Noam Chomsky: Popluar Modern American Anarchist Author, Linguist, Scientist, and Historian

December 7, 1928 — ?

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December 7, 1928 — ?


Though his stance on these issues is that of an admitted anarchist/libertarian, Noam Chomsky prefers to act as an analyst and critic of the state rather than a social theorist.... Chomsky continues to teach at MIT, where he holds an endowed chair in linguistics.

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From : Anarchy Archives


"Neoliberal doctrines, whatever one thinks of them, undermine education and health, increase inequality, and reduce labor's share of income; that much is not serously in doubt."

From : "Profit Over People," written by Noam Chomsky, page 32, chapter 1

"The enormous public relations industry, from its origins early in this century, has been dedicated to the 'control of the public mind,' as business leaders described the task. And they acted on their words, surely one of the central themes of modern history."

From : "Profit Over People," by Noam Chomsky, page 45, chapter 2

"The importance of 'controlling the public mind' has been recognized with increasing clarity as popular struggles succeeded in extending the modalities of democracy, thus giving rise to what liberal elites call 'the crisis of democracy' as when normally passive and apathetic populations become organized and seek to enter the political arena to pursue their interests and demands, threatening stability and order. As Bernays explained the problem, with 'universal suffrage and universal schooling... at last even the bourgeoisie stood in fear of the common people. For the masses promised to become king.'"

From : "Profit Over People," by Noam Chomsky, pages 53-54, chapter 2

" solidarity can take new and more constructive forms as the great majority of the people of the world come to understand that their interests are pretty much the same and can be advanced by working together. There is no more reason now than there has ever been to believe that we are constrained by mysterious and unknown social laws, not simply decisions made within instutitions that are subject to human will -- human institutions, that have to face the test of legitimacy and, if they do not meet it, can be replaced by others that are more free and more just, as often in the past."

From : "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 62, chapter 2

"There are many factors driving global society towards a low-wage, low-growth, high-profit future, with increasing polarization and social disintegration. Another consequence is the fading of meaningful democratic processes as decision making is vested in private institutions and the quasi-governmental structures that are coalescing around them, what the Financial Times calls a 'de facto world government' that operates in secret and without accountability."

From : "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 127, chapter 5

"The decisions reached by the directors of GE affect the general society substiantially, but citizens play no role in them, as a matter of principle."

From : "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 132, chapter 6

"Systems of unaccountable power do offer some choices to citizens. They can petition the king or the CEO, or join the ruling party. They can try to rent themselves to GE, or buy its products. They can struggle for rights within tyrannies, state and private, and in solidarity with others, can seek to limit or dismantle illegitimate power, pursuing traditional ideals, including those that animated the U.S. labor movement from its early origins: that those who work in the mills should own and run them."

From : "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, page 132, chapter 6

"Labor and environmental issues, which 'barely featured at the start,' are becoming harder to suppress. It is becoming more difficult to ignore the paranoids and flat-earthers who 'want high standards written in for how foreign investors treat workers and protect the environment,' and 'their fervent attacks, spread via a network of Internet web sites, have left negotiators unsure how to proceed.' One possibility would be to pay attention to what the public wants. But that option is not mentioned: it is excluded in principle, since it would undermine the whole point of the enterprise."

From : "Profit Over People", by Noam Chomsky, pages 151-152, chapter 6


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About Noam Chomsky

 Noam Chomsky 1

Noam Chomsky 1

Noam Chomsky's parents, Dr. William (Zev) Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky, were both Russian Jews and also teachers and linguists. His father was the author of a seminal book on the grammatic structure of Hebrew and the faculty president of Gratz College for eight years. Noam grew up in an intellectual atmosphere, and several members of the extended family had ties to labor or communist movements. He attended a progressive elementary school, where he wrote for the school newspaper. His first article was about the fall of Barcelona, during the Spanish Civil War. (Barsky, 9-17.)

He later attended Philadelphia's Central High School. He did not enjoy his experience with the public education system, but during this period he began to pay regular visits to relatives in New York City, especially an uncle whose newsstand served as a literary and political salon for members of the Jewish intellectual community. During this period he began reading anarchist literature and leftist journals. (Barsamian, 231, Barsky, 21-3.)

Chomsky attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and married Carol Doris Schatz in 1948. Finding his college experience similar to that of his high school, he considered dropping out, only to find the intellectual atmosphere he desired with linguistics chair Prof. Zelig Harris and his friends, who also shared an interest in politics. He received his B.A. in linguistics in 1949 and embarked on postgraduate work in the subject. Harris' work on linguistics was part of the inspiration for Chomsky's own, though Chomsky's would follow a radically different path. He received his Ph.D. in 1955 and joined the faculty of MIT the same year. In his doctoral thesis and his first publications, Chomsky began the creation of a body of work that would transform the study of linguistics. (Barsky, 47-53.)

At the time, linguistics was dominated by the Bloomfeldians, followers of Leonard Bloomfeld, a behaviorist who theorized that language was acquired through a process of conditioning and reinforcement. Critical of behaviorist theories and curious how children could formulate all the complex rules of language based on the limited amount of speech they heard, Chomsky decided that human language ability must have a genetic basis. As the basis of his theory, Chomsky developed the idea of a Universal Grammar, a set of principles that describe the formulation of all human languages. With a more or less instinctive knowledge of this Universal Grammar, an infant could construct the rules for a language using the random pieces it was exposed to. Other avenues of Chomsky's work led to the creation of an entirely new field of linguistic research known as transformational grammar. (Lyons, 29-30, 117-19.)

Around 1961, Noam Chomsky began to speak and write on political topics, finding an audience among the student-protest movement. In 1967, he joined the March on the Pentagon and wound up briefly sharing a jail cell with author Norman Mailer. Despite marginalization by the mainstream press, his books have gained considerable recognition and he has been recognized as one of the most outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy. In such works as For Reasons of State, (1973) Manufacturing Consent(1988), and Secrets, Lies and Democracy(1994), Chomsky addresses such subjects as American involvement in Latin America and Indochina, the Cold War, the media's manipulation of the public in respect to these and other issues, and the responsibility of intellectuals to address these problems. Though his stance on these issues is that of an admitted anarchist/libertarian, Noam Chomsky prefers to act as an analyst and critic of the state rather than a social theorist. Ultimately, the decision of how to make a better society lies with the individual. Chomsky continues to teach at MIT, where he holds an endowed chair in linguistics.

From : Anarchy Archives


This person has authored 71 documents, with 447,515 words or 2,902,673 characters.

On 15 October 1965, an estimated 70,000 people took part in large-scale anti-war demonstrations. The demonstrators heard pleas for an end to the bombing of North Vietnam and for a serious commitment to negotiations, in response to the negotiation offers from North Vietnam and UN efforts to settle the war. To be more precise, this is what they heard if they heard anything at all. On the Boston Common, for example, they heard not a word from the speakers, who were drowned out by hecklers and counter-demonstrators. On the Senate floor, Senator Mansfield denounced the ‘sense of utter irresponsibility’ shown by the demonstrators, while Everett Dirksen said the demonstrations were ‘enough to make any person loyal to his c... (From :
The establishment of diplomatic ties between the US and Cuba has been widely hailed as an event of historic importance. Correspondent John Lee Anderson, who has written perceptively about the region, sums up a general reaction among liberal intellectuals when he writes, in the New Yorker, that: "Barack Obama has shown that he can act as a statesman of historic heft. And so, at this moment, has Raúl Castro. For Cubans, this moment will be emotionally cathartic as well as historically transformational. Their relationship with their wealthy, powerful northern American neighbor has remained frozen in the nineteen-sixties for fifty years. To a surreal degree, their destinies have been frozen as well. For Americans, this is impo... (From :
I In 1947, commenting on the rising tide of “anti-Communist” hysteria in the United States, John K. Fairbank made the following perceptive observations: Our fear of Communism, partly as an expression of our general fear of the future, will continue to inspire us to aggressive anti-Communist policies in Asia and elsewhere, [and] the American people will be led to think and may honestly believe that the support of anti-Communist governments in Asia will somehow defend the American way of life. This line of American policy will lead to American aid to establish regimes which attempt to suppress the popular movements in Indonesia, Indochina, the Philippines, and China…. Thus, after setting out to fight... (From :
I A century ago, a voice of British liberalism described the “Chinaman” as “an inferior race of malleable orientals.”[1] During the same years, anthropology became professionalized as a discipline, “intimately associated with the rise of raciology.”[2] Presented with the claims of nineteenth-century racist anthropology, a rational person will ask two sorts of questions: What is the scientific status of the claims? What social or ideological needs do they serve? The questions are logically independent, but the second type of question naturally comes to the fore as scientific pretensions are undermined. The question of the scientific status of nineteenth-century racist anthropology is no longer serio... (From :
At the end of September, the Clinton Administration finally addressed “the vision thing” in the domain of foreign policy, with major addresses by the President and Secretary of State, and of particular significance, by National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, who laid forth the intellectual foundations of the new Clinton doctrine at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. A new National Export Strategy was announced that set guidelines for international economic policy, and a White House panel on intervention applied the doctrine in this particular sphere, all within a few days. The seriousness of the enterprise was duly recorded with such headlines as “U.S. Vision of Foreign Policy Reversed” (Thom... (From :
We are meeting at a remarkable moment, a moment that is, in fact, unique in human history, a moment both ominous in portent and bright with hopes for a better future. The Progressive International has a crucial role to play in determining which course history will follow. We are meeting at a moment of confluence of crises of extraordinary severity, with the fate of the human experiment quite literally at stake. The issues are coming to a head in the next few weeks in the two great imperial powers of the modern era. Fading Britain, having publicly declared that it rejects international law, is on the verge of a sharp break from Europe, on the path to becoming even more of a US satellite that it already is. But of course what is of the... (From :
‘We are not judges. We are witnesses. Our task is to make mankind bear witness to these terrible crimes and to unite humanity on the side of justice in Vietnam.’ With these words, Bertrand Russell opened the second session of the International War Crimes Tribunal, in November 1967. The American people were given no opportunity, at that time, to bear witness to the terrible crimes recorded in the proceedings of the Tribunal. As Russell writes in the introduction to the first edition, ‘… it is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know – or care – about circumstances in the colonies’. The evidence brought before the Tribunal was suppr... (From :
Talk given at the Poetry Center, New York City, Feb. 16, 1970. This classic talk delivered in 1970 has never seemed more current. In it Noam Chomsky articulates a clear, uncompromising defense of the libertarian socialist (anarchist) vision. I think it is useful to set up as a framework for discussion four somewhat idealized positions with regard to the role of the state in an advanced industrial society. I want to call these positions: classical liberal, libertarian socialist, state socialist, state capitalist, and I want to consider each in turn. Also, I’d like to make clear my own point of view in advance, so that you can evaluate and judge what I am saying. I think... (From :
The student movement today is the one organized, significant segment of the intellectual community that has a real and active commitment to the kind of social change that our society desperately needs. Developments now taking place may lead to its destruction, in part through repression, in part through what I think are rather foolish tactics on the part of the student movement itself. I think this would be a great, perhaps irreparable, loss. And I think if it does take place the blame will largely fall on the liberal enlightened community that has permitted a situation to arise in which the most committed, sincere, and most socially active of young people are perhaps working themselves into a position at the end of a limb, from which they ... (From :
The ICC flight to Hanoi spirals upward around Vientiane until it reaches its assigned altitude, and then passes through a protected corridor over an area that has received some of the most intensive bombing in history. A Phantom jet streaked close by—much to the annoyance of the crew and regular passengers—but apart from that we saw nothing in the heavy clouds until the lights of Hanoi appeared below. The passengers on the flight were a curious mixture: Chinese diplomats; Russian journalists, an Italian novelist, several Poles, and three American visitors. We arrived on April 10, and departed on the same flight, a week later. Since my visit to Vietnam was so brief, my impressions are necessarily superficial. Since I do no... (From :
I May Day, living up to all expectations, got the worst reviews of any demonstration in history. It was universally panned as the worst planned, worst executed, most slovenly, strident and obnoxious peace action ever committed. So wrote Mary McGrory, a perceptive columnist and long-time dove.[1] But Mayday was not designed to win accolades in the press; rather it was designed to help end the war, a different purpose. The demonstrators, Miss McGrory wrote, many of whom “had shaved and spruced up for Eugene McCarthy…hope that the people will eventually make the connection between a bad war and a bad demonstration and they think they’ve provided an additional reason for getting out. They’ve ... (From :
In a recent essay, Conor Cruise O’Brien speaks of the process of “counterrevolutionary subordination,” which poses a threat to scholarly integrity in our own counterrevolutionary society, just as “revolutionary subordination,” a phenomenon often noted and rightly deplored, has undermined scholarly integrity in revolutionary and post-revolutionary situations. He observes that “power in our time has more intelligence in its service, and allows that intelligence more discretion as to its methods, than ever before in history,” and suggests that this development is not altogether encouraging, since we have moved perceptibly towards the state of “a society maimed through the systematic corruption of... (From :
The following are excerpts of an interview with Noam Chomsky published in Issue 2 of Red & Black Revolution. RBR can be contacted at Red & Black Revolution, PO Box 1528, Dublin 8, Ireland. The interview was conducted in May 1995 by Kevin Doyle. RBR: First off, Noam, for quite a time now you’ve been an advocate for the anarchist idea. Many people are familiar with the introduction you wrote in 1970 to Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism, but more recently, for instance in the film Manufacturing Consent, you took the opportunity to highlight again the potential of anarchism and the anarchist idea. What is it that attracts you to anarchism? CHOMSKY: I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to... (From :
"Notes on Anarchism" in For Reasons of State Noam Chomsky, 1970 Transcribed by (Bill Lear) A French writer, sympathetic to anarchism, wrote in the 1890s that "anarchism has a broad back, like paper it endures anything"---including, he noted those whose acts are such that "a mortal enemy of anarchism could not have done better."[1] There have been many styles of thought and action that have been referred to as "anarchist." It would be hopeless to try to encompass all of these conflicting tendencies in some general theory or ideology. And even if we proceed to extract from the history of libertarian thought a living, evolving tradition, as Daniel Guérin do... (From :
If it is plausible that ideology will in general serve as a mask for self-interest, then it is a natural presumption that intellectuals, in interpreting history or formulating policy, will tend to adopt an elitist position, condemning popular movements and mass participation in decision-making, and emphasizing rather the necessity for supervision by those who possess the knowledge and understanding that is required (so they claim) to manage society and control social change. This is hardly a novel thought. One major element in the anarchist critique of Marxism a century ago was the prediction that, as Bakunin formulated it: “According to the theory of Mr. Marx, the people not only must not destroy [the state] but must stren... (From :
What are U.S. motives in international relations most broadly? That is, what are the over arching motives and themes one can pretty much always find informing U.S. policy choices, no matter where in the world we are discussing? What are the somewhat more specific but still over arching motives and themes for U.S. policy in Middle East and the Arab world? Finally, what do you think are the more proximate aims of U.S. policy in the current situation in Libya? A useful way to approach the question is to ask what U.S. motives are NOT. There are some good ways to find out. One is to read the professional literature on international relations: quite commonly, its account of policy is what policy is not, an interesting topic that I won&rsqu... (From :
Several weeks after the demonstrations in Washington, I am still trying to sort out my impressions of a week whose quality is difficult to capture or express. Perhaps some personal reflections may be useful to others who share my instinctive distaste for activism, but who find themselves edging toward an unwanted but almost inevitable crisis. For many of the participants, the Washington demonstrations symbolized the transition “from dissent to resistance.” I will return to this slogan and its meaning, but I want to make clear at the outset that I do feel it to be not only accurate with respect to the mood of the demonstrations, but, properly interpreted, appropriate to the present state of protest against the war. There i... (From :
Introductory Comment The title and subtitle of this essay may seem unrelated; hence a word of explanation may be useful. The essay was written for a memorial number of Liberation which, as the editor expressed it, “gathered together a series of articles that deal with some of the problems with which A. J. struggled.” I think that Muste’s revolutionary pacifism was, and is, a profoundly important doctrine, both in the political analysis and the moral conviction that it expresses. The circumstances of the antifascist war subjected it to the most severe of tests. Does it survive this test? When I began working on this article I was not at all sure. I still feel quite ambivalent about the matter. There are several point... (From :
Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future Noam Chomsky is widely known for his critique of U.S foreign policy, and for his work as a linguist. Less well known is his ongoing support for libertarian socialist objectives. In a special interview done for Red and Black Revolution, Chomsky gives his views on anarchism and marxism, and the prospects for socialism now. The interview was conducted in May 1995 by Kevin Doyle. RBR: First off, Noam, for quite a time now you've been an advocate for the anarchist idea. Many people are familiar with the introduction you wrote in 1970 to Daniel Guerin's Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, but more recently, for instance in the film Manufacturing Dissent, you took the ... (From :
With the conviction and sentencing of four of the five defendants, the first phase in the Boston conspiracy trial has ended and a good moment has come for some consideration of the significance of the so-called “Spock case,” of what it means for the “peace movement,” and what it tells us about the state of American democracy. Among anti-war activists there has been much discontent with respect to the conduct of the defense. Many had expected a far-reaching indictment of the government for its criminal behavior in Vietnam. Those who had been hoping for a “confrontation with illegal and immoral authority” are naturally disappointed, since no such confrontation took place. In fact, the defendants them... (From :
QUESTION: Professor Chomsky, perhaps we should start by trying to define what is not meant by anarchism -- the word anarchy is derived, after all, from the Greek, literally meaning "no government." Now, presumably people who talk about anarchy or anarchism as a system of political philosophy don't just mean that, as it were, as of January 1st next year, government as we now understand it will suddenly cease; there would be no police, no rules of the road, no laws, no tax collectors, no post office, and so forth. Presumably, it means something more complicated than that. CHOMSKY: Well, yes to some of those questions, no to others. They may very well mean no policemen, but I don't think they would mean no rules of the road. In fact, I ... (From :
Twenty-years ago, Dwight Macdonald published a series of articles in Politics on the responsibility of peoples and, specifically, the responsibility of intellectuals. I read them as an undergraduate, in the years just after the war, and had occasion to read them again a few months ago. They seem to me to have lost none of their power or persuasiveness. Macdonald is concerned with the question of war guilt. He asks the question: To what extent were the German or Japanese people responsible for the atrocities committed by their governments? And, quite properly, he turns the question back to us: To what extent are the British or American people responsible for the vicious terror bombings of civilians, perfected as a technique of warfare by the... (From :
Preface Rereading this review after eight years, I find little of substance that I would change if I were to write it today. I am not aware of any theoretical or experimental work that challenges its conclusions; nor, so far as I know, has there been any attempt to meet the criticisms that are raised in the review or to show that they are erroneous or ill-founded. I had intended this review not specifically as a criticism of Skinner’s speculations regarding language, but rather as a more general critique of behaviorist (I would now prefer to say “empiricist”) speculation as to the nature of higher mental processes. My reason for discussing Skinner’s book in such detail was that it was the most careful a... (From :
When the world’s two great propaganda systems agree on some doctrine, it requires some intellectual effort to escape its shackles. One such doctrine is that the society created by Lenin and Trotsky and molded further by Stalin and his successors has some relation to socialism in some meaningful or historically accurate sense of this concept. In fact, if there is a relation, it is the relation of contradiction. It is clear enough why both major propaganda systems insist upon this fantasy. Since its origins, the Soviet State has attempted to harness the energies of its own population and oppressed people elsewhere in the service of the men who took advantage of the popular ferment in Russia in 1917 to seize State power. One major... (From :
I Reviewing the record of American intervention in Indochina in the Pentagon Papers, one cannot fail to be struck by the continuity of basic assumptions from one administration to the next. Never has there been the slightest deviation from the principle that a noncommunist regime must be imposed and defended, regardless of popular sentiment. The scope of the principle was narrowed when it was conceded, by about 1960, that North Vietnam was irretrievably “lost.” Otherwise, the principle has been maintained without equivocation. Given this principle, as well as the strength of the Vietnamese resistance, the military power available to the United States, and the lack of effective constraints, one can deduce with precis... (From :
I I arrived in Vientiane in late March, 1970, with two friends, Douglas Dowd and Richard Fernandez, expecting to take the International Control Commission plane to Hanoi the following day. The Indian bureaucrat in charge of the weekly ICC flight immediately informed us, however, that this was not to be. The DRV delegation had returned from Pnompenh to Hanoi on the previous flight after the sacking of the Embassy by Cambodian troops (disguised as civilians), and the flight we intended to take was completely occupied by passengers scheduled for the preceding week. Efforts by the DRV and American embassies were unavailing, and, after exploring various farfetched schemes, we decided, at first without much enthusiasm, to stay in Vie... (From :
Part of the reason why I write about the media is because I am interested in the whole intellectual culture, and the part of it that is easiest to study is the media. It comes out every day. You can do a systematic investigation. You can compare yesterday’s version to today’s version. There is a lot of evidence about what’s played up and what isn’t and the way things are structured. My impression is the media aren’t very different from scholarship or from, say, journals of intellectual opinion — there are some extra constraints — but it’s not radically different. They interact, which is why people go up and back quite easily among them. You look at the media, or at any institutio... (From :
After the atrocities of September 11, the victim declared a ‘war on terrorism’, targeting not just the suspected perpetrators, but the country in which they were located, and others charged with terrorism worldwide. President Bush pledged to ‘rid the world of evildoers’ and ‘not let evil stand’, echoing Ronald Reagan’s denunciation of the ‘evil scourge of terrorism’ in 1985 — specifically, state-supported international terrorism, which had been declared to be the core issue of US foreign policy as his administration came to office.[1] The focal points of the first war on terror were the MIddle East and Central America, where Honduras was the major base for US operations. The milita... (From :


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Posted By : holdoffhunger

Original Post Date : January 19, 2017; 16:32:25

I was young and poor when I first discovered Chomsky. The material is perfect for helping the mind crash through walls that authoritarian society has placed its confidence in. Chomsky's words might not do much to illuminate what a brand new Anarchist world will look like, but they are enough to establish the fundamental requirement of abolishing modern, 21st nation-state imperialism.