Let’s Celebrate Noam Chomsky, the Intellectual and Moral Giant

More than any other thinker in the postwar era, Chomsky has embodied Karl Marx’s favorite dictum: “nothing human is alien to me.” Noam hasn’t just pointed to injustice where he saw it, no matter how remote — he has felt it. The Vietnamese, the Palestinians, the East Timorese, the Kurds — all of them saw Noam adopt their struggle as his own, with a passion that only comes from someone who sees their suffering as an affront to his own sensibility. And for that, everyone with any humanity returned their love and respect to the man.

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The parallels with Marx don’t stop there. No intellectual since Marx combined breadth and depth the way Chomsky has. He doesn’t just have educated opinions on a bewildering array of topics and geographical regions — he has real expertise. This is what has made him such a towering figure — he has been a one-man think tank, doing the work of dozens, churning out commentary and analysis at a pace that no other contemporary thinker has been able to match. In many ways, his commentary is itself an archive. As any historian knows, only the tiniest fraction of the documentary record actually makes it into the official archives. The vast majority is destroyed or, in many parts of the world, simply lost. And not a small portion are preserved for the official record specifically for their propaganda value. Chomsky’s commentary is a kind of counterarchive, an unofficial documentation of the course of events, which future historians can lean on to fact-check the official record as they try to reconstruct the past. His cataloging of American criminality in Vietnam or Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians will be no less important than Marx’s journalism about the Arrow War in 1856 or the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857...

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There will likely never be another Noam Chomsky. That combination of genius, moral integrity, endless energy, and longevity is virtually never seen. It’s only every few generations that someone comes along with anything approximating that combination.

John Sexton

There were reports earlier today that Chomsky had died. Those reports turned out to be false but by that point a couple of outlets had already published obituary/celebrations like the one above from the Marxist site Jacobin.

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