6 February 2010

And I Quote

No More

I always feel like such a pretentious elitist when I say I am reading Chomsky. I like Chomsky and his books. He’s certainly the most knowledgable and one of the most encaging writers, but most of all thinkers there are, and that exactly is the reason why I feel like mentioning it publicly is a bit of intellectual masturbation exercise; a kind of self-congratulatory thing all around. Talking about reading his book makes me feel judged; surely people think I read him because it’s fashionable (in certain circles to say the least) and that I am reading Chomsky himself, and not what he writes. To be seen reading him rather than to just read him. Basically exactly what I think about 95% the Radiohead fans, but let’s not digress any further. This has already been a quite disclaimer to start with.

I don’t usually do this, but there’s a paragraph worth quoting (well, many, but let’s stick to this one) in Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. I am taking it out of its context and presenting it on its own right. It’s a powerful bit about the apartheid South Africa and one of its specific impacts that is even less talked about than the internal terror, but also for everyone who thinks that Ronald Reagan was great. Well, I am almost definitely sure that if you are the kind of person who thinks he was great, you won’t read Chomsky’s book, you wouldn’t be convinced by the argument he offers, but even less likely will you be visiting my blog to read this. It’s fine. I don’t hold it against you (only the fact that you think Ray Gun was great).

…during the Reagan years Washington’s South African ally had primary responsibility for more than 1.5 million dead and $60 billion in damage in the newly liberated Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique. A UNICEF study estimated a death toll of 850,000 infants and young children in these two countries – 150,000 in 1988 alone, reversing gains of the early post-independence years primarily through the weapon of “mass terrorism.” That is putting aside South Africa’s practices within its own borders, where it was defending civilization against the onslaughts of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress, one of the “more notorious terrorist groups,” according to a 1988 Pentagon report. Meanwhile the Reaganites evaded sanctions, increased trade, and provided valuable diplomatic support for South Africa.

F.W. de Klerk who since has been focusing on walking around like a humanitarian or the man who out of the goodness of his heart ended the apartheid; a notion supported by his shared Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela, was a Government Minister at the time. In his job as a Minister of National Education he was opposing the integration in the educational sector, definitely not standing against any of these atrocities mentioned earlier.

History is a funny thing in a sort of depressing way. Unless, of course, you manage to emotionally detach yourself from it. These are the people that many history books are trying to crowbar in on the heroic section. Well they, whoever they are, can say and write what they want - just like I do - but it is our own personal decision who and what we believe. If anybody as such. Even Chomsky.

Quote from:
Chomsky, N. (2003) Hegemony or Survival. London: Penguin.

Supporting e-book with expanded endnotes available from the American Empire Project website.

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