Newmedia on Fri, 30 Apr 1999 11:46:49 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> chomsky: the current bombings

Noam Chomsky has a legacy to preserve and he does that well in this
report.  As an anarchist of a particular sort (academic and popular), he
has a long history of attacking state power -- particularly United States
of America power.

So, he neccessarily (until he is willing to re-assess his own legacy)
casts his arguments in this case as an attack on U.S. power.  By throwing
doubt on the sincereness of U.S. objectives (easy enough to do, given the
lack of consistency in any aggregated foreign policy), he thinks that he
has made his point (and presumably hopes that he has retained his

However, he more probably has simply missed what is going on altogether.  
Will anyone notice?

The problem (for anarchists of any sort) is that state power is under
attack from other quarters who are far more effective than even very
popular anarchists.  Anarchists like Chomsky may fail to understand that
they are ultimately on the side of multinational corporations and what we
at nettime call PoGOs (Post-Governmental Organizations).

When national sovereignty collapses -- and, hopefully, we all recognise
that the attack on Serbia is fundamentally an attack on sovereignty, as
Chomsky acknowledges -- it will not be "indigenous peoples" or "oppressed
minorities"  or "post-millenial nomads" who will pick up the slack.  No,
dear friends, the truly downtrodden are only likely to be even more
seriously downtrodden following a NATO victory over sovereign Serbia.

This brings up the real blindspot in Chomsky's entire corpus (and

It is not the U.S. which is attacking Serbia but NATO.  The U.S. has
already faded on the stage of history.  And, as events clearly indicate,
NATO is a 19-nation committee dominated not by the U.S. but by various
European states -- who are, in turn, apparently dominated by Europe's
parliamentary "left."

While there is a long and glorious history of anarchists fighting with the
parliamentary "left", Chomsky doesn't seem to relish this squabble.  To
take on the "left" would both require him to expose his anarchist premises
and potentially alienate important elements of his audience.  He's not
going there! sister.

Remember, the U.S. has no plans for a ground war.  No plans!

Meanwhile, Britain and France are furiously pumping for sending in troops
and, according to some accounts, pushing on all the way to Belgrade.

Chomsky is pissing on the wrong fire-hydrant.  Does he know?

He's in a bind.  Presumably, as a smart, well-researched commentator, he
realizes that what he calls the UD (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
is an anti-statist formula.  He probably likes that.  The problem is that
his "legacy" enemy (the U.S.) appears to be supporting *his* anti-statist
UD.  What's a professor to do?

He can't attack the UD or "human rights" and remain an anarchist.  He
can't attack the parliamentary "left" and remain popular.  He can't appear
to support Serbia and show his head in public.

So, he punts.  (That's American football for get-rid-of-the-ball.)

Pretty sad,

Mark Stahlman

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