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Chomsky on Anarchism

chomsky-on-anarchismI decided a few weeks ago that I best read some of Noam Chomsky’s stuff. I looked over the body of available work on Amazon, and selected three. I started off with this book, which is a selection of interviews and talks he has given over the years. I read it in the hopes it would give me a basic understanding of what anarchism is and what Chomsky believes.

This book certainly does that.

While not all the selections were equally interesting–the long chapter on the Spanish civil war is a bit hard to follow unless you have a basic understanding of the players and the events–all were informative in one degree or another.

I came away with a basic understanding of Chomsky’s position. I understand the basic outlines of anarchism and how broad and deep the movement is. There are, I learned, a whole lot of folks who fit into the anarchism mold but would be rather surprised should you advise them that they are anarchists themselves.

Given that I grew up in a UAW family, I can relate especially well to his explanation of unions and other worker’s councils. I guess it was a first for me to consider that working “for” someone is a version of slavery, albeit it can be a benevolent one. As anyone one who has any knowledge at all about slavery realizes, there is no such thing as a benevolent slavery, only one that is less harsh than another.

What was shocking to me was his remarks regarding the intelligentsia. I admit to thinking that there is an overall sense of intellectual honesty in our colleges and universities. I still think that, but I also realize that the intellectual community is no more able to avoid the pitfalls of power as the next group might be.

Chomsky pointed out the areas, especially relating to Post-War (WWII) foreign policy and during the Vietnam era, when intellectuals became the “legitimacy” for government action that can only be termed as invasionary in nature and supportive of illegitimate regimes that were “friendly” to US interests. In essence, we violated most everything we say we believe in, because it was “right”. It was right, only because in twisted executions of logical manipulation, it was in our interest and somehow it became in their interest as well.

Of course, much the same can still be said today, both on the part of both the government itself, and sadly public opinion. Case in point are the use of drones to kill people, accepting of course a certain “collateral” damage, meaning the deaths of innocents are just the way it goes. The other side of that is the apparent common belief by some, (all too many it seems) that those who are declared enemy combatants by us are not entitled to the rights of due process, and other procedural safeguards that we claim as definitive to our way of justice. What is good enough for us, is not apparently so necessary to others who have the bad luck to be held by US forces.

In an event, to make a long story short, I’m probably a unknowing anarchist in the making. I intend to read more of Chomsky.

This is definitely a good start and a place to get your feet wet.



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