Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Chomsky, Avram Noam (1928–)

Linguist, philosopher, and critic of American foreign policy. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 7 December 1928, Noam Chomsky as a teenager proofread the work of his father, a noted Hebrew scholar, on a medieval Hebrew grammar, contributing to his own interest in linguistics. In his youth Chomsky also developed an interest in politics and Zionism.

Chomsky earned a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. He eventually became a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His linguistic studies led him to critical analyses of the behavioral movement headed by B. F. Skinner.

During the Vietnam War Chomsky was active in the antiwar protest movement, severely criticizing American foreign policy in his book American Power and the New Mandarins (1969). There followed a steady stream of articles and books critical of American politics and foreign policy. Among his books are Towards a New Cold War: Essays on the Current Crisis and How We Got There (1973), For Reasons of State (1973), and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988).

While Chomsky's political views have evolved over the years, they may best be described as anarcho-syndicalist. Chomsky sees syndicalism as the ordering principle in an anarchist world. He would replace states and corporate capitalism by groups of laboring people democratically controlling the means of production. Chomsky's criticism of Israel has been described as both anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic, something he vehemently denies. While he has at times been critical of the policies of socialist states, he has been a persistent critic of U.S. policies.

Andrew Jackson Waskey


Further Reading
Collier, Peter, and David Horowitz, eds. The Anti-Chomsky Reader. San Francisco, CA: Encounter Books, 2004.; Maher, J., and J. Groves. Introducing Chomsky. Cambridge, MA: Icon Books, 1999.
 

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