Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Anti-American = anti-Soviet

My sleeping pattern has gone to hell. It takes almost nothing to wake me up after I’ve fallen asleep. I'm really vulnerable after about an hour's sleep. Then it’s really hard for me to go back to sleep.

Beth is a night person and she likes to watch TV late into the night—although not like our friend Becky who will stay up all night watching anything, even infomercials and Fox news—and it doesn’t take much to get me awake again. It’s depressing. She’s taken the summer off from working and for her that means sleeping as much of the day as possible; when she’s awake it’s often after dark. I don’t get it. Sleeping through the days is, for me, an indicator of daytime as being something to avoid. When I was younger and laid up with a broken bone, it seems like I spent a lot of time being awake late at night. It isn’t a good association.

I keep thinking of the old phrase from Eric (”Games People Play”) Berne, about Waiting For the Mortician as a way to structure time. I feel like time —and life—is slipping away. So, I'm awake and my mind is zipping along.

Here’s something I found while being awake too late at night. Actually, it’s pretty good. Maybe there is some benefit about to desperately looking for distraction...

CHOMSKY: The concept “anti-American” is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as “anti-Soviet.” That’s a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. Suppose someone in Italy who criticizes Italian state policy were condemned as “anti-Italian.” It would be regarded as too ridiculous even to merit laughter. Maybe under Mussolini, but surely not otherwise.

Actually the concept has earlier origins. It was used in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, to condemn those who sought justice as “anti-Israel” (”ocher Yisrael,” in the original Hebrew, roughly “hater of Israel,” or “disturber of Israel”). His specific target was Elijah.

It’s interesting to see the tradition in which the people you refer to choose to place themselves. The idea of leaving America because one opposes state policy is another reflection of deep totalitarian commitments. Solzhenitsyn, for example, was forced to leave Russia, against his will, by people with beliefs very much like those you are quoting.

I think what Chomsky is saying is that people who apply the term “anti-American” are closet fascists. They identify so strongly with the nation-state they really don’t have any selves other than as “patriots.” Oy.

Whatever: there're a lot of them out there, and most of them think the war is going well.

Hi, Talapus Pete. Glad somebody's reading! Chomsky is the Man.
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