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Chomsky on Anarchism by Noam Chomsky

Chomsky on Anarchism (2005)

by Noam Chomsky

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Chomsky makes a good case for anarchism. A highlight is the autobigraphical section detailing how he came to be an anarcho-syndicalist.

A significant part of the book is a reinterpretation of the history of the Spanish civil war in which the communists undermined the anarchist's work in estabilishing their economic system and in defending Spain against Franco's facist forces. Chomsky believes that existing liberal histories of the war incorrectly diminish the contributions of the anarchists, and he seems to make a good case for this view. Spain during their civil war is pretty much the only place where anarchism has been put into practice on a large scale, so it remains prominent in the anarchism literature, despite the horrible conditions under which it tried to flourish.

A chapter on language and freedom is less compelling. Chomsky believes that people have an innate language generator within us, making it difficult to reconcile freedom with a supposed biological determinism of thought and speech. Language plays important roles in both facilitating and denying freedom, but these topics are not covered here. ( )
  bkinetic | May 30, 2018 |
A great read, which would justify itself alone for Chomsky's dismantling of the ideas that "socialism" was represented by the USSR, or that "capitalism" as practiced by the US is free of tyranny (and equally interesting is his critique of the Rand-esque style of right-wing libertarianism unique to the US). Chomsky goes into some detail on the history of anarchist movements and his own ideas on libertarian or anti-authoritarian forms of socialism.

Very much worth a read. ( )
1 vote chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
The Grand Old Wizard giving us the ins and outs of anarchism. The book really is a compilation of Chomsky’s varied writings and interviews on the subject, collected over the last 30 years or so.

Much of Chomsky’s writings are direct attacks on aspects of US foreign policy, blasting holes in stated motives and uncovering hidden agenda’s. Whilst these criticisms and analysis are defined by his political outlook, it’s nice to have something positive on what the Man believes in rather than what he opposes.

Unlike the Marxist Left, Chomsky consistently refuses to go into detail on a blueprint of a future society. To do so would be as unwise as it would be inaccurate. All we can do, he argues, is set the scene for grassroots, non-hierarchical desicion making processes to flourish. This means challenging and abolishing all authoritarian structures unless they can prove their necessity. (E.g. in the parent/child relationship).

Chomsky has an ability to make what is often seen as radical politics accessible and historically relevant to peoples lives. Chomsky’s anarchism is similar to the original ideas of democracy and responsibility espoused by the Forefathers of the United Stares – Thomas Jefferson and Henry Throueau, and he refers to this regularly.

Indeed the history of anarchist resistance and innovation was very often initiated by people who had never heard of Bakunin (who?) or Mutual Aid (what?). The Spanish Civil War, South Americas landless peasants movement. They had instead a natural inclination toward direct democracy and direct action. We are anarchists by nature.

Chomsky’s rebuttal of Statist Communism and the radical right Libertarian Party is conclusive and helps define his thoughts (particularly anarcho-syndicalism) on what anarchy exactly is and isn’t. Unfortunately he doesn’t expand enough on his criticisms on Green/primitivist anarchism, currently a big trend, especially in the States, and the book does repeat itself a bit, while feeling a little disjointed at times.

Still, bang it on the coffee table and impress your friends. ( )
1 vote PoliticalMediaReview | Aug 4, 2009 |
It seems like AK press is hell bent on publishing everything Chomsky has ever written and said over and over again. Unfortunately there is nothing in this text that hasn't already been printed, so readers of Chomsky are more than likely to be disappointed as I was. There are excellent articles in here however, such as "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, an article on Vietnam and the Spanish Revolution which originally appeared in Chomsky's first political book, "American Power and the New Mandarins." The article is first-rate scholarship and includes excellent bibliographical information. Chomsky was probably the only American dissident in the 1960's who was discussing issues like Anarcho-Syndicalism in relation to the Vietnam conflict. The other articles in the book have also appeared elsewhere, and they vary in quality a great deal. There is some interesting discussion here on Libertarian Socialist life in the Israeli Kibbutzim as well. "Language and Freedom," is an excellent lecture which connects his linguistic work with political ideology (which Chomsky now refuses to do), and discusses classical anarchist thinkers like Bakunin and Rocker. The last couple of interviews get slightly too informal for my taste and there are hardly any footnotes to back them up, but still this is a moderately helpful collection of material which gives an insight into Chomsky's anarchist convictions ( )
  bloom | Jul 17, 2006 |
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We all know what Noam Chomsky is against. His scathing analysis of everything that's wrong with our society reaches more and more people every day. His brilliant critiques of--among other things--capitalism, imperialism, domestic repression and government propaganda have become mini-publishing industries unto themselves. But, in this flood of publishing and republishing, very little ever gets said about what exactly Chomsky stands for, his own personal politics, his vision of the future. Not, that is, until Chomsky on Anarchism, a groundbreaking new book that shows a different side of this best-selling author: the anarchist principles that have guided him since he was a teenager. This collection of Chomsky's essays and interviews includes numerous pieces that have never been published before, as well as rare material that first saw the light of day in hard-to-find pamphlets and anarchist periodicals. Taken together, they paint a fresh picture of Chomsky, showing his lifelong involvement with the anarchist community, his constant commitment to nonhierarchical models of political organization and his hopes for a future world without rulers.… (more)

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