Sunday, July 25, 2004

Chomsky And Democracy

Chomsky once argued that, "In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than just ideals to be valued - they may be essential to survival." So it would seem hard to believe that Chomsky would support dictators and tyrants who manipulate the democratic process. However, this is not the case. It almost seems as if Chomsky has signle handily taken up the struggle to legitimize the illegitimate autocrats of the world. Take for example what Chomsky has said regarding Arafat,

There has been one elected leader in the Middle East, one, who was elected in a reasonably fair, supervised election...namely Yassir Arafat.
Let's just see what Chomsky believes a reasonably fair and supervised election entails:
  1. The candidate can be guilty of crimes against humanity.[1]
  2. The date of an election can be postponed for at least 18 months to maximize the time needed until the opposition has been silenced and enough people are intimidated.
  3. A 'security' service should be set up to ward off any opposition.
  4. Blow up the houses of opposing candidates, so they get the message.
  5. Make sure that the there is hardly any real opposition so that the dictator can get almost 90 percent of the votes.
  6. Once you are elected make sure that elections are postponed almost indefinitely so no one can question your authority.
See here and here for an in-depth look at how Arafat ran his 'fair' elections.
If these are what real elections are like then democracy and the survival of human existence, as Chomsky puts it, is bleak indeed. However, one thing that people should admire of Chomsky is the fact that he did not repeat the age old lie that Mossadiq, the nationalist-socialist Iranian radical, was democratically elected in 1953. To his credit at least Chomsky couldn't bring himself and say that the elections then were 'democratic'. Moreover, in the same article Chomsky states, "Most of the governments that [America] most strongly support are brutal, vicious dictatorships. No elections, with much autocratic rule." To some extent this might be true but looking at Chomsky's own record it is actually he who legitimizes one of the most vicious and brutal dictators of them all: Yasser Arafat.


[1] Chomsky himself has claimed that Arafat is probably guilty of crimes against humanity.

12 Comments:

At July 26, 2004 at 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I would say that Suharto was more of a brutal dictator for blasting East Timor to smithereens, but the top dog of brutal dictators still is Stalin, and I just know Saddam Hussein could out-dictator Arafat.

(BTW, using only Israeli sources to prove Arafat is a dictator just screams out THIS IS AN ISRAELI PROPAGANDA FRONT.)

You know, Uri Averney has actually gone on camera meeting Arafat, shaking his hand, and appearing with him at rallies. Why not chase after him instead?

 
At July 26, 2004 at 11:45 PM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

Do you have anything relevant to say about Chomsky claiming Arafat was democratically elected or are you just going to sit there and believe that I am part of the Mossad or the Neo-Conservative cabal taking over America?

 
At July 26, 2004 at 11:47 PM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At July 26, 2004 at 11:49 PM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

BTW I never knew citing Chomsky claiming Arafat is guilty of crimes against humanity is considered an Israeli source.

 
At July 27, 2004 at 4:54 AM, Blogger LukaB said...

"... it is actually he [Chosmky] who legitimizes one of the most vicious and brutal dictators of them all: Yasser Arafat."

Reasonably fair. He didn't say they were perfect. And regardless of how flawed the elections were I don't think anybody doubts Arafat was the most popular Palestinian politician at the time. Unfortunatelly, I would say, taking into account his record of corruption and brutality, and especially after he sold out his own people for his own power (Oslo) but that's the way it is (or was, judging about the recent developments in Gaza, Palestinians are fed up with him).

His point was that Americans and Israelis are ignoring the elected leader of the Palestinian people but they are either supporting or dealing with true dictators who didn't even bother with elections.

 
At July 27, 2004 at 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Neo-con", "Mossad plot"...You've been reading Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com again, haven't you? Seriously, what Chomsky said about Arafat is pretty much what he said about Daniel Ortega of the Sandinistas, i.e., that they weren't perfect, but that they were a step in the right direction.

- Strelnikov

 
At July 27, 2004 at 12:54 PM, Blogger Dhimmi said...

"what Chomsky said about Arafat is ... that [he] were a step in the right direction."

If one considers terrorism, corruption and despotism to be a step in the right direction then I agree. Arafat was probably the worst choice the Palestinians could have chosen.

"I don't think anybody doubts Arafat was the most popular Palestinian politician at the time."

Then why have elections at all? Why not just give it to him? Does overwhelming support mean that one has a blank check to do anything?

"His point was that Americans and Israelis are ignoring the elected leader"

Your forgetting the assumption is that he was elected which Arafat truly was not.

 
At July 27, 2004 at 2:10 PM, Blogger LukaB said...

Strelnikov:
"what Chomsky said about Arafat is ... that [he] were a step in the right direction."

I have to disagree here. Don't think Chomsky would equate Arafat and the Sandinistas. At least not Arafat of the 90s and Sandinistas. The latter actually did a lot of good for thier people (but were not perfect -- who is?) while one could hardly claim that for Arafat in the 90s.
What Chomsky said about Arafat is written above. That he is the leader of the Palestinian people elected in rasonably fair elections.
And that he is a corrupt thug, gulitly of many crimes. (that's my paraphrase)
He also makes the distinction between Arafat 'the symbol of resistance' and Arafat the person.

Dhimmi:
"Arafat was probably the worst choice the Palestinians could have chosen."

I think Chomsky might agree here. Doesn't change the fact that he was chosen though.

"Then why have elections at all? Why not just give it to him? Does overwhelming support mean that one has a blank check to do anything?"

Elections of let's say the Arafat type are used to legitimise what is basically autocratic rule after the elections are over. One has to remember what Arafat's role was after the Oslo agreements -- 'keeping peace' in the occupied territories which in practise meant doing the dirty work for Israel. His crackdown on fellow Palestinians was more legitimate in the eyes of the western public as he 'won' the 'elections'.
But he didn't carry out his part of the deal. He refused to sign the 2000 Camp David agreements as they would partition the future Palestinian state into roughly 5 cantons detached from each other by Israeli settlements. That got part of the Palestinian public opinion back on his side. That's why one can say that his mandate is legitimate (though is squandering that goodwill again with nepotism&the rest -- see Gaza last week). But the US and Israel have been ignoring him since.

'"His point was that Americans and Israelis are ignoring the elected leader"

Your forgetting the assumption is that he was elected which Arafat truly was not.'

Well, he was truly elected. In flawed (or reasonably fair) elections but elected nevertheless. Compare these elections to Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi Arabian, Yemeni, Algerian, Morrocan, Tunisian, Iraqi, ... elections and tell me which leader is more legitemate, Arafat or the rest of the bunch?

[and compared to elections in all these countries, it's easy to call the Arafat elections 'reasnoably fair', no? -- another useful exercise would be to compare the Arafat elections with Central and South American elections in the 80s where 'champions of democracy' won not by planting bombs in their opponents' houses but by blowing them up, and did the same with union, curch and other leaders. And they still do it - in Colombia for one example.]

Yet the US deals with unelected representatives of all those countries, even supports financially and militarily most of them;[this goes for the Middle Eastern as well as American countries] Israel deals with most of them also. It is not because the elections are flawed that the US and Israel are refusing to negotiate with Arafat.

 
At July 31, 2004 at 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's too late, byt I agree with LukaB, and thanks LukaB, for commenting on MArk's stupidity.

- Strelnikov

 
At August 18, 2007 at 6:44 PM, Anonymous Buy Levitra said...

Great article! Thanks.

 
At August 19, 2007 at 12:06 AM, Anonymous Phentermine said...

Thanks for interesting article.

 
At September 10, 2007 at 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonimous said...

Excellent website. Good work. Very useful. I will bookmark!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home