Tag Archives: Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky on Anarchy

Anarchy means a lack of government. This has been construed by many to mean that we should smash the state immediately.

Amazingly, many people who believe this cite Noam Chomsky as one of their muses. If you listen to Chomsky here, you see very clearly that anarchy, classic anarchy, is much more sophisticated than just abolishing the state.

The reason is obvious: getting rid of the state as it stands now means giving ourselves over to corporations. Getting rid of the state is exactly what libertarians and certain Republicans want to do. They want to make government so irrelevant that there is nothing but unaccountable, corporate power.

The greatest American anarchist was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson believed that a nation of equal landowners educated in public schools would have the resources and brain power necessary to live harmoniously together. After a few generations of homesteading and educating, there would be no need for the state at all. It would merely whither away as an irrelevancy.

This was the big philosophical reason behind Jefferson’s push for the Louisiana Purchase. He believed it would give the country enough land to divide up equally between citizens. It also explains Jefferson’s support for public education. He was trying to lay the groundwork for anarchy.

Or is this communism? Maybe communism and anarchy go hand-in-hand here, where one is the condition of the other. If this is the case, then it would seem as if socialism would mark a preparation period for this anarcho-communist utopia.

Anyway, I think this is sort of what Chomsky is saying in this video.

Start your Morning with a Lil’ Intellectual Debate

*Awesome 7os haircuts and outfits alert*

Sometimes I watch stuff like this when I wake up just to give the old brain a jumpstart. This is a discussion between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault (my avatar image) filmed in 1971. They are essentially talking about what constitutes a just society. My favorite part is how Chomsky is speaking English and Foucault is speaking French and they are still able to perfectly understand each other.

Chomsky posits that it is within human nature to want justice. He believes his now trademark  “anarcho-syndicalism” model of decentralized social structures that foster freedom and human creativity would be the basis of a just society. For Chomsky, justice and human nature are knowable concepts. We have a general, baseline sense of what these things entail. Anarcho-syndicalism claims to be in accord with the requirements of true justice and the fulfillment of human potential.                                                

Foucault believes that our ideas of human nature and justice are functions of the power structure of society. This means that the way we define these terms depends upon our position within a society. Essentially, if human nature and justice do exist, we can never know what they are because our views of them are determined by society and our place within it. For this same reason, any attempt to create a utopia runs the risk of replicating the injustices we are trying to avoid. In short, we cannot access the ideas of justice and human nature without tools borrowed from our culture.