Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Quality of Life Improvement 26: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky

Yes, we know that the gray, murky world of human affairs is anything but sybaritic. We're featuring this particular Quality of Life Improvement because we believe that it may actually change your life for the better, in a way that's different from a holiday on Maui or a new pair of Louboutin pumps—the normal fare for The Hawaiian Sybarite.

Noam Chomsky is to us like Betty White: someone who's not allowed to ever die, or at least not allowed to die before us. Together with perhaps Norman Finkelstein and Marianne Faithfull, Chomsky is one of the few living heroes that we have, and it will be a dark day for us when he's gone.

Chomsky, known originally for his work in the field of linguistics, came to be known as a political figure when he wrote in explicit opposition to the war in Vietnam in 1967. He soon became better known for his articulate, often disturbingly accurate political talks and essays rather than his life's work in linguistics and, according to the New York Times, in the intervening four decades has also become "the most widely read American voice on foreign policy on the planet today." Though now 81 years old, his prolific output of political commentary has continued at pace to his latest book, Hopes and Prospects.

Hopes and Prospects contains—hold on to your hats—Chomsky's hopes and prospects for the future of humanity. Critics of Chomsky abound, and one of the criticisms most often assigned to him is that his work is heavy on vituperation, doom and blame but runs thin on practical solutions. Chomsky contends that he offers plenty of rational, even conservative solutions, but they simply aren't the ones preferred by those in power.

Hopes and Prospects is intended to present contemporary problems (interestingly and appealingly, the chapters are arranged geographically) and then offer workable solutions.

"In dissecting the rhetoric and logic of American empire and class domination, at home and abroad, Chomsky continues a longstanding and crucial work of elucidation and activism," reads the book's review by Publisher's Weekly, "[and] the writing remains unswervingly rational and principled throughout, and lends bracing impetus to the real alternatives before us."

Of local significance, Noam Chomsky attains an almost sainted position with us at The Hawaiian Sybarite because he never forgets the crimes committed against Hawaiʻi by the United States. In Hopes and Prospects alone, the subject of US aggression against Hawaiʻi receives two mentions. While we pray that he will eventually give us his evaluation of the hopes and prospects for our archipelago, in comparison to the catastrophes and atrocitites that beset those nations mentioned in Chomsky's Hopes and Prospects, our very real grievances appear to be less urgent.

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