Owen Gleiberman
January 08, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
74 minutes
Limited Release Date
11/22/02
performer
Noam Chomsky
director
John Junkerman
distributor
First Run Features
genre
Documentary

We gave it an B+

Noam Chomsky may be the foremost thinker in America who reacted to 9/11 by saying, in essence, ”I told you so.” In Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times, the controversial leftist-intellectual gadfly is seen in a series of 2002 campus lectures, and in a lengthy interview, expounding on the dire consequences of U.S. global policy — what he unabashedly describes as state terrorism — as he excoriates America for having denied the responsibility for its fate.

The authority of Chomsky’s rhetoric has a sternly cleansing force that can’t be dismissed. In his tweedy way, he’s as cognizant of the methods of realpolitik as Henry Kissinger, and he wakes you to unseen connections, to scandals the government would like to bury (and usually does). Yet the very purity of this worldview undercuts the truths that it tells. At 73, Chomsky seems to understand everything about power and aggression — except, that is, its centrality to human nature.

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