The two fields in which Noam Chomsky is pre-eminent have starkly contrasting presentation styles. The exacting, drily informed protocols of academic writing – particularly in his discipline of modern linguistics - couldn’t be further from the desperate polemic of todays’ truthful journalism or analysis. So there’s always been a problem with Chomsky, despite his near-legendary status. He brings such rigour and academic weight to his political work, minds his facts and legalises his arguments so precisely, he’s always been a tough read for the smaller-brained likes of me. One is drawn in by the horrific truths exposed, yet exhausted by the complexity of prose, let alone the intricate care taken to justify every point.
So a cheery populist like Michael Moore, God bless him, shifts vastly more non fiction than anyone since the team behind The Bible, while Chomsky is relegated to the political history corner of your university library.
Which brings me to 'Hegemony Or Survival', a dispiriting, involving and above all immediate masterpiece of angry fact presentation. The most readable, angrifying Chomsky I’ve approached, this time it wasn’t a case of struggling though to a bitter end but instead the book finished on a downer before I was ready and I’d become completely immersed. Excellent, brutal writing but don’t go looking for a revolution blueprint here.
In closing thoughts, Chomsky leads no cheers for a homegrown underground. His fighters are the drastic activists and mass-murder survivors in East Timor, or the decimated families of Basra, not a bunch of affluent neo-Liberals boycotting Starbucks for a week. And ultimately, he presents no solution inclusive of humans at all. It is a demoralising way to close but unfortunately there is no realistic way of finishing a truthful book like this with optimism.
6Toby Jarvis's Score