Slavoj Žižek Responds to Noam Chomsky: ‘I Don’t Know a Guy Who Was So Often Empirically Wrong’

Zizek_in_Liverpool_

Earlier this month we posted an excerpt from an interview in which linguist Noam Chomsky slams the Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, along with the late French theorists Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, for cloaking trivial ideas in obscure and inflated language to make them seem profound.

“There’s no ‘theory’ in any of this stuff,” Chomsky says to an interviewer who had asked him about the three continental thinkers, “not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it.”

Chomsky’s remarks sparked a heated debate on Open Culture and elsewhere. Many readers applauded Chomsky; others said he just didn’t get it. On Friday, Žižek addressed some of Chomsky’s criticisms during a panel discussion with a group of colleagues at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London:

Žižek’s remarks about Chomsky don’t appear until about the one-hour, 30-minute mark, but Sam Burgum, a PhD student at the University of York, has transcribed the pertinent statements and posted them on his site, EsJayBe. Here are the key passages:

What is that about, again, the academy and Chomsky and so on? Well with all deep respect that I do have for Chomsky, my first point is that Chomsky, who always emphasizes how one has to be empirical, accurate, not just some crazy Lacanian speculations and so on… well I don’t think I know a guy who was so often empirically wrong in his descriptions in his whatever! Let’s look… I remember when he defended this demonstration of Khmer Rouge. And he wrote a couple of texts claiming: No, this is Western propaganda. Khmer Rouge are not as horrible as that.” And when later he was compelled to admit that Khmer Rouge were not the nicest guys in the Universe and so on, his defense was quite shocking for me. It was that “No, with the data that we had at that point, I was right. At that point we didn’t yet know enough, so… you know.” But I totally reject this line of reasoning.

For example, concerning Stalinism. The point is not that you have to know, you have photo evidence of gulag or whatever. My God you just have to listen to the public discourse of Stalinism, of Khmer Rouge, to get it that something terrifyingly pathological is going on there. For example, Khmer Rouge: Even if we have no data about their prisons and so on, isn’t it in a perverse way almost fascinating to have a regime which in the first two years (’75 to ’77) behaved towards itself, treated itself, as illegal? You know the regime was nameless. It was called “Angka,” an organization — not communist party of Cambodia — an organization. Leaders were nameless. If you ask “Who is my leader?” your head was chopped off immediately and so on.

Okay, next point about Chomsky, you know the consequence of this attitude of his empirical and so on — and that’s my basic difference with him — and precisely Corey Robinson and some other people talking with him recently confirmed this to me. His idea is today that cynicism of those in power is so open that we don’t need any critique of ideology, you reach symptomatically between the lines, everything is cynically openly admitted. We just have to bring out the facts of people. Like “This company is profiting in Iraq” and so on and so on. Here I violently disagree.

First, more than ever today, our daily life is ideology. how can you doubt ideology when recntly I think Paul Krugman published a relatively good text where he demonstrated how this idea of austerity, this is not even good bourgeois economic theory! It’s a kind of a primordial, common-sense magical thinking when you confront a crisis, “Oh, we must have done something wrong, we spent too much so let’s economize and so on and so on.”

My second point, cynicists are those who are most prone to fall into illusions. Cynicists are not people who see things the way they really are and so on. Think about 2008 and the ongoing financial crisis. It was not cooked up in some crazy welfare state; social democrats who are spending too much. The crisis exploded because of activity of those other cynicists who precisely thought “screw human rights, screw dignity, all that maters is,” and so on and so on.

So as this “problem” of are we studying the facts enough I claim emphatically more than ever “no” today. And as to popularity, I get a little bit annoyed with this idea that we with our deep sophisms are really hegemonic in the humanities. Are people crazy? I mean we are always marginal. No, what is for me real academic hegemony: it’s brutal. Who can get academic posts? Who can get grants, foundations and so on? We are totally marginalized here. I mean look at my position: “Oh yeah, you are a mega-star in United States.” Well, I would like to be because I would like power to brutally use it! But I am far from that. I react so like this because a couple of days ago I got a letter from a friend in United States for whom I wrote a letter of recommendation, and he told me “I didn’t get the job, not in spite of your letter but because of your letter!” He had a spy in the committee and this spy told him “You almost got it, but then somebody says “Oh, if Žižek recommends him it must be something terribly wrong with him.”

So I claim that all these “how popular we are” is really a mask of… remember the large majority of academia are these gray either cognitivists or historians blah blah… and you don’t see them but they are the power. They are the power. On the other hand, why are they in power worried? Because you know… don’t exaggerate this leftist paranoia idea that  “we can all be recuperated” and so on and so on. No! I still quite naively believe in the efficiency of theoretical thinking. It’s not as simple as to recuperate everything in. But you know there are different strategies of how to contain us. I must say that I maybe am not innocent in this, because people like to say about me, “Oh, go and listen to him, he is an amusing clown blah blah blah.” This is another way to say “Don’t take it seriously.”

via Partially Examined Life

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  1. John Conolley says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 10:41 am

    It’s true that Chomsky was wrong way more than he should have been, but that doesn’t make Zizek, Lacan, and Derrida right. And I have to say I’m not impress by Zizek’s ability to pull together a sentence when he needs one.

  2. Jack says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 10:43 am

    Lacan is so intentionally obscure that Chomsky’s criticism for many practical purposes is true. But it’s weird/nonsensical when applied to Zizek as one reason he’s so popular is that he explains Lacan’s insights clearly. Has Chomsky actually read Zizek?

  3. Sam Burgum says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 10:53 am

    Thanks for the re-post :)

  4. Mike Springer says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 10:57 am

    Thank you, Sam. You have an interesting site.

  5. Poyâ Pâkzâd (@PoyaPakzad) says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 11:02 am

    For those interested in the facts and details behind Zizeks recycled slander regarding Khmer Rouge, I recommend Robert Barsky’s book “The Chomsky Effect” pp. 94-104.

  6. Od says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 11:30 am

    I find it rather depressing to see two brilliant minds like Chomsky and Zizek, who really see the bigger global picture and in my opinion are relatively on the same page in many subjects, arguing about each others approach like babies. I did not expect this from them and it surprises me. Both approaches have a lot to contribute in different ways and are useful in different situations. Instead of wasting time to find their differences, they could use it to find common ground. After all they are fighting for the same cause and against the same power structures. Such a shame.

  7. Dan McGuire says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 12:09 pm

    “The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low” – Sayre

  8. Ryosuke Yokoe says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 12:39 pm

    Chomsky’s remark seemed to be a general critique of some branches of postmodernism. He was quite harsh towards Derrida and his Deconstructionism, and as we all know he does not like Lacan at all.

  9. V says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 2:19 pm

    Great except neither Zizek nor Lacan are postmodernists, Zizek is about as anti-postmodern as it gets

  10. Ed says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 2:41 pm

    “For those interested in the facts and details behind Zizeks recycled slander regarding Khmer Rouge, I recommend Robert Barsky’s book “The Chomsky Effect” pp. 94-104.”

    Well, you could do that. Or you could do the ‘empirical’ thing and read what Chomsky and Edward Herman actually wrote at the time. There was a piece in the Nation in 1977 which wasn’t too bad, although it doesn’t stand up very well in hindsight; they were skeptical about the reports of atrocities in Cambodia, but didn’t dismiss them out of hand. Then there was their book ‘After The Cataclysm’, which appeared some time AFTER the Khmer Rouge were ejected from power, and the mass graves were already being uncovered. The chapter on Cambodia leaned much, much more heavily towards skepticism; it’s very dodgy stuff. Read it if you don’t believe me.

    Now there are a few things that should be said to contextualise it. First of all, reports of KR atrocities were being used from 1975 onwards to try and legitimise the US wars in Indo-China in hindsight; claims were also being made that a similar bloodbath was going on in south Vietnam, which definitely wasn’t the case. So it’s understandable that Chomsky and Herman should have reacted against that.

    Secondly, most of the people who have used Cambodia as a stick to beat Chomsky with since 1979 are establishment intellectuals in the US or the UK who support Washington’s foreign policy; they have absolutely no moral authority on the subject, having supported US war crimes in Indo-China (and tellingly, for all the time they spend denouncing Chomsky for what he wrote about the Khmer Rouge, they never say anything about the active, material support that the US and the UK gave to Pol Pot after 1979; in fact they actively praise Reagan and Thatcher for their Cambodia policy in the 80s, the hypocrisy is so great it’s hard not to vomit).

    And thirdly, what Chomsky and Herman wrote on the subject had no practical impact; the Nation article wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either, and ‘After The Cataclysm’ appeared after the Vietnamese army had ejected Pol Pot from power.

    But dismissing what Zizek said as a ‘recycled slander’ just won’t wash. He’s basically right about this; even if you didn’t know the full story about what was happening in Cambodia from 1975-1978 (and nobody did at the time), the ‘public discourse’ of the Khmer Rouge should have been very, very troubling. Now I think Zizek is exaggerating when he talks about Chomsky being wrong more often than anyone else (and I doubt that statement is meant to be taken literally). But he has been wrong about a few things, and he seems to be very reluctant to admit that he got something wrong; he’s never said that he was wrong about Cambodia, he’s never said that he was wrong about Robert Faurisson (to avoid misunderstanding, I don’t believe for a moment that Chomsky endorses Holocaust denial; but he showed poor judgement in that affair). So I can understand why Zizek, having essentially been branded a charlatan by Chomsky, would point out that Chomsky’s own empiricism is not exactly beyond reproach.

  11. Kate @Od says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 2:43 pm

    I wouldn’t consider a discussion such as the one that is going on between Chomsky and Zizek to be a shame; What is the benefit of avoiding disagreement with each other, on the premises of partial congeniality. If we were to confirm how much we agree with each other, because we agree on most things, we would not provoke deeper thought on those issues that remain debatable. People, even (or perhaps especially) those with great minds, will measure their ego’s against each other; by laying bear each others weaknesses both are forced to reexamine and argue their ways of thinking; rather than getting in the way, it is one of the driving forces of intellectual activity.

  12. Kresling says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 5:18 pm

    The best support for Chomsky’s accusation that Zizek is incoherent is Zizek’s defense.

  13. Alp Eren Topal says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 5:30 pm

    Sadly Zizek is pulling a straw man here. Chomsky did not claim that Zizek and others were hegemonic in the academia, he simply accused them of showmanship and obscurantism.

    What’s more, for a longer time than Zizek, Chomsky himself has been subject to the ridiculing and hostile attitude of which Zizek complains.

  14. Volition says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 6:50 pm

    ‘I Don’t Know a Guy Who Was So Often Empirically Wrong’

    Is Slavoj being empirical with his statement?

    Vol

  15. Teruyuki Harada says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 8:59 pm

    I recommend Mr. Zizek to lay out his theories with words that a twelve-year-old can understand. Then we can judge if one, some or all of them make sense and also matter. After all, what’s the point of talking or writing in a manner that gives a hard time understanding to the listener or reader?

    Prof. Chomsky’s point is further explained here: http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/chomsky-on-postmodernism.html.

  16. TestUserD says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 9:03 pm

    This reminds me of what David Bohm had to say about the rift between Einstein and Bohr. Unfortunately, even brilliant people often fail to establish a good dialogue.

  17. MidnightOwl says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 9:41 pm

    On cambodia: Chomsky’s point was that the killing by the Khmer regime was exaggerated in the West for political reasons. He said reports of millions being killed were much more likely to be thousands. He also points out that at the same time as that was going on the Western backed intervention into East Timor was killing numbers probably higher than in Cambodia at the same time – yet got absolutely 0 press coverage at the time. Maybe he was wrong on the numbers in Cambodia, (try suggesting the numbers were a lot smaller to someone – they might be inclined to liken you a holocaust denier, which is a powerful way to silence someone), maybe numbers were higher, but the political point remains the same. Western backed atrocities – capitalist state crimes – avoid bad press because it is in the interest of the owners of the press to focus on other things.

  18. MidnightOwl says . . . | July 17, 2013 / 9:47 pm

    He discusses his comments on Cambodia in this if you can find it (sadly I can’t remember where it is) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkZSmCe_u78&list=WL0EED6154FED18E29

  19. Leon says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 1:55 am

    I think for careful readers what they call theory in the humanities can be a lot of fun. I don’t see it as a conspiracy, but kind of like a game. I don’t bother to tackle some of the dry texts like Butler and Spivak, or the social justice ones, but Lacan, Derrida, Zizek, those guys actually have some interesting insights and things to say. Sure they are hard to read, but so what, if you don’t like it don’t read it. I don’t know, I like it, it’s an interesting challenge and a game to me. That’s how I think we should see Continental Philosophy. As a game. A game played with ideas, and for a thinker, It’s worth giving it a try.

    I think more than anything, reading Derrida helped me be a better reader and critical thinker. I found myself “deconstructing” everything for a while. It was cool. And Lacan to, though I too think he was probably a charlatan, he did have some really cool ideas. Language has agency and all that stuff. I was prepared to dismiss it, but then you have serious scientist like Richard Dawkins talking about memes, and I thought, that goes along with that very nicely. And maybe not in a scientific sense, but a personal and practical sense, it helps me understand life better. When I say things I don’t mean, when I regurgitate ideas I heard on the internet, when I gossip. I think, am I using language? or is it using me? It’s just an interesting way to look at things, and it has been helpful at least for me. This is just one of many many examples. Philosophy in general has helped me to think more than anything, but Continental Philosophy in particular I think has been the most fun for me.

    I’m just saying live and let live. I think there’s enough room for ideas.

  20. zoheir says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 3:31 am

    I think analytic tradition has been full of haughty and ignorant academic philosophers,From Russell’s non-sense about Nietzsche, to Carnap about Heidegger, What quine wanted to do with Derrida’s degree from Cambridge and so on, This really needs a sociological study of these philosophers to see what is going on with them

  21. iman says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 6:00 am

    Yes Dear Slavoj, I agree with you. but i don’t know why you forgot this argumentation when you were talking about Iran: do you remember you said that Ahmadinejad resisting capitalism and revolutionary guards in Iran is defending the proletariat? then the Green Movement happened in 2009 and you were shocked! it was enough to analyze the public discourses before that, but you didn’t. this is a common sickness between European leftists, esp when they are Hegelian!

  22. Amira says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 6:32 am

    This is a very interesting interaction. My only issue here is that Zizek points at a couple of occasions that Chomsky was either mistaken or presented an unsympathetic view of certain events or people. What Chomsky is saying is far more damning stating that Zizek’s entire persona and methodology is basically, a scam of words. As a chef I would compare that to one chef saying that another made a crucial error with one dish while the other chef says that the first chef’s entire repertoire and technique is completely flawed, hence tainting every dish he creates. I’m not taking sides, just stating that Chomsky’s accusation is far more severe than Zizek’s. I’ve listened to both speak / write and from the first time I heard Zizek, I chuckled feeling that his entire approach is verbose and very basic in it’s fundamentals.

  23. stevelaudig says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:11 am

    I see no point in ‘engaging” zizek as there is nothing there to engage. struggling for a descriptive here… gasbag? fatuous? lame? pointless? bizarro’s answer to ayn rand?

  24. Colin says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:17 am

    “There’s no ‘theory’ in any of this stuff,” Chomsky says to an interviewer who had asked him about the three continental thinkers, “not in the sense of theory that anyone is familiar with in the sciences or any other serious field. Try to find in all of the work you mentioned some principles from which you can deduce conclusions, empirically testable propositions where it all goes beyond the level of something you can explain in five minutes to a twelve-year-old. See if you can find that when the fancy words are decoded. I can’t. So I’m not interested in that kind of posturing. Žižek is an extreme example of it.”

    Chomsky’s all about equality, but note that it’s apparently the ideas at the bottom of continental obscuritanism which are widely accessible (once “decoded” by the kind man) to 12 year olds, whereas those who are “familiar with the sciences and other serious fields,” whatever they’re up to in their Mandarin research institutes… well, I guess you just have to be an *initiate* to get that stuff. There’s a Freudian term which quite nicely covers what’s going on with this statement, but, well… ya know…

    Chomsky is the Hugh Hefner of left-wing thinking/politics: just as what Hefner is up to was read long ago as being a mere inversion of the American Puritanism it otherwise rails against, such that it replicates many of its core tenets, so Chomsky’s “anarchism” is the deployment of American (frankly, religious and thoroughly Protestant) Puritanism in a political context. Listen to the French, Noam: while there’s certainly some bullshit in there, they’ve actually advanced in their thinking about the nature of their revolution and its rhetoric.

  25. Tony says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:24 am

    The parts of Žižek’s answer that I found most coherent and valuable were the parts where he literally said “blah blah” and “blah blah blah.”

  26. Ed says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:39 am

    “On cambodia: Chomsky’s point was that the killing by the Khmer regime was exaggerated in the West for political reasons. He said reports of millions being killed were much more likely to be thousands. He also points out that at the same time as that was going on the Western backed intervention into East Timor was killing numbers probably higher than in Cambodia at the same time – yet got absolutely 0 press coverage at the time. Maybe he was wrong on the numbers in Cambodia, (try suggesting the numbers were a lot smaller to someone – they might be inclined to liken you a holocaust denier, which is a powerful way to silence someone), maybe numbers were higher, but the political point remains the same. Western backed atrocities – capitalist state crimes – avoid bad press because it is in the interest of the owners of the press to focus on other things.”

    No, sorry, this just isn’t true – you need to read what Chomsky actually wrote at the time, not what he said much later. He wasn’t just making a comparison with East Timor. He wasn’t making a point about the western media. He was putting forward a set of assertions about what had been happening in Cambodia under Pol Pot, in a book that was published some time after the Khmer Rouge were ejected from power. Read the book, don’t just take Chomsky’s ex post facto summary of its contents at face value.

  27. Colin says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:48 am

    @Tony:

    The parts of Žižek’s answer that I found most coherent and valuable were the parts where he literally said “blah blah” and “blah blah blah.”

    If that’s the case, then how did you have the intellectual where-with-all to find your way to this post in the first place? I mean, if you can’t understand what Zizek was saying, and the value that it has, surely you don’t know how to operate a computer? It’s beyond you, right? Did your daddy sit you down in front of the screen as a way of distracting you while he was doing his tax return or something?

  28. Felipe G. Nievinski says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:42 am

    Žižek didn’t write his statements, they were transcribed from an oral interview.

  29. Jack says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:46 am

    Chomsky observes the complex empirical reality, spots patterns and tendencies, and explains them as the result of some underlying mechanism (often the logic of capital accumulation or the state’s unending quest to preserve its own power).

    In this sense, Chomsky is a materialist and a realist. However, he never states this in terms of his political writings, which sometimes makes his standpoint unclear. If he was a social scientist by trade I think he would be forced to state his theoretical groundings more explicitly.

    The claim that he is more empirically wrong than anyone Zizek knows might be because Zizek surrounds himself with other psychoanalytic bullshit-magicians who never dare look at the empirics. Chomsky is one of the most empirically rigorous academics I have ever read – although no doubt he has been wrong and tends to be too stubborn to admit it.

    Ultimately, Chomsky’s political writings are incredibly rich and insightful – if somewhat confusing because of his rejection of theoretical questions. This is probably largely due to the moral urgency in his work and his desire to clearly demonstrate unjustice to as wide an audience as possible, as quickly as possible. In contrast, Zizek avoids empirical questions and dives headlong into ‘theory’ – attempting to wed Marxism with psychoanalysis, and in the process totally throwing any semblance of Marxism in his work. Not only this, but he veils what is already bullshit in even more obscurity, before sprinkling on some platitudinal left-wing slogans that will perk the activists’ ears without offering any substantive explanation.

  30. Bill Haywood says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:56 am

    Link to the original Chomsky article that all the fuss is based on: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1365869/posts

  31. antalescu says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 10:04 am

    Zizek hasn’t said one single scientific fact or theory when Chomsky was empirically wrong…All these words for nothing :roll:

  32. Mike Springer says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 10:29 am

    Zizek’s implied argument seems to be this:

    Some of Chomsky’s propositions have been falsified. Therefore, we should pay no attention to Chomsky’s criticism of those who make unfalsifiable propositions.

    Is that a good argument?

  33. Amira says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 10:57 am

    Well Mike, it’s certainly a logical fallacy.. .It doesn’t mean Zizek’s wrong, it just means that this cannot be used as an argument to justify the conclusion.

  34. Angela Brown says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 11:07 am

    r.e. the 12 yr olds …. is that like a “no child left behind” ideology, a form of American Intellectualism for the underprivileged american adult? r.e. KR, it would be interesting to draw some parallels with Syria at this moment. Otherwise what is the point in talking about the past if not to draw relevance to current situations.

  35. Poyâ Pâkzâd (@PoyaPakzad) says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 11:33 am

    @Ed:
    i) “you could do the ‘empirical’ thing and read what Chomsky and Edward Herman actually wrote at the time.”
    ii)”even if you didn’t know the full story about what was happening in Cambodia from 1975-1978 (and nobody did at the time), the ‘public discourse’ of the Khmer Rouge should have been very, very troubling.”

    I appreciate your contextualization, and I certainly agree with both (i) and (ii). Those interested in the details should read the book, and if further interested, also read the subsequent commentary and letters, such as the one which I suggested, since it contains numerous references.

    The book is very interesting and its central thesis – which is not about Cambodia per se – is forcefully argued. It really does deserve reading for its other contents other than Cambodia (which have hardly been reviewed, in fact mostly ignored in the streams of subsequent commentary). The section on Cambodia, in which they lay out to expose media propaganda contains glaring errors and fundamental misinterpretations of Khmer Rouge programmes, which were pointed out at the time and as in the case of Zizek, endlessly recycled for slander (not out of any love for facts or Cambodian history.).

    But as Serge Thion pointed out in his defense of Chomsky in Encounter 1980, accurately in my opinion: “CHOMSKY DOES NOT WRITE ON CAMBODIA. He writes on America, or more broadly on the Western intelligentsia and the way it describes the actual sequence of events in Cambodia. He never indulges, as I do, in analyzing them. By using internal evidence, he demonstrates, in my view quite convincingly, that the Western press is guilty of gross manipulations and distortions of its own basic information, that its message is modeled inside a painless ideological framework.”

    That is basically what Chomsky (without Herman) set out to do since his first book on politics, ‘American Power and the New Mandarins’. One can only speculate what the exact division of labour between Herman and Chomsky was when writing the book.

    Yet, this Chomskyan endeavour is also the impression you get from reading After the Cataclysm. In it they write:

    “…in the case of Cambodia, there is no difficulty in documenting major atrocities and oppression, primarily from the reports of refugees, since Cambodia has been almost entirely closed to the West since the war’s end. One might imagine that in the United States, which bears a major responsibility for what Francois Ponchaud calls “the calvary [i.e. crucifixion] of a people,” reporting and discussion would be tinged with guilt and regret. That has rarely been the case, however. The U.S. role and responsibility have been quickly forgotten or even explicitly denied as the mills of the propaganda machine grind away… The record of atrocities in Cambodia is substantial and often gruesome, but it has by no means satisfied the requirements of Western propagandists, who must labor to shift the blame for the torment of Indochina to the victims of France and the United States. Consequently, there has been extensive fabrication of evidence, a tide that is not stemmed even by repeated exposure… The coverage of real and fabricated atrocities in Cambodia also stands in dramatic contrast to the silence with regard to atrocities comparable in scale within U.S. domains – Timor, for example… As in the other cases discussed, our primary concern here is not to establish the facts with regard to postwar Indochina, but rather to investigate their refraction through the prism of Western ideology, a very different task.”

  36. Radek Tanski says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 11:43 am

    http://mises.org/daily/1132

    I think that Chomsky sells too many books written for the poor to be neutral.

    I was so disappointed when this guy who is supposed to understand the big picture couldn’t be bother with economics the moment it didn’t agree with his social activism.

    Anyway.

  37. Poyâ Pâkzâd (@PoyaPakzad) says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 11:46 am

    On a different but relevant note, Chomsky doesn’t equate his political analyses or criticisms, or his empirical fact-gathering in this regard, with either “science”, “theory” or “philosophy” — unlike Zizek. What Chomsky has been saying for decades, is that far reaching extrapolations about society from the disappearing drops of knowledge attained in the sciences, are unwarranted.

  38. Rylan Chinnock says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    Everyone loves criticizing the obscure 20th century thinkers like Derrida, Zizek, Lacan, Heidegger, etc. But just to dismiss them offhand without giving a careful account of what they are actually trying to say – in short, to give them a sympathetic reading – proves that one is a fool the moment one opens one’s mouth. Nothing is easier to criticize someone for being obscure – since one can act as if they are really not saying anything at all, one therefore doesn’t have to provide a substantive critique of anything! After all, there is nothing to critique, because they aren’t even saying anything, so one can just dismiss them and then everyone will applaud and one will look very clever and obviously superior to whoever one happens to be criticizing.

  39. rvbranham says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 5:23 pm

    chomsky’s one to talk about lack of scientific rigour… his linguistic theories are not particularly held in high esteem amongst linguists these days.

  40. Dennis Eder says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 7:16 pm

    You do a disservice to your readers when you call the ‘transcript of what Zizek a response to Chomsky’s critique, or at least imply that’s what it is. His comments on Chomsky are really not at all relevant to Chomsky’s points. The implication is that there is a ‘debate ‘ here, and there is not.
    Zizek strikes out against Chomsky based on some purely articulated, out of context criticism of comments Chomsky made more than 20 years ago. It is a silly ad hominem attack , not a response to a critique. Please post this on your site for me, and for the benefit of your many readers. His response, only serves to make Chomsky’s case even stronger, that ‘this emperor has no clothes.”
    Dennis Eder -Merida Yucatan Mexico.

  41. Tony says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 8:38 pm

    @Colin: “If that’s the case, then how did you have the intellectual where-with-all to find your way to this post in the first place? I mean, if you can’t understand what Zizek was saying,” I’m not saying I didn’t understand it. After all, how would I know if I understood it? How would you? The crude colours and shapes that pop up in your mind, devoid of propositional content, may have nothing to do with the crude colours and shapes that popped into Zizek’s mind when he formed these (sort-of) sentences.

  42. Mr. Steiner says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:07 pm

    @Poyâ Pâkzâd

    Just so you know, citing Serge Thion in Chomsky’s defense is not exactly unimpeachable; Thion was a Holocaust denier.
    Regarding Chomsky’s writings on Cambodia, it is neither as bad nor good as people make it out to be. In some ways, Chomsky and Hermann did an admirable job in sifting through a myriad of media distortions. On the other hand,I think the analysis was somewhat myopic in light of the true depths of the atrocities (which were then known by the time of After the Cataclysm). One widely distributed critique of Chomsky on Cambodia is by Bruce Sharp, and can be found here: http://www.mekong.net/cambodia/chomsky.htm
    My response, here (Howard Bloom post): http://www.zcommunications.org/the-cambodia-industry-by-noam-chomsky

  43. min says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:29 pm

    again with this 12 year old understanding bullshit?

    would the good common language empiricists in the room please explain how a digital op-amp logic gate works?

    in language that a 12 year old can understand please.

  44. Antew says . . . | July 18, 2013 / 9:34 pm

    Just to be obscure … Evoking empiricism, this goes to Chomsky as well as Zizek, (and the few commentators here) to explain, prove, or ascertain obscurantism in a given thinker’s work or thought is in itself a sort of philosophical obscurantism. Why? because historically we have plenty of examples where empiricism has brought about the most obscure conclusions in social, political and even scientific fields. So what remains in this “dialogue” between the Zizek camp and the Chomsky camp seems the age old struggle of ownership of the “truth.” ” I know the truth” as we often claim. Ironically, the Continentals were trying to stay away of this claim of truth. Is that obscure enough …

  45. Poyâ Pâkzâd (@PoyaPakzad) says . . . | July 19, 2013 / 2:56 am

    Thx Mr. Steiner,
    That’s very embarrasing. I didn’t know he was a Holocaust denier. Thanks for the link, and for pointing that out.

  46. E. Byron Nelson says . . . | July 19, 2013 / 6:47 pm

    I side with Chomsky here, even though I think of the three Derrida deserves some attention from analytic philosophers, as his ideas when decoded from his albeit unnecessarily jargon-heavy writings are not trivial or untestable/unapplicable– unlike Zizek. Chomsky is an old grouch, he’s out of touch, and I very much doubt he has himself done the thorough-going, in depth research needed to make such sweeping statements with authority, but at least his statements are rational, coherent, and present a possibly verifiable position; more importantly, I would feel inclined to defend anyone against the juvenile, sub-literate rhetoric of Zizek. Zizek demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method and of basic philosophical logic when he attacks particular instances in which Chomsky has made mistakes (if you can’t see what’s wrong with this, may I suggest a good Logic 101 course?), not to mention his usual lack of basic reading and listening skills when responding to any argument or text. What a drunken blow hard!

  47. Martin says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 12:37 am

    Let me say what I think about Zizek’s answer.

    First of all, I state my agreement with Zizek: Chomsky is absolutely blind to any theory that can be formulated with total independence from empirical data; and there is lot of it, lot of theory free from “empirical evidence”. For example, not only the psychoanalytic theory of the Unconcious, but also all the structuralist frame of theories, including Marxism. The laws of the signification (signifier, subjectivity production, value of commodities, etc.) obey to different rules than the laws of physics (or, what under the appoach of a positivist wiew in social sciences can be called “methodological individualism”).

    The problem here is that we can not solve the conflict into the same common ground, because between positivism and structuralism there isn’t any common ground in which the differences can be eliminated. So, this is the problem -I think- with the reply of Zizek to the critiques of Chomsky.

    Zizek says “ok, dude… this guy -who attacks me on the basis of the fact that my work is not empirically founded- is himself EMPIRICALLY WRONG many times…”

    I think that this one is worst possible answer that Zizek could have offered !!! Indeed, Zizek gave him the wrong reply. Suppose now that Chomsky would have never been “empirically wrong” in his analysis… And then, what? Would have this fact proved then that Chomsky is right in his empirist approach and Zizek (in his structuralist one) is wrong?

    The right answer from Zizek to Chomsky should have been then the follow one: “Dear Mr. Chomsky, please notice that, EVEN IF YOU WOULD HAVE ALWAYS BEEN EMPIRICALLY ADEQUATE AND NEVER WRONG IN THE EVALUATION OF THE DATES, your empirical approach is still wrong…

    Because for the structuralist thinking all empirical data never has a value for itself, but is no more than the effect of the structure. On the other hand, as the structure is not of any empirical nature, then it can only be known through its effects…

    And, as Zizek did not answer this, the reply of Chomsky was he logical one: “Mr. Zizek, I wasn’t wrong, only my data was wrong or insufficient… So, under that situation, my conclusion had no choice but being wrong, BUT NEVER MY METHOD…”

    Chomsky: 1
    Zizek: 0

  48. Martin says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 12:44 am

    *follow one = following one
    *EVALUATION OF THE DATES = OF THE DATA

  49. ena says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 3:09 am

    Antew,
    If empiricism has ever brought about the “most obscure conclusions in social, political and even scientific fields”, it is because it was bad empiricism. Bad empiricism and bad science equals the most obfuscatory and empty verbose philosophy, or any other rhetoric or ideology for that matter – for reason of confusion and obfuscation of the very minds involved, if not outright insincerity and fraudulence as means to a desired end.

  50. Sutheeshna babu says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 9:41 am

    Whether empirism & numbers matters beyond certain points in understanding the phenomenon and processes is a matter of debate we don’t know for how long. It is both yes and no at the same time depending on how one approach it. For, we have been sufficiently exposed to it it by now. For, we have seen how it is used and misused in defending the indefensible and that is what history would tell us. Leave aside ‘hegimony” for whose sake a while for argument sake. Does not KR also prove a counter hegimonic intent against a globally oppressing regime? Perhaps it does and post-modern de-construction would Not suffice intellactual reasoning in justifying ‘hegimony of any nature. To that extend, Chomsky seems to be reckoning.

  51. Atew says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 2:26 pm

    Ena, I agree. However, making distinctions between good/bad science and good/bad empiricism in a manner that pertains to conceptual or philosophical discussion raises more (perhaps fundamental) questions: who is making the distinction?where does one position oneself in making these distinctions? what/who validates these distinctions? what other variables are at play in making these distinctions? I don’t think I am asking new questions here but there is no easy way of explaining away those concerns. What seems to work is resorting to one or another form of -ism that will help “the desired” goal of the day! And this requires to “claim some sort of truth” that makes the distinction possible. It seems increasingly acceptable to focus on the desired goal without questioning if the means used is “insincere and/or fraudulent.”

  52. Mary Ann says . . . | July 20, 2013 / 2:38 pm

    “and so on” – Zlavoj Zizek

  53. Dave Kirk says . . . | July 21, 2013 / 2:14 am

    Zizeks key point here is Chomsky derides the importace of Ideology as an empiricist. Zizeks point isnt just that ideology matters, but that you cant understand the world without a understanding of Ideology. Hence Chomsky didnt have to see the evidence of the Killing fields he should have actually looked at the ideology of the Khmer Rouge and should have seen this is were it would lead.

    The lack of Ideology in what chomsky advocates or in understanding the world leads him to ignore stuff like Hamas’s anti semitism, Cuba’s stalinism, the lack of direction in occupy or the stregnth of capitalism as an ideological concept.

  54. Gareth R. says . . . | July 21, 2013 / 1:47 pm

    Chomsky responded today, convincingly painting Zizek “completely in the grip of western propaganda”.

    Convincingly, because he uses empirical facts, not posturing language.

    http://www.zcommunications.org/contents/194150

  55. Gareth R. says . . . | July 21, 2013 / 1:53 pm

    Chomsky also levels the quite serious charge that Zizek fabricated a conversation with him.

  56. kuilu says . . . | July 22, 2013 / 2:36 am

    “Often empirically wrong” and then ONE vague example? That’s supposed to refute Chomskys arguments about Lacan and Žižek? The rest of Žižeks mumblings underline Chomskys point. Which in itself is off course a proposition, not a certainty. It’s just Chomskys careful use of words and pursue of clarity, that gives some people allusion of certainty, when it is only a matter of clarity.

    Žižek has the same problem as the whole “new left” (Negri, Hardt et al), a desperate need to come up with new tractats and idioms, as their counterpart; neocons, neoliberlars, randians etc have so surprisingly successfully done. But overtaking the debate with another kind of newspeak only serves vanguard, movements elite. In Soviet Union there were concerns about publishing Das Kapital in Russian, but then they went with it, because of its abstruse philosophical language – no-one would get, it’s hard even scholars today. Bible was kept out of ordinary people with language barrier.

    And I, and in some extend I believe Chomsky, believe that too abstract language can do harm in two major ways. First it distances the masses from the elite, for hierarchical structure this off course is not a problem. Secondly, it makes the theories and arguments more open to abuse in interpretation.

    Ending with an ageless classic: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

  57. TonyB. says . . . | July 22, 2013 / 5:11 pm

    Ugh, more ether from a pop-psychologist flogging a dead phenomenology.

    .energy sink.

  58. Sue says . . . | July 22, 2013 / 8:46 pm

    Well this feud reminds me of a passage from an anthology I’ve been reading:

    “The idea that objective observation can be performed only by an observer totally free of subjectivity involves an ideal of inhuman purity which we now recognise as being, fortunately, unattainable. But the dilemma of the subjective practitioner of objectivity persists…” (Ursula K. Le Guin)

    Both Chomsky and Zizek have been wrong because of the limits of their subjectivity, which is not a great fault, as we all are prey to this. That said this feud makes sense to me as a means of addressing the limitations of our empiricism and power of analysis.

  59. Bahram Mobasheri, PhD says . . . | July 22, 2013 / 10:04 pm

    Mr.Žižek’s remarks are pour charlatanism, unfounded accusatory bull shits with no factual references. All factual remarks I did get from this charlatan was “blah blah blah…”, the man is worse than big fat idiot Rush Limbaugh. Who he thinks and who he is trying to fool, typical FOX News audiences?

  60. nimh says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 4:27 am

    PoyaPakzad, above, points out how Serge Thion defended Chomsky’s remarks about the Khmer Rouge. It appears to be that, yes, Chomsky was wholly wrong about the Khmer Rouge, but then again, “CHOMSKY DOES NOT WRITE ON CAMBODIA. He writes on America”. I.e., he was wrong about what was exactly going on in Cambodia, but then we should remember that he was only using the example of Cambodia as foil to analyze American politics, intellectuals and media.

    This is exactly what has always annoyed me about Chomsky’s writings on various crises around the world. When he appeared to take sides in the Yugoslav wars, for example, its sole motivation was to criticize the behaviour of the West. He didn’t actually care about Bosnians or Kosovans or Serbs, and his commentary suggested he knew little about them. To him, they were just another foil – one in a long list – that could be instrumentalized for his critiques of the United States, its politics and its discourses. So he ended up taking positions that were, I felt strongly at the time, very harmful to the main victims of the Yugoslav wars – and it was because he never actually cared enough about them to really delve into what was going on; all he was interested in was the occasion to fight his political fight in and about the US. This seemed callous and unscrupulous to me.

    It’s also sadly commonplace among a certain strand of American leftists. Whenever a U.S.-based commentator now spouts off about Syria, Iraq, Libya, or any such country where people suffered and the U.S. plays, played or could play a role for better or worse, and he seems to lack much knowledge or care about the specifics of the conflict but argues passionately, and exclusively, on the basis of his expertise and concern about how pernicious the U.S./the West/U.S. neoconservatives/etc. can be, I am reminded of how Chomsky annoyed me. They’re often even right on the merits of what they say about the U.S./the West, but because that’s all they know or care about, it turns out a bit of a crap shoot whether they end up being right about the actual conflict at hand – just like Chomsky ended up horribly wrong about Cambodia.

    The underlying attitude such Americans display always struck me as a kind of mirror image of U.S. imperialism. Their ideas may be anti-imperialist, but the arrogance is still the same – inevitably, it’s still always all about them.

  61. nimh says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 4:54 am

    Above, Gareth R. provided a link to Chomsky’s answer to Zizek’s remarks. Chomsky’a answer is certainly vastly more coherent and articulate than Zizek’s remarks, though that’s also a function of comparing a transcript of ad lib remarks and a carefully crafted written piece. In his answer, however, Chomsky continues to belittle the Khmer Rouge crimes, both in comparison with the crimes in East Timor and those inflicted upon the Cambodians by the US before the KR took over. Tellingly, he thinks that this is a snarky rebuttal:

    “Cambodia scholars have pointed out that there has been more investigation of Cambodia from April 1975 through 1978 than for the rest of its entire history. Again, not surprising, given the ideological utility of the suffering of worthy victims, another topic that we discussed.”

    Personally, I also think that such focus of research is “not surprising” – considering that historians understandably tend to pay attention when a country experiences an unprecedented genocide, especially if it is one which seems unparalleled by almost anything in modern global history. Quite a lot has been written about the Soviet Union under Stalin or Germany under Nazi rule, too, for example – presumably manifold more than about any other part of the history of those countries. In fact, Vietnam’s suffering during the long years of the U.S. war there presumably also accounts for a fairly vast share of total writing about the country’s history, thanks in part to the concerned and critical focus of people like Chomsky. But in Chomsky’s perception, the focus of interest on the KR years must be evidence that his theory is right – self-evidently enough so to be fodder for snark.

  62. Poyâ Pâkzâd (@PoyaPakzad) says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 7:07 am

    Here I try to explain why it is somewhat wrong to characterize Chomsky as a proponent of “empiricism”, at least in the domain of linguistics and natural science:
    http://poyapakzad.blogspot.dk/2013/07/a-comment-on-spat-between-chomsky-and.html

  63. Monreal says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 9:34 am

    Zizek is a great showman. He loves capital as capital loves him. He is not a communist or marxist. He actually deflects people’s attention to more serious social critics and theorists such as David Harvey and Noam Chomsky himself.

  64. Reinhold says . . . | July 23, 2013 / 2:07 pm

    If you listen to the audio, Zizek laments the attribution of opposed qualities to his own thinking, namely that people consider him both an “amusing clown” and a violent and dangerous person who is “planning a new [Terror].” And then, instead of refuting this self-contradictory attribution, he laughs as he says something like “of course, I prefer the latter.” I think he is obviously feeding the self-contradictory image: he is both ironic and serious about his Leninism.

  65. Alexandre Gomes says . . . | July 24, 2013 / 7:17 am

    I believe that the true intent of Zizek is inciting Chomsky for pragmatism, as necessary to consider Ultraism, and already in “In Defense of Lost Causes” demand ideas with for fist, punch the wall of liberalism. I think Chomsky knows too much not to participate.

  66. Paul Schloss says . . . | July 24, 2013 / 1:19 pm

    It seems to me that Zizek is a liberal who pretends to be a radical, and this accounts for his ambivalent attitude towards Chomsky. On the one hand he admires him, but on the other he ignores or misreads the actual content of his views. It is just what you would expect from someone on the margins of the mainstream.

    For justification of such a position see my The Liberal Stalinist (http://serenityscience.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-liberal-stalinist.html). It is very long, and in places quite speculative. It may have some insight.

  67. Julia K says . . . | July 25, 2013 / 1:17 am

    In the audio, Zizek actually says “communist party of Korea”. Listen to it at 1:32:00

  68. Colin says . . . | July 26, 2013 / 12:37 am

    @Tony: Ah – the daddy comment was right on the money, then?

  69. Justin says . . . | July 28, 2013 / 10:20 am

    Zizek is a poseur. Chomsky is correct. Take away the verbose posturing and there isn’t anything there that a child couldn’t come up with. Some people seem to need this nonsense. But what of any substance comes from Zizek. I’m not an anarchist so I’m critical of much of Chomsky’s outlook but at the very least he writes clearly. Not so the nonsensical Zizek.

  70. Picazo says . . . | July 28, 2013 / 11:17 pm

    At least part of this polemic can be reduced to the following question: what exactly should the role of the intellectual in society be, what are his or her duties?

    Susan Sontag said that the intellectual’s duty was to truth above all, truth even at the expense of justice. To tell the truth as the intellectual sees it, and by doing so to countervail the relentless propaganda of the mainstream media.

    In those terms, there can be no question that Chomsky is right. Chomsky asks hard questions of governments, he may be wrong on occasions, but he seeks to serve the truth, to question power and to unmask it. He seems to me to be a brave man. I’m sure he must have lots of powerful enemies.

    Zizek, on the other hand, plays the part of court jester, but far too well. A court jester can be subversive too of course, a court jester can ask questions of the king. But Zizek doesn’t ask the questions, because he’s much more interested in his own jokes than he is in making the king squirm in his throne.

    Zizek likes to dance around, ring his bells and part of the role of the buffoon is to spout nonsense. The problem is that, indeed, underneath it all there is very little substance. It’s not that Zizek spouts nonsense, it’s that it’s not the right nonsense. And this becomes very obvious when Zizek actually writes something, as opposed to performing in front of a camera.

    Ask yourself this. Which of the two would capitalist power rather see the back of, Zizek or Chomsky? Of course, the answer is all to clear, they would rather see the back of Chomsky, who is a thorn in the side of America and Israel.

    Zizek they can easily accommodate, and in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zizek ended up working as a talk show host, or on some dumb reality show.

  71. dbc says . . . | July 29, 2013 / 12:51 pm

    You can clearly see that Žižek panicked, when Chomsky accused him for right reasons and he attacks in an “ad hominem” manner. Not every intelluctual has the guts to say it, however, it is true: Žižek is a poseur who is good with fancy words. Although that does not make him a less clever person, of course, and I have absolutely nothing to say about his intelligence about philosophy.

  72. FRED SCHYWEK says . . . | July 30, 2013 / 11:19 am

    Kommunikation ist, wenn man trotzdem lacht. Hier (und im Guardian) treffen sich mindestens vier Sprachen und ihre Welt (Griechisch, Englisch, Deutsch, Französisch, vielleicht auch das Spinoza-Latein des 17. Jahrhunderts) und, ganz wesentlich: der Tod. Es ist auch der Kissinger-Tod, denn seine Napalm-Bomben fielen im selben Krieg, in dem die Roten Khmer die schrecklichen Massenmorde begingen.
    Der Tod ist definitiv und absoluter Endpunkt im Leben (die Wiedergeburts-Debatte erspare ich mir an dieser Stelle, sie wäre verachtend für die Ermordeten). Hier herrscht eine nicht umkehrbare Linie, by the way: ZUKUNFT ist ein HIRNRAUM und keine Realität (nur sprachlich). Die vielen Tode haben stattgefunden auch wenn der Philosoph auf seinem New Yorker Stuhl dies nicht wahr haben wollte, was aber mehr über ihn als über die Realität aussagt (da gibt es Deutungen von Ignoranz bis Dummheit). Ich bezweifle, daß diese beide Herren den Unterschied zwischen (deutsch) im Werden und im werden begreifen, denn wie ein Großteil der Anglowelt denken sie, daß Englisch den Nabel der Welt beschreibt. Er ist ähnlich dem bei real (eingedeutscht) und wirklich (als etwas, das wirkt, also aktiv ist). Es sind aber auch diese Art Diskurse, die die Linke (die fortschrittliche, humanistische Bewegung) schwächen und ihr einen Bärendienst erweisen. Ähnliche Haltungen finde ich heute noch bei Besuchen bei Schriftstellern in San Francisco, wo teilweise noch eine Stalin-Verehrung existiert (obwohl längst bewiesen ist, daß er ein Massenmörder war). Was will man mit ihnen?

    FRED SCHYWEK
    Duisburg/Rhein
    *
    ÜBERSETZUNG
    Englisch Translation
    Annmarie Sauer

    Communication is when one laughs anyway. Here (and in the Guardian) at least four languages and their worlds meet (Greek, English, German, French, and maybe also Spinoza Latin of the seventeenth century) and, very essential: Death. It is also the Kissinger death, since his Napalm-bombs fell in the same war in which the Red Khmer committed their heinous crimes.
    Death is the final and absolute endpoint of life (I wont go into the rebirth-debate here, it would be condescending to the ones killed. Here rules an irreversible line, by the way: FUTURE is a BRAINSPACE and no reality (only linguistically). The many Deaths have taken place even when the philosopher on his New York chair doesn’t want to acknowledge this, which tells us more about him than about reality. There are interpretations going from not knowing to stupidity. I doubt that both gentlemen know the difference in German between ‘im Werden’ (a space of growth) and understanding ‘im werden’ (in becoming), because like a major part of the Anglo-world they think that English is the only descriptive language for the bellybutton of the world. The difference is similar concerning ‘real’ (Germanized) and reality (as something, which works and thus is active). It are these kinds of discourses which weaken the left (the progressive, humanist movement) and doesn’t do anything good for them. Similar attitudes I find today in visiting writers in San Francisco, where partially still exist a veneration of Stalin (although it has since long been proven that he was a mass murderer). What to think of them?

    * * *

  73. suvashis maitra says . . . | August 1, 2013 / 7:37 am

    ***

  74. Banelion says . . . | August 25, 2013 / 1:09 pm

    @nimh – It is not surprising that a lot of attention has been given to kambodia genocide, german or USSR etc, and that is exactly Noams Point. Those are all crimes that “enemies” have commited.

    He gives a counterpart, a crime “we” were commiting in East Timor. As you say it would not be surprising if more research would be spent on it that entire other period combined right? Curiously that is not what happend. There was NO MENTION of that particular genocide.

    You could go on to other genocides “we” have commited. And also you will find this suprising fact that they are not well known, researched and recorded.

  75. Sophia Polis says . . . | August 30, 2013 / 4:53 am

    I’m going to be really simple here, which will of course frustrate all you deep thinkers here, but isn’t it just his personality the way he talks and expresses his ideas. I’ve recently come across one of his talks and find what he has to say interesting, isn’t the most important aspect that his words encourage people to think, people that don’t really know much about this kind of discussion, everyday people who want to know more but are put of by all those stiff academics who appear to be self righteous. That is my rather simple view of the matter.

  76. Natasha says . . . | September 1, 2013 / 3:50 pm

    O,my god that is something that you call “discussion” in West?At least Chomsky was original and logical in his works,but this guy Zizek is really fanny..with his best argument “and so on” he wouldnt be even a student in Russia. Actually as I see all modern\postmodern\postpostmodern western philosophers are clowns who has no fresh ideas for so long time,that you really need somebody greate as Stalin to wake you up:)

  77. Sird says . . . | September 6, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    More inscrutable, evasive, purely entertaining Zizek remarks

  78. azy says . . . | September 14, 2013 / 7:50 am

    Zizek does think. Chomski doesn’t. That is why they are what they are.

  79. boki says . . . | September 15, 2013 / 5:13 pm

    Hi, please contact me on cokoholicar@gmail.com . I would like to discuss Russian philosophy and learn from what you have to say. Thank you.

  80. Bahram Farzady says . . . | October 4, 2013 / 12:11 am

    When Chomsky talks about ‘theory,’ he means to place it in inverted commas. He’s talking about french ‘theory.’ Theory and critics of ideology is all Chomsky does. He’s not a historian (in the sense of finding original data–he just reads what others have written/documentary record, etc.). In fact, his response to this in ZMagazine is a great example of that. nnnHe claims that Zizek’s focus on the Khmer Rogue just further draws attention away from East Timor atrocities and onto the subject of how terrible someone the US disagrees with and does not like is. It’s amazing that Chomsky’s extensively defended potential defense of a bad group of people not the US overshadows all the bad the US does and supports around the world. nnnThat’s a theory of how power works which Chomsky elucidates with hundreds of excellent examples, in Understanding Power (my favourite Chomsky book).nnnWhat Zizek does, as Chomsky writes in his response, is based on heresay and thin air. He actually mistakes Burlesconi for Chomsky, and attributes and racist quote of the former to the latter…. I mean, are Zizek and Chomsky even comparable?

  81. Bahram Farzady says . . . | October 4, 2013 / 12:11 am

    When Chomsky talks about ‘theory,’ he means to place it in inverted commas. He’s talking about french ‘theory.’ Theory and critics of ideology is all Chomsky does. He’s not a historian (in the sense of finding original data–he just reads what others have written/documentary record, etc.). In fact, his response to this in ZMagazine is a great example of that. nnnHe claims that Zizek’s focus on the Khmer Rogue just further draws attention away from East Timor atrocities and onto the subject of how terrible someone the US disagrees with and does not like is. It’s amazing that Chomsky’s extensively defended potential defense of a bad group of people not the US overshadows all the bad the US does and supports around the world. nnnThat’s a theory of how power works which Chomsky elucidates with hundreds of excellent examples, in Understanding Power (my favourite Chomsky book).nnnWhat Zizek does, as Chomsky writes in his response, is based on heresay and thin air. He actually mistakes Burlesconi for Chomsky, and attributes and racist quote of the former to the latter…. I mean, are Zizek and Chomsky even comparable?

  82. Jim says . . . | October 6, 2013 / 6:01 am

    So Chomsky’s work in linguistics was qualitative? Such an ignorant remark.

  83. Idicula1979 says . . . | November 3, 2013 / 11:31 pm

    The problem is that most if not all (I would say everyone except for Chris Hedges, who is brilliant I implore you all to look him up) American “thinkers”, can not see social, morel, problems but through the prism of American politics, which is nothing but loud, empty, and obnoxious.

  84. Idicula1979 says . . . | November 3, 2013 / 11:53 pm

    I’m not saying I’m an American cheerleader because I am not there is plenty of wrongs done by America. I’m not or I have not seen just a couple of meandering talks from Zizek, Because I have but his tens of brilliant speeches makes up for his ones of rantings. But Zizek absolutely is the better over Chomsky, who in his mind thinks America is just a blight on human history.

  85. Manish kumar verma says . . . | December 13, 2013 / 11:22 pm

    Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.nnfree online courses

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