Oh but yes: Noam Chomsky. His updated essay.
You can read the whole thing here.
I have blogged about my own "Chomsky Problem" here, here, here, here, here, here, and (sorta) here. But this recent piece by Chomsky seems only tangentially related to my attempts to provide a solution to my own version of Paul Robinson's "Chomsky Problem."
Rather, this represents the Chomsky I most admire. (Actually, I admire him, period. I find him a fascinating thinker and the "Chomsky Problem" is an attempt to get at what I think is his major flaw, and I'm afraid I never really resolved the "problem." Please! Someone else: do a better job than I did!)
In 1966 Chomsky published a now-famous essay titled "The Responsibility of Intellectuals." When I read it first, around 1985 or so, it made total sense to me. It still does. And Chomsky's recent 9-11 "anniversary" redux-update makes as much sense to me. Any given reader of this blog who also reads Chomsky on intellectuals will come to their own conclusions. I'm giving myself away here: in this area of thought, I am right there with Noam, although I am not a privileged academic.
And, all of this aside for a moment to add something that pretty much went unsaid in all that Chomsky Problem blather I posted: what I perhaps most appreciate about Chomsky's critiques of The State and its crimes is his unique and very basic form of immanent critique: not so much in this essay, but almost all of his political writings he cites a State Department official or some other highly placed person in the State apparatus, and juxtaposes what was said with what was actually done. And he cites copiously. His style is fairly stripped-down academic, no fancy rhetoric. A notable lack of jargon. An odd tone of cold street-fightin' level rationality. As I understand it, immanent critique in its most basic form is something like, "You said X. But you did not-X, but Y, Q, and Z. How do you account for this?"
His many detractors - when they aren't crudely making stuff up about Chomsky - attack him for cherry picking his facts. But I have read Chomsky very closely, and while all of us are biased according to the sociology of knowledge, I think his basic method and citation-work is very sound, and always adds up to a penetrating and persuasive critique of state power.
Regarding intellectuals, Chomsky's work seems to me invaluable because his stance is so robust that, even if you disagree with him, you may learn much about your own stance towards the roles of intellectuals, or even what or who constitute the Intellectuals.
Where the New and Improved "Redux" essay really gets interesting, for me, is after the picture of John Dewey, where Chomsky points out that bin Laden actually achieved quite a lot of what he set out to do, and the oh-so predictable knee-jerk dullards who attack Chomsky (see the comments) need to realize Chomsky is not the only one here: do you think Michael Scheuer is a traitor too? Probably. "Murrrka Number One! Love it er leave it!" <yawn>
So enjoy the bunting and your flag and the endless TV specials about how the greatest country God ever saw fit to create is still strong and just filled with resolve, how we're all one and blah blah blah-dee fucking blah.
And if you hate Chomsky for saying what he writes (Just who do I think I'm writing to here? Only intelligent people read this blog, so I guess I'm blowing off steam over what I see as - laffingly - political reality), why don't you read Dana Priest and William Arkin's latest book, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State and tell us all how great the 9-11 response has been? There's $4,000,000,000,000 (that's TRILLION, friends and Fellow Murrrkins) we'll never see again. Funny how (really) no one in Congress has been harping on this, what with the Goddamned Deficit.
And Cheney, Bush, Rummy, Rice, Wolfowitz...are all running free.
Happy faux holiday. I'm sure the Patriot Act is keeping you all "safe."