Chomsky and Hero Worship

Mike Yates mikey+ at
Sun Oct 11 18:04:41 PDT 1998


I'm not sure what Chomsky said about Adam Smith. Of course, Smith is not the libertarian some of his modern advocates think and he did think that businessmen were ordinarily up to no good from the society's point of view. But his view on the detailed division of labor is ridiculous as he confuses this with the social division of labor. He does admit that people who do detail work are as stupid as it is possible for human beings to be. But then he recommends education for the poor saps, in homeopathic doses! Plus if I remember correctly Marx suggests that he is something of a plagiarist. In any event, if I were a worker I'd put my trust in Marx not Smith.

michael yates Tom Lehman wrote:
> Dear Mike,
> Any comment about Chomsky's revision of Adam Smith. Is that too hot of a topic for
> the pros?
> Sincerely,
> Tom Lehman
> michael perelman wrote:
> > Bill Lear wrote:
> >
> > > Chomsky is very well read in economic matters, and though Michael
> > > Perelman claims to have heard Chomsky make a slight error on one occasion, I
> > > find his economic foundations to be quite solid.
> >
> > My experience was sheparding Chomsky around Chico for a couple of days. Wow! I
> > heard a few minor slips on economic matters, but I am supposed to be a
> > professional economist. He does not pretend to be.
> >
> > Let me tell you about his schedule. I pick him up in the morning. We have three
> > 1 1/2 hours seminars: One on current events, one on the media, and one on
> > linguistics and philosophy. He held is own with professionals in all these
> > disciplines. Then dinner with a bunch of local activists. Then an evening talk;
> > then a social and I take him back to his apartment just before midnight. I pick
> > him up the next morning and he is talking about the books that he read that
> > night. We ran into several people, a few were students, who came up to him to
> > speak about their previous correspondence with him. He recalled them and their
> > letters. Later he told me that he spends several hours a day on such
> > correspondence.
> >
> > I cannot imagine anybody else in the world with the agility to move from one
> > field to another.
> >
> > --
> > Michael Perelman
> > Economics Department
> > California State University
> > Chico, CA 95929
> >
> > Tel. 530-898-5321
> > E-Mail michael at

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