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Whether Noam Chomsky, the MIT linguist and political philosopher, is the most important intellectual alive, as the New York Times once famously called him, is open for debate. But without a doubt, Chomsky, now 73, is one of the most straight-talking and committed dissidents of our time. A steadfast critic of United States foreign policy for decades, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, his profile took a quantum leap as he provided much-needed analysis and historical perspective to concerned citizens throughout the world. In the months that followed, he gave dozens of talks on four continents, conducted scores of interviews, and wrote a book 9-11 that was published in 22 countries and became a surprise bestseller in many of them, including Japan. Chomsky's voice may be unpopular, but his incisive arguments, based on decades of research and analysis, are heard and considered in this chronicle comprised of interview footage, and various talks he's given. Chomsky ...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
'If you want to stop terrorism, then stop initiating it and participating in it.' So says the irrepressible Noam Chomsky, who takes U.S. power brokers to task in this film when they pretend that everybody ELSE engages in terrorism, but not them.
I'm slightly biased, because I would pay to hear Noam Chomsky read a menu. He is sublimely interesting despite his low-key manner. But, as others have noted on this board, this film is not exactly his finest hour. It's disjointed and a little unfocused. He shifts back and forth from California to Boston and the Bronx. Since he gives countless lectures around the world in a given year, it's not surprising that the venues would change so frequently.
What makes Chomsky so unique is that he lays out his arguments like a stone-mason lays stone -- each idea follows from the other. His theses are so well-ordered, thoughtful and profoundly articulate (befitting a linguist, he uses precise and powerful words) that he is difficult to refute, which is a major reason why he's officially more or less persona-non-grata in the mainstream media. There are very few pundits who relish the opportunity to challenge Chomsky. He really does know whereof he speaks. His encyclopedic memorization of data from actual government records (some going back hundreds of years) are things to behold.
It matters little to me that he's not a so-called 'dynamic' speaker. He doesn't need to be. He's much more persuasive using soft and often witty techniques to indict monopoly capitalism and the illusion of democracy.
What this film shows quite clearly is that Chomsky is not anti-American or a gloomy pessimist, two charges regularly levelled against him by his opponents. He cares more about his country than most of those loud, cartoonish Americans who think wrapping themselves in the flag is the ultimate display of patriotism. Chomsky is a regular messenger of optimism and hope; he doesn't hide behind pillars of doom. He tells people constantly to resist, to never capitulate to lies and propaganda, to return America to the democratic control of the people. As he has said many times, it's all up to us.
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