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WATCH: Edward S. Herman: “Where the Hell Was the Left?”
The Real News
Video published June 30, 2012
“So, anyway, we criticized them. And Noam Chomsky hates ad hominem, or he doesn’t like fighting on the left. But I believe in it. I think it’s very important to criticize the left. I think a very important part of the problem of the world is the extent to which the conservative forces struggling allegedly for human rights have neutralized or even captured some of the left.”
TRN: But in terms of your personal arc, you had a bit of a disagreement with Noam Chomsky on Iran.
HERMAN: Well, I think what he was objecting to was that when Peterson and I were writing on the Iran election, we were taking a heavy crack at the people, the liberals and and left-wingers in the West who were going after Iran very vigorously in this election. In fact, I think we showed very, very well that that election while very imperfect, it wasn’t a stolen election. And I think there was pretty reasonable evidence that Ahmadinejad really won an election and would have won under any kind of conditions. And what we did was feature how the liberals and left in the United States got on that bandwagon just when the United States and Israel were engaged in attempting regime change and were demonizing Iran at every level. So when they had an election, they oh, we got very upset about that election, whereas Saudi Arabia, they don’t have an election and they don’t get very upset about that.But right at that moment when they had that election in Iran, they had a coup in Honduras, a right-wing coup, and then they had a really phony election. And in this series that Peterson and I put up, we thought, where the hell was the left on Honduras? Why were they focusing so heavily on Iran, which was out of our orbit of control, but where we were trying to destabilize and overthrow a regime? You would think the left would get on that. But here’s Honduras right in our sphere of influence and where we could possibly have, we definitely could have real influence if we wanted to, and the left was not yelling and raging and saying, oh, look, dude, this is where you ought to be.
TRN: Some of the left was.
HERMAN: Yeah, some of the left. But a remarkable, a very significant fraction of the left had gotten on the Iran bandwagon. You absolutely have to put it in.
TRN: But certainly people have and the workers of Iran have a right to fight for their rights in Iran.
HERMAN: Oh, of course. Yes. Yes. Yes. I would support them all the time. But that’s largely their business. And, in fact, some of them would even argue that the scene was compromised by the external intervention and the fact that they were tied in with people who were really trying to overthrow the government and engage in serious regime. Some activists in Iran.
TRN: Most of them say that. Most of them say the pressure coming from United States and Israel actually weakens the democracy movement in Iran.
HERMAN: So, in any case, getting back to the Chomsky question, I don’t think he/ I ever had an exchange with him on this, but indirectly we were attacking some of the left-wing groups, like the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which had never mentioned Honduras in this period but would spend a lot of time on Iran and the election. And, in fact, some of them made statements about the Iran election that we considered to be untrue. So, anyway, we criticized them. And Noam Chomsky hates ad hominem, or he doesn’t like fighting on the left. But I believe in it. I think it’s very important to criticize the left. I think a very important part of the problem of the world is the extent to which the conservative forces struggling allegedly for human rights have neutralized or even captured some of the left.”
[Edward S. Herman is an American economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. He’s a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also the author of several books, namely “Manufacturing Consent” which he wrote with Noam Chomsky and “The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context and Politics”.]