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"Keeping to Politics": A Relationship Evolves

Chomsky claims that in the area of linguistics he and Harris "parted ways by about 1950 or so, definitively after I abandoned the Methods program a few years later." They continued to meet regularly, and "remained good friends, but kept to politics" (13 Dec. 1994). Despite this restriction, their common ground was still vast. "My picture of the world, as a teenager," Chomsky remarks, "was certainly shaped very strongly by [Harris's] influence, which in fact fit in very well to commitments I'd already developed elsewhere (anarchist and left anti-Bolshevik and anti-Marxist sources, particularly)" (13 Dec. 1994).

Hashomer Hatzair

Kibbutz Artzi

Yet the basis of Harris's beliefs, and their relationship to Chomsky's later work, has never before been elaborated. One way of doing this is to explore three related issues. The first is Zellig Harris's personality, which is mentioned by virtually all who knew him, and which has, of course, a direct bearing upon how he conceived of appropriate methods for exchanging views and carrying on relationships within society. The second concerns the history and the program of the group called Avukah, of which Harris was an important figure. Finally, the third involves the Zionist group Hashomer Hatzair, as well as its affiliated community in Israel called Kibbutz Artzi.

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