by Anthony Arnove
May 15, 2008
Noam Chomsky has been a dedicated opponent of war and injustice for more than half a century. His dozens of books and writings for innumerable journals have made him one of the best-known radical voices in the U.S. and around the world, responsible for contributing to the commitment and shaping the thinking of countless people.
This year, the New Press published The Essential Chomsky, a collection of Chomsky’s writing on not only politics, but linguistics and more. The book was edited by SocialistWorker.org columnist , author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal. Here, we republish Anthony’s introduction from the book, with permission from him and New Press.
FROM HIS early essays in the liberal intellectual journal The New York Review of Books, to his most recent books Hegemony or Survival, Failed States and Interventions, Noam Chomsky has produced a singular body of political criticism.
American Power and the New Mandarins (1969), his first published collection of political writing (dedicated “To the brave young men who refuse to serve in a criminal war”), contains essays that still stand out for their insight and biting sarcasm nearly four decades later. “It is easy to be carried away by the sheer horror of what the daily press reveals and to lose sight of the fact that this is merely the brutal exterior of a deeper crime, of commitment to a social order that guarantees endless suffering and humiliation and denial of elementary human rights,” Chomsky wrote in that book, setting himself apart from the vast majority of the war’s critics who saw it as a “tragic mistake,” rather than as a part of a long history of U.S. imperialism.
Since 1969, Chomsky has produced a series of books on U.S. foreign policy in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, all the while maintaining his commitments to linguistics research, philosophy and to teaching. And throughout, he has consistently lent his support to movements and organizations involved in efforts for social change, continuing a tradition of intellectual and active social engagement he developed early in his youth.
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