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.