In recent years, I’ve known many people who ask themselves, “What can I do, given the state of the world?” In the past year, this question has been especially urgent, given the toxicity of the US political scene. It’s easy to be continually distracted by the latest outrage; yet, it’s imperative that we understand more of the big picture involving the institutions that have long had significant impact on both U.S. citizens and the rest of the word.
I invite you to spend several weeks with me reading, thinking about, and discussing a few essays by Noam Chomsky, long-time MIT professor and prolific political writer. In so doing, we may encounter fresh critical perspectives, analyses, and questions, which we can bring to our own civic priorities.
Back in 1979, a New York Times reviewer said of Chomsky, “Judged in terms of the power, range, novelty and influence of his thought, Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important intellectual alive today.” Some important themes of Chomsky’s work include liberal criticism and the limits of thinkable thought; the how and why of propaganda; the responsibility of the writer and intellectual; ; the political economy of human rights; the power of activism; and the elite fear of democratic participation. He became known to the American public in the later 1960s because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. He has since been involved in issues of justice and peace regarding Israel/Palestine, East Timor, Central America, Afghanistan, Iraq, among many others.
I’ve been reading Noam Chomsky since 1985. I did my Master’s thesis on him at the Maryville School of Theology in New York in 1990 and corresponded with him occasionally through the mid-1990s. He was a major influence on my first book, Elie Wiesel and the Politics of Moral Leadership, and he is present as well in my project, The Book of Mev.
I suggest we meet for six weeks, on Saturdays at 1 pm to 2:30 from January 27 to March 2. We’ll gather at different homes and cafes from week to week. Each week we’ll read an essay, article, or interview; I’ll facilitate discussion and make sure copies of the readings are available, by print and/or digital. In between sessions, I’ll share links to videos for those who want to hear and see Chomsky in action. If there is interest, I can start a blog to share reflections and resources.
Tuition for the class is $100 by check or PayPal.
If you are interested, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know someone who might be interested in joining us, please pass on this information.