I have become fascinated with @NoamChomski1, the Twitter account whose bio reads:
This is Noam Chomski, I am the author of Manufacturing Dissent and other revolutionary pamphlets. No relation at all to Noam Chomsky.
Note the “No relation at all to Noam Chomsky.” I didn’t, and ended up writing a fulsome post about the errors of Noam Chomsky, noted linguist and sometime political philosopher, a post that, had it been published, would have been a plunder en par with my “Naomi Wolf/Naomi Klein” case of mistaken identity of a few weeks back2 Anyway…
@NoamChomski is a parody of Noam Chomsky, the aforementioned noted linguist and sometime political philosopher. I’m more fascinated with @NoamChomski than I am with Noam Chomsky, truth be told, which is odd really, given that I have mixed feelings about real Chomsky (feels that I need to sort out). I find his (Chomsky’s, not @NoamChomski’s) political philosophy both overly complex and yet sometimes naively simplistic. Chomsky’s institutional analyses are fascinating (and I often resort to them when explaining why some conspiracy-like behaviours are just the way institutions work) but his views on the causes of suffering, et al, in the political world often boil down to an “us” vs. “them” thesis which I think makes matters less explicable rather than more.
@NoamChomski, though, as impersonations go, is a bizarre construct precisely because it captures the essence of Chomsky, in tweet-form, whilst at the same time branching out into the weird and wacky. Here are a few of @NoamChomski’s recent tweets:
Find psychological techniques that work in awakening the people from their 100 year stupor.
Part of the revolutionary struggle is to reverse the psychological ‘gains’ of the advertising-brainwashing machine.
Prime your fellow citizens with thoughts about the revolution, scenarios about a better world, a more humane, social existence.
which would all work well in Marxist Fortune Cookies, as I’m sure you would agree. More importantly, this is the kind of thing you can imagine the real Noam Chomsky saying.
Then there are the tweets which skirt close to the kind of things David Icke and his ilk say and yet are still the kind of thing the real Noam Chomsky might quickly note in a tweet:
The people have been conditioned for years, many believe that everything these see on TV is absolutely real, bust this myth.
The people have been wired to accept the false modalities of their rulers, short-circuit this interaction.
Then there are tweets like this:
You must find ways to convince Lady GaGa fans that she’s a fraud used by the system to control the emotions and psychology of millions.
which seem to deliberate reference specific conspiracy theories, like those about the Illuminati’s control of the pop music world, which show just how far down the rabbit hole you can go whilst staying on message.
The reason why I find this so fascinating is that if @NoamChomski existed in a world where there was no “Noam Chomsky, noted linguist and sometime political philosopher,” then @NoamChomski would probably be treated as a spambot spouting inane political comments, with occasional “WTF?” moments thrown in for good measure. But, because Chomsky exists, @NoamChomski is in some way notable and its tweets are interesting rather than inane.
Now, I could end this by saying that if Noam Chomsky didn’t exist, we’d have to make up someone like @NoamChomski, but I think that is both a trite way to end a post and is (a tad) unfair to Chomsky. I’m not sure Chomsky would approve of @NoamChomski, partly because Noam Chomsky is a little long-winded and thus isn’t really amendable to tweet-based discourse and partly because Chomsky wouldn’t accept that his philosophy can be expressed in koans.
The problem with @NoamChomski is that either it is a parody account that isn’t exactly very funny, or it is a pastiche that does little more than confuse a philosopher like myself into writing a rant against Chomsky, only to find that @NoamChomski isn’t Chomsky at all.
Which maybe is the point of it after all.