Episode 68: Chomsky on Ukraine, and the Universal Grammar of Whataboutism (with Bill Weinberg)

The co-hosts and Bill Weinberg––the noted journalist, podcaster, and anarchist raconteur––engage in a wide-ranging critique of Noam Chomsky’s statements about the Putin regime’s war against the Ukrainian people, and of Chomsky’s ideology and political activity over the last several decades. They discuss Weinberg’s recent CountervVortex podcast episode, “Against Chomsky’s Genocide Complicity,” Chomsky’s statements on the war against Ukraine in recent interviews in Current Affairs and Truthout, and the open letter in which Chomsky’s Ukrainian translator called him out. Weinberg provides a synopsis of Chomsky’s most sordid political interventions during the last 45 years. He and the co-hosts also discuss Chomsky’s top-down “realist” orientation to world affairs, centered on struggles between “great powers,” and whether it has anything in common with either anarchism or Marxism. Finally, they discuss the so-called “Chomsky rule,” which is meant to justify centering one’s politics around opposition to the violence perpetrated by “one’s own” state. What is the logic of this “rule,” what are its ethics, and what accounts for its widespread appeal?

During the segment, Weinberg recommends the English-language website of the Ukrainian socialist group Sotsyalnyi Rukh (Social Movement): https://rev.org.ua/english/ .

Plus current-events segment: “SCOTUS Abrogates Right to Abortion and …?”: on Alito’s draft decision eliminating the Constitutional protection against forced childbirth and its implications for our remaining rights.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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May 13, 2022

1 Comment

  1. Why is the Chomsky-rule appealing to many?

    My view is that, in addition to having a kernel of truth to it, there is also the issue that many find it hard to challenge. The rule looks sophisticated, and looks true, at the surface. And in today’s climate, where many people just consume without thinking critically, well, there you have it, IMO. Not thinking critically is a mental shortcut, which is itself appealing because it is convenient.

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