December 07, 2021
Linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia on this day in 1928.
In his early academic career, Chomsky was best known for his work Syntactic Structures, a theory of “generative grammar” that transformed linguistics from an obscure discipline into a major social science. Outside of academia, Chomsky is better known as a political activist—a role that he vigorously assumed as an early and outspoken critic and protester of the Vietnam War.
In recognition of Chomsky’s 93rd birthday, we checked into what he has been up to during the past year. A quick internet survey yielded stunning results. During his 93rd year, he gave over 50 audio and video interviews on topics ranging from Afghanistan, climate devastation, the pandemic, Julian Assange, Indian farmers, and, of course, the long-standing theme of American military imperialism. His published articles in 2021 include, with Vijay Prashad, “There are 3 major threats to life on Earth that we must address in 2021” (nuclear annihilation, climate catastrophe, and neoliberal destruction of the social contract). Then there are three new books in 2021: The Precipice, Consequences of Capitalism, and Chomsky for Activists. His work, with Robert Pollin and C.J. Polychroniou, Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal, came out in late 2020.
Finally, from The New Indian Express, this entertaining list: “Noam Chomsky’s birthday: 10 fun facts about ‘America’s Socrates'” Our most surprising discovery there? In 2013, a newly discovered bee species was named after Chomsky as ‘Megachile Chomskyi’.