Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Roderick Long on Noam Chomsky

Roderick Long has an excellent short article on Noam Chomsky's claim to be an anarchist over at The Art of The Possible (Nigel, if you are reading, Long's article may be worth reproducing?). The article has sparked an even more interesting discussion that makes me feel nostalgic for discussion forums where I don't have to spend my time arguing that all jews aren't collectively guilty for anything that goes wrong in the world.

Professor Long's view is that Chomsky is about as anarchist as Karl Marx was, with his blathering about the eventual withering away of the state. Of course, Marx and his followers wanted to massively build up the state to incredibly totalitarian proportions first, run by shrewd and Machiavellian characters. So, make government bigger, then abolish it. The trouble is that Chomsky is the same. He may say that "In the long term, I think the centralized political power ought to be eliminated and dissolved and turned down ultimately to the local level, finally, with federalism and associations and so on." But he follows it with "right now, I’d like to strengthen the federal government." In other words, like Marx, bigger government now, abolish it later - and not just Marx: Cold Warrior interventionists like William F Buckley also advocated "temporary suspension of liberties" or the Constitution until the threat of communism was over. Reduce government later, grow it now. As Roderick Long says, "anarchy, but not yet."

In the discussion a defender of Long accidentally leant a defender of Chomsky a weapon, saying

Realize that smarter libertarians (and Dr. Long is certainly that) fully realize that if we, all of the sudden right now, with people having the beliefs that they have now, adopted anarchism, things might get a little … dicey.

The defender of Chomsky quite rightly responded by quoting Long: "Anarchy, but not yet."

But there is a fundamental difference that makes the Chomsky defender's position fallacious: Chomsky is not just saying "anarchism, but not yet." He is saying "much further from anarchism now." Long may recognise that anarchism can arrive only gradually, as the result of changes in the ideological hegemony, institutional changes, and the creation of alternative institutions, occurs, but that the process should start now. Chomsky is saying the opposite.

A chap calling himself TGGP has an excellent post well worth quoting:

When the government is locking up 1% of the population waging the war on drugs, bombing and shooting people in Iraq and will shoot or arrest you if you refuse to pay it tribute, it’s just obvious that the real problem is BIll Gates and Warren Buffet! All that nasty stuff the government is doing is their fault anyway, and once capitalism is abolished the state will wither away. Isn’t that what happened in all those communist countries?

Someone responded,

Or maybe, TGGP, the real problem is Blackwater; and the Carlyle Group; and Lockheed-Martin; and Kellogg, Brown, and Root; and Halliburton….

To which the obvious response was "Well let’s see Avram… who is their employer? Oh yes, the US gov’t. So again, the problem would be the government and its corporate vassals."

To quote, out of context, a guy that massively grew the government deficit whilst stealing libertarian rhetoric, President Reagan in his first inaugural speech, "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."


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