Invite Chomsky but Take His Warning Seriously

VA presents a response to recent comments by Noam Chomsky in which the Venezuelan activist Clodovaldo Hernandez takes linguists’ warnings about corruption seriously, and calls for a deepening of the revolutionary process in lieu of abandoning it to defeat.


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro extended an invitation to famed US linguist and leftist dissident Noam Chomsky to visit the country after the latter called Venezuela’s model of Bolivarian Socialism “destructive”.

Speaking in an interview with the website Perfil.com, the world renowned MIT professor noted that Venezuela “never succeeded in freeing itself from almost total dependence” on oil due to “tremendous corruption and incompetence”, claiming that the country’s transformations were “instituted from above, with little relation to popular initiative”.

In response, the Venezuelan head of state suggested that Chomsky was “misinformed” and invited him to come to the country and see for himself “all that has been done with the people… [all] that has been done from below.”

In what follows, VA presents a response to Noam Chomsky by Clodovaldo Hernandez, writing for the chavista website La Iguana, in which he calls for taking seriously the linguists’ warnings about corruption as part of an effort to deepen the revolutionary process in lieu of abandoning it to defeat.

It’s a good idea to invite Noam Chomsky [to Venezuela] so that he comes and sees, because obviously much of what the legendary US linguist says comes directly from the bad image projected by the contemptible international media, even though he himself  is always on guard against this infernal machine. However, it’s also a good idea to take seriously his reflection on the negative impact of corruption in our evaluation of the political processes experienced by Latin America since 1999, when Chávez came to power in Venezuela.

It should be understood that that reflection is an opportunity to launch a debate that is crucial for the progress of not only the Bolivarian Revolution, but for the rest of leftist movements of the region. The distinguished intellectual has touched a sore and the pain that this contact produces is absolutely real. It is prohibited to forget that the struggle against the flagrant and shameless corruption of the Fourth Republic is in the Bolivarian Revolution’s DNA. It’s an element that sinks its roots in the originality of the popular rebellion that made possible the miracle of change, even when the political order associated with the colonialist neoliberal economic model seemed destined to last centuries and centuries.

During the passing years, many voices- not of the same caliber as Chomsky, but well established with excellent arguments- have risen with similar warnings: corruption is a disease capable of eating away at any political model, but especially the popular governments in which the majority has placed its hopes. It has been said ad nauseam that corruption has a terrible double effect: it makes national income redistribution policies inefficient and creates a framework of anti-values that affect the revolutionary morale. To put it in (freely interpreted) Marxist terms, corruption attacks the superstructure and the base at the same time, the pragmatic and ideological levels. It has been said ad nauseam, but the deterioration has followed its course, producing a sensation of terrible frustration and unease among the most committed sectors.

Chomsky’s vision is almost apocalyptic. He practically gives up on this new Latin American effort to overcome the dreadful injustices of neoliberal capitalism. This part does not have to be endorsed. It’s up to us to recognize that not everything is lost, that there is still sufficient margin for correction, provided that the revolutionary political leadership does not succumb to the inertia.

It’s a good idea to invite Chomsky so that he sees the positive side of this historical experience in progress. It would be interesting to sit him down to talk with those people who, thanks to the missions, have raised themselves academically and humanly from illiteracy to university-level professions. It would be fantastic for him to interact with those compatriots who string together speeches with sublime brilliance and coherence in a humble neighborhood assembly. All of this would be magnificent, but so would taking him at his word, making the most of the old leftist’s advice in the gringo way. And, of course, all of us- in each of our roles- must do something about it.