Chomsky reminds me a lot of Orwell. Both have a rhetorical and highly-worked writing style which is presented as plain and transparent; both have a distinctive and idiosyncratic political stance which is passed off as plain common sense; and both tend to deny the possibility of honest disagreement, portraying their antagonists as either unpardonably ignorant or malicious. And both have hordes of devoted admirers - in the case of Orwell I was one, once:
So, you confess. And tell me: were you a teenager when this infatuation began?
I was. Growing out of Orwell is a colossal pain in the arse, made necessary by the fact that people always seem to get into him in the first place at the wrong age, the age when political views are being formed in a wider mental environment of callow moral enthusiasm and endless self-righteousness. But then again, Orwell was, in his political aspect, a writer for teenagers. His reliance on squashy, unexplained notions like “decency” and his habit of pathologising his political opponents, amongst other things, tend to act as setting agent for these qualities. It allows them to persist into adult life. It reduces political arguments to the status of moral one-upmanship. The right position to take in any debate is always that which leaves the person taking it feeling more virtuous than his or her opponent.
Some folks get him early and endure a lifetime’s affliction. Other folks re-read England, Your England for the thousandth time, when a still, small voice of conscience informs them: hang on, this is bollocks. Then they pick up Homage to Catalonia and discover that it isn;lt a book to live by after all, it’s an exciting adventure book for young people chock fulla romantic, doomed revolutionaries, spies, breathless intrigues, mustache-twirling villains and such. And then you realize that the time you spent working this out was time wasted.