News of Chomsky’s Ill Health Prompts Outpouring of Gratitude for ‘Lion of the Left’

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is pictured during a press conference after visiting former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Curitiba on September 20, 2018.

 (Photo: Heuler Andrey/AFP via Getty Images)

“So many thousands of people have stories about how he has changed their lives,” said one admirer. “He certainly changed mine.”


Jun 12, 2024 (

News that renowned American linguist, dissident, and author Noam Chomsky is hospitalized in Brazil following a massive stroke he suffered last year was met with an avalanche of accolades and well wishes from members of the international left on Wednesday.

Valeria Chomsky toldThe Associated Press that her 95-year-old husband—a laureate professor at the University of Arizona and professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—is currently in a São Paulo hospital. She took him there on an ambulance jet with two nurses after he was able to travel from the United States following his June 2023 stroke.

Chomsky toldFolha de São Paulo that although her husband has difficulty speaking and the right side of his body is numb from the stroke, he follows the news and “when he sees images of the war in Gaza, he raises his left arm in a gesture of lament and anger.” She said his condition has improved significantly, and he is seeing a neurologist, speech therapist, and pulmonologist daily.

However, people close to Chomsky say he is unlikely to return to public life.

“Noam is the most influential U.S. intellectual ever. Period,” Rutgers School of Communications Professor Andrew Kennis—whose book Digital Age Resistance contains a foreword co-authored by Chomsky—told Common Dreams.

“He has been the largest influence on my life in any way, personal or professional” Kennis added. “As for movements, no other thinker helped positively shape and mold anti-imperialsm analysis and criticism of the U.S. bullying the world on behalf of Wall Street and Silicon Valley better and more effectively than him.”

“His work has defined the terms of countless debates and he’s been a tireless advocate for—and guide on the path to—a better future.”

U.S. journalist and political analyst Anand Giridharadas hailed Chomsky—whom he interviewed in 2020—as a “lion of the left.”

“It would be difficult to overestimate the impact Chomsky’s work has had,” Giridharadas wrote for The.Ink Wednsday. “Beyond the total transformation of his academic field (he’s widely acknowledged as the father of modern linguistics and the main force behind the cognitive turn in the sciences), his political impact has been immeasurable.”

“As a writer, activist, analyst, and critic of power, and likely the most visible left public intellectual of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, his work has defined the terms of countless debates and he’s been a tireless advocate for—and guide on the path to—a better future,” he added.

Of the more than 100 books published by Chomsky—who was once voted the world’s top public intellectual in an international poll—four are specifically about Israel and Palestine. He has been conspicuously absent from the debate over Israel’s current assault on Gaza, which is the subject of an International Court of Justice genocide case.

Current Affairs founder and editor Nathan Robinson—who is the co-author of Chomsky’s forthcoming book, The Myth of American Idealism: How U.S. Foreign Policy Endangers the World—said earlier this week on social media that “Chomsky has been unbelievably kind over the years I’ve known him.”

“He treats everyone as an equal. Doesn’t care who you are,” he continued. “He would give as much of his time to a high school student as some celebrity or New York Times reporter. And devoted himself to attacking cruelty and injustice.”

“When I started a tiny lefty magazine with only a few subscribers, he bought a subscription, blurbed us, and would email if his copy didn’t show up,” Robinson recalled. “He provided countless generous blurbs to authors publishing with tiny presses, giving them a boost that could really help them.”

“So many thousands of people have stories about how he has changed their lives,” he added. “He certainly changed mine.”

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.


Brett Wilkins is a

staff writer for Common Dreams.

Full Bio >


Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *