Out of curiosity I attended a Noam Chomsky lecture last week with a few friends when he visited my home city. Swarms of people crowded one of the biggest public lecture theaters on offer. The Occupy protests were presumably put on hold for a 3 hour period. The man is treated like a prophet of the left. He of course began his career as a scientist, however. Coming from a light background in cognitive science I have great respect for his work in linguistics. He was one of the first researchers to provide empirical evidence against the 'blank-slate' theory of the human mind, the idea that cognitively we are not hard-wired at all but learn everything from 'culture'. In the realm of language, It is my understanding that Chomsky proved that the amount of data children are exposed to, from 'culture', when intuitively learning the structure of a language for the first time is insufficient to produce a working grammar. The conclusion is that the brain comes into the world prepared with content which organizes the fragmented linguistic data we are exposed to as infants. So this is, off the bat, not a traditionally 'leftist' view. It implies that humans possess a 'universal grammar', innately, and no doubt other cognitive/psychological features. There is actually such thing as a fixed 'human nature'.
But what about his politics, for which he has, for good or bad, become most famous for, at least in pop culture? I am no expert on his writings and can only note some of the main points in his lecture. He is concerned primarily with the controlling interests of the USA in other parts of the world. In this area he has an encyclopedic knowledge of modern history, and relates facts, dates and events surrounding America's persistent efforts to support often at first fringe political movements (often violent, and no matter if they were Islamic fundamentalist (Afghanistan) or brutal military regimes (south America)) in countries who's rulers were not sympathetic to America's material and strategic interests, communists first and foremost but not exclusively. Another concern relates to extent to which economic activity in advanced countries like America has shifted from manufacturing, farming and provision of services to what he calls 'financial games'. Money markets, stock markets, and other arenas in which money is made from not really doing anything of substance, while the former sectors move offshore. Thus the '1%' get richer while the nation as a whole gets poorer and decays because the bulk of the 'concrete' economic assess vanish offshore. He also went briefly into the mass media's historical tendency to stifle democratic debate about such issues and in general, being controlled as it is by this '1%'.
He did not talk about helping the poor and disenfranchised, of elevating those who cannot or will not help themselves, of the need to welcome refugees, how we are all equal, and other 'soft liberal' concerns. He was addressing structural features of culture and the domestic and foreign policy which results. He implied that a significant part of the problem is the neo-conservative right. Now in reality the left may be problematic, particularly insofar as 'soft liberal' concerns go, but an aspect of the left's more traditional focus, i.e. on improving the lives of everyday hardworking people, upheld by Chomsky, seems on reflection to be relevant. There is relevance for his views for any 'third way' political movement focused on sustainable and sensible culture, namely: There is no one in charge, and those who have most semblance of power are interested in pretty baseless wealth accumulation to while the crux of the country rots (economically, but this can be extended to culturally, environmentally, etc). Secondly, for alternative voices to be heard, it will require bypassing mass media and exposing the very specific agenda of mass media which is and eyes-wide-shut consumerism, constant support of foreign intervention, and political correctness.
Perhaps his concern with the '1%' reflects a psychological predisposition for class revenge or equality, but if it reveals aspects of reality which are relevant for nihilists, then so much the better. In addition to discussing the above ideas I want to make the point that explicitly alienating people who hold view like them will in the long term mean nothing but isolation. One can foster commonalities with others without loosing one's own unique stance.