My Family Doesn’t Know Who Noam Chomsky Is

My family doesn't know who Noam Chomsky is

I saw a movie the other day that featured a scene that caught my attention. A rather unconventional family celebrated Noam Chomsky’s birthday. One of the kids got really angry with the father for celebrating him. The boy said he wanted to celebrate Christmas like any other child. The father’s answer was harsh: “Would you rather celebrate a fake magical elf or the birthday of a man who fights for human rights and understanding?”

The child couldn’t think of anything to support his wish to celebrate Christmas. This scene caught my attention not only because it discredited the beliefs of millions of people, but also because no one I watched the movie with knew who Noam Chomsky was. One of them asked directly: “Who is Noam Chomsky?”

Chomsky graffiti on a building wall

Contributions to Linguistics – Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is a respected linguist, philosopher, and political activist. He deals with the most radical political currents in the United States. However, he is best known for his work in linguistics. He developed a theory of language acquisition that is hundreds of pages long. Chomsky suggested that from the moment we are born, our brains have the ability to absorb and use language almost instinctively. Many still agree with him today, despite contradicting previous theories that our language can only develop through learning.

Noam Chomsky assumes that there are universal grammatical principles for all languages that explain why children can learn to speak so quickly. This hypothesis also shows why basically all children go through the same stages and make the same mistakes when learning a language.

“On a case-by-case basis, we find that conformity is the easy route and the one to privilege and prestige; Dissidence may come at a high price. “

Noam Chomsky

Political activist

Some consider Chomsky to be the most important intellectual of our time. That’s partly because of his work as an activist. Chomsky sees himself as an anarchist, particularly in the tradition of anarcho-syndicalism, and he is a great believer in civil disobedience. An example Chomsky uses to explain his positive attitude towards activism is this:

Imagine walking down a street at night. All of a sudden you see someone hitting someone on the other side of the street. Without even thinking that you are on the way to the traffic light and that you are getting closer to perpetrators and victims. But the traffic light is red. What would you do?

Crossing the road when it is red is wrong. If you do it anyway, you are committing an administrative offense. On the other hand, if you don’t cross it and wait for it to turn green, it might be too late for the victim.

The point of the story is that occasionally breaking the rules can be a good thing as long as we can morally justify it. Chomsky believes that the state-defined legality and illegality do not always coincide with what people actually consider legal and illegal.

Pepe Mujica and Noam Chomsky at a press conference

Defender of Human Rights

In response to the Vietnam War, Chomsky began to criticize the lack of democracy in countries like the United States. He has always pointed out the lack of symmetry between public opinion and the decisions of politicians. He also supports movements to put political forces under pressure and bring about real change.

Although he sees himself as a Zionist, Chomsky has also sharply criticized Israel. But he defends the kibbutz as a way of life and a social alternative. He was one of the greatest defenders of the boycott against Israel, during which attempts were made to exert political and economic pressure on Israel to end its occupations.

“We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, but for good ideas.”

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky writes on a blackboard

Now that you’ve learned a little more about Noam Chomsky and maybe want to celebrate his birthday as well, mark December 7th on your calendar. As Chomsky said:

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there is no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are ways to change things, then there is a way that you can help make a better world. “

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