A simplistic "analysis" of Latin American politics and history replete with Chomsky's typical trite statements about the indisputable evil of the moti...moreA simplistic "analysis" of Latin American politics and history replete with Chomsky's typical trite statements about the indisputable evil of the motivations of American politicians and foreign policy. Heinz Deiterich writes in the introduction to the volume that "Noam Chomsky provides us with the epistemological and political keys to the liberation of our America: a scientific understanding of the history of Latin America and the history of the United States." In fact, Chomsky is anything but scientific in his approach and his work, by distorting Latin American history and politics, diminishes rather than enhances our understanding of the region and does a great disservice to the movement for its liberation from the systems of global capitalism and imperialism.
Chomsky's distortions occur through his extreme moralism, which simplistically divides the world into "good" and "evil" and thereby precludes true critical analysis of either US or Latin American history or politics, and through his tendency to focus obsessively on Washington rather than grant independent agency to actors in the rest of the Americas.
This latter issue -- Chomsky's insistence that the path of Latin American politics is essentially decided in Washington -- itself smacks of a form of American chauvinism, the reciprocal of the traditional theory of "American exceptionalism." The United States, in Chomsky's view, is exceptionally bad -- and Latin America is nothing more nor less than its victim. This infantilism of the region -- which has many of its own problems independent of US foreign policy -- is both offensive in the extreme and a major obstacle for those seeking in Chomsky's work an accurate analysis of the region's politics which might inform their participation in the movement for liberation.
Finally, it should also be noted that the book is riddled with historical inaccuracies, such as the editors' minimal description of Bartolome de las Casas as a "writer of the sixteenth century" (although he wrote books, he was in fact a priest and a thinker and the description of him as a "writer" is misleading in the extreme), and with unfair mischaracterizations, such as Chomsky's intentional polemical distortion of Carlos Fuentes' stance on the history and legacy of colonialism. Reading this book, one gets the feeling that Chomsky intentionally misinterprets history in order to support his ideological position -- such a juvenile maneuver cannot but serve to harm the struggle by warping our analysis of the current historical moment. "Latin America: From Colonization to Globalization" is an absolute zero, perhaps useful to understand Chomsky but not at all useful to understand Latin America. (less)
"In a revolution excesses are the norm, and the historian who does not accept that does not accept the revolution and therefore cannot write its histo...more"In a revolution excesses are the norm, and the historian who does not accept that does not accept the revolution and therefore cannot write its history." -- CLR James, The Black Jacobins, p. 385. James writes history for the people in struggle -- inspirational. (less)