The Wit and Wisdom of Noam Chomsky

Compiled by Paul Bogdanor

ON COMMUNISM...

“One might argue, at least I would argue, that council communism... is the natural form of revolutionary socialism in an industrial society.”
(Government in the Future [Seven Stories Press, 2005], p. 27)

ON POVERTY...

“if we ever get anything like a kind of just society, things like my standard of living may very well not exist. In that sense, there will be, I think, material deprivation in some manner for a large part of the population. And I think there ought to be.”
(Interview, Black Rose, No. 1, 1974)

ON REVOLUTION...

“I suppose that, at some point, the ruling class will simply strike back by force, and there has to be defense against that force, and that probably means violent revolution.”
(Interview, Black Rose, No. 1, 1974)

ON TERROR...

“If it were true that the consequences of not using terror would be that the peasantry in Vietnam would continue to live in the state of the peasantry of the Philippines, then I think the use of terror would be justified.”
(Alexander Klein, ed., Dissent, Power and Confrontation [McGraw-Hill, 1971], p. 119)

ON DICTATORSHIPS...

— Maoist China

“But take China, modern China; one also finds many things that are really quite admirable... a good deal of the collectivization and communization was really based on mass participation and took place after a level of understanding had been reached in the peasantry...”
(Alexander Klein, ed., Dissent, Power and Confrontation [McGraw-Hill, 1971], pp. 117-8)

— Stalinist North Vietnam

“I would like to express the great joy that we feel in your accomplishments... Your heroism reveals the capabilities of the human spirit and human will.”
(Radio Hanoi, April 14, 1970)

— Pol Pot’s Cambodia

“the evacuation of Phnom Penh, widely denounced at the time and since for its undoubted brutality, may actually have saved many lives. It is striking that the crucial facts rarely appear in the chorus of condemnations.”
(After the Cataclysm [South End Press, 1979], p. 160)

ON AMERICA...

“Such facts as these... raise the question whether what is needed in the United States today is dissent or denazification... I myself believe that what is needed is a kind of denazification.”
(Ethics, October 1968)

ON REPUBLICANS...

“The new Republicans represent a kind of proto-fascism. There’s a real sadism. They want to go for the jugular. Anybody who doesn’t meet their standards, they want to kill, not just oppose, but destroy.”
(The Progressive, March 1996)

ON ZIONISM...

“Hitler’s conceptions have struck a responsive chord in current Zionist commentary.”
(Fateful Triangle [rev. ed., Pluto Press, 1999], p. 208)

ON JUDAISM...

“In the Jewish community, the Orthodox rabbinate imposes its interpretation of religious law... Were similar principles to apply to Jews elsewhere, we would not hesitate to condemn this revival of the Nuremberg laws.”
(Foreword, Sabri Jiryis, The Arabs in Israel [Monthly Review Press, 1976], p. viii)

ON ISRAEL...

“Israel’s ‘secret weapon’ ... is that it may behave in the manner of what have sometimes been called ‘crazy states’ in the international affairs literature... eventuating in a final solution from which few will escape.”
(Fateful Triangle [rev. ed., Pluto Press, 1999], pp. 468-9)

ON JEWS...

“The Jewish community here is deeply totalitarian. They do not want democracy, they do not want freedom.”
(Interview, Shmate: A Journal of Progressive Jewish Thought, Summer 1988)

ON ANTISEMITISM...

“Jews in the US are the most privileged and influential part of the population... privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98% control. That’s why antisemitism is becoming an issue.”
(Variant, Scotland, Winter 2002)

ON THE HOLOCAUST...

“I see no antisemitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the holocaust.”
(Quadrant, Australia, October 1981)

ON THE COLD WAR...

“in comparison to the conditions imposed by US tyranny and violence, East Europe under Russian rule was practically a paradise.”
(Letter, in Alexander Cockburn, The Golden Age Is In Us [Verso, 1995], pp. 149-151)

ON 9/11...

“for the first time in history the victims are returning the blow to the motherland.”
(La Jornada, Mexico, September 15, 2001)

ON AL-QAEDA...

“It’s entirely possible that bin Laden’s telling the truth when he says he didn’t know about the [9/11] operation.”
(9-11 [Seven Stories Press, 2001], p. 60)

ON LIBERATING AFGHANISTAN...

“Western civilization is anticipating the slaughter of, well do the arithmetic, 3-4 million people or something like that... Looks like what’s happening is some sort of silent genocide... we are in the midst of apparently trying to murder 3 or 4 million people...”
(Lecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 18, 2001)

ON LIBERATING IRAQ...

“But here’s a way to liberate Iraq... No US casualties, no threat to Israel, good chance of bringing democracy... Help Iran invade Iraq... They have a fair chance of introducing democracy.”
(Interview, The New Yorker, March 31, 2003)