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Brief Conversation with Noam Chomsky

Hi ,
I was always an admirer of Noam Chomsky and his philosophy , which some might consider far left but he has been proved correct over time on many issues. It was always my dream to have a conversation with him , so I thought let me try emailing him . (He is a professor at MIT so his email is publicly available ) . I had almost no hope that there will be a response , but to my great surprise and joy he promptly replied the next day ( albeit in very economic use of words ) and even responded to a follow up email . I wanted to share the conversation here so that everyone can get a peek into this great mind whose is widely considered as the leading and foremost intellectual alive in the world today . You may feel my questions are pretty amateurish ..and rightly so as I am more of a fan boy . It’s completely fine if someone does not endorse his world view and I must say I have a few disagreements on his philosophy as well . I have put the email in conversation Mode as he replied to my queries inline the email . Noam Replies are in brackets .Comments are welcome .

Dear Sir ,

I am kinda nobody , originally from India working in a IT company in Bahrain ( Middle East ) . I was introduced to your work and your views by my Swedish friend who is a great fan of yours . And I must confess I became your fan when I heard you speaking on one of the debates on Middle East on Democracy Now . I find your views balanced and unbiased but I do have some questions ..and I know it will be expecting a lot to get a reply ,but I thought why not give it a try . I am no intellectual , no celebrity , not a degree holder in politics or linguistics , so I will be over the moon if I do get a reply from you .

( "Nobody is nobody. Deluged with mail, so brief, below. I have to set tight priorities. One is that I do not discuss personal matters.")

Sir ,

1. I want to know your view on life and its purpose . What you think a human being should live for. We all know that all of us can’t be successful , for every success there are hundreds of failure . And even the success is transitory . It drives one until its achieved and then man fights to maintain what he has achieved. Many of us just live to survive. If we are not religious and not bound by any faith and ideas like reincarnation what should be our motivation to live , and what you would call a successful life .


("Up to each of us to determine for ourselves.")

I don’t know your spiritual side nor would I want to know . It’s a personal thing and should remain so . But for me discounting all the scientific evidence against the religious views isn't logical . But yeah we all have rights to our views and beliefs . But then people blame you for siding with Arabs against Israel . Living among Arabs being a non-Arab , I see the mess this world is with sectarian religious beliefs . The geo political conflict on Shia Sunni lines is killing millions which just makes no sense. Don’t you think this religion needs reformation from the very core and do you think that their opposition to accept Israel as a country will stand the test of time in future .

("The Sunni-Shia conflict is horrendous. Of course it has deep roots, but it was pretty much under control until the invasion of Iraq, the worst crime of the century, carried out by an evangelical Christian extremist who informed us that he was following the command of his Lord. Yes, religion can sometimes be a very severe problem. Christianity is a prime example. Hinduism is another.")

Ultimately it brings me to the question . How you see this world surviving the next Protected content . You won’t be there nor would I be , but do you think this world can survive with so many nuclear capable nations , so many people willing to die and kill and all this corporate Funded Democracy which we see in most part of the world . Or do you think a world-wide revolution happening being in the age of Information that we are living in , where the common people will all rise up and throw away all these centres of power which is keeping this world hostage or we all human will always in essence will stay as a slave of greed .

("Chances of decent life surviving for Protected content is slight. Nuclear war is one problem. Global warming another.")

You as such a regarded intellectual might laugh on my email . I don’t expect a reply ..that’s too much to ask . Would be enough if you read it . Even if you send me its acknowledgement I will be over the moon .
Your Admirer from the Other side of the World .

Raghu

Dear Sir ,

I can’t believe you actually replied to me . I am so over the moon and speechless. Nothing can be more wonderful than to get a personal response from your hero and guru . Thanks a lot for the same .
I agree with your views entirely . Just one more thing . You mentioned Hinduism as example of problems with religion . Is it because of the Caste-ism or Varna System inherent to the religion ? Also as you said you won’t be sharing anything personal , and I respect that so I won’t be asking about spirituality and what it means for you . But that has been a question on my mind for a long time .

("That, and also Hindutva and the RSS.")

Thanks a lot for your response again Sir .

Have a great year ahead .

World Forum