Noam Chomsky

There is a compilation of Noam Chomsky’s media appearances making the rounds on the internet. It is entitled “Manufacturing Consent.” But, typically, it presents the personality/celebrity, rather than the process Chomsky pretends to resent.

Let me just say I recognize Chomsky’s dilemma. His effort to reduce language to a formula failed. Trying to assign basic meanings to phonemes that feature in multiple languages did not work. I knew that after taking linguistics courses in the summer of 1962.

But that is sort of irrelevant. The title of the video production, “Manufacturing Consent” is not. Indeed, it is characteristic in that manufacture, which used to define human individuality, is being applied to an intellectual attitude or idea that is divorced from material reality.

Plato argued on behalf of idealists that first comes the idea; then comes the reality. Perhaps for some people it does. Perhaps it is because they are out of touch with the tangible material world and rely on what they imagine. Perhaps they prefer to elevate the importance of what they think over what their senses perceive. Perhaps their sensory perceptions are dulled. Certainly Plato’s denizens of the cave seem bereft of the sense of sound, touch and smell, in addition to being immobile. Perhaps they had to be in a state of sensory deprivation in order to be led into the light. Leaders require followers to be insensate and dumb.

That is not quite correct. Modern experience tells us that making noise is not disqualifying for followers.