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Seeing Noam Chomsky in action

SpunOut.ie competition winner writes about Chomsky and Ireland in need of grassroots change.


Written by Annette Carter and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


""As soon as he began speaking though, our imaginations started firing.""

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Thanks to the SpunOut team, myself and a friend found ourselves with a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had won a competition to see Noam Chomsky speak. The night to see Chomsky came and we were not sure what to expect, having only Chomsky’s YouTube broadcasts as a rough guide. As soon as he began speaking though, our imaginations started firing. We listened to a man who spoke about what our hearts had told us, but what the world around us had convinced us not to believe.

Professor Noam Chomsky is arguably the finest linguist in existence. He is also an outspoken writer, speaker and activist on political issues that touch people worldwide. He is highly critical of US foreign policy and is an advocate of grassroots movements. He has also spoken out about the (mis)use of power, with power held being illegitimate unless justified. As he spoke to the audience, I was struck at his lack of theatrical quality. His powerful presence was not due to a booming voice and plenty of hand gestures; he simply kept my attention by the quality of what he was actually saying, and the simplicity with which he said it.

Throughout the talk, he kept things relevant to the country in which he was speaking, illustrating an understanding of the fall of the Celtic Tiger and the problems with Northern Ireland's Good Friday Agreement. He emphasised the importance of grassroots action as a tool for change, keeping the atmosphere alive with positive examples of where grassroots action really did make a difference. I found his criticism of President Obama’s office intriguing, as he made a number of points on recent decisions that were scarcely focused on in worldwide media. He hammered home his opposition to the war in Iraq, pointing out that the Obama administration has created the biggest military budget in history.

I often find political speakers… well; actually hard to listen to, so intent are they on subscribing to and promoting a particular type of political dogma with disdain for those who “don’t get it”. I am used to political speakers having a solemn band of loyal supporters in the audience wildly cheering when they hear a point they like. Chomsky encourages none of this fervour! Different types of political thinking inspire his opinions and he prevents doom and gloom by giving lighthearted humour throughout his lectures. He finished this lecture on a positive note, by saying that we can all be agents of change.

I left the RDS reflecting on my own views of the world in which I live. Noam Chomsky confirmed my niggling thought that Ireland is in need of grassroots change. Not the kind that focuses on local communities congregating inside the Irish bastions of power: the church, the schools and the pub; but, the kind that poses a direct threat to the ‘greed is good’ mantra of the now gone Celtic Tiger.

I would someday like to see an Ireland committed to goals of inclusion, justice served to all, first class healthcare, equal opportunities, and the abolition of social problems caused by poverty that the Celtic Tiger ignored. With grassroots action, Noam Chomsky convinced me that these dreams could become a reality.

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Published March 19th2013
Tags change action talk ireland speaker
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