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Venezuela and the Half-Truths of Noam Chomsky

As a young socialist, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism by Noam Chomsky and his late collaborator Edward S. Herman helped to convert me to the worldview of the anti-Imperialist Left. I remained a member of this political tendency, for whom Chomsky has become an unrivaled intellectual hero, for most of my adult life. That is, until I was confronted by the gap between its doctrines and an unfolding reality I really knew something about.

I continue to respect some of Chomsky’s writing on topics such as the devastation of East Timor by Indonesia. But the more one knows about a subject, the more apparent the selectivity of Chomsky’s analysis becomes. When Chomsky argued that the 9/11 atrocities were morally equivalent to President Clinton’s rocket strike on the Al Shifa medicine factory in Sudan (and that “we” should therefore hesitate before judging “them”), his erstwhile admirer Christopher Hitchens observed that, “Noam Chomsky does not rise much above the level of half-truth.” This, Hitchens went on to complain, had “lately become his hallmarks.”

In retrospect, a writer as intelligent as Hitchens might have noticed this habit earlier. In Chomsky’s writing on Cambodia (which Hitchens defended), the Balkans, and various other conflicts, complexity was reliably collapsed into a simplistic indictment of the West in general, and America in particular (irrespective of the sitting president’s political affiliation). Simplicity can be seductive, especially when it encourages moral outrage, and it wasn’t until I saw Chomsky’s half-truths deployed in defense of the Bolivarian regime that I began to question Chomsky’s honesty and interest in objectivity.

Today, Chomsky heads a list of radical academics calling themselves the Committee to Save Venezuela who signed and circulated an open letter in January “opposing the US-backed coup attempt” there. “The United States government,” the letter sternly begins, “must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government.” On March 2, 2019, Chomsky appeared on KFPK Los Angeles’s Ralph Nader Radio Hour. After 45 minutes of congenial  chat about the malevolence of America, Israel, and powerful corporations, Nader turned to the topic of Venezuela.

Nader’s critical introduction to the subject begins at 46:34, and it’s worth hearing because it provides some contrast to Chomsky’s defense of the Bolivarian regime. Nader acknowledges the Trump administration’s regime change agenda and the inglorious history of America’s involvement in Latin America during the Cold War. However, he goes on to observe that “the cronyism, the corruption, the colossal mismanagement of Chavez and Maduro have been so deep that you can’t simply write it off as a consequence of foreign intervention.” Nader then reads a leftwing critic’s lengthy indictment of the regime’s mismanagement, including “[a] ten[fold increase in] the murder rate, total stagnation, abrupt decline in hospital infrastructure, before and especially during [the period] 2000 to the present.” This corruption and incompetence has left the country at the mercy of what the critic called the “neoliberal elite,” “foreign oil, mining, and timber companies,” and “IMF-style austerity measures that will seem like a picnic next to Maduro’s madness.”

Invited by Nader to respond, Chomsky begins by stating, “Well, you know, it would take a good bit of time to go through it sentence-by-sentence and take it apart, but there is a few comments we can begin with.” For the next six minutes or so, he helpfully recapitulates a number of half-truths used by anti-Imperialists to defend the Bolivarian regime.

Chomsky begins promisingly by conceding that “there were many problems during the Chávez years.” But he reminds his listeners that during those same years “poverty was very sharply reduced and educational opportunities were very greatly expanded.” This is one of the most common manoeuvers adopted by pro-Chavistas when challenged about the regime’s dismal record of governance: I call this rhetorical move an appeal to The Golden Moment As The Eternal Now. Sure, during the first years of the decade-long oil boom, poverty was reduced and educational opportunities expanded. When billions of dollars flood an economy, there is always a “trickle-down effect” as all boats rise on even the reddest of tides. But a moment is not a permanent reality, and the aftermath of Venzuela’s Golden Moment is comparable to the miserable hangover that follows an excessive party. A responsible intellectual might wonder at the wisdom of that party, not insist that it is emblematic of the whole Chavista project.

“There are regular polls being taken…by the Latinobarometro” Chomsky continues, carefully employing the present tense before taking us back over a decade. “Take a look at their polls during the Chávez years—Venezuela ranked right at the top along with Uruguay in popular support for its democracy and popular support for the government.” This, we learn, was because “in election after election and referendum after referendum” the Carter Center certified that “the Venezuelan elections were among the most free in the world.” There are three problems with this happy picture.

The first problem is that, again, the past is being paraded to avoid discussion of the present. Yes, during the oil boom a majority unsurprisingly supported Chávez. As Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold have pointed out, petrostates like Venezuela operate under an “ax and relax” approach to governance. During oil booms, governments spend lavishly on their constituencies and gain immense popularity. But when the bust arrives, the “ax” falls. The Latinobarometro studies to which Chomsky refers were conducted in 2007 at the height of the commodities boom. But the ax has now fallen and he is silent about Latinobarometro’s more recent findings. Their 2018 report showed 12 percent of Venezuelans expressing satisfaction with what remains of their democracy.

Secondly, “free” elections are not the same as “free and fair” elections. It is true that voting in Venezuela is not mandatory. But the regime controls 98 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange (the oil money) which they can spend on their electoral campaigns while the opposition is denied television ads, cadenas (obligatory broadcasts), posters, radio time, not to mention state printing presses, trucks to ferry around campaign workers, and the workers themselves who are pressured to work for the official party. What meaning does “free” have under such unfair conditions? In 2008, Hugo Chávez declared “I am the Law…I am the State.” During the presidential elections of May 2018, Maduro barred the most powerful opposition parties from participating and permitted only one man to run against him.

Finally, even free and fair elections are no guarantor of democracy without resilient and independent institutions. “It doesn’t matter who votes,” Stalin is said to have remarked. “What matters is who counts the votes.” Does it not concern Chomsky that Chávez set about destroying the institutions of liberal democracy the day he entered office (see Alan Brewer-Carias’s extensive work on the subject)? That the Carter Center certified the elections means that they monitored the votes, not the institutions. And institutions like the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the judiciary have been under tight Chavista control, from the country’s Golden Moment until today.

At last Chomsky gets around to specifying some of the mistakes made by Chávez, including what he calls a “failure to change the colonial economy.” Chomsky is here referring to Venezuela’s reliance on a single product—oil—at the expense of all other sectors of the economy. Governments like that of Norway, however, also enjoy great oil wealth, but have found ways to manage their resource boons and use them to their advantage. The economy of the petrostate has been a problem for Venezuela’s leaders from Juan Vicente Gómez onwards, and no one has been more inept at managing it than Chávez. Lest we are tempted to hold Chávez responsible, however, Chomsky adds that, “The US has been running Venezuela’s [economy] for a century. Since they kicked out the British under Woodrow Wilson, when oil was discovered….”

Chomsky’s arguments always take this turn sooner or later. In his world, the triumphs of his favored nations are invariably described as the result of their own noble efforts, while their catastrophes are the responsibilities of powerful and unjust forces over which they have no control. So Venezuelans are reduced to marionettes in the hands of a ruthless US imperialist elite. Luz Varela, a professor of History at the University of the Andes in Mérida, calls this argument a “simplism.” In an as-yet unpublished paper entitled “On How the Crisis in Venezuela hasn’t been Orchestrated by the Right nor by the ‘Empire’ and other Simplisms,” Varela points out that there has been “commercial reciprocity” between Venezuela and the United States since the 1940s, during which the “United States has paid Venezuela for its oil through exploitation royalties and high taxes or it has bought that oil at market prices. This relationship, in turn, made Venezuela a rich country; so rich that it attracted a large number of European and Latin American immigrants from WWII to the 1980s…”

She goes on to say that while oil extraction went on through foreign companies, “never, in the twentieth century, were either the wells or the oil reserves owned by the ‘empire.’” The capitalists had to “raise up the industry through concessions granted by the [Venezuelan] State that allowed them to explore, extract, produce and commercialize the oil.” By the 1940s, the royalties and taxes made this a 50/50 venture, with the “foreign companies putting up the capital, assuming the risks, paying the workers, paying for infrastructure, reinvesting and paying very high taxes, and still, they made great profits.” All of this made “Saudita Venezuela” in the 1970s the envy of the rest of Latin America, with living standards at the time on a par with Canada and Southern Europe.

Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? And hardly the “US running Venezuela.” Chomsky’s version of history overlooks the Revolution of 1958 and 40 years of very independent government, often far to the left of US tastes. Even so, US military forces never invaded or engaged in the kind intervention seen in other parts of Latin America during the Cold War. The threat to Venezuelan sovereignty, interestingly enough, came instead from the Left—the Cuban invasion at Machurucuto began a years-long Castro-backed guerrilla war against Venezuelan democracy. According to the former guerrilla commander and founder of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) of Venezuela, Hector Pérez Marcano, it was instigated by Castro in an attempt to gain access to Venezuelan oil.

If Chomsky knows anything of this history, he certainly isn’t in a hurry to say so. Things like “subimperialisms” only risk complicating an otherwise straightforward worldview. The US, he says instead, has long been “dominating [Venezuela] with lots of hideous atrocities…” which he doesn’t have time to go into. Although Chomsky concludes this digression by reaffirming his criticism of Chávez for failing to diversify the economy, his language and the time he allots in his answer to his indictment of US malfeasance, leave the uninformed listener in now doubt about where moral responsibility deserves to be concentrated.

Chomsky is also correct to criticize Chávez for failing to put money aside during the oil boom. But then he makes the amazing claim that Chávez “left the capitalist class untouched [and] allowed them to enrich themselves throughout this whole period…” In fact, Chávez spent his time in power expropriating a productive capitalist class and turning that capital over to an emerging non-productive and parasitic class known as the Boligarchy which now runs the country. Chávez expropriated everything from ranches to entire industries, and everything he expropriated turned to dust. Try to find a bag of concrete in Venezuela today, or aluminum, industrial coke, steel, and even milk or corn. These are all things Venezuela produced in abundance before Chávez’s revolution and even exported. Now they are either no longer available or available only as imports. The state oil company PDVSA, once a world-class company, is collapsing so quickly due to a lack of investment and maintenance that it can no longer refine gas.

In May 2013, Maduro charged that Polar Industries, the largest of the remaining capitalist businesses that hadn’t yet been expropriated, wasn’t producing, but was “hoarding” and “speculating” on commodities, particularly the flour for arepas, the national bread of Venezuela. Polar’s exasperated president Lorenzo Mendoza responded by providing the paperwork at a national press conference to demonstrate that Polar was producing at 100 percent capacity. The reason for the shortage of flour, he explained, was that Polar represented only 48 percent of the flour mills; the remaining 52 percent were state-owned, and they were producing nothing. “I’d ask President Maduro when he’s going to inspect them since we’ve been inspected 1,500 times. I want to know how many inspections the state-owned mills have undergone.”

“After [Chávez’s] death,” Chomsky continues, “a couple of years after, the oil prices declined and … the government had to go to the international credit markets.” Okay, but Chávez began his reckless borrowing spree seven years earlier and debt peaked when oil prices were still at historic highs. Over the course of his rule—which ended when oil prices were still over $100/barrel—government debt doubled, and oil production rapidly declined due to lack of reinvestment, and because Chávez had fired all the competent oil workers just at the moment oil prices were preparing to skyrocket. And why is Chomsky only interested in the international lending agencies? While the bonds issued by those agencies represent some $60 billion in loans, the BBC puts the figure of what Venezuela owes China and Russia at $140 billion. But it’s really anyone’s guess since the government hasn’t released any economic data since 2015.

Chomsky goes on to criticise US sanctions (“harsh, brutal, devastating”), but he doesn’t mention that it was the sectors of the Venezuelan opposition, alarmed that Maduro was dragging the country deeper into debt with no oversight from the National Assembly, who urged the Obama administration to end further renegotiations of the debt. Nor does he explain that they were forced to do this because Maduro had every act of the opposition-dominated National Assembly (elected in December 2015 with a two-thirds majority in elections with the historically high voter turnout of 75 percent) nullified by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. Like the international boycott of Apartheid South Africa called for by the ANC, these sanctions have had a negative impact on the country, but it is absurd to suggest, as Chomsky does, that they have “turned a crisis into a humanitarian catastrophe.”

What brought about the humanitarian catastrophe was the looting of over US $475 billion from the national treasury during Chávez’s 14 year rule. That represented nine years’ worth of food imports that might have fed the country. No doubt this is only a fraction of the total money squandered in programs that led to no long-term development, incompetence, waste, patronage to clients, bribes, missions that led to no clear ends, all of which has gone on in an environment of total impunity. Chomsky is probably right that the new sanctions under Trump will make life considerably harder for ordinary Venezuelans, but he is certainly wrong to describe them as “an effort to starve the population into submission.” Some 80-90 percent of Venezuelans want to be rid of Maduro and understand that the sanctions are a clumsy ham-handed Trumpian attempt to achieve that end.

As he winds down, Chomsky finally turns his attention to Maduro, calling his policies repressive and “awful” but, hey, what can be expected of Venezuelans, when they are subjected to “constant subversion” and criticism in the West’s media? “Has anyone,” he wants to know, “ever withdrawn their praise for the military coup?” In 2002, the Venezuelan opposition tried to overthrow Chávez, and briefly succeeded. From that event, Chomsky spins an entire history “of subversion, sabotage, internal problems, and errors…” And now, Chomsky laments, “the international media speak only for the opposition.” Perhaps that’s because the Maduro government has shut down opposition newspapers in the country, attacked and censored online publications, and imprisoned critical journalists on trumped-up charges.

The aim of the Imperialist plot, Chomsky concludes, is “the return of Venezuela to the kind of circumstances you see in some of the other US-run countries of the region. If you want to look at atrocities, crimes and so on, simply look at the countries where the US has maintained control. The Central American countries.” It’s true that Honduras isn’t doing well, but other US-friendly states like Chile, Colombia, Peru, Panama are seeing living standards rising consistently—thanks perhaps as much to their being clients of the US as to their not having been run by the Chavistas under the tutelage of the Cubans for 20 years. Venezuelans might say, “We should be so lucky.”

And, with that, Noam Chomsky’s six minutes of disinformation come to an end. Nader thanks his guest and describes him as “a voice of towering intellect and reason and factual rendition which is rare today in public discourse.” This opinion is alarmingly widespread. As far back as 1979, the New York Times was describing Chomsky as “arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” That line reliably appears in Chomsky’s numerous flattering profiles (usually in publications he ceaselessly disparages), but it is seldom noted that the writer went on to add that “he is also a disturbingly divided intellectual” and “often maddeningly simple-minded.” Marxist William Robinson’s essay attacking Western apologists for Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega could well have been written about Chomsky: “In accord with the infantile manichean view of a significant portion of the US Left, the world is black and white and there are good guys and bad guys. This is a template into which everything must by political dogma fit.”

Richard Hofstadter warned us about people like Noam Chomsky in his great book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. “If there is anything more dangerous,” he wrote, “to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess of commitment to some special and constricting idea.” Noam Chomsky has committed himself to the special and constricting idea that liberal democracies are simply scam fronts for capitalist cabals who manipulate an unconscious public as they fill their pockets with cash. And on this basis, he has spent his career attacking the crimes and incompetence of the US, and excusing the same in its enemies. This is, needless to say, a childishly reductionistic view, unable to accommodate the complexities of national and geopolitical realities. It also leaves those who adopt it incapable of understanding the meaning of the disaster unfolding today in Venezuela, upon which Chomsky and his followers gaze with only a hint of comprehension.

 

Clifton Ross writes occasionally for Caracas Chronicles, sporadically blogs at his website, www.cliftonross.com and sometimes even tweets @Clifross

209 Comments

  1. Irrational Actor says

    Thank you for this, it needed to be told. Chomsky gets away with far too much misinformation because of his reputation.

    I have been increasingly suspicious of his motives and reasoning since the email debacle with Sam Harris. That seemed to be a fairly bad faith affair from Chomsky.

    • Rami says

      Wow a Sam Harris fan you must be so smart for your age.

      • Defenstrator says

        Insults instead of reasoned argument? I would say I was shocked, but lies do not become me. If you feel that the essay is unjust make your case and provide your evidence.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Expertise in linguistics apparently has little to do with rectitude.

    • Amin says

      @ Irrational Actor

      Eh? Email debacle? Harris was a complete prick. Compare how he approached Charles Murray Vs Chomsky. He was after blood [not debate] and Chomsky was a little bit smart and didn’t give in.

      • Lennart says

        Dude, chill. We all know Harris is an insanely arrogant child, no need to rub it in.
        Btw, this article was hilariously bad and it’s honestly giving me mad Junior high vobes, like most of Quillette’s stuff.

        • Wife of Sinbad says

          It sounds like you’re an ideal candidate for the propaganda of Chomsky and his comrades.

        • Wife of Sinbad says

          Chomsky was the subject of a vicious assault from Hitchens in “Hitch 22” and I must say I agreed with every word of it.

          • Irrational Actor says

            Wife, Hitch 22 was a great book! I think Hitchens would have been very effective at countering some of the crazy anti-western sentiment that Chomsky and his followers promote. It’s such a shame he’s gone. He really was one of a kind.

    • Jayden Lewis. says

      What reputation? Maybe you should get out of your bubble because where I am from he is just a weak minded leftist hack.

  2. Dustin says

    You simply choose biased numbers and sources to suit your argument in this quaint, shallow and misleading analysis.

    If you’ve read Chomsky you know his analysis in any one of his 150+ books is thorough and well cited. A nobody writer calling Chomsky’s views childish. Ridiculous.

    • ga gamba says

      You simply choose biased numbers and sources to suit your argument in this quaint, shallow and misleading analysis.

      Substantiate, please.

      • Jay Salhi says

        You are wasting your time. The Cult of Noam worships the Dear Leader. The title of the article will draw the trolls. Fortunately, they are fewer in number these days.

    • Anonymous says

      Chomsky supported the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia even after news of the genocide had already made it to the West.

      • billy says

        I don’t think he supported it. I think he explained the reasons for it coming into existence. From a small, unsupported band of Kemer Rouge, to people joining en masse after Kissengers sanctioned carpet bombing of Cambodia

      • That is a scurrilous thoroughly debunked slander. He did no such thing. He merely noted that the Khmer Rouge came to power only because the US bombed Cambodia into the stonage and utterly destroyed all govt institutions here creating a political vacuum the Khmer Rough then filled. And because he pointed out the hypocrisy of condemning the Cambodian genocide while enabling the East Timor genocide in Indonesia. You soulless slanderers never quit. STFU you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Douglas Levene says

          I don’t know anything about East Timor but I do not that what happened in Cambodia was not genocide, but just ordinary Communist terror taken to its logical end. The Khmer Rouge didn’t kill people for their religion, race or ethnicity. It killed them in the name of equality, to create a more perfectly equal society.

        • Jayden Lewis says

          Paul,

          Does he pay you to defend him?

          Or are you stupid enough to do it for free?

    • scribblerg says

      Care to actually refute the argument laid out in this essay? Not meta comments but Chomsky’s actual arguments on Venezuela? That would be an interesting interchange. The author has offered additional data points, an alternate analysis and counterfactuals – you so far have offered no substance besides he’s published 150 books.

      Let’s see if you can actually argue and think critically in a serious way, I’m game if you are.

      I’ll even offer this ‘olive branch’ as a signal of my good will in this conversation. I think that Chomsky’s arrival on the scene of our political dialog in the ’60s was quite interesting. He had a debate with Bill Buckley Jr. on Firing Line – it’s on Youtube, I won’t link it as links get you in comment mod here and they don’t mod the comments frequently enough. I thought he wiped the floor with Bill Buckley in that debate. I think where Chomsky began to go awry was with Cambodia and forward (which is quite a lot) but in fact, his initial critique of our policy in Vietnam was quite good. If only he’d stopped there. But even then, he utterly failed to grasp the reality of the “Cold War” and the determination of the Soviets to word domination. Much as the “Panda Huggers” refuse to see China’s aggressive and naked sprint towards world hegemony today.

      I await a cogent argument rebutting this author’s analysis of what Chomsky misses on Argentina.

    • Hammurabi says

      I second that this is a childish and petulant analysis. While I disagree with Chomsky on many things, on the whole I appreciate most of the things he reports. As a Latin American I can assure you that the news is not controlled by political power. In Venezuela in particular, the news has been stridently anti-Chavista for some time. The government has ONE government controlled channel and it is basically like watching old public access TV.

      Socialism is terrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But to ignore the LONG and established tradition of US meddling in the affiars of other countires pathetically ignorant at best, but more likely, it is deliberately disingenuous. There is NO justification under international law to cripple Venezuela with sanctions. This is a deliberate attempt to force regime change. And it is not the first, or last time, that the US has engaged in this type of coercion.

      Corruption in the Chavez/Maduro regime has been preponderant, and also, completely commonplace. There is nothing new about that. It is like every regime that preceeded in this regard. Even so, that does not give the US the right to intervene in the affairs of those countries.

      The claim that 80-90% of Venezuelans want Maduro out is also patently false. How then did he win what was by all accounts, and your acknowledgement, a free election? Since you care so deeply about Democracy… enlighten us? How many elections has Guaido won?

      The US is an empire like all those that came before it. To be honest, on the whole it is probably more benevolent than those that came before, the British Empire for instance. But it is still an empire. Like all empires, it does some nasty things.

      Some few intellectuals, like Chomsky, have the decency to feel bad about it. While others it seems are willing to engage in a pathetic display of affectation in order to conjure up some reason as to why when the US destroys a country… it is somehow done with the best of intentions and for their own good.

      Socialism is destructive enough on its own. It doesn’t need your help.

      I find it utterly pathetic that in todays day and age our options for intellectual analysis are between right-wing ideologues who actually believe that America is on a mission from God and left-wing nutcases who can’t even differentiate between a male and a female.

      I for one would be happy to lock you all up in a room together and let you fight it out for all eternity, or at least until the battlefields are cleansed by nuclear fire.

      Until then… you can suck momma’s dick.

      And take this pathetic excuse for an article and shove it right up your ass.

      • X. Citoyen says

        @Hummarabi,

        I agree that intervention in Venezuela is a bad idea, but for different reasons. It’s manifestly obvious that you’re incapable of self-government, so there’s nothing to fix by changing the regime. You said yourself, corruption on this scale is commonplace. People will throw out this buffoon, and then happily vote for another equally ridiculous buffoon promising everyone everything.

        I’m not an American, but I do know this. If you want America out of your business, stop electing saber-rattling buffoons that destabilize yours and neighbouring countries. We’ve even elected the occasional minor buffoon here in the Great White North, and they haven’t invaded us in over a century.

        • Tim Diner says

          “If you want America out of your business, stop electing saber-rattling buffoons that destabilize yours and neighbouring countries.”

          I honestly couldn’t write a more ironic and tragic line, it is extraordinary. This is true comedy.

          If I can suggest some light reading, the book Killing Hope might help you escape from the Upside Down. Good luck, from one Canadian to another.

      • Gringo says

        As a Latin American I can assure you that the news is not controlled by political power. In Venezuela in particular, the news has been stridently anti-Chavista for some time.
        Like RCTV? Please tell us ho opposition RCTV operates freely . 🙂

        Consider the newspaper El Universal, which was sold in July 2014 to a mysterious set of owners..Committee to Protect Journalists: Venezuela’s El Universal criticized for being tamed by mystery new owners.

        But since the sale of El Universal to a mysterious business group, most of the newspaper’s critical news columnists have been jettisoned. EUTV, El Universal’s fledgling Web-based TV station that provided independent reporting, has been shut down. Several journalists, including three of the paper’s eight economics reporters, have resigned after complaining about censorship by their editors. On September 17, Rayma Suprani, El Universal’s award-winning cartoonist, says she was fired for a drawing criticizing the way the government handled several public health crises.

        “There is now a list of untouchable issues,” a veteran El Universal reporter, who asked to remain anonymous, told CPJ. “The paper has become really boring.”
        The newspaper has not responded to a CPJ request for comment about the resignations and firings.
        The front page, in particular, has become a megaphone for the government.

        Who purchased El Universal? Epalistisa, a Spanish private equity firm, whose principals are unknown.Some suspected Diosdado Cabello.

        Juan Francisco Alonso, El Universal’s representative to Venezuela’s journalists union, said he believes the new owners have close ties to Diosdado Cabello, who ….is often described as Venezuela’s second most powerful government official after Maduro. Alonso told CPJ that reporters have been repeatedly warned off by their editors from writing anything controversial about Cabello.

        Just for starters.

      • Gringo says

        . How then did he (Maduro) win what was by all accounts, and your acknowledgement, a free election?

        This is what Mr. Ross wrote about the May 2018 Presidential election.

        During the presidential elections of May 2018, Maduro barred the most powerful opposition parties from participating and permitted only one man to run against him.

        That was NOT a free election. Moreover, you misrepresented what Mr. Ross wrote about the election, because in no way did Mr. Ross write that was a free or fair election. Maduro won the election because he rigged it- not letting his major opponent[s]-such as Leopoldo Lopez or Henrique Capriles- run.

        The opposition won two thirds of the seats (112 of 168) in the December 2015 legislative elections.Ross wrote:

        Maduro had every act of the opposition-dominated National Assembly (elected in December 2015 with a two-thirds majority in elections with the historically high voter turnout of 75 percent) nullified by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice.

        In 2016, after the successful legislative elections, the opposition collected petition signatures for a Recall Referendum on Maduro. The Chavista-written Constitution allows the President to be deposed by a Recall Referendum.The opposition collected more than enough valid signatures in sufficient time. The Electoral council used whatever pretext it could use to invalidate signatures,delay things, and prevent a Recall Referendum from actually occurring. If Maduro was so certain he would have won a Recall Referendum, why didn’t he allow it to occur?

        Adv. Google Search @ Caracas Chronicles: 2016 “recall referendum:

        There was the July 30,2017 National Constituent Assembly “election,” intended to write a new Constitution- though Chavistas wrote the current one- and bypass the National Assembly. Recall that Smartmatic, the company that supplied Venezuela’s hardware and software, stated there were at least a million fraudulent votes in that “election.”

        Only a Chavista, a PSF,or a liar would consider that a history of free, fair elections.

        • Hammurabi says

          I will cede all the points save one.

          The principle of non-intervention should be paramount.

          No country has the right to unilaterally intervene in another country’s affairs just because they don’t like its government. If China pointed out that dead people vote in Florida so it’s ok to depose the US governemnt… would you support that?

          I maintain that the best cure for socialism is socialism itself. I would love to see this ideology dissappear from Latin America’s consciousness. And the world for that matter.

          But that will never happen so long as it is seen as a way to oppose the USA. Every time these freakshow leaders like Maduro arise, who absolutely ravage their country, there is a host of academics (in Latin America) who claim that “It would have worked had the US not made it fail.”

          I am so tired of hearing that crap.

          But the fact is Latin America will never be able to get its act together so long as the US keeps messing with it.

          Y no soy Venezolano. Soy Mexicano… donde estamos casi igual de jodidos…

          Pero pinches gringos ya dejen de chingar…

          • Gringo says

            Hammurabi

            I will cede all the points save one. The principle of non-intervention should be paramount.

            Two points.
            1) If your principle of non-intervention is so important, why do you consider it necessary to lie for it? Your claim about free elections and robust oppo press were obvious lies to anyone who has followed Venezuela for an appreciable amount of time.

            2) Why do you say nothing about the interference of Cuba in Venezuela? There are an estimated 15,000 Cuban intelligence agents or military personnel in Venezuela.

            But the fact is Latin America will never be able to get its act together so long as the US keeps messing with it.

            As long as the US has an open door for Mexicans fleeing their homeland’s dysfunctional economy, the Mexican government will not bother to make reforms that would improve the economic possibilities for all Mexicans- not just for Carlos Slim or the government/mafia complex.

            Pero pinches gringos ya dejen de chingar…

            Andate, pues.¿Me entendés, pana?

            I am skeptical about the efficacy of US intervention. The US will be damned if it does, damned it it doesn’t. However, I despise those who lie about Venezuela- which indicates to me that they are merely using Venezuela to make a point. Those who lie about Venezuela don’t really give a damn about the country.

          • Hammurabi says

            A ver mi amiguito Gringo…. ya que estas muy ofendido…

            Comenzando primero que estoy molesto que tengo que escribir todo con teclado gringo…

            Pero dime tu, en que parte del mundo hay elecciones 100% justas? Sin intervenciones? Sin bronca alguna? No las hay.

            El punto es… que les importa?

            Ahora, hablando del Socialismo de Venezuela… hasta un punto… se lo merezen. Fue tu pais cual se presto a esa mierda. La derecha de tu pais la cago horrible. De las misma forma en cual la izquierda ahora la esta cagando.

            A lo que yo voy es que estos problemas… o se arreglan por dentro… o no se arreglan nunca.

            Me entiendes?

            Te puedo decir que lo mismo pasa en Mexico. No cabe duda que estamos pero bien, bien jodidos. Pero es nuestro pedo.

            Uno no invita al vecino que venga a explicarle a tu esposa porque esta mal. O que le pegue pa que se calle.

            Entonces si quieres hablar de las sospechas… yo tambien puedo decir que estoy bastante sospechoso de esa gente quien dice que ama tanto a su patria cuando estan perfectamente dispuestos a invitar una intervencion de un pais ajeno.

            No es decir que no entiendo porque lo hacen… pero aun no lo perdono.

            Quizas soy demasiado nacionalista…

            Me explico?

        • AesopFan says

          Gringo – Thanks for producing the information I suspected was available but didn’t know where to find.

      • Hi,

        The constituent assembly Maudro establish was estabilshed illegally, and the elections last year were also illegal given that they were carried out many months earlier than planned. The opposition did not participate in the 2018 elections because of this. Because the constituent assembly was no carried out lawfully (no cencus was carried prior), it has no legitimate power to decide policy. Because the elections last year were illegal and fraudulent, Maduro has no mandate and is not technically the president. Because there was no president with a democratic mandate, Guaido, the president of the national assembly, automatically becomes interim president.

        These are the internal truths to venezuela, regardless of whether you suscribe to an imperialist narrative or not

      • Mec B says

        So in a nut shell, they should build a wall to stop letting in the Americans, Chinese, Russians and who ever you deem to be against them. That way they’ll never have anyone tell them how to run their country.
        And to keep yourself rich all those countries will take your precious oil at the price YOU want without any interference.
        It reminds me as a kid, having a temper-tantrum, locking myself in my room but demanding free food from downstairs.

      • Grant says

        @hammarabi
        Well that took a turn. Venezuela’s woes are not due to US economic sanction, which will only recently take effect. Their socialist policies of nationalization killed their their economy, pure and simple. Oil extraction and production is a highly complex industry and Chavez handed it over to unskilled people. So they ran it, and many other businesses into the ground. They borrowed money and didn’t pay it back so people stopped lending them money. They trashed their currency so that no one wants it in exchange for goods.
        Why are US companies making money with oil at half the price but Venezuela cannot?
        Well now the Russians or the Chinese wi help fill the knowledge gap.

      • The US, as an empire more benevolent that the british one…? You must be joking! Both have reeked havock, since time immemorial. Ask the Irakis, the Vietnamese, the Indians, the Chileans, and many more. And not to forget the Palestinians… All empires will go to no ends to maintain their stronghold on their subjects. The rest is litterature…! Oh and, your two last sentences seem to show that you’re evolution has stopped at the… anal stage!

    • Gringo says

      If you’ve read Chomsky you know his analysis in any one of his 150+ books is thorough and well cited. A nobody writer calling Chomsky’s views childish. Ridiculous.

      I read Chomsky’s Year 501: The Conquest Continues, which is about Latin America. I found him rather selective in his use of facts. Consider what he wrote about health care under the Pinochet regime.

      Per capita health care was more than halved from 1973 to 1985, setting off explosive growth in poverty-related diseases such as typhoid and viral hepatitis.

      From Typhoid Fever in Chile 1969–2012: Analysis of an Epidemic and Its Control we learn that there was a typhoid epidemic in Chile from 1975-83.

      However, overall the Pinochet regime was rather successful in improving health care in Chile. From 1973 to 1989, Chile’s Infant Mortality rate fell from 63.2 to 17.2 deaths per 1,000 births. From 1973 to 1989 Chile’s Infant Mortality rate went from 8th to 3rd in Latin America. Similarly Chile’s Life Expectancy went from 64.3 years in 1973 to 73.3 years in 1989- from 8th to third in Latin America. Which leads to the conclusion that the Pinochet regime was fairly successful in improving health care in Chile, contrary to what Chomsky told us.

      But Chomsky mentions none of that. Which leads me to conclude he is a bit of a propagandist.

      Life expectancy at birth, total (years)
      Mortality rate, infant (per 1,000 live births)

      https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN

      • E. Olson says

        Chomsky doesn’t like small government dictators who deregulate, privatize industry and social security, and then peacefully give up power and allows free elections. He prefers his dictators follow Marx not Friedman, so of course he isn’t going to honestly report on Pinochet.

    • northernobserver says

      Your emperor has no clothes. Chomsky’s entire construction of Human Nature is based on false premises, particularly the demonization of power and the sanctification of powerlessness; he doesn’t recognize the universality of good and evil in all humans and thus constantly misrepresents reality into “good people” and “bad people”. It would be comedic if the consequences of this kind of group thinking weren’t so monstrous.

    • Jayden Lewis says

      Spoken like the good little slave on the democrat plantation you are. Your masters will give you extra scraps from their table for defending them.

    • MikeC says

      Read: I don’t like your facts, blah blah blah, ::argument from authority:: So there.

    • Alphonse Cetenz says

      Ad hominem is the way to go. Nice parry…

  3. E. Olson says

    Very good article. Chomsky is a two-bit hack and always has been, but since he is a man of the far Left his weak ideas and analysis get plenty of praise from the Leftists that dominate academia and the mainstream media. Like another glorified hack of the Left – Marx, Chomsky’s prescriptions and predictions are always wrong because he has no understanding of human nature or economics, and yet people with an irrational hatred of Capitalism and Democracy continue to listen and follow them. And like their fan clubs, Chomsky and Marx also have in common a nice comfortable life brought to them by the Capitalism they despise.

    Socialism promoters are like global warming activists, always wrong but never in doubt. And for all those who think I am too harsh in my assessment, why don’t we meet back here in 12 years and discuss whether the world has ended from global warming, or whether any Socialist country has broken the current Socialism streak of 100% failure.

    • Locketopus says

      Chomsky is a two-bit hack and always has been, but since he is a man of the far Left his weak ideas and analysis get plenty of praise from the Leftists that dominate academia and the mainstream media.

      He did some absolutely fundamental work in artificial linguistics — all modern computer languages are based on Chomsky’s work. With respect to natural languages, the situation is less clear-cut (for instance, I’ve never found his “poverty of the stimulus” notion convincing).

      That was 50-60 years ago, though. Since then he’s fallen down the rabbit hole of Marxist True Belief.

      A good comparison might be Isaac Newton, whose fundamental work in physics and mathematics is still used today (relativity and quantum mechanics apply in unusual situations, but for most everyday engineering Newton is still it), but who, after inventing calculus, classical mechanics, geometric optics, and a whole bunch of other Important Stuff, spent the remaining decades of his life on screwball alchemy and bizarre, fanatical religious quackery.

      Not that Chomsky is anywhere near as great as Newton, but the situations are strikingly similar.

      • E. Olson says

        Locketopus – fair enough and good analogy with Newton, although my beef with Chomsky and his followers is his political analysis. What you point out is a common danger for many “geniuses” who do something “big” early in their career and then start to believe they are geniuses in everything, and if their new areas are Leftist or PC they won’t get much pushback from the media or academia no matter how often they are wrong.

        • Amin says

          @ E. Olson

          ” and if their new areas are Leftist or PC they won’t get much pushback from the media or academia no matter how often they are wrong.”

          More twattery. You are plain ignorant and you have the nasty habit of making things up. Never mind his politics, even his major linguistic theories are heavily under criticism.

      • scribblerg says

        My understanding is that his entire theory has been debunked by contemporary linguistic thought – not a troll comment. This doesn’t make it not worthy as many ideas that are worthwhile intellectually are replaced eventually be better ideas, but am I wrong?

        • Amin says

          @ scribblerg

          “My understanding is that his entire theory has been debunked by contemporary linguistic thought”

          No, not quite so. However his theories are under heaavy criticism. But no one has yet found better explanations either. Findind the origin of the language instinct has proven to be surprisingly difficult. His theories are widely taught, but not as widely accepted by academics.

      • neoteny says

        all modern computer languages are based on Chomsky’s work

        From Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky#Early_career:_1955–66 ):

        His Beckman lectures were assembled and published as Language and Mind in 1968. In this period, military scientists were also interested in Chomsky’s linguistics. As former Air Force Colonel, Anthony Debons, said: “much of the research conducted at MIT by Chomsky and his colleagues [has] direct application to the efforts undertaken by military scientists to develop … languages for computer operations in military command and control systems.” Between 1963 and 1965, Chomsky was a consultant for a military-sponsored project “to establish natural language as an operational language for command and control.” One of Chomsky’s students who also worked on this project, Barbara Partee, says that this research was justified to the military on the basis that “in the event of a nuclear war, the generals would be underground with some computers trying to manage things, and that it would probably be easier to teach computers to understand English than to teach the generals to program.”

        These scientists eventually found Chomsky’s theories unworkable for their computer systems. Other subsequent difficulties with the theories led to various debates between Chomsky and his critics that came to be known as the “Linguistics Wars”, although they revolved largely around philosophical issues rather than linguistics proper.

    • Amin says

      @ E. Olson

      “Very good article. Chomsky is a two-bit hack and always has been”

      As “dirty” as ever. Why do you even bother? And someone has already posted a fair reply to you.

      Of course, as per, you there won’t be much of a response from you.

    • “whether any Socialist country has broken the current Socialism streak of 100% failure.”

      Bolivia, Sweden, Denmark

      • Locketopus says

        Bolivia, Sweden, Denmark

        All three of those countries have market economies.

        Do you not know what socialism means, or are you merely attempting to bullshit under the mistaken belief that we don’t?

      • Billy says

        Socialism for the rich seems to work very well in capitalist countries. In that situation it has 100% success rate. The rich get richer and the poor (who do the heavy lifting) get poorer.

      • Jayden Lewis says

        Sweden and Denmark have abandoned their weak socialism.

        But thank you for posting on a device that was not made by a socialist country.

  4. I don’t think it is fair to criticise political analysis as being simplistic. That is the point of any analysis, that it interprets a complex situation into something more comprehensible. What should be a criticism is that it is a poor simplification distorting and misleading rather than illuminating.

    The trap for any analysist however good their analysis is to interpret all new information in the light of the previous analysis and become locked into confirmation bias rather than taking each situation on its own merits.

    I don’t see any conflict between seeing past and current US policy in south america as immoral. damaging and counter productive and seeing the governments of Maduro and Chavez as corrupt, incompetent and immoral.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Yes, bad actions are not limited to capitalism-v-socialism or democracy-v-unelected rule. Any time power is strong, bad actors will exploit it.

  5. Rami says

    Another lefty snowflake taking shots at the master. These have such a short shelf life.

    • Jay Salhi says

      The master? Chomsky is a master apologist for left-wing, totalitarian, mass murder masquerading as a human rights advocate. But he does have loyal army of sycophants. I was once one of them.

      • Billy says

        The mass murderers is the capitalist West. You say you were once a follower of Chomsky. You obviously learned nothing. Try John Pilger, or even Gore Vidal.

    • Jeremy H says

      A “master” is someone who is needed when an individual lacks the capacity to do something for themself. You understand what you’re admitting about yourself by shamelessly using such a reverential term?

    • northernobserver says

      The Master … creepy much? I’ll give you this, The NomChom is a lot like Nosferatu.

  6. Karl says

    Isn’t amazing how these ardent admirers of socialist totalitarianisms always choose to live in liberal capitalist democracies?

    • David of Kirkland says

      And they could easily purchase land in places like Nebraska and live out their dreams of shared goodness, but they don’t do that either. You can be a communist in a free country, but you can’t be a capitalist in a centrally planned one.

      • ga gamba says

        Indeed.

        A while ago I was in a twitter convo with the Socialists of Canada. “Venezuela isn’t socialist. This is not a failure of socialism.” Standard stuff. I asked “Why don’t you go down there, show them their mistakes implementing socialism, and save the revolution? They’ve made a start. Further along than most.” Rejected out of hand.

        It comes down to they’re very skilled at quoting their books and are unwilling to actually make a go of it as a proof of concept. They’re motivated readers and communicators, and that’s about it. Talkers, not doers. All they really have is their certainty, which I suppose for some is persuasive.

        One excuse after another when asked about establishing a socialist community in Canada instead. They’d have to buy the land. They’d have to pay taxes. They’d have to use money. “But you’re doing all those things presently and accomplishing nothing.” They’re not baby steppers; change must be a convulsion and the perfect implementation happen near immediately and include everyone.

        They are even more dogmatic than many major religions, which in the course of history have adjusted themselves frequently to local thoughts and beliefs to entice conversions.

    • Locketopus says

      Also, it’s amazing how often these selfless heroes of the proletariat tend to (e.g.) own two luxury homes in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also, a yacht.

      But please do keep sending Noam your barista tips, kids. He’ll make better use of them than you will. He promises.

  7. Jay Salhi says

    “I continue to respect some of Chomsky’s writing on topics such as the devastation of East Timor by Indonesia.”

    Indonesia did indeed devastate East Timor but Chomsky’s interest in East Timor was disingenuous. Having white washed Khmer Rouge genocide and been the leader of a movement that delayed an international response (by changing the conversation from what to do about the Killing Fields to a debate about whether they actually existed), Chomsky was eager to change the subject. So Cambodia became the genocide everyone talked about while East Timor was the one everyone ignored.

    • scribblerg says

      And of course don’t mention it was radical Islamists doing the repressing in East Timor either…

  8. Nabarun Ghoshal says

    All said and done, what does USA has to do with Venezuela? Should Russia or China attack USA because it is misruled by a schizophrenic called Donald Trump?

    • ga gamba says

      Armchair psychoanalysis from an internet commentator is the most valid form of all psychoanalysis.

      What your treatment recommendation, Doctor?

      Should Russia or China attack USA because it is misruled by a schizophrenic called Donald Trump?

      They could, but it would pretty much ensure the destruction of all belligerents. Instead, what they could do is impose economic sanctions on the US. For example, forbid the export of their resources and manufactures to the US. For those that live and die by exports it’s counterproductive, especially when the target is one of the top destinations of your nation’s goods, but it’s an option on the table. Of course, the US could respond in kind.

      • Amin says

        @ ga gamba

        “Armchair psychoanalysis from an internet commentator is the most valid form of all psychoanalysis.”

        I say the same thing about your “economic analysis” purpotedly to solve all the world’s economic ills. Trump suppporters, eh? No one does apologia better these days.

        But his use of “schizophrenic ” to describe Trump is hardly all that wrong… armchair psychoanalyst or not.

        “For those that live and die by exports it’s counterproductive, especially when the target is one of the top destinations of your nation’s goods, but it’s an option on the table. Of course, the US could respond in kind.”

        It is not the old days dearie. Both need each other. And it is US who will suffer more. Else there is India, Korea, Brazil, Germany would fill its tech sector space fater than you can say boohoo. And China has impressive reach which US clearly no longer holds.

        • ga gamba says

          The difference, of course, is that genuine psychologists are prohibited by their code of ethics to make a diagnoses without actually meeting with the patient. No such restriction on economists.

          No, I don’t offer solutions to all the world’s ills. Some ills will always remain. I’m content with “better than” where people’s freedoms and opportunities are maximised as much as possible. In such a competitive system I recognise that some people will have setbacks and even failures whilst others thrive.

          Ah… no, export-orient economies depend of market access to consumers, preferably wealthy ones who live in a consumerist culture. The factories have scaled to that. Lose a major market and it’s massive layoffs if alternates can’t to found to absorb all that spare capacity. Such economies are designed to achieve rapid growth, but they are more vulnerable to external shocks than those economies that rely primarily on the domestic market as the engine of GDP growth. The old maxim “when the major market catches the flu, we catch pneumonia” applies to the export-oriented model. As the economy transitions to one driven by local consumption of goods and services it becomes less vulnerable. Some vulnerabilities may still exist when a country isn’t self sufficient in resources such as food, oil, etc. and even know-how.

          • Amin says

            @ ga gamba

            “The difference, of course, is that genuine psychologists”

            Notice the shift!? There is little to no truth in “psychoanalysis” and one can make almost anything up. ‘Tis what Freud actually did, made a lot from very little.

            “No such restriction on economists.”

            Why not? One would have thought after especially Marxism folk would be very cautious.

            “and it’s massive layoffs if alternates can’t to found to absorb all that spare capacity.”

            Sure. But China can absorb the shock better. Is closer to poverty. Hard and inhumane thing to say: but it can “afford” to shed half of its population and still survive as a major nation.

            “The old maxim “when the major market catches the flu, we catch pneumonia” applies to the export-oriented model.”

            That is for “tiny” countries like UK. China already has two ‘economic vassal states’ in Sri Lanka and Pakistan and is clearly in expansion – so its domestic consumer market will be on a sclae USA has even imagined. We are not talking about largely oil dependent Arab states. To underestimate China’s reach, potential reach, it diversity and dynamism is plain silly. Its consumer market is growing by the rate of knots.

            “when a country isn’t self sufficient in resources such as food, oil”

            …is hardly dependent on US for these.

          • ga gamba says

            No, it really has much less do with the size of the country and much more to do with its dependence on an external market. It’s even been said that when the US sneezes the EU catches a cold. The EU is larger in population and the GDP’s of both are roughly comparable, yet the EU is more reliant on exports to the US than the other way around. In 2018 the EU had a trade surplus of $170b, and much of this was in value-added goods and services. China’s trade surplus with the US is almost $420b, and a lot of this is in goods that can be produced elsewhere, though it would take time to increase capacity.

            I guess it’s great China has vassal states of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Would these offset the loss of the US market? Highly Doubtful. The US GDP per capital in PPP is about $60k. Pakistan is $5,400 and Sri Lanka is $13k. Though Pakistan is populous, its economic power is less than 1/10th America’s. Sri Lanka is far wealthier than Pakistan, but it’s population is about 1/10th the size. Alone or together, the ability to absorb that idle Chinese capacity (created when China launches a trade embargo on the US) isn’t there.

            It’s true that China’s domestic economy is growing, but 1/5th of GDP is still from exports – this is down from 36% a dozen years ago. And of course China’s domestic economy will be larger than the US – it has about 4 times more people. That it isn’t is an indictment of past poor decisions and performance by China’s leaders.

            I didn’t say China is reliant on the US for oil. The entirety of my last sentence was about a country. The less self sufficient it is, the more exposed it is to externalities. Shocks often don’t exist in isolation. So, for example, if there’s a disaster in a oil producing nation that reduces its output, and this reduction can’t be offset by other producers, this will cascade through the entire oil market and result in higher oil prices. Presently, only KSA has the capacity to immediately offset reductions because it has about 2 -3 million bbl per day spare capacity.

            Now, if we want to compare self sufficiency of both China and the US, since the fracking boom in the US it is largely self sufficient in all areas. The US produces more food than it needs, and its agricultural and manufacturing industries aren’t reliant on foreign oil. A country like Australia is also an excess producer, but it’s dependent on imported oil. If it were to suffer an oil shock, food production would decrease. Australia could afford to reduce production without affecting local consumption. Other countries aren’t as blessed. China is neither food nor energy self-sufficient. It’s estimated China will attain grain self sufficiency in 2035. However, will it attain this is anyone’s guess. S. Korea for years devoted much effort to attain food self sufficiency and is nowhere close it today. It’s only 24% sufficient in grain. Beef is less than 40%.

            The point of the above is to mention how and where countries have vulnerabilities. Where vulnerabilities exist adversaries may exploit to further exacerbate.

          • Amin says

            “No, it really has much less do with the size of the country”

            Of course it matters! A single consumer market of over 1 billion people in a single uniform state? Little wonder that the fastest growing and developing consumer market in the world is beginning to exert huge amount of influence. This is why China is more influential and of consequence than the far smaller but more industrialized and per capita more successful Finland.

            “It’s even been said that when the US sneezes the EU catches a cold.”

            Not really. Not if the EU like US and China were a single country. If EU had established as intended then it would hold a slight but important power over US. Brexit clearly favours US!

            “yet the EU is more reliant on exports to the US”

            Trade deficit. US has a growing trade deficit. This works both ways. If EU and say China ever colluded together in an anti-US cabal…

            “I guess it’s great China has vassal states of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Would these offset the loss of the US market? Highly Doubtful.”

            By themself these two puny states of course not. The point is that these two states would be heavily dependent on China and thus becoming proxy domestic consumer market which China heavily influences.

            “Pakistan is $5,400 and Sri Lanka is $13k. Though Pakistan is populous”

            Size of market – over 1 trillion compared to about 300 billion. You are looking at wrong numbers. Per capita matters less.

            “And of course China’s domestic economy will be larger than the US – it has about 4 times more people.”

            Ditto!

            “I didn’t say China is reliant on the US for oil.”

            Huh?

            “Now, if we want to compare self sufficiency of both China and the US, since the fracking boom in the US it is largely self sufficient in all areas.”

            Yes. But China can suffer huge losses yet sill keep going. If US suffered a fraction of such loss then its quality of life will suffer far more.

        • scribblerg says

          Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis. To claim that describes Trump is admit you have detached yourself from reality. You don’t even understand the words you choose to use.

          And of course, any medial professional will tell you that their licensure sometimes, and their professional ethics universally prohibit them from mis-using their authority by diagnosing those they aren’t treating.

          The breezy vapidity on display by so many critics of our politics is disgusting.

          • Amin says

            @ scribblerg

            Pipe down!

            Read:

            ” (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.”

            The person above was NOT pschoanalysing Trump. His use was general. And yes likely even the objecting “ga gamba” understood this.

            “The breezy vapidity on display by so many critics of our politics is disgusting.”

            Pah! Look who is talking!

    • David of Kirkland says

      The strong invade the weak, not the other way around.

      • @David of Kirkland

        Hondurans – with the knowledge and implied consent of the Honduran government – are invading the US at this moment.

        Is the US not strong? Is Honduras not weak?

        • E. Olson says

          Morgan – Apparently the US isn’t very strong, because the Hondurans are coming to save the US by doing the jobs that American’s can’t do.

      • Barney Doran says

        With the slight exception of our southern border.

      • ga gamba says

        Untrue. Nazi Germany was weaker than the USSR. Not only in resources, but also in manpower, intelligence, logistics, and tactics.

        • E. Olson says

          GG – technically correct, but you are forgetting that Hitler’s strategic genius was worth at least 100 divisions in his own mind, and German estimates of Russian strength was off my magnitudes, probably in large part because the USSR struggled so much against tiny Finland.

          • ga gamba says

            That’s the intelligence bit.

            But, in the end, Germany’s reliance of war material imports, such as oil and rubber, pre-ordained its failure. It’s only hope was to seize, hold, and exploit the Caucasus, but that was a long shot, especially because its logistics channel was run on horse and wagon. Blitzkrieg defeated enemies who couldn’t manoeuvre, such as due to geographic constraints, and that lacked the manpower and resources to replace losses. The eastern front was not the western front.

    • scribblerg says

      So was Obama suffering from mental illness when he put sanctions on Venezuela?

      • E. Olson says

        scribblerg – no his mental problems started far before that. He actually thought he could stop the oceans from rising and heal the planet in 2008.

        • Amin says

          @ E. Olson

          Off with you… before I put the boot up your backside.

      • Locketopus says

        Anything Obama does (such as temporarily restricting immigration from terrorist-harboring nations, bombing eight separate countries, or putting illegal alien children in detention centers) is by definition Good.

        Anything Orange Man does (such as temporarily restricting immigration from essentially the exact same list of terrorist-harboring nations bombing a couple of the exact same countries, or putting illegal alien children in the very same detention centers) is by definition Bad.

        You just don’t have the proper “leftist” perspective, dude.

  9. “…his erstwhile admirer Christopher Hitchens observed that, “Noam Chomsky does not rise much above the level of half-truth.”

    Those who tell me personally that they admire Chomsky tend to be people who later prove themselves to be about as honest. Which is to say, half-dishonest.

    • @Francis Feeley

      We can trust Russia Today (RT), funded by the Russian government and wholly controlled by Vladimir Putin, to tell us the truth about America.

    • Joe Cogan says

      Russia Today is about as reliable a source as the late, lamented Weekly World News.

  10. Tim Diner says

    It is weird to see American critiques of Venezuelan democracy, given that the American President is often the loser of the popular vote and there are only two parties which are almost indistinguishable, both beholden to capital. But of course there are no political prisoners in America, and if Nancy Pelosi declared herself President and tried to convince the military to support her I’m sure there would be no consequences! Stay in your glass house and shut the fuck up.

    • @Tim Diner

      Are you a Venezuelan? If not a Venezuelan, have you lived there for any number of years?

      Do you bring any personal knowledge to the table that is not available to the average loud-mouthed American?

      • Tim Diner says

        Do I have to be in Venezuela to have an opinion on it? Doesn’t seem to apply to people who advocate regime change, just the detractors. Also, there are a lot of bourgeois Venezuelan expatriates whose opinion is not exactly the same as, say, the poor indigenous Venezuelans who support the Bolivarian revolution, who do not have access to Western capitalist media and don’t get their opinions broadcast.

        • @Tim Diner

          “…the poor indigenous Venezuelans who support the Bolivarian revolution, who do not have access to Western capitalist media and don’t get their opinions broadcast.”

          Are you in contact with them? I assume they’re too poor and desperate to travel very far.

          If you are not in contact with them, how do you know what their opinions are?

        • Gringo says

          Tim Diner, a.k.a. “We all have the right to remain ignorant.”:

          Also, there are a lot of bourgeois Venezuelan expatriates whose opinion is not exactly the same as, say, the poor indigenous Venezuelans who support the Bolivarian revolution

          Your statement once more indicates how little you know about Venezuela. Most Venezuelans are mixed race. Indigenous people make up a very small proportion of Venezuela’s population. From Amazonas (Venezuelan state)

          Amazonas State… covers nearly a fifth of the area of Venezuela, but has less than 1% of Venezuela’s population.
          Amazonas has Venezuela’s highest proportion of indigenous peoples of Venezuela; these make up only around 1.5% of the population nationwide, but the proportion is nearly 50% in Amazonas.[1]

          In addition, the National Assembly has three indigenous seats. Guess who won those seats in the December 2015 legislative elections?2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election

          Parliamentary elections were held in Venezuela on 6 December 2015 to elect the 164 deputies and three indigenous representatives of the National Assembly. …

          Starting from 2015, the 167 members of the National Assembly are elected by a mixed majoritarian system; 113 members are elected by First-past-the-post voting in 87 constituencies. A total of 51 seats are elected by closed list proportional representation based on the 23 states and the Capital District. Seats are allocated using the d’Hondt method. The remaining three seats are reserved for indigenous peoples, and are elected by the community….

          The MUD won 109 of the 164 general seats and all three indigenous seats, which gave them a supermajority in the National Assembly; while the GPP won the remaining 55 seats. Voter turnout exceeded 74 percent.[65]

          The opposition won all 3 of the National Assembly seats reserved for indigenous people. And Tim Diner tells us about “the poor indigenous Venezuelans who support the Bolivarian revolution,”

          I previously refrained from replying to the ignorant statements of Tim Diner, but after a second look at this statement, I couldn’t resist.

    • Robert Franklin says

      The method by which Guaido seeks the presidency is entirely legal under the Venezuela constitution. Pelosi’s “declaring herself President” would not be.

      • Tim Diner says

        That is entirely a matter of opinion and you will find the Venezuelan supreme court does not concur. Of course, I’m sure you will point out that said supreme court is packed with Maduro’s stooges, unlike America’s highest ruling body?

        • Jay Salhi says

          The Venezuelan Supreme Court that was hand-picked by Chavez and forced to go on national TV signing pro-Chavez chants. How surprising that they don’t agree.

    • scribblerg says

      Nice mouth you have on you, Tim, internet tough guy – how original? First off, the U.S. is a republic in which the original constitution called for one house of a bicameral govt to have representative democracy. The President was elected by state electors, and senators were appointed by state legislatures.

      Yes, rabid, hack Progressives like Woodrow Wilson destroyed all that, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. And still, even with the popular election of senators, we still have a POTUS selected by the states, not the mob. That was 100% intentional. In fact our founders were deeply concerned by the concentrated power of cities, crab baskets filled with self-anointed elite. The power granted to states was created to in an anti-democratic spirit.

      So, first thing stop calling the U.S. a democracy, it is not nor was it ever meant to be. Our founders began by deeply internalizing the lessons of the Greeks and the Roman and then Montesquieu etc. They were deeply afraid of any form of direct democracy.

      And there are no political prisoners in the U.S. Not a single one. Best part of your rant? Reducing how our politics work to merely being “beholden to capital”. Lol, as though any intelligent and honest observer of American politics would say that’s all that’s going on. But hey, compare it Chavez or Maduro? Or Castro? Or those Lula criminals in Brazil? Accountable to apparatchiks and ideological madmen/women and hacks who use the power of the state in the worst ways imaginable with little restraint?

      Grow up. The last time being an angry socialist was cool was 100 years ago in Paris.

      • Tim Diner says

        There are many, many political prisoners in America. Muslims, Black Panthers, whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning is in solitary. Just last year, five indigenous Water Protectors were sentenced for obstructing pipelines. If you don’t understand how capital and politics intersect in America, you don’t understand anything.

        I’m not sure what your point is about accountability. Can you point to an American President who has been held to account? Reagan, for his war crimes? HW Bush, for his war crimes? Clinton, for his war crimes? Bush II, for his war crimes? Obama, etc.? Any of them for spying on Americans, assassinating people, funding terrorists, bombing kids, wreaking global economic havoc? Nah. Never. But at least you got to vote for one of ’em.

        Ah, Quillette, it’s been fun playing in the kiddy pool today. It’S a rEpUbLiC nOt a dEmOcRaCy, wow, fresh.

        • Locketopus says

          Translation: you got beaten like a rented mule.

  11. Locketopus says

    t is weird to see American critiques of Venezuelan democracy, given that the American President is often the loser of the popular vote

    To a first approximation, no western democracy elects its head of state by a popular vote. While there may be exceptions (none come to mind at the moment), it’s quite rare.

    As for “often”, it’s happened five times in the last 230 years.

    You are either ignorant or lying. Which is it? Or should we embrace the power of “and” here?

    • Tim Diner says

      In the last 20 years, two out of three presidents have lost the popular vote. That is often enough for me, given that we’re talking about roughly the same time period in Venezuela. Yes, I understand that is not technically how “western democracy” works, but the problem is thinking there is such a thing as “western democracy”, as if using the word democracy makes something democratic. Americans are so pathetic, you roll over at every technicality. If Venezuelans actually wanted Guiado they would have killed Maduro by now.

      • Jim Gorman says

        Tim Diner -> So you would rather see direct majority. Have you ever seen the term “tyranny of the majority”? Give us a better solution that prevents this and solves your problem rather than just bitching about the Electoral College!

        Right now you’re just spouting Democratic talking points based on their lack of having campaign people who understand how to handle the Electoral College.

      • Locketopus says

        In the last 20 years, two out of three presidents have lost the popular vote.

        No President has ever “lost the popular vote” because the President of the United States has never been elected by popular vote. Ever.

        Americans are so pathetic, you roll over at every technicality.

        Pointing out that almost no countries choose their head of state and/or government based on a direct popular vote is not a “technicality”.

        It is a fact.

        There is a reason for this fact. I would recommend reading the Federalist Papers, or, failing that, noting that the major exception (France) has had five tries at establishing a republic, the previous four of which failed miserably. The current one is in the process of failing.

        Where do you live, by the way, and who won the “popular vote” in your country? Did you vote for him or her, as in that person’s name appeared on the ballot you cast?

        Hint: no, it didn’t. Unless you’re in France, perhaps.

      • Stephanie says

        Tim, rule by popular vote is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. That is the situation mediated against by systems like the electoral college.

        Living in densely populated areas makes people frustrated with each other, such that they want to control each other to minimise the frustration. It also makes people less self-reliant, and with a distorted view of the economy. As people have lower exposure to primary and secondary industry, they tend to forget the vital importance of those industries.

        These tendencies, born of aggrevation and dependency do not deserve to be applied to the country as a whole. Without region-based representation, cities would dominate in an unhealthy way for the stability of the country and the broader economy. Look at France right now and the discontent boiling over from rural areas.

        • Tim Diner says

          I understand perfectly well that the US President is not chosen by popular vote, but rather by an archaic and hideous system fetishized by “federalists” who seem unable to find fault with it. It is rather funny that apparently the tyranny of a minority is preferable to being acclaimed by a plurality and that a nation will collapse if it is not subject to the undue influence of a small group of reactionary conservatives (okay, true in this case), while Maduro, who won 68% of the vote, is a dictator who can be deposed by simply declaring the election didn’t seem fair. I don’t refer to glass houses lightly; there are 6 million disenfranchised felons in America, there are millions more who are enslaved in the prison system, and every election from county clerk up is tainted with corruption, bribery, gerrymandering and illegality. There is no democracy in America, only the rule of capital. But sure, the fewer votes one gets, the better suited they are to rule. Perhaps Jill Stein should be President, she would be least tyrannical.

          @Jack B. Nimble

          I agree with your comment. The reality is that many “dictators” are more popular and serve the interests of a greater part of their country than the leaders of western democracies, who use the guise of free elections to protect capitalist interests without any fear of the mob. That doesn’t mean I want to live under a dictator; it means we must improve democracy by eliminating capitalism.

          • Locketopus says

            I understand perfectly well that the US President is not chosen by popular vote, but rather by an archaic and hideous system fetishized by “federalists” who seem unable to find fault with it.

            Except that it’s outlasted the multiple systems used in less “archaic” countries.

            As noted before, France has had five republics over roughly the same period. Also emperors, kings, anarchies, reigns of terror, and Nazi collaborator regimes.

            Germany has gone from a fragmented conglomerate of quasi-independent baronies, electorates, dukedoms, and so on, to an empire, to a really crappy republic, to full Nazi, to a divided democracy/communist slave state, to whatever you want to call the mess they have now.

            Germany has distinguished itself by being (as far as I can think of) the only country that’s had both a Nazi slave state and a communist slave state within living memory.

            Italy: see Germany (except that they never did go full communist, so they just get the partial credit for the Fascists).

            Russia: yeah, they’ve really done a bang-up job since 1776, haven’t they? One awesome totalitarian government after another.

            Poland? Belgium? Other minor European countries? They’ve been chew toys for their larger and/or better-armed neighbors, having whatever governments their current occupier imposes.

            Which country has this non-hideous and non-archaic system that you tout, and what makes you think it’s going to last any better than any of their other attempts?

            I note you failed to answer my question about whether the current leader of your country appeared on the last ballot you cast.

            Tell you what: when Europe manages to go a full 50 years without genocide or megadeath warfare breaking out, then you can criticize the government of the United States.

            Not before.

          • Locketopus says

            That doesn’t mean I want to live under a dictator; it means we must improve democracy by eliminating capitalism.

            Yeah, well, we’re not going to let you murder another hundred million people in the name of your evil religion, commie.

            Sorry about that.

          • Jim Gorman says

            Quit spouting talking points and provide a better system that would prevent the tyranny of the majority.

            By the way, tell us what was the percent breakdown between Trump and Clinton. It’s not like Trump was elected by 25% of the population!

            Your tirades just seem like sour grapes that Democrats and Hillary specifically lost. Get over it. I am old enough I can foresee a Republican winning the popular vote to a Democrat but winning the electoral college. What then?

          • ga gamba says

            Sad to read of the murderers, rapists, stalkers, tax cheats, kidnappers, spouse beaters, paedophiles, and all the other unfortunate ones enslaved by the penal system.

          • Phil Major says

            “…it means we must improve democracy by eliminating capitalism.”

            Never go full retard.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Tim Diner

        Disclaimer: I don’t support Maduro, the Castro regime or the NK regime.

        “…….If Venezuelans actually wanted Guiado [sic] they would have killed Maduro by now…..”

        That’s a good point. If the great majority of Venezuelans want Maduro gone, how can he stay in power, especially given the economic pressure from abroad?

        Maybe most Venezuelans don’t want to see their govt. toppled by foreigners? Can you blame them?

        Here’s a useful way to think about Maduro. Former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick distinguished between autocratic dictatorships and communist/totalitarian dictatorships. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictatorships_and_Double_Standards ]

        Communist dictators like in NK and Cuba typically seek to control all aspects of human life, whereas autocrats ‘….do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations…’ [from Wikipedia]

        By this standard, Maduro is an autocrat, as shown by the fact that Guaido is still able to move freely about the country and give interviews with, e.g., Voice of America [ https://www.voanoticias.com/a/juan-guaido-dispuesto-a-tener-contacto-con-rusia-y-china-venezuela/4769315.html ] .

        Guaido is also able to leave the country and meet with persons like VP Pence who seek the overthrow of the Maduro regime, and yet still return to Venezuela without arrest. A totalitarian govt. would have either arrested Guaido or forced him into exile.

        Bottom Line: Maduro is bad, but to think that the US is in a position to orchestrate a peaceful transfer of power to a fully democratic regime in Venezuela is insanity. Just look at how well US-sponsored regime change has turned out in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran [Mossadegh], S. Vietnam [Diem], etc., etc.

        • Gringo says

          That’s a good point. If the great majority of Venezuelans want Maduro gone, how can he stay in power, especially given the economic pressure from abroad?

          The Chavistas have a near-monopoly on official and unofficial means of violence, via the Armed forces and the colectivos.

          If you haven’t already noticed, electoral means of changing governments are not available in Venezuela nowadays. The opposition won two thirds of the seats (112 of 168) in the December 2015 National Assembly elections. Although the opposition followed all the required steps to have a Recall Referendum in 2016, the Chavista-controlled Electoral Council used any number of pretexts to block a Recall Referendum, The Electoral Council too major opposition figures off the ballot, such as Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles, in the May 2018 Presidentiial “election.”

          I wonder why commenters have not denounced the presence of ~15,000 Cuban military and intelligence agents in Venezuela.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Gringo

            History suggests that when a regime loses legitimacy, parts of the military will begin to support the opposition or plot a coup. See 1905 Russian rebellion, overthrow of Shah in Iran, coups around the world, etc.

            We should remember that Chavez, unlike Maduro, was a career military officer [and coup plotter] before entering politics. Senior military officers who share in the spoils may have a vested interest in supporting Maduro, but the idea that the Venezuelan armed forces will blindly follow Maduro in the face of overwhelming public opposition is implausible.

          • Gringo says

            Jack B. Nimble in reply: @Gringo
            blockquote>History suggests that when a regime loses legitimacy, parts of the military will begin to support the opposition or plot a coup. See 1905 Russian rebellion, overthrow of Shah in Iran, coups around the world, etc.,,,,
            Senior military officers who share in the spoils may have a vested interest in supporting Maduro, but the idea that the Venezuelan armed forces will blindly follow Maduro in the face of overwhelming public opposition is implausible.The events of Aprll 2002 support your point. The reason the military deposed Chávez was that he had ordered them to implement Plan Avila- to fire upon civilians peacefully demonstrating against Chávez.
            (Source: Brian Nelson, The Silence and the Scorpion:The Coup Against Chávez and the Making of Modern Venezuela. . This is the definitive source on the April 2002 coup. Given the reason why the military deposed Chávez, it is easily understood why a “truth commission” to investigate the April 2002 coup went nowhere. )

            Nonetheless, following are my reasons for being skeptical about the military moving against Maduro.
            1) Chávez and then Maduro have had 20 years to promote Chavista-supporting officers and retire oppo-supporting or oppo- leaning officers.
            2) Cuban intelligence agents (DGI) are embedded in the military, keeping a close watch on things.
            3) As you point out, senior officers are raking in the spoils. The choice, many realize, may be Maduro or jail.

            Nonetheless, the lower ranks are much more problematic for the regime. There are occasional news reports of enlisted men stealing food. I have read that the Army is VERY careful about handing out bullets to enlisted men- don’t want any officers killed.

            The National Guard has a tradition of firing on civilians-permitted for demonstration control, smugglers, etc. The Army does not have such a tradition- which is why the order to implement Plan Avila resulted in Chávez’s being deposed in 2002.

            My take is that if the Army moves against Maduro, it will probably come from enlisted men refusing to fire on demonstrators. But the regime can use colectivos to shoot demonstrators. But I am not holding my breath.

      • Craig Willms says

        @Tim Diner

        When just one state with 30+ million people votes overwhelmingly for the same person it is going to skew the popular vote – which is why the electoral college exists. We can’t have just 2 or 3 states deciding the election for 50. And the U.S. is not a democracy, never was, it’s a representative republic.

      • Billy says

        Tim, do you have a Twitter account that I can follow? Seriously.

    • Peter says

      To a first approximation, no Western democracy combines the head of state and head of government in the same office.

  12. Locketopus says

    To a first approximation, no western democracy elects its head of state by a popular vote.

    One exception is France (of course it would be France). France is on its fifth attempt at a republic, which appears to be collapsing yet again as we speak.

    In Canada, UK, Australia and most other parliamentary systems the prime minister (head of government and/or state) is chosen by politicians, not directly elected.

    Germany has a two-house legislature, the head of one of which is chosen by an electoral college, the head of the other being chosen by politicians.

    There are very few countries where both the head of state and/or the head of government (if those are different people) are chosen by direct election. In many such dual cases (such as the UK and Canada), the head of state is still a king or queen, about as far from directly elected as you can get.

  13. Hestia says

    I agree he is an expert in linguistics. What has that got to do with politics? Just another Leftist quack. A dime a dozen in the academic world. Utterly useless to human kind.

    • Amin says

      @ Hestia

      “I agree he is an expert in linguistics. ”

      Vs

      ” Utterly useless to human kind.”

      The two clearly do not add up.
      Who are you again?

      “A dime a dozen in the academic world.”

      Perhaps. But we are speaking about the big daddy here.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Good to see you dodging the main argument, Amin. It only confirms my opinion that you care more about your side than the truth.
        The fact is that Chomsky’s expertise in linguistics does not qualify him to any credibility in the fiels of politics. His political arguments have no more weight than any other intellectual, especially those who have an expertise in law, economics, history or some other pertinant field.

        • dirk says

          And that makes me think, Peter and Amin, such an original and learned linguïst, cited more than any other maybe, without a doubt a very high IQ, but then, just look what he says about politics, any schoolboy would do better. Did he use his qualification as a scientist to have more influence in the political scene? And how is it possible? So intelligent, but such nonsense nevertheless? It means: the human brain is specialising a lot,very good in one field means, giving in substantially on other sections. You see it also in famous mathematicians and chess players, but these, wisely, mostly keep away from having much say in politics. It has not always been like this, though, quite a few philosophers of once were all at once, knowledgeable and original in everything imaginable.

  14. @Tim Diner

    Well, you are a remarkable person.

    You earlier stated: “…the poor indigenous Venezuelans who support the Bolivarian revolution, who do not have access to Western capitalist media and don’t get their opinions broadcast.”

    I then asked you how you knew what their opinions are. You responded by stating:

    “I can read Spanish.

    So these poor indigenous Venezuelans wrote down their opinions and – despite the fact that they do not have access to “Western capitalist media” and they “don’t get their opinions broadcast” – they somehow broadcast them to you. In Spanish, of course.

    How does that work again? Not the Spanish thing. I get that. How did their opinions become known to you in the absence of access by them to capitalist media?

    No, wait. You have access to Marxist media that exists outside the Western capitalist system. Am I right?

    • Tim Diner says

      Wow, I mean, you know that there are local media in Venezuela, and social media, and blogs? I know it can seem that if something isn’t printed in Reuters or shown on MSNBC it didn’t happen, but that is an extremely myopic view of the world. Yes, it is possible for a poor Venezuelan to transmit their opinion. Many of them have attended pro-government rallies and have even spoken to Western media at times! But they are pretty blatantly marginalized in favour of white bourgeois expatriates who often sound like American southerners complaining about the good old antebellum days.

      • SprayFart says

        So the opinions of poor Venezuelans are valid but the opinions of (white) American Southerners are not?

      • codadmin says

        @Tim Diner

        Give it up, your MSNBC line is obvious bait. You’re winding everyone up.

      • @Tim Diner

        “Wow, I mean, you know that there are local media in Venezuela, and social media, and blogs?”

        So they do have access to “Western capitalist media”.

        You previously said they don’t.

    • dirk says

      What I’m more interested in than in somebody fluent in Spanish, what can be the motives to support Chomsky, of next ones:

      Patricia Zamorana Exec. Director Academic Latin American Studies
      Rosanna Sanchez Prof. Latin Amer. Literature and Chicano Literature, Uni.of Cal.
      Luis Martin Cabrera Assoc. Prof. Literature and Latin Americ. Studies
      Gabriele Hetland Ass. Prof. Latin American Caribbean and US Latino Studies, Uni. Albany.

      All signatories of Chomski’s open letter.

      All of them (or almost all) borne in some Latin Homeland ?,and now happily in the US, but still, what’s driving them to support his anger?? Imagine, them living and working in Caracas or other Venezuelan city (because, nobody there lives anymore in the rural areas, that’s history, that’s backwards, food? imported (or not) with oil money). Gringo, ? tengo razon?

      • Gringo says

        dirk

        All of them (or almost all) borne in some Latin Homeland ?,and now happily in the US, but still, what’s driving them to support his anger?? Imagine, them living and working in Caracas or other Venezuelan city (because, nobody there lives anymore in the rural areas, that’s history, that’s backwards, food? imported (or not) with oil money). Gringo, ? tengo razon?

        Social Sciences academics in the US are leftist to far leftist. Cuban refugee and History professor Carlos Eire is an exception, but note that he doesn’t specialize in Latin American Studies, but late medieval and early modern religious history.

        Latin American Studies departments in the US were strong supporters of the Sandinistas in the 1980s. That from the beginning it was apparent that the Sandinistas were fanboys of Soviet imperialism made no difference whatsoever to the Latin American Studies departments. Fanboys? FSLN founder Carlos Fonseca, in his pamphlet Un Nicaraguense en Moscu, parroted Soviet lines that there was freedom of religion in the USSR and that “Fascists” were behind the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution. (readily downloaded online)Wikisource: Nicaraguan Biographies/Cadre.

        With FSLN coman- dantes Tomas Borge, Henry Ruiz, and Humberto Ortega, Hassan attended the March 1980 signing of the party-to- party agreement between the FSLN and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow. Signed less than 3 months after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the joint public statement read in part: “The Soviet Union and Nicaragua resolutely condemn the campaign that the imperialist and reactionary forces have launched of building up international tension in connection with the events of Afghanistan, a campaign aimed at subverting the inalienable right of the people of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and other peoples of the world to follow the path of progressive transformation.”

        The above examples occurred well before Reagan was elected President, so only a fool would claim that Regan drove the Sandinistas into the laps of the Soviets.

        There is also a book , currently hard to locate, De Polonia a Nicaragua, that Robert Czarkowski wrote about his five months in Nicaraguan jails. Czarkowski, a Polish citizen, entered Nicaragua in early 1982 with a valid tourist visa. Upon entering Nicaragua, he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of belonging to Solidarity, After five months of imprisonment, the Sandinistas released him.

        • dirk says

          Thanks Gringo, more or less what I feared already. Some mistakes in those names: it is Patricio, Gabriel and Rosaura.

  15. codadmin says

    The missing words, unsaid in the article or the comment section, is ‘lie’ and ‘liar’.

    Even critics of Chomsky give him too much reverence.

  16. codadmin says

    How many ‘half truths’ does it take to make a lie?

    The best liars always use ‘half truths’ when they lie.

  17. terry says

    A little history of the long,bloody and ongoing brutality of American neo-imperialism
    “Enforcing American hegemony..A timeline” – http://www.flagrancy.net/timeline.html

    More recent history – “Global Warfare: “We’re Going to Take out 7 Countries in 5 Years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran..”
    Video Interview with General Wesley Clark
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

    What is one to make of this militarized capitalism ? Is there any way we can whitewash it or is that what the system of propaganda is all about ?

  18. Hmmm says

    Do we have to resort to the opinion of one half-truth specialist (Hitchens, in both leftist and neocon incarnations) to expose another (Chomsky)?

    Like Hitchens, Chomsky is best understood not as an objective analyst but as a polemicist. (Unlike Hitchens, I think Chomsky would reject that description.) I sometimes appreciate their polemics when they point out a piece of the truth that’s often ignored or distorted. But too many people buy into that piece of the truth as “the whole truth and nothing but.”

    • K. Dershem says

      I completely agree. Andrew Bacevich makes similar critiques of U.S. foreign policy but has a more nuanced and balanced perspective.

  19. K. Dershem says

    Chomksy’s extreme anti-Americanism definitely distorts his arguments. However, I think he’s still worth reading because he provides a necessary corrective to the uncritical celebration of American power found in much of the foreign policy establishment. Although the U.S. claims to defend liberty and support democracy, there are countless examples of both Democratic and Republican administrations meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, overthrowing democratically-elected leaders, installing and propping up dictators who serve our interests, etc. Chomsky reveals the hypocrisy at the heart of American foreign policy. I don’t think the U.S. is any worse than other major powers throughout history — in contrast to Chomsky, I think its influence has probably been more positive than negative, on balance — but we should be under no illusions that it’s a benevolent force for good. American foreign policy is conducted in the interest of political and economic elites. References to “freedom” and “democracy” are mostly rhetorical. For the record: I don’t hate America, nor do I think — as Chomsky seems to — that the U.S. is responsible for all (or most) of the problems in the world. I’m an American citizen and I love my country. However, I think it should be criticized when it fails to live up to its ideals.

    • X. Citoyen says

      Chomksy’s extreme anti-Americanism definitely distorts his arguments. However, I think he’s still worth reading because he provides a necessary corrective to the uncritical celebration of American power found in much of the foreign policy establishment.

      Who are these mysterious celebrants of American power? I can’t think of a single uncritical member of the foreign policy establishment. Max Boot, Robert Kaplan, Edward Luttwak, and Victor Davis Hanson represent a series of different points on the foreign policy spectrum. Yet none of them uncritically celebrates American power.

      As for Chomsky’s value, I think you’re confusing a critical counterpoint with a confected counternarrative. There’s always value in counterpoints, the Devil’s advocate has a long and distinguished pedigree. Making the case that American intervention has been bad, useless, or a waste of blood and treasure is something valuable for anyone interested in foreign policy. But Chomsky doesn’t do that. He invents a malign motive for the U.S., and then pastes a collection of factoids and opinion presented as fact onto it to make a story. That has no value for anyone seeking to know more and know better; it’s just anti-American propaganda for disgruntled teenagers.

      • K. Dershem says

        I would dispute your description of Chomsky’s work. Almost all of his claims are derived from official sources; he draws obvious conclusions from them. In my view, he’s factually and morally correct more often than he’s wrong despite the fact that he’s hypercritical of U.S. policy. Obviously, YMMV.

        • Jay Salhi says

          As a former Chomsky fan, I’d urge you to do a little more research. Chomsky routinely relies on obscure sources and routinely distorts mainstream sources. When writing about Cambodia, he took Khmer Rouge propaganda at face value while being highly skeptical of refugee accounts and mainstream sources. He also relied heavily on obscure communist writers who supported the Khmer Rouge. One of those writers was an Australian graduate student who eventually had a change of heart and completely recanted everything he said. Chomsky knew this but continued to cite the earlier works.

          Bruce Sharp’s website has a lot of good information about Chomsky and Cambodia. IMO, Sharp cuts Chomsky too much slack but there is a wealth of information there.

          https://www.mekong.net/cambodia/chomsky.htm

          With Chairman Mao, Ho Chi Minh, the Khmer Rouge, Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez, Chomsky’s analysis always followed the same pattern:

          Yes, there were excess but creating a more just society is a difficult enterprise.
          In the long run, lives will be saved and the benefits will outweigh the costs.
          Later, when reality didn’t mesh with the early optimism, deny reality and blame it all on the evil US.

          Chomsky’s partner in crime, Ed Herman, was even worse than Chomsky. One of Herman last acts was a book denying the genocide in Rwanda. Chomsky wrote the foreward. This prompted Guardian journalist George Monbiot (himself a radical leftist) to write to Chomsky to ask: (i) did you read Herman’s book and (ii) do you agree with it? Their long e-mail exchange is available online. In typical fashion, Chomsky obfuscates and never directly answers either question. Vintage Chomsky.

          https://www.monbiot.com/2012/05/21/2181/

        • dirk says

          You sound (here and elsewhere) remarkably centrist, Dershem, maybe not the right attitude in a blog, where identity and polarisation is the name of the game. One of our non-polarised professors admits that when you don’t choose (like Chomsky , leftists and rightist), you don’t get “likes” from either of the parties involved, of course, she doesn’t mind (and, thus, is called elitist).

        • Gringo says

          K. Dershem:
          I would dispute your description of Chomsky’s work. Almost all of his claims are derived from official sources;

          As I have pointed out in several comments, Chomsky’s use of sources is selective. For example, I pointed out that while Chomsky was correct in pointing out a typhoid epidemic in Chile during the first half of the Pinochet regime, he ignored other official sources that had data that indicated the Pinochet regime had a rather good record in public health.
          Here is another take on the Pinochet regime’s record on public health,looking at Infant Mortality (deaths per 1,000 live births)

          From 1977 to 1983, a span of 6 years, the Pinochet regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate from 41.1 to 20.7.
          From 1963 to 1977, a span of 14 years, the Castro regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate from 41.7 to 20.8.
          From 1973 to 1989, a span of 16 years, the Pinochet regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate from 63 to 17.2.
          From 1963 to 1979, a span of 16 years, the Castro regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate from 41.7 to 17.4.

          For some funny reason,Chomsky never considered the above stats when writing about Latin America.

          Chomsky’s “Chavez reduced poverty” narrative ignores three important points.
          1) A number of other Latin American countries had similar or better records in reducing poverty.
          2) The best way to reduce poverty is to have a growing economy. If you want to distribute more money, you need to have more money to distribute. Stands to reason, doesn’t it? Compared to other countries in Latin America AND the rest of the world, the Chavista economy’s growth through 2013 was anemic- below average- even with the oil revenue boom.
          3) When you have a trillion dollars of oil revenue money, a point Clifton Ross also points, one would hope that some of that money would end up being spent wisely.

          https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN

    • The charge of “Anti-Americanism” has totalitarian overtones. Ever heard of the charge of “Anti-Canadianism” leveled against critics in Canada or the charge of “Anti-Mexicanism” leveled against critics in Mexico? But we have heard of the charge of “Anti-Soviet” in the Stalinist regime. Truly free, democratic societies do not bandy about such totalitarian charges in the face of reasoned dissent and criticism.

      • dirk says

        I know another one, Tnavi, anti-Gambian. Jammeh went away with the whole remaining national treasury, so, in this case, anti is an easy thing. Though, you never know, maybe some would say, if you still have might over it (remember Jesus parable on the unjust manager), just use your potentials.

      • X. Citoyen says

        @Tnavi nous,

        Ever heard of the charge of “Anti-Canadianism” leveled against critics in Canada…

        As a matter of fact, I have–routinely, even, and from the highest levels. My very own prime minister has a nasty habit of denigrating people for not having Canadian values, by which he means whatever feeling he’s experiencing at the moment. No one calls him on this, of course, because progressives politicians are allowed to say pretty much anything. A few months ago the Minister of Immigration accused a member of the provincial government of being “un-Canadian.” As usual, few in the media criticized him for this.

      • Phil Major says

        “Ever heard of the charge of “Anti-Canadianism” leveled against critics in Canada ..”

        Yes, all the time. In Canada it takes the form of, say X that is critical of the Trudeau Liberals and wait for a Liberal politician or supporter to tell you that you are “unCanadian”.

  20. Saw file says

    @Locketopus

    A clarification:

    The British (Commonwealth) Crown is indeed the head of state of Canada, and though that role is legally important within our constitution it is factually a ceremonial one. The Governor General (HM’s representative) is appointed by the government and has no real authority within the hierarchy of government. This model is the same for the provinces in the form of lieutenant governor.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchy_of_Canada

    A correction:

    “In Canada, UK, Australia and most other parliamentary systems the prime minister (head of government and/or state) is chosen by politicians, not directly elected.”

    I can only speak for Canada. Politicians do not choose our prime minister. Although not by general electoral vote, our prime minister is in fact chosen by direct election.
    Simplistically, an election is decided by a political party winning a majority of the national ridings by popular vote majority within each riding. (I won’t get into the methodology of minority coalition government.) The leader of the majority winning political party becomes the de facto prime minister.
    The party membership of each riding hold direct elections to choose their riding leader and delegates. Historically the party’s leader was chosen by direct election during a national convention by the elected riding delegates. That method has largely shifted and party conventions are now mostly about establishing party policy.
    The party leader is chosen by direct election by the party membership as a whole.
    There is a variety of technical differences between the various parties in their methodology, which leads to no shortage of shenanigans and juicy scandals, but Canadian political office holders are indeed selected by direct election.
    This model is the same for provinces of Canada.

    Our second tier of government, the Senate, is wholly appointed. Due to the fact that the sitting government is who makes the appointments to fill vacant seats, it is a politically partisan body that basically rubber stamps legislation that has ascended from the House of Commons. Occasionally it may hold up a piece of legislation for study or send it back to the House, but that’s uncommon.
    Due to it having never been reformed to become inline with the modern political state of the country, most knowledgeable (jaded) Canadians simply see it as a place that is used to reward various political party faithful. It role in the hierarchy of the government structure is marginal, and unless one of the Senators says or does something bizarre and/or outright stupid, it is generally ignored by the populace.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership_convention

    I have always found it interesting how this type of parliamentary system of government can lead to some quite odd situations.
    To be a sitting member of government in the House of Commons you must be elected in a riding and the prime minister must also be elected within a riding if he is to sit in government. You can actually be the Canadian prime minister and not be allowed to sit with government in the House of Commons (that happened awhile ago with John Turner(Liberal Party)). Also by holding a riding the elected leader of the any party is that party’s leader in the House. You can be leader of a minority party and not be allowed to sit in government because you haven’t been elected in a riding (happened recently with the New Democrat Party).
    If a leader elected within a riding or a party resigns (or dies while in office) the party appoints an interim leader until an election within the party can be held to select a new leader. The situation of a new leader not being able to sit in government is typically rectified by a party member in a’ ‘safe’ riding stepping down and forcing a by election. The new leader is then ‘parachuted’ into that riding the new leader must win the riding to gain parliamentary status.
    It can also happen that during a general election a elected party leader can fail to win his own riding but still become prime minister due to his party winning a majority and forming the new government. This situation is typically rectified by the leader stepping down and the party quickly holding an election for a new leader with the candidates being only those who currently hold a riding (with serious party shenanigans occurring then).

    • Locketopus says

      I can only speak for Canada. Politicians do not choose our prime minister. Although not by general electoral vote, our prime minister is in fact chosen by direct election.

      Nonsense. Justin Trudeau did not appear on the ballot you cast, and was therefore not directly elected.

      Simplistically, an election is decided by a political party winning a majority of the national ridings by popular vote majority within each riding. (I won’t get into the methodology of minority coalition government.) The leader of the majority winning political party becomes the de facto prime minister.

      Right. And that “party leader” is chosen by the other politicians in his or her party, yes? “Party leader” is not an office that appears on the ballot that ordinary citizens cast, is that correct?

      In other words, the head of government is chosen by politicians rather than being directly elected by the voters.

      Just as I said.

      You don’t get to make up your own definitions for words.

      In the 2016 U.S. election, the Republicans won a majority of both houses. Under a parliamentary system, like Canada, the Republican party hacks would’ve gotten together and chosen the new chief executive. Now, that choice might not have been (and, indeed, probably would not have been) Donald Trump, but it DEFINITELY would not have been Hillary Clinton.

      (eliding the discussion of how a parliamentary system works… yeah, I understand it, dude)

      • Peter from Oz says

        As Saw File said, the Canadian PM is not chosen by the politicians but by an election in which all party members (i.e. non-politicians as well as politicians) get to vote. The same happens in the UK.

        • Locketopus says

          As Saw File said, the Canadian PM is not chosen by the politicians but by an election in which all party members (i.e. non-politicians as well as politicians) get to vote.

          Now you’re just spinning. “Chosen by the registered members of a political party” is, in fact, being chosen by politicians, not being chosen by direct election.

          According to this news story:

          https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/liberal-party-says-membership-numbers-have-skyrocketed-under-trudeau-1.2142400

          Trudeau’s party now has 300,000 members (out of 37 MILLION Canadians), and that is after membership “skyrocketed”. When Trudeau was named, the party had only 60,000 voters (or possibly 120,000… the wording is unclear as to whether the “supporter” category was in effect when Trudeau was selected).

          In other words, Trudeau was chosen by 0.16% (or 0.32%, using the 120,000 figure) of the Canadian population.

          This is exactly how the primary and caucus systems work in many U.S. states (some states have “open primaries”, where everyone gets to vote, but many do not).

          By your definition of “direct election”, Donald Trump was “directly elected”, since he was the chosen nominee of the Republican Party. Right?

          • Saw file says

            My correction still stand’s.
            I tried to simplify the explanation in my comment as much as possible. I’m not sure why you fail to understand it.
            Did you even bother to read the second link?
            This isn’t a contest. I do know how my own country’s political system functions.

      • Saw file says

        I simply used the literal definitions of words.
        The only one I see here making up his own definitions and “spinning” is you.
        Dude, you do know that it’s ok to admit that you are incorrect.

  21. Curtis says

    Yeah, anyone who holds the absurd notion that acts of aggression against another nation(be they military or economic sanctions that cripple and starve the people) that completely defy international law and done on the most blatantly false pretenses imaginable, must be a liar! Do you people ever ask yourself why the US never interjects itself into the sovereignty of desperate nations it has nothing to gain from? Or why it aligns itself time and time again with murderous dictatorships, then claims “human rights” the minute there is a country with major resources that dares to defy Washington for the sake of its own people and resource autonomy? Of course you don’t! You’re all sheep. I’m sure in your world the Iraqi people were also thrilled to have their country decimated. “Half-truths” hey? That’s some rich irony right there. There is no world of “truth” where the US and Canada have a right to do what they are doing to Venezuela. If they “cared” about the Venezuelan people, don’t you think they wouldn’t be so desperate to suffocate their people and economy with extreme economic warfare? Isn’t that a little contradictory to your made-up narrative? The corruption of Maduro and bungling of Chavez don’t even begin to enter the conversation before its already clear what’s really going on here. Half-truths! Try thinking about it for yourself, just for a moment. Its not that difficult!

    • @Curtis

      America intervenes in somebody else’s crisis: America is a greedy shit.

      America fails to intervene in somebody else crisis: America is a selfish shit.

      Either way you go, it’s all shit, innit.

      • Curtis says

        “intervenes in somebody else’s crisis” is so naive I don’t know why I’m responding to it. Its pretty simple really. At the very, very least, if the overwhelming majority of a country doesn’t want you there, you shouldn’t be there. I know that’s a crazy thought and all. 99 percent of Iraqis didn’t want America there. But its justified somehow because you all swallow the propaganda.

    • Peter from Oz says

      ”… anyone who holds the absurd notion that acts of aggression against another nation(be they military or economic sanctions that cripple and starve the people) that completely defy international law and done on the most blatantly false pretenses imaginable, must be a liar.”
      No. You are putting words into the mouth of the author and have lost the argument before you even began. No-one is arguing that acts of aggression etc are anything but wrong. But Chomsky has to prove they occurred. He is instead a thrid rate conspiracy theorist who enlarges any action of the US into some terrible instance of imperialism.
      I always find it amusing that lefties feel that foreigners are fully justified in aiding in the resistance to Trump, but somehow the people of Venezuela cannot get the assistance of foreigners in resisting a true dictator.
      BTW decimate does not mean what you think it means.

      • Curtis says

        Well I was responding as much to the rabble here as the author. The fact that you can admit that acts of aggression are wrong is encouraging, we have some common ground and I’ll take what I can get.

        “Chomsky has to prove they occurred”? Isn’t the onus on the invading/sanctioning/elections tampering country here? So a coup is justified unless you can prove it isn’t? By “any action of the US” you mean destroying other countries in complete defiance of international law and the most basic understanding of human rights. Forget about Chomsky. Do you at least consider mass murder a bad thing? Or you just don’t call it that when its under the auspices of the wealthiest most powerful countries in the world and their propaganda?

        No I don’t think that foreigners are justified in aiding in the resistance to Trump. Trump is a lunatic sociopath and narcissist, but so was Obama, so was Clinton etc. You don’t rise that high in such a corrupt system if you’re not doing the bidding of multinational corporations and bankers(should be obvious if you look at who they fill their cabinets with). They’re all far right policy wise, your media just does a good job of making you think otherwise. It resembles professional wrestling very closely weirdly. Its all an act. Obamacare was the Republican healthcare plan, yet they make you think its “socialism” lol.

        “Lefties” haha. Just a lazy way to smear people that take the realities of this world seriously, that actually concern themselves with the human beings at the other end of the gun. Maybe you should go to one of the countries you’re bombing. See mothers crying over their mutilated children, whole families wiped out in the blink of an eye, see the panic and horror and the reality of war. Does it really need to be your own family for you to feel the horror of what your country is doing in your name? For oil, wealth, what? Do you really believe these transparent lies for why it these crimes are necessary?

        The only reason the US concerns itself with Venezuela is because Venezuela is sitting on the largest oil deposits in the world. If you really think that isn’t the reason then you are asleep. You can’t put the most obvious two and two together because you’ve been brainwashed. The US only involves itself when it has investments at stake, history has proven this repeatedly, and you’ll never see the pattern because you simply don’t want to.

        You’ll disparage me but I really don’t care how I come across, if I’m a lunatic, so be it. The smug ironic detachment and self-assured complacency in the face of incredible horror and evil is not something I’d ever wish to emulate or aspire to.

        • Locketopus says

          Just a lazy way to smear people that take the realities of this world seriously, that actually concern themselves with the human beings at the other end of the gun.

          And yet, somehow, the mass murders always occur in countries run by “leftists”.

          And it’s always the countries run by “leftists” that need guards to keep people in, rather than out.

          And it’s always the countries run by “leftists” that can’t even feed their own people, despite having (in this case) the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

          Just bad luck, I’m sure.

          The only reason the US concerns itself with Venezuela is because Venezuela is sitting on the largest oil deposits in the world.

          Even if true: so what? Every other country looks out for its own interests. Why is it only bad when the United States does it?

          • Curtis says

            Ha. I don’t think you understand what “left” and “right” mean outside of what Fox news or Ben Shapiro tell you, which is pretty sad. “Always the countries run by leftists” is hilariously misinformed.

            “Even if true: so what?” It is not only bad when the United States does it, its obviously bad when anybody does it. That’s like saying, “yeah I killed that guy, so what? The jails are filled with murderers, why is it only bad when I do it?” This is common sense ethics. You take responsibility for where you have agency, for what is done in your name. So you admit you are completely amoral and don’t really care about human rights unless they effect you personally, which was the whole point I was trying to make.

            It is true, pretty obviously, why the US is concerned with Venezuela. You can’t deal with it on its own terms, so you have to resort to the pro wrestling notion of geopolitics you learned from the TV. Try making an argument without these lazy cop-outs for once.

    • Barnpot says

      @Curtiss “Or why US aligns itself time and time again with murderous dictatorships …”. Exactly which murderous dictatorship has US aligned with in the past 40 years? Saddam Hussein? Qhaddafi? Putin? Mugabe? Castro? Assad? Milosevic? Khamenei? Maduro? Angola? Algeria? US never aligned with these leftwing dictatorships.

      • Curtis says

        I guess you stipulated 40 years cause you know there’s a whole series of them just outside of that. Very well. Pinochet, Ceausescu, Karimov, Efrain Rios Montt, Desalegn, Hun Sen, García, Cordova, Micheletti, Noriega, Pahlavi, to name a few. There’s a lot more than that too. As of 2015, of the 49 nations categorized as dictatorships, the US had been providing military assistance to 36 of them. I guess the other 13 couldn’t be bought off or something lol.

        And yes, the US very much aligned themselves with Saddam Hussein until he defied them(again, about the oil). Saddam’s Iraq was one of America’s largest recipients of foreign aid for a while, they provided weapons, helped Iraq gas Iran, trained Iraqi nuclear engineers in the US, and so on.

  22. Barnpot says

    Excellent article. It is time to deconstruct Chomsky for the pathetic classical-Marxist ideologue that he is. In today’s world, 100% of dictatorships are left-leaning or anti-West or anti-American. But Chomsky and the regressive left deny this, and have nothing to say about today’s dictators. This is sure proof of their lack of ethics and moral principles, and their disdain of human rights.

  23. Gringo says

    Half-truths from Chomsky

    Has anyone,” he wants to know, “ever withdrawn their praise for the military coup?”

    Just wondering. Is Chomsky referring to Chávez’s unsuccessful 1992 coup, which President Chávez and then President Maduro celebrated every year?. 🙂

  24. Peter Schaeffer says

    There is a huge irony here. From a certain (and important) perspective, Chomsky is a right-wing extremist. My point here is not that there are folks further to the left than Chomsky (there are), but that his core ideas about language are right-wing. His concept of a ‘language instinct’ is fundamentally a concept of biological determinism when it comes to language. He may well be correct about this (I think he is). However, these are right-wing ideas, not left-wing ideas.

    How has he survived in academia for so long with such conservative ideas (in his area of study)? My guess is that the rest of his political views have protected him from the massive attacks his core views (on linguistics) would normally attract.

    • dirk says

      That means, Peter, where mere facts are at play (even in the biological and psychological field), the scientist keeps ahead and straight, however, where values also come into consideration, the boat might capsize (as we say in nautic terms).

  25. Yes. This… “Chomsky’s arguments always take this turn sooner or later. In his world, the triumphs of his favored nations are invariably described as the result of their own noble efforts, while their catastrophes are the responsibilities of powerful and unjust forces over which they have no control.”

  26. Gringo says

    Another take on Chomsky’s half truths:Chomsky begins promisingly by conceding that “there were many problems during the Chávez years.” But he reminds his listeners that during those same years “poverty was very sharply reduced Those who shout “Chávez reduced poverty” ignore that fact that a number of countries in Latin America had comparable or better records in reducing poverty. Venezuela was about in the middle. In addition, those other countries didn’t have a trillion dollars in oil revenue. Even with the trillion dollars in oil revenue, Venezuela’s economic growth was decidedly below average from 1998-2013

    Poverty headcount ratio at $5.50 a day (2011 PPP) (% of population), 1998 and 2013
    Argentina 23.2
    8.3
    Bolivia (1999) 54.8 26
    Brazil 44.6 19.5
    Chile 29.1 10.1
    Colombia (1999) 58.3 32
    Costa Rica 27.2 12.3
    Ecuador 60.8 26.9
    El Salvador 52.2 35
    Nicaragua (2014) 69.5 34.8
    Panama 38.9 18.2
    Paraguay (1999)37.2 20.4
    Peru 53.2 26

    For Venezuela: Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)
    1998 49
    29.5

    For Uruguay: Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)
    2006 32.5
    2014 9.7

    Urban poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of urban population)
    2002 35.2
    2006 32.6
    2014 10.1
    Uruguay is 95% urban.
    For argument’s sake, we will say that for 1998-2013, Uruguay had a 22.85 reduction in poverty from 1998*–2013, although it was actually for 2006-2014

    % of Population Leaving Poverty, 1998-2013
    Nicaragua 34.7
    Ecuador 33.9
    Bolivia 28.8
    Peru 27.2
    Colombia 26.3
    Brazil 25.1
    Uruguay 22.8
    Panama 20.7
    Venezuela 19.5
    Chile 19
    El Salvador 17.2
    Paraguay 16.8
    Argentina 14.9
    Costa Rica 14.9

    None of those other countries had the trillion dollars of the oil revenue boom that Venezuela had.
    When Chávez was elected in 1998, Venezuelan oil was selling for ~$11/BBL. When he died in 2013, it was selling for ~$100/BBL. Compared to other countries in Latin America, Venzuela’s economic growth from 1998-2013 was decidedly below average. The region’s per capita income grew 29% from 1998-2013, compared to Venezuela’s 15%.

    Increase GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2011 international $), 1998-2013
    Panama 87.1%
    Peru 76.5%
    Chile 57.2%
    Dominican Republic 56.0%
    Costa Rica 47.0%
    Nicaragua 44.3%
    Colombia 43.8%
    Uruguay 42.7%
    Brazil 37.8%
    Bolivia 36.8%
    Ecuador 33.9%
    Paraguay 25.0%
    Honduras 23.6%
    Argentina 22.6%
    El Salvador 22.1%
    Guatemala 18.6%
    Venezuela, RB 15.0%
    Mexico 9.5%
    Haiti -6.3%

    https://data.worldbank.org/country/venezuela-rb?view=chart
    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.KD Other indicators can be found by the title of my tables.

  27. Charles McDougal says

    Not an intellectual or writer however I was in Venezuela in the early 70s and the disparity of income and standard of living was off the charts. The idea that somehow Venezuela was a thriving middle class country with opportunity and civil satisfaction as to the governance of the country is laughable. One only had to view the consumerism that characterised the haves and the desperation that was the have nots. I now live in latin America and can tell you that the rule of Maduro is not celebrated but mostly derided as a failure however there is a consensus that the US or any country does not have the right to intervene in the internal politics of a sovereign nation regardless of the political ideologies that might be in power at any given time. This prohibition includes sanctions or economic or military embargos. Not only is it morally reprehensible but historically shown to be inefficient and rarely if ever produces a positive outcome. Failed governments will fall much faster when there is no outside intervention if for no other reason the government will not have a foreign entity to blame and divert attention from the reality of the situation at hand. There is also the repercussions of intervention that are constantly misguided and unforeseen such as the Bush era mantra that the Iraqis or the Afghans will cheer us as liberators. The defense of Chavez can only be that he was the result of a totally imbalanced society of haves and have nots that resulted in change led by a charismatic soldier who in the end did not know how to govern. There is no defense of Maduro other than he was elected. There is also no defense of the US policy of intervention , coup attempts, sanctions , threats of military action, these are the voice of a bully not the voice of reason or support for the people of Venezuela. The best opposition the US can mount is to try and aid the Venezuelan people and not to back any candidate or party. The Venezuelan people are intelligent and can discern the motives and the actions of the US as to the purpose of helping the Venezolanos or seeking financial gain through political control of natural resources. The fastest way to get rid of Maduro is to be the good neighbor.

    • Gringo says

      I now live in latin America and can tell you that the rule of Maduro is not celebrated but mostly derided as a failure however there is a consensus that the US or any country does not have the right to intervene in the internal politics of a sovereign nation regardless of the political ideologies that might be in power at any given time.

      This consensus says nothing whatsoever about the 15,000 Cuban intelligence and military personnel in Venezuela at the service of the Maduro regime.

      As Clifton Ross pointed out, back in the 1960s,Cuba sponsored a military invasion of Venezuela, having trained and financed some Venezuelan guerrillas. But once again, crickets from Latin American consensus.

    • Gringo says

      In addition, Chavez did a fair amount of interference himself. For example, he gave assistance and refuge to the FARC. Al least once that assistance and refuge turned into farce.Recall that when FARC leader Raúl Reyes was killed when he was over the border in Ecuador. That infuriated Chavez to mobilize tanks to travel to the Colombian border. They never made the border- caught up in traffic jams.
      For another example of Hugo Chavez’s foreign interference, consider Maletagate, which Wikipedia calls Suitcase scandal , where a Venezuelan delivering a suitcase of cash- some $800,000- intended for President Kirchner got caught in customs in Argentina.

      One more time, “non-interference” is a two-faced principle, When Chavistas interfere in other countries, or another country such as Cuba interferes to help Chavismo, crickets.

      • dirk says

        But what about the Monroe doctrine? Still valid??

        • @dirk

          Not as far as I’m concerned.

          Let Russia get bogged down in a foreign mess. Far from home. Guerrillas picking off homesick Moscow boys.

  28. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H. Babu Sahib says

    There can be no question that Chomsky is a thorough-bred analyst of impressive capability but still as the writer points out when it comes to Chomsky it is always good to chomp up cautiously because given his credentials as a rabid Leftist ideologue he sadly has the propensity to sacrifice intellectual objectivity at the altar of ideological devotion. But then for civilizations that thrive in the realm of false-flags taking half-truths in their strides shouldn’t be a big deal at all ! Might makes right has always been their disgusting mantra !

    • dirk says

      I wonder, one can build an ideology on lies and half-truths, but as well on hard scientific facts, if properly cherrypicking and constructing. Chomsky (but also Gould, and maybe many environmentalists and climatologists) might be examples of that second type.
      The NYTimes once on Chomsky:” arguably the most important intellectual alive now, but: maddeningly simple minded so often”. Yes, a not uncommon combination. Why stay a dull scientist, if you have gold in your hands!

  29. Good article, but about the following comments…

    Seems like the hardest thing for people to do is to appreciate Chomsky for what he contributes, keeping in view his limitations, without building him up into a guru or tearing him down with misdirected accusations. What he has always contributed – though perhaps now less effectively than in the past – is puncturing the bubble of American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S., unlike any other nation or great power in history, should be judged by its good intentions and not by its concrete actions and interests. The limitation of his analysis of course is its Asperger’s like focus U.S. crimes, leaving out the fuller context, and so often resulting in the kind of half truths this article cites.

    The fact that so few Americans have been able to puncture the bubble with such clarity is the source of Chompsky’s appeal. But we have to know how to read him, and that is as a starting point, clearing the air of the absurdities of American exceptionalism, but after which it’s up to us to fill in the context for a more nuanced understanding, avoiding endless either/or debates.

    • @M.

      If I understand you correctly, you suggest that if we go to the trouble of identifying and sifting out the lies and half-truths that form the basis of Chomsky’s political writing, we can still find a few ideas of genuine worth.

      But I can’t buy into the idea that lies and half-truths do not cloud an overall historical “clarity”. The opposite is more likely to be the case.

      “But we have to know how to read him …”

      I’ve heard fundamentalist christian ministers say the same thing about the King James Bible. No one needs to learn “how” to read Chomsky.

      • Thanks for your reply. Nice point about bible reading.

        I guess it depends on how gravely you take American exceptionalism as a problem. If like me you see it as a real distortion in the way so many Americans view the world, rendering them nearly incapable of stepping outside the bubble, then someone like Chomsky provides a real service. Again it’s hard to think of another public intellectual who provides this service as relentlessly.

        Now as to clarity, I mentioned Asperger’s for a reason. He has that kind of nerdy focus on stripping away pretension and the merely political which yes provides some clarity. I don’t agree that he sets out to lie or distort, at most that would be by omission. Again he’s intent on disrupting the American illusion of inhabiting some special moral sphere. But I would agree that because he leaves out so much his method is deeply flawed, and is just as likely in the end to muddle things as to lead to clarity.

        Again it’s a question of how morally blind one thinks many Americans and especially American intellectuals really are. That’s a judgement call probably not resolvable by debate, but how one falls out on the question will determine whether one sees Chomsky as providing service over the years or as merely sowing confusion.

        • @M.

          “I don’t agree that he sets out to lie or distort, at most that would be by omission.”

          I must disagree with your implication that a lie by omission – deliberate omission with the intention of misleading – is somehow less reprehensible than a lie of commission.

          • “I must disagree with your implication that a lie by omission – deliberate omission with the intention of misleading – is somehow less reprehensible than a lie of commission.”

            Fair point.

        • hunter says

          Regarding if Chomdky sets out to deliberately deceive:
          You are far too kind.

  30. Jayden Lewis. says

    “In his world, the triumphs of his favored nations are invariably described as the result of their own noble efforts, while their catastrophes are the responsibilities of powerful and unjust forces over which they have no control”

    How is this different than every other leftist in the world. They are never responsible for any bad happening ever.

    Just look at Hillary. She was a horrible candidate, ran a horrible campaign and only lost because of “Russia”

    • Richard Di Lorenzo says

      Hillary campaign spend: 1.2 Billion US. Trump campaign spend. $600,000 + Russian spend. 1 million? 10 million? 50 Million? It remains that Hillary spent basically twice Trump but still lost. Amazing really. By the way. Chomsky net worth over 5 million. Not including pensions.

  31. Ashley says

    I continue to be astounded that this senile idiot is taken with any degree of seriousness when it comes to geo politics. A literal communist apologist for most of his life, he’s been making up lies for near 40 years that would make even the most committed party worker blush.

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  35. hunter says

    Chomsky, like Ehrlich, are both holdovers from the sixties who have peddled their bs long past the time it is obvious they are wrong.
    Yet somehow both get away with peddling their respective deceptions.
    Thank you for taking on Chomsky.
    I hope he lives long enough to see his reputation in tatters as it deserves.
    Your essay is bold, accurate and indightfin.
    Thank you.

  36. Isaías says

    To begin with, congratulations for this excellent article. On equal parts, it accurately depicts Venezuela’s current catastrophe and Noam Chomsky’s miserable moral stance.
    Noam Chomsky is an eminent linguist, arguably one of the fundamental figures in that field of knowledge, on a par with Ferdinand de Saussure, Roman Jakobson, and the like. Period.
    To call Chomsky a historian is a disservice to the august tradition of History. At best, he is a cherry-pickin’ historian, which means he is no historian at all. For decades he has been writing piles of propaganda and nauseating pamphlets with the conclusion already written from the get-go, namely the West is to blame and the US is its Prophet. He always boasts his so-called overwhelming expertise citing time and again only the pieces of evidence that support his claims, while systematically downsizing or outrightly ignoring everything else, for fear his ideological castles in the air crumble to pieces. Everything he writes on contemporay history is simplistic and idiotic ad nauseam, biased at best and utterly unsupported at worst, and his view on Venezuela’s tragedy is no exception.
    Apart from all the pertinent information offered in this article, it should also be noted that it doesn’t fail to be ‘funny’ (which it means it’s not funny at all) that Chomsky is alarmed and scandalised at the possibility of a coup in Venezuela, wilfully ignoring that Chávez first came to prominence in Venezuelan politics back in 1992, when then-lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías and other military leaders attempted a coup against the constitutionally elected President Carlos Andrés Pérez, though the coup would eventually fail. Of course, someone could say Carlos Andrés Pérez was a corrupt politician, which he was, and this among other reasons explains why Chávez was immensely popular during his initial years as bully President of Venezuela. But the point is that, for Chomsky and his minions, a coup against Maduro is unacceptable, yet perfectly valid, reasonable, and even mandatory when Chavez was the protagonist. In the same vein, a possible American intervention is a despicable intrussion into a sovereign nation, yet Cuba’s pressence in the military and the secret services of Venezuela for some 20 years now is just a token of friendship.
    Such a shame that a despicable clown as Noam Chomsky still gathers so much admiration in intellectual circles.

    • Gringo says

      <

      blockquote>Chomsky is alarmed and scandalised at the possibility of a coup in Venezuela,, wilfully ignoring that Chávez first came to prominence in Venezuelan politics back in 1992, when then-lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías and other military leaders attempted a coup against the constitutionally elected President Carlos Andrés Pérez, though the coup would eventually fail.

      <

      blockquote>

      In addition, Chávez and then Maduro have celebrated the coup every year.

      • Isaias says

        Of course, just as Hitler and the nazis always commemorated the putsch in Munich in 1923. Dictators, humble guys as they are, have a curious tendency to celebrate themselves.

    • dirk says

      But, Isaias, clowns disfruit often much more attention and listening ears than wise men (mostly rather boring, and seldom say something that remains for long, even where they have the right at their side).

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  40. “Noam Chomsky has committed himself to the special and constricting idea that liberal democracies are simply scam fronts for capitalist cabals who manipulate an unconscious public as they fill their pockets with cash.”

    And yet Chomsky is a self-declared liberal who engages in an intellectually dishonest capitalist venture manipulating an unconscious public to fill his pockets with cash.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many of the most influential and powerful critics of capitalism do so from atop a mountain of cash they acquired via capitalism. How many decry the horrors of American/Western oppression apparently oblivious to the fact that if they were subjected to a tenth of the oppression they claim then they would not be permitted to make such outlandish claims and have no platform with which to spread them. How many demand that we all become more tolerant and less authoritarian by being as intolerant as possible to any who dare question their authority. Who insist that colonialism is the worst thing ever yet seem to want to unite every corner of the globe under a unified (their personal) One True Way by any means necessary.

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