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Chomsky on Anarchism Paperback – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is one of the world's leading intellectuals, father of modern linguistics, outspoken media and foreign policy critic and tireless activist. Barry Pateman is the curator of the Emma Goldman Archive at the University of California Berkeley and wrote the introduction to AK Press' Chomsky on Anarchism.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904859208
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904859208
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Chomsky on Anarchism" is a collection of writings and interviews with Noam Chomsky that addresses the topic of anarchism. Arranged in chronological order and spanning over five decades, the essays provide an unique perspective on Mr. Chomsky's intellectual development into one of today's most influential and prominent critics of capitalism. The book demonstrates that anarchist theory has significantly influenced Mr. Chomsky's thought, revealing a side of Mr. Chomsky that is often implied but infrequently made explicit in his writings.

Among the eleven works, I found "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship" (1969) to be a particularly appealing critique and discussion of the Vietnam War and the anarchist society that emerged briefly in Spain during its Civil War in the 1930s. Here, Mr. Chomsky displays at a relatively early point in his career the qualities for which he would become famous; his biting satire and devastating deconstruction of the powerful, in this case directed at the false justifications for the war in Vietnam and the West's non-support for Spanish democracy, provides many thought-provoking and timeless truisms.

"Containing the Threat of Democracy" (1990) is another noteworthy piece in that it exemplifies a mature writer who has a masterful command of history, social theory and criticism. Mr. Chomsky brilliantly draws on Enlightenment thought to critique how the powerful have used the force of law to enable the rule of the few over the many, with a wide-ranging discussion of how Western elitism has resulted in genocide, war and repression under the guise of civilization.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Book Boy on October 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure what some of the reviewers are talking about. Unlike much of the Chomsky material published these days, there is a significant amount of new material in this book. "New" at least in the sense that it's never been published before, or has never been published in English (there's one essay that was published in Ljubljana in 1986 and an amazing Brazilian interview from 1996). I'm a huge fan of Chomsky. I read his work wherever I can find it, but I haven't seen at least five of the chapters in this book...and several of the others aren't all that common.

But the real point is that, taken together, these essays and interviews provide a truly fascinating and seldom seen side of a social critic who, admittedly, sometimes seems to be making the same point (however important) over and over. This book is Noam Chomsky at his most exciting: thinking about the possibilities for alternative social forms, rather than simply critiquing the one we've got.

Highly recommended!
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By wildflowerboy on March 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Chomsky on Anarchism" is a wonderful introduction to Chomsky's anarchist ideals. Like all of Chomsky's writings, this collection of interviews and essays is insightful and deep, a clear anaylsis of the real, underlying problems in our world today, like US imperialism, corporate globalization, domestic repression and state propaganda. I especialy enjoyed his interview with Barry Pateman, associate editor of UC Berkeley's Emma Goldman Papers. Knowledge is power. So, put down The New York Times and delve into the prolific writings of the most important punk rocker around, Noam Chomsky!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dana Garrett on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
"The consistent anarchist, then, should be a socialist, but a socialist of a particular sort. He will not only oppose alienated and specialized labor and look forward to the appropriation of capital by the whole body of workers, but he will also insist that this appropriation be direct, not exercised by some elite force acting in the name of the proletariat" (p. 125).

In this passage Noam Chomsky distinguishes anarchism (aka libertarian socialism) from so-called anarcho-capitalism and Marxism. Such incisive distinctions are replete in Chomsky on Anarchism. Those wanting an unambiguous contemporary introduction to anarchism would be hard put to find a better book than this collection of essays and interviews selected by Barry Pateman.

In Chomsky on Anarchism one can gather a sense of the history and origins of anarchism, explore its philosophical underpinnings (Rousseau, Kant, Humboldt, et al), read explications of the writings of some of its representatives (Bakunin), imagine some of the possible social and economic arrangements of a future anarchistic society, consider answers to traditional and contemporary objections to anarchism, and learn how anarchist thought can be applied to current national and international affairs and issues.

The book also doesn't shy away from controversy. Here we read of Chomsky's (in my view, convincing) defense of temporarily strengthening the state in some cases out of a concern for "human consequences" lest a "more illegitimate institution" "take over" (p. 212).
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