Sunday, December 7, 2008
Happy Birthday, Noam
Today is an important date in history to remember. Firstly, it was a year ago that this site began in earnest with the completion of the now or soon-to-be famous "The Simpsons still got it, dammit!" missive. As life altering as that was for many, perhaps a greater event occurred 79 years prior, the birth of Avram Noam Chomsky.
It was sometime around my late-ish highschool years that I first introduced myself to Noam (probably around the time I realized the Taylor series was not going to be my path to personal fulfillment). The rumblings of certain "adolescent" "thoughts" and "feelings" had been percolating within me for some time (I was like a coffee-maker brewing disorganized discontent), perhaps best encapsulated by the broad sentiment that "there is something seriously wrong with what I am perceiving," - and I don't mean I was worried about the functioning of my senses - but no one previously and no one since has so effectively formulated a coherent explanation as to what was happening out there and why, complete with a whole slew of information that was at the same time both liberating and incredibly depressing. Having personally previously looked to the enlightenment thinkers ("Hang on, Voltaire," though Rousseau was my boy) and later the tenets of non-national socialism ("Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov!"), Chomsky was the bridge between the freedom and liberty of the former and the equality and justice of the latter. More than dropping off answers at your feet and being on his way, Chomsky's greatest gift to me, to us, has been asking the right questions and having the courage and integrity and ability to meet them head-on, dead-on.
I can say without the slightest hint of hyperbole or melodrama that Chomsky has been the single most influential figure in my life (sorry, family). He often says, rightly so, that change and progress come not as gifts from above, from one person, but rather from the struggles of many below. Perhaps not quite from above, I am nevertheless forever indebted, along with many others, for the clarity and hope his tireless work has provided. Here's hoping you live another 80 years, and that the world will be a freer and fairer place when you pass.
I'd like to link to one of Chomsky's most recent writings, on the Election, Economy, War, and Peace. There's way too much good stuff in here to excerpt, so I hope some of you will take the time to read it. For those of you that have perhaps scanned some of his writings that I have linked on this site and are skeptical of his truthfulness or wonder if he manipulates any of his facts or data, crack open any of his books and be prepared to be cited or footnoted into oblivion. The below is Barry Pateman, my former mentor at the Emma Goldman Papers Archive and also a very influential figure in my life, interviewing Chomsky about Anarchism and the history of Anarchism. Just part 1 of 5, they're all worth a listen.