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Chomsky: Not 'Beyond the Pale'

October 18, 1987

I do not completely disagree with Steve Wasserman's opinions about Noam Chomsky expressed in his review of "The Chomsky Reader" (The Book Review, Aug. 30); certainly it is true that Chomsky has been "banished to the margins of political debate." But Wasserman's conclusion that Chomsky has "little to add to the political debate over American foreign policy" is nonsense.

His contention that Chomsky is unoriginal because parts of his critique are derived from the ideas of Gabriel Kolko and Herbert Marcuse misses the point that these ideas might well be what is needed in a political atmosphere that runs from the extreme right to the liberal center. (It could not be that Wasserman thinks that "these ideas" are already over represented.)

Chomsky is chided for lack of criticism of the Sandinistas. If the truth be told, any discussion of Sandinista politics should be prefaced with an admission that the Sandinistas constitute the best government Nicaragua has had during this century.

After 10 years of teaching international affairs I am convinced that the exclusion of Chomsky (and others on the left) from the debate is a major contributing factor in the high level of ignorance that most Americans show when asked about world events. Wasserman's belief that Chomsky is "beyond the pale" does not constitute a valid counter argument to the complex indictment of American foreign policy that Chomsky has spent 20 years developing, nor does it constitute a valid review of his latest book.

JAMES MAMER

Irvine

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