Recommended reading: Oliver Kamm
I think I know my way around the blogosphere, but I keep making new discoveries--new, that is, to me. The latest is Oliver Kamm, a self-described leftist who blogs here.
Kamm--whom I found via Austin Bay's link to this Guardian article of Kamm's on the reasons why, despite flaws in execution, he still supports the Iraq war--is what Norman Geras would call a "principled leftist" and what Kamm himself calls a "tough liberal." Kamm is also the author of an intriguing-sounding book (although I couldn't find it on Amazon) entitled: Anti-Totalitarianism: the Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy.
But what Kamm really is is smart, smart, smart, as well as being a writer of great clarity and graceful style. I'm sure there are points on which we disagree, but my hat is off to anyone who can wade through much of Noam Chomsky's work and patiently demolish it, as Kamm has. This guy is good (Kamm that is, not Chomsky).
A great deal of Kamm's Chomsky oeuvre has been reproduced here, at David Horowitz's Frontpage. Kamm vibrates with the righteous anger of a leftist outraged by the likes of Chomsky. Kamm pulls no punches in this article when it comes to his own dislike of Nixon and his policies, but he shreds Chomsky's own shredding of the man (keep clicking on the links at the end of each article to read the whole series):
It would be tempting to attribute the use Chomsky makes of this material to intellectual idleness and incompetence, but I fear this is too generous a judgement. There's a pattern and a method here. Chomsky's rhetorical attacks on the western democracies, and especially the United States, increasingly outdo anything else to be found in the adversary culture of far-Left politics...
Kamm goes on to give a detailed analysis of Chomsky's methods, with typical examples. At the conclusion, he explains how it is that Chomsky (an incredibly popular writer and speaker) appeals to the susceptible and ignorant:
...Chomsky goes out of his way to omit the context that allows reasoned conclusions to be drawn. All that those readers have to go on is Chomsky's ex cathedra judgements and the appearance of scholarship generated by innumerable foot-notes. Examine those foot-notes more closely and the careful reader will find (as in the absence of page references in the citation of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's memoirs) that the appearance is misleading. To those without background in the subjects covered, the argument may well appear convincing, and because the method of misdirection is to take things out of context it is not a quick and easy task to refute Chomsky; one has first to put back the material that Chomsky has taken out.
Chomsky's methods remind me of those of another so-called "historian," David Irving. Great lying minds must think alike, although of course Chomsky's politics and field of "expertise" certainly differs with that of Irving.
Kamm is a self-identified leftist, as I said, although I haven't read enough of his work to see what tenets of the left he believes in. One thing in which he clearly does believe is the importance of truth in history, whatever the political persuasion. I second the motion.