Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Chomsky/Blankfort Polemic and the philosophy of conspiracy theory

This interview (or here or here), by Silvia Cattori of  Jeffrey Blankfort, is the single most important thing to read about the pernicious influence of the Israel Lobby on American policies.  I need to write more about this, but Blankfort touches on the basic philosophical debate between conspiracy theory, which focuses on what actually happens in the world (and really needs more respect and a philosophical structure), and doctrinaire Marxism, which ties to fit every issue into the Procrustean bed of class analysis.  Why Marxism, which has been disproved in every possible way in praxis is still so compelling in theory to so many people is one of the great mysteries of our times.  I’ve got nothing against class analysis – it’s certainly the single most useful way to analyze many political and social issues – but the idea that it is the only permissible way to analyze what happens in the world is, in a word, moronic.  Why would anyone think that any big issue can only be dealt with by one privileged form of analysis?  Chomsky’s blindness to the truth – he also has a huge problem with conspiracy theory generally, including all the theory about the JFK assassination – comes from the fact he is still a Marxist at heart.  Many influential thinkers who developed their ideas in the 1940’s and 1950’s and 1960’s have the same problem.

This debate is now being framed around the issue of the attack on Iraq.  The Marxists and their fellow-travelers, most of whom don’t even realize who they are traveling with (!), claim that we cannot blame Israel for the attack.  The attack had to be caused by the class interests of the most powerful American elites, who are now manipulating facts to put the blame on poor, innocent Israel.  We hear lots of talk about oil, geopolitics and the American Empire, even though the only real evidence of actual causation has nothing to do with any of these factors.  We have to throw away theory which leads us astray.  More later.