to Cuba fortunately the worst didn't happen. But in sending them he would have known that he was taking a huge risk. The fate of maybe half the world's population was at stake. Do we let him off the hook because the worst didn't happen? He is to be condemned for this reckless and dangerous behavior, and Clinton is as well even if it turns out 40K didn't die, assuming he was under the expectation that they would or might.

Aaron Carine said...

Perhaps. The question of whether a false statement is a lie or an error doesn't seem very interesting, but you are, of course, free to write about any subject you wish.

We can blame Clinton and Khrushchev for their actions, but there is an enormous difference between reckless actions that don't cause death and actions that do cause death.

I don't think much of Bogdanor; some of the casualty figures he throws around are vastly higher than what I've heard from other sources, and his trick of rejecting the testimony of eyewitnesses just because they are left-wing is contemptible.