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December 02, 2004

What Kind Of A World Are We Leaving For Our Children?

What kind of a world is it where my mother -- a nice middle-aged lady who only hates America a little and only sort of wants the terrorists to win -- calls me and suggests I listen to an interview with Noam Chomsky? Clearly, it is a world gone mad.

So I listened to the interview, and it's interesting, although with few surprises for the Chomsky-heads among us.

Whenever I hear Noam Chomsky, and the berserk reactions to him, it makes me think of the character of Goldstein in 1984 -- and the berserk reactions to him. Goldstein is Oceania's symbol of all that is evil, and the focus of their daily Two Minute Hates:

Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party -- an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought....

The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!' and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off.

For instance, whenever I see David Horowitz's denunciations of Chomsky, I imagine Horowitz's feverish concern that others, less level-headed than himself, may be taken in by the devious linguistics professor. And then when Andrew Sullivan was on Bill Maher's show with Chomsky, Sullivan was one second away from shrieking "Swine!" at him. If Sullivan had done so, he probably would have then -- not having a Newspeak dictionary -- thrown his own poop.

It's too bad George Orwell can't come back to life for a moment or two, so he could see characters from his book walking around in 21st century American. Then, if he had an extra second before he had to return to the grave, he could give Andrew Sullivan the finger.

Posted at December 2, 2004 02:02 AM | TrackBack


No no no no no no no. Osama couldn't be Goldstein. Goldstein has to be an internal traitor, allied with our enemies in Eurasia. You have to have internal enemies like Goldstein (Chomsky) to focus on, or else you can't really get the purges up and running.

Man, don't you know anything about running a totalitarian society?


Thanks for mentioning that. I hadn't seen it.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at December 3, 2004 08:35 AM

Hi, I agree he is like Goldstein, and also a bit like Snowball the pig from Animal Farm who serves the same purpose.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at December 5, 2004 12:44 AM

Not to worry. Orwell had plenty of his own characters walking around in HIS time.

Posted by: Alexis at December 6, 2004 01:49 PM