HomeUncategorizedLetter to Noam Chomsky

Letter to Noam Chomsky

Hello sir. My friends and I here in Eugene, Oregon (and elsewhere)—all liberally educated but not institutionally employed thinkers—have been wondering about something we are seeing in our friends working in professional positions that we used to be on the same page with. In all respect, how is it that so many great minds, even those such as yourself that have done so much to educate us on propaganda, have been more or less going along with one of the biggest propaganda campaigns in history. So many communities, not just political alliances, have been cut down the middle with the polarizing biopolitics of the past year. Friendships and marriages are dissolving over this thing. We are seeing it all around us. I had never imagined politics could change so suddenly. 

In retrospect the fault lines have been growing around certain issues for some time. Those more tolerant of the emerging biosecurity state may see this split, happening more radically in ostensibly “liberal”, urban, and educated communities, as being due to the growing prevalence of conspiracy culture, social media or of general failures of education. I suspect that, given your distaste for continental theory, you might also consider the various counter-enlightenment trends in our culture and educational system to be at fault. But I would hope you can see that this is not just a case of the more paranoid or unscientific of us being duped by conspiracy theory, but actually something far more important. 
I hope you can see that the past year has been a huge leap forward in the totalitarian processes that anti-authoritarians such as yourself have, up till now, been more or less resisting, but now, for various reasons, not so much. While I know these leaps have been going on for sometime, the fact that the system has found reasons that esteemed fighters such as yourself do not object to, is extremely significant in itself.

This failure of the so-called Left has pushed populist energy even more to the political Right, when this could have been a time of transition to a more unified populist front. I was hoping you would consider changing your stance, given your power over the discourse of the populist Left. I was wondering if you had ever read Ivan Illich, specifically his book on medicine. It is almost half a century old, and yet, suddenly now, the most relevant book in the world (in the opinion of my friends and I). And while I think some of the more foundational reasons behind our different takes on this new paradigm, necessarily bring up metaphysical issues and entrenched gulfs in basic standards of evaluation, Illich’s work seems to me to be a possible bridge between the very polarized sides of this non-debate. While Illich does fall more firmly on my side of this cultural divide over science and technocracy, his critiques I think would not be wholly anathema to your general system of theoretical positions. In any case, thank you for all your work and your time. ~Adam

His response: “I read Illich.  Found him thoughtful and intriguing but not ultimately very persuasive”