"People are dangerous. If they're able to involve themselves in
issues that matter, they may change the distribution of power, to
the detriment of those who are rich and privileged."--Noam
ChomskyNoam Chomsky has been praised by the likes of Bono and Hugo
Chavez and attacked by the likes of Tom Wolfe and Alan Dershowitz.
Groundbreaking linguist and outspoken political dissenter--voted
"most important public intellectual in the world today" in a 2005
magazine poll--Chomsky inspires fanatical devotion and fierce
vituperation. In The Chomsky Effect, Chomsky biographer Robert
Barsky examines Chomsky's positions on a number of highly charged
issues--Chomsky's signature issues, including Vietnam, Israel, East
Timor, and his work in linguistics---that illustrate not only "the
Chomsky effect" but also "the Chomsky approach." Chomsky, writes
Barsky, is an inspiration and a catalyst. Not just an analyst or
advocate, he encourages people to become engaged--to be "dangerous"
and challenge power and privilege. The actions and reactions of
Chomsky supporters and detractors and the attending contentiousness
can be thought of as "the Chomsky effect." Barsky discusses
Chomsky's work in such areas as language studies, media, education,
law, and politics, and identifies Chomsky's intellectual and
political precursors. He charts anti-Chomsky sentiments as
expressed from various standpoints, including contemporary Zionism,
mainstream politics, and scholarly communities. He discusses
Chomsky's popular appeal--his unlikely status as a punk and rock
hero (Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is one of many rock and roll
Chomskyites)--and offers in-depth analyses of the controversies
surrounding Chomsky's roles in the "Faurisson Affair" and the "Pol
Pot Affair." Finally, Barsky considers the role of the public
intellectual in order to assess why Noam Chomsky has come to mean
so much to so many--and what he may mean to generations to
come.Robert F. Barsky is Professor of English, Comparative
Literature, French, and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. He
is the author of Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent (MIT Press),
Constructing a Productive Other, Introduction a la theorie
litteraire, and Arguing and Justifying. He is currently completing
a book on Zellig Harris, for The MIT Press."
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