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Noam Chomsky: Lover of linguistics, the USA... not so much
Episode 8018th August 2023 • Decoding the Gurus • Christopher Kavanagh and Matthew Browne
00:00:00 03:22:36

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OK, so we're finally getting around to taking a chunk out of the prodigious, prolific, and venerable Noam Chomsky. Linguist, cognitive scientist, media theorist, political activist and cultural commentator, Chomsky is a doyen of the Real Left™. By which we mean, of course, those who formulated their political opinions in their undergraduate years and have seen no reason to move on since then. Yes, he looks a bit like Treebeard these days but he's still putting most of us to shame with his productivity. And given the sheer quantity of his output, across his 90 decades, it might be fair to say this is more of a nibble of his material.

A bit of a left-wing ideologue perhaps, but seriously - what a guy. This is someone who made Richard Nixon's List of Enemies, debated Michel Foucault, had a huge impact on several academic disciplines, and campaigned against the war in Vietnam & the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Blithe stereotypes of Chomsky will sometimes crash against uncomfortable facts, including that he has been a staunch defender of free speech, even for Holocaust deniers...

A full decoding of his output would likely require a dedicated podcast series, so that's not what you're gonna get here. Rather we apply our lazer-like focus and blatantly ignore most of his output to examine four interviews on linguistics, politics, and the war in Ukraine. There is some enthusiastic nodding but also a fair amount of exasperated head shaking and sighs. But what did you expect from two milquetoast liberals?

Also featuring: a discussion of the depraved sycophancy of the guru-sphere and the immunity to cringe superpower as embodied by Brian Keating, Peter Boghossian, and Bret Weinstein mega-fans.