What's wrong with Chomsky?

198 posts / 0 new
Last post
Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Nov 24 2009 11:34
Quote:
he is anti-state internationalist

Right, that's totally consistent with support for third world nationalism movements and stalinoid nation-states... roll eyes

~J.

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Nov 24 2009 13:49

no.1 says

Quote:
he has adopted various positions that people have characterised as pro/anti-American, pro/anti--Stalinist (please not that these 4 are incompatible).

because, as I said some time ago:

Quote:
that inconsistency is an inevitable part of being a celebrity, trying to remain popular with your audience; it tends to make you present yourself as all things to all men/women: an anarchist for the anarchists, a lefty for the Leftists, a liberal for the liberals and a patriot ("the greatest country in the world") for the patriots.

How you get from what is clearly incompatible to

Quote:
in the end he is anti-state internationalist

is a bizarre illogical leap that you haven't explained. Maybe it makes sense in your head but it just seems like you'll defend his self-contradictions no matter what because you can't let go of your hierarchical respect and admiration for him. Critique of him has nothing to do with saying that he's

Quote:
EVIL!!!

which is parody used to deflect the content of the critique.

Farce's picture
Farce
Offline
Joined: 21-04-09
Nov 24 2009 15:14
no1 wrote:
Ret Marut wrote:
[...]I know that Chomsky has on occasion expressed criticism of Stalinism as a political system [...]
BigLittleJ wrote:
I think it's reasonable to label someone pro-Stalinist if they express support for Stalinist regimes. [...]
Devrim wrote:
[...] When added to his electorialism, and his talk of the US being '"the greatest country in the world" that is enough for me.
Joseph Kay wrote:
[...]he's a leftist anti-american (perhaps inevitible in confining himself to international relations[...]'

Pro-American, anti-American, pro-Stalinist, anti-Stalinist -- My god that man is EVIL!!! We all agree on that! Otherwise how could he combine so many BAD things?

P.S. Actually, I think people don't get Chomsky's perspective because it's somewhat different to most posters here. Could it be that he has adopted various positions that people have characterised as pro/anti-American, pro/anti--Stalinist (please not that these 4 are incompatible) because in the end he is anti-state internationalist, though he doesn't express it in lib communist ways?

I don't think that there's any inconsistency between making some criticisms of Stalinism and ultimately defending it. He's not a pro-Stalinist anti-Stalinist, he's just a critical supporter of it. Leftists like the SWP will criticise Islamism, but they still ultimately support it as being anti-imperialist. I have on occasion criticised libcom, but I'm still "pro-libcom" in that I think it's a useful resource. So the only contradiction is between Devrim's claim that he's pro-American and the general picture of him as being someone whose anti-Americanism leads him to lend critical support to Stalinism. I don't think he's really consistently pro-American in any meaningful way, so there's not much incompatibility there.
BTW, I still have some sympathy for Jason Cortez's position that he's flawed but useful. Has anyone read, f'r instance, Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, which as I understand it is meant to be one of his best anti-liberal, pro-anarchist-revolution pieces? (I've only read half of it.)

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Nov 24 2009 16:22
Farce wrote:
he's flawed but useful.

Definitely. But then I'd say the same of Soviet or Trot theorists. Rubin was a Menshevik; Marx and Bakunin had politics I'd oppose, but that doesn't mean we should neglect what is worthwhile. A certain degree of cherry-picking is in order.

~J.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
Offline
Joined: 7-05-06
Nov 24 2009 17:00
no.1 wrote:
Ret Marut wrote:

[...]I know that Chomsky has on occasion expressed criticism of Stalinism as a political system [...]

This is the full quote below that you extracted the above from to give a false impression that I claimed Chomsky was "anti-Stalinist".

Ret wrote:
You're trying to split hairs, no.1 - Chomsky thinks the so-called "liberated states" - ie, state structures - of Africa, as aided by the state structure of Stalinoid Cuba in its military manifestation, are "an astonishing achievement that has almost been totally suppressed. ... the contribution that Cuba made to the self-liberation of Africa is fantastic." If that is not seen as expression of support for those state structures, for their existence and actions, then it's not me who's thick...

I know that Chomsky has on occasion expressed criticism of Stalinism as a political system - so I'm pointing out his inconsistency and contradiction.

Not convincing.

no.1 wrote:
Actually, I think people don't get Chomsky's perspective because it's somewhat different to most posters here. Could it be that he has adopted various positions that people have characterised as pro/anti-American, pro/anti--Stalinist (please not that these 4 are incompatible) because in the end he is anti-state internationalist, though he doesn't express it in lib communist ways?

Chomsky's critique of media distortion of available facts and evidence could equally be applied to the above statement.

fatbongo
Offline
Joined: 28-01-09
Nov 24 2009 17:05
Quote:
"you can't let go of your hierarchical respect and admiration for him"

Wow, you've just employed anarchist telepathy.

jura's picture
jura
Offline
Joined: 25-07-08
Nov 24 2009 19:38

I apologize for this diversion, but does someone on here actually have an idea of I. I. Rubin's politics? The fact he was a "Menshevik" does not really prove anything in my view.

freemind
Offline
Joined: 10-10-08
Nov 24 2009 19:58

Chomsky was a revelation when i started reading him in that the sheer volume and scope of his work and the research into various aspects of his subject offer the reader new avenues in which to explore.However i can understand some peoples retisence in calling him an Anarchist in that he refuses to commit himself publicly and he is obviously "liberal" on certain issues like Freedom of Speech,violence(pacifism)etc;I disagree with Chomsky profoundly on these issues and while i wish he would profess his anarchism more forcefully i think the genre he operates in prohibits this although i dont offer that as an excuse.I think Chomsky is a realist and understands that an Anarchist society is a mere utopia at the moment and small victories and reforms and a minimalist approach is the only option at times.This is pragmatic and acceptable but only if the goal of Libertarian Communism and its basic ideals are not compromised.Whatever he has undoubtedly advanced our politics and has been a beacon despite his faults.

ajjohnstone
Offline
Joined: 20-04-08
Nov 30 2009 12:10

I don't think a description Chomsky should be limited to the anti-Stalinist label but should also include anti-Leninist and anti -Trotskyist .

See The Soviet Union versus Socialism

Quote:
Lenin's dictum that "socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people," who must of course trust the benevolence of their leaders, expresses the perversion of 'socialism' to the needs of the State priests...Mastery over production by the producers is the essence of socialism, and means to achieve this end have regularly been devised in periods of revolutionary struggle, against the bitter opposition of the traditional ruling classes and the 'revolutionary intellectuals' guided by the common principles of Leninism and Western managerialism...The Leninist intelligentsia have a different agenda. They fit Marx's description of the 'conspirators' who "pre-empt the developing revolutionary process" and distort it to their ends of domination...For the Leninist, the masses must be strictly disciplined, while the socialist will struggle to achieve a social order in which discipline "will become superfluous" as the freely associated producers "work for their own accord" (Marx). ...In revolutionary Russia, Soviets and factory committees developed as instruments of struggle and liberation, with many flaws, but with a rich potential. Lenin and Trotsky, upon assuming power, immediately devoted themselves to destroying the liberatory potential of these instruments, establishing the rule of the Party, in practice its Central Committee and its Maximal Leaders...Not only the masses, but even the Party must be subject to "vigilant control from above," so Trotsky held as he made the transition from revolutionary intellectual to State priest...At the same time, 'factionalism' -- i.e., any modicum of free expression and organization -- was destroyed "in the interests of socialism," as the term was redefined for their purposes by Lenin and Trotsky, who proceeded to create the basic proto-fascist structures converted by Stalin into one of the horrors of the modern age.

Being an SPGBer , Chomsky doesn't escape criticism

Quote:
Chomsky's analysis of capitalist society broadly hits the mark and socialists could find little to disagree with generally...but Chomsky fails to come to the conclusion that his analysis deserves. Knowledge of how capitalism works and oppresses is not enough. Without an alternative, opposition to capitalism leads nowhere...Granted, many who read or hear Chomsky will arrive at something close to anti-capitalist conclusions but without the aim of abolishing capitalism itself this means relatively little. Chomsky does little to redress this.
Although consistently stating the limitations of legal and other changes to capitalism, he does not oppose reformism as such and so unfortunately his analysis serves to assist futile reformism, however much this may not be his aim. While Chomsky's anti-leadership, anti-capitalism stance is sincere it runs counter to the adoring hoards of trendy leftists who persist in quoting his analysis while campaigning for minimal gains and not for the abolition of the system which creates the need for such demands that seek to address problems which capitalism inevitably cannot solve. - Chomsky's weakness

Elsewhere

Quote:
Noam Chomsky warmly supports Cuba's defiance of the US, staying stoically silent on Cuba's internal regime, save that it is a matter for Cubans themselves...Like Chomsky, many take an anti-American reflex and root for the underdog versus the hyperpower: excusing the repressive parts of Castro's regime as mistakes, or excesses of siege warfare... - Cuba , No Workers Paradise
knotwho's picture
knotwho
Offline
Joined: 13-01-11
Apr 29 2011 17:15

The IWW's latest General Organization Bulletin has a note from the Boston delegate stating that they "reinitiated two members including prof. Noam Chomsky who had fallen behind on dues for many years." Seems to be part of the Wisconsin broohaha wave.

On a linguistic tip, the New Yorker had a really interesting article in 2007 about a linguist whose theories kind of negate the accepted Chomskian theory of generative grammar. This guy was doing ethnolinguistic work in the Amazon. As it turns out, you learn a lot more about language by engaging it head on, in its context, than doing lab studies.