Whenever I read the work of a professional Chomsky-basher*—you know, the person whose passport to mainstream respectability is stamped with a Chomsky-is-the-most-dastardly-person-on-the-face-of-the-earth visa—or someone who attacks anarchists or leftists in order to maintain his or her liberal street cred, I’m reminded of this passage from Hannah Arendt:
In the following chapter, Karl Marx will be criticized. This is unfortunate at a time when so many writers who once made their living by explicit or tacit borrowing from the great wealth of Marxian ideas and insights have decided to become professional anti-Marxists, in the process of which one of them even discovered that Karl Marx himself was unable to make a living, forgetting for the moment the generations of authors whom he has ‘supported.’ In this difficulty, I may recall a statement Benjamin Constant made when he felt compelled to attack Rousseau:…”Certainly, I shall avoid the company of detractors of a great man. If I happen to agree with them on a single point I grow suspicious of myself; and in order to console myself for having seemed to be of their opinion…I feel I must disavow and keep these false friends away from me as much as I can.”
* This is by no means the most egregious case of what I’m talking about, but in March 2005, The American Prospect ran a cover with the title “Between Chomsky and Cheney.” As if the man who brought us the Iraq War and the man who opposed it were equivalent evils.