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Monday, April 21, 2008

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but chomsky has it pretty wrong, no?

"Like, when somebody comes out in favor of a tax, you can say: "No, I'm a libertarian, I'm against that tax"—but of course, I'm still in favor of the government building roads, and having schools, and killing Libyans, and all that sort of stuff."

now, honestly, it's the libertarians who have been screaming the loudest about the US killing of iraqis and afghanis. a few have even called on the soldiers to lay down there arms and just quit - you know, direct action. they all revile the national-secutrity state. and no libertarian that i know likes government schools, though a few might go for the roads.

chomsky has been such a national-liberationist/leftoid tool that i can't stand to read anything he writes - until i do read it, and am convinced all over again of his worthlessness.

it's the libertarians who have been screaming the loudest about the US killing of iraqis and afghanis.

I'd say "loudest" is going too far, though there are many antiwar.com-style libertarians out there who've been consistent in their opposition to war (not including Justin Raimondo himself). But there are also plenty of libertarian hawks, which has been a source of debate within libertarian circles in recent years.

Also, libertarian is a term that's abused in much the same way liberal or progressive are. There are plenty of people who co-opt it to dress up their standard-issue conservatism on issues like taxes or guns, and I think that's the type of person Chomsky was referring to in that part of the response. That's why he pointed out the contrast to consistent right-libertarians like Rothbard.

My, my, you have infinite patience, John. Now me, on the other hand...

Ahhhh, yes, I still have fond memories of those heady days of February, 2003, when tens of millions of Libertarians took to the streets in cities all around the world to protest the war. The new connections made, the conversations we had with strangers marching next to us -- millions of people with their voices raised in unison, chanting their support for a return to the Gold Standard and their opposition to the Public School system.
"Hey-hey, ho-ho, the Minimum Wage has got to go!!" I really don't think the Libertarian movement has enjoyed such a wonderful feeling of solidarity in the five long years since then.

It seems that the proportion of anti-war libertarians in proportion to "libertarians" in general, especially on the internet, is roughly proportional to the leftist:liberal ratio. Damned small, and nothing to be proud of. Maybe you can to try to "reclaim" the word.

When "petey" says that the libertarians he knows all hate government schools, he is of course saying that all the libertarians he knows are rich.

Which is, basically, confirming what Chomsky was saying.

Heck...when I was growing up in the midwest, the "Objectivist" I knew attended a government school...went into engineering at a University that receives more direct (DOD, largely) federal government funding than any university other than MIT (Purdue) and had a father who worked for a government contractor. But boy, he was a REBEL I tell you.

"Also, libertarian is a term that's abused in much the same way liberal or progressive are."

true, but chomsky is using it in that abused way. the american version of libertarian means very laissez faire (much to the consternation of continental libertarians), and in opposition to almost all government intervention, from foreign wars to wall street bailouts.

"When "petey" says that the libertarians he knows all hate government schools, he is of course saying that all the libertarians he knows are rich."

well i am a middle school teacher, hence i travel in a very wealthy milieu.

the american version of libertarian means very laissez faire (much to the consternation of continental libertarians), and in opposition to almost all government intervention, from foreign wars to wall street bailouts.

I don't know any such libertarians -- I'm not saying there aren't any, just that I don't know any. All the libertarians I know are simply anti-taxers, and will sacrifice any other principles including personal liberty to get their taxes cut. Glenn Reynolds comes to mind.

i'm thinking of mises types, as at lewrockwell.com

I am a mises type, I even worked there for a time in college. It is mostly anarchists and very principled anarchists at that. Chomsky is full of it if he thinks consistent libertarianism is built on hatred. Hatred of aggression in all forms yes, but hopeful for the ability of freely acting individuals to work out any conflict. And as for american libertarianism being an aberration not in line with the meaning in the rest of the world, it is only because the word "liberal" to describe the philosophy that is now embodied in american libertarianism was stolen by the socialists in america about the beginning of the previous century (see the forward to Mises "Liberalism" (http://mises.org/liberal.asp (link takes you to an ebook of this wonderful work)). Liberalism meant free markets and free individuals, how sad that this word now disguises tepid socialism. Many libertarians would be happy to give up the word libertarian and let Chomsky have it if only we could get the word liberal back.

For a complete rebuttal of Chomsky; and his pure ignorance of economics.

Please see: http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?t=153224&page=4

:) Enjoy.

Conza88: Thanks; I thought your deployment of "LOL!" was particularly trenchant.

Chomsky is speaking out of step again. To work or starve is in fact a choice and one that does not impose upon another. As far as it being an aberration, Chomsky might want to tell that to the Celtic Irish, Medieval Icelandic or even the settlers early in the American West's history. They all got along just fine in a market society, some for centuries. They understood that it is not hatred that brings the people together to build or not build the road, it is choice. So what if people do not want a road? Should we make them build one because you see it fit? It is not hate but respect for each others rights that creates a society where only those who want, that is are willing to invest resources in, a service pay for and receive that service. For a Linguist at a Tech. school he sure does like to run his mouth.

I'm surprised by the invective with which many of you are treating Chomsky. As far as I can see, Rothbard's and Chomsky's positions are very close and perhaps even compatible. I'm beginning to believe that there is no principled difference between libertarian capitalists like Rothbard and libertarian socialists like Chomksy. The only difference I can discern is one of emphasis, or one of tone. There is nothing in Rothbard's writings that precludes the possibility of cooperative or communal arrangements of properties, even on national and international scales. I think it's just that Chomsky believes Rothbard's focus to be misplaced, to be too individualist in emphasis. Rothbard's libertarianism I believe is best read as a principled groundwork for the socialistic arrangements which would have to ensue for a workable economy to be realised.

I need to add a disclaimer. Chomsky's socialism, and that which I align myself with, is anarchic. However, I agree with Chomsky that society could not possibly function without some form of voluntary representative delegation in economic matters at the trans-regional, national and international scales- but representation which is immediately revocable and temporally confined. It does not, in other words, entail any form of statism. Perhaps this is a point upon which Chomsky and Rothbard fundamentally disagree- I'm not sure, maybe someone could enlighten me.

Hugo: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. The problem with "libertarian capitalists" is that it's all but a self-contradicting label; I've always found it difficult to understand how libertarians in the US can reconcile their opposition to concentrated coercive state power with a near-fetishistic desire for more concentrated coercive economic power.

Plenty of libertarians (like myself) accept the role of the collective for fundamental things like roads and even healthcare. As a matter of fact, every time Chomsky mentions libertarians, he says, "yeah well they don't even think the government should build roads." I have to say, neither myself nor any of the (10 or 12) libertarian friends I have think that roads should be privatized -- and neither does Ron Paul -- and about half of us think that health care would be less costly and fairer if we just did the single payer system.

But Chomsky doesn't really like to explore the views of people he opposes; he just thinks that everybody who doesn't believe what he believes is an apologist for heirarchies and a supporter of tyranny. I don't really see any difference between him and Ayn Rand in that respect.

Jeffrey Blankfort has a thing or two to say about Chomsky's alleged anti-Zionism, too, and this powerful and well-sourced essay certainly gave me pause. As Blankfort notes, Chomsky denies the existence of a pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. and is opposed to sanctions against Israel:

"A number of statements made by Chomsky have demonstrated his determination to keep Israel and Israelis from being punished or inconvenienced for the very monumental transgressions of decent human behavior that he himself has passionately documented over the years. This is one of the glaring contradictions in Chomsky’s work. He would have us believe that Israel’s occupation and harsh actions against the Palestinians, its invasions and undeclared 40 years war on Lebanon, and its arming of murderous regimes in Central America and Africa during the Cold War, has been done as a client state in the service of US interests. In Chomsky’s world view, that absolves Israel of responsibility and has become standard Chomsky doctrine."

And:

"It is reasonable to conclude by now that Chomsky’s dancing around the question of US aid, his opposition to divestment and sanctions, and to holding Israel to account, can be traced more to his Zionist perspective, irrespective of how he defines it, than to his general approach to historical events . It doesn’t stop there, however. An examination of a sampling of his prodigious output on the Israel-Palestine conflict reveals critical historical omissions and blind spots, badly misinterpreted events, and a tendency to repeat his errors to the point where they have become accepted as 'non-controversial facts' by successive generations of activists who repeat them like trained seals. In sum, what they have been given by Chomsky is a deeply flawed scenario that he has successfully sold and resold to them as reality."

The whole thing is long but well worth a read:

http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html

I like Jeffrey Blankfort (personally, that is—I was interviewed on his radio show), but "that absolves Israel of responsibility and has become standard Chomsky doctrine" has to be one of the dopiest things I've ever read.

a) "If capital is privately controlled, then people are going to have to rent themselves in order to survive.

- OK...and if capital was "publicly controlled" people won't need to do this?? It seems to me like they would need to do so even more given the nature of statism + politics...

b) Now, you can say, "they rent themselves freely, it's a free contract"—but that's a joke. If your choice is, "do what I tell you or starve," that's not a choice—

- Umm, yes it is. Scarcity exists Noam you idiot. What it sounds like you are implying in this statement of yours is that a something is not a "real choice" if scarcity is present. This is absurd...get with the program. Living on planet earth is difficult. Choices always (or maybe almost always) involve scarcity.

c) It's in fact what was commonly referred to as wage slavery in more civilized times, like the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example."

-The term 'wage slavery' throughout its use has almost always been a lie--that is, there is almost always been no slavery involved.

d) Now, there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard—and if you just read the world that they describe, it's a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it.

-OK...and funny how you don't give any evidence or put forth an argument for why it's a "world so full of hate"...

Caruso: So instead of disputing all the clearly and well-argued points that Conza88 made against Chomsky's characterization of Libertarianism, you just make a snide remark about him using the expression "LOL!"? I guess that when one is unable to counter what someone else says, one can decide to completely ignore his statements and simply be a condescending prick, but that sort of sophomoric behavior is just an admission that one has lost the argument.

"misesian" wrote:

“And as for american libertarianism being an aberration not in line with the meaning in the rest of the world, it is only because the word "liberal" to describe the philosophy that is now embodied in american libertarianism was stolen by the socialists in america about the beginning of the previous century (see the forward to Mises "Liberalism" (http://mises.org/liberal.asp (link takes you to an ebook of this wonderful work)). Liberalism meant free markets and free individuals, how sad that this word now disguises tepid socialism. Many libertarians would be happy to give up the word libertarian and let Chomsky have it if only we could get the word liberal back.”

Here are some quotes from a 1970 lecture by Chomsky that speak directly to this:

_____Begin Chomsky Quotes from 1970_________

[All emphasis mine- IO]

“The modern conservative tends to regard himself as the lineal descendant of the classical liberal in this sense, but I think that can be maintained only from an extremely superficial point of view, as one can see by studying more carefully the fundamental ideas of classical libertarian thought as expressed, in my opinion, in its most profound form by Humboldt.” [03:30]

“For this reason, I think, one must say that classical liberal ideas, in their essence though not in
the way they developed, are profoundly anti-capitalist. The essence of these ideas must be destroyed for them to serve as an ideology of modern industrial capitalism.” [08:13]

“Writing in the 1780's and early 1790's, Humboldt had no conception of the forms that industrial capitalism would take. Consequently, in this classic of classical liberalism, he stresses the problem of limiting state power, and he is not overly concerned with the dangers of private power. The reason is that he believes in and speaks of the essential equality of condition of private citizens, and of course he has no idea, writing in 1790, of the ways in which the notion of private person would come to be reinterpreted in the era of corporate capitalism. [Note that this was said in 1970, some forty-plus years before the “Citizens United” case!- IO] "He did not foresee", I now quote the anarchist historian Rudolf Rocker: "he did not foresee that democracy, with its model of equality of all citizens before the law, and liberalism, with its right of man over his own person, both would be wrecked on the realities of capitalistic economy." Humboldt did not foresee that in a predatory capitalistic economy, state intervention would be an absolute necessity. To preserve human existence. To prevent the destruction of the physical environment. I speak optimistically of course." [09:18]

“Nor did Humboldt understand in 1790 that capitalistic economic relations perpetuated a form of bondage which, long before that in fact, as early as 1767, Simon Linguet had declared to be "even worse than slavery,[...] [The following is the final part of Linguet's words that Chomsky quoted:] "These men, it is said, have no master. They have one, and the most terrible, the most imperious of masters: that is, need. It is this that reduces them to the most cruel dependence." ”

“[...]and the important point is that the basis of his [Humboldt’s] critique is applicable to a far broader range of coercive institutions than he imagined, in particular to the institutions of industrial capitalism." [12:21]

_______End Chomsky Quotes from 1970______________

I highly recommend this lecture of Chomsky’s, which appears to be one of his earliest recorded ones (at least on the topic of politics and government, etc.)

The full audio can be heard at
http://www.chomsky.info/audionvideo/19700216.mp3
This link should embed the mp3 file directly into your browser. You can download the file by going to the page at http://www.chomsky.info/audionvideo.htm , scrolling all the way down to the bottom of the page, right-clicking on the link to the file and then selecting “Save target as” (Internet Explorer) or “Save link as” (Firefox). The link is titled “Government in the Future” and is the second from last one at the the very bottom of the page.

A full transcript of the audio is available at:
http://tangibleinfo.blogspot.com/2006/11/noam-chomsky-lecture-from-1970-full.html

And lest anyone think that Chomsky only addressed the perils and tyranny of capitalism, here are two other excerpts from the same lecture:

“[...]but at the very least it is clear that one would have to be rather naive after the events of the past half century to fail to see the truth in Bakunin's repeated warnings that the Red bureaucracy would prove the most violent, terrible lie of the century. He once said "take the most radical revolutionary and place him on the throne of all Russia", he said in 1870, "or give him a dictatorial power and before a year has passed he will become worse than the Czar himself." I'm afraid, in this respect, Bakunin was all too perceptive and this kind of warning was repeatedly voiced from the left. For example the anarcho-syndicalist Fernand Pelloutier asked, in the 1890s: "Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be the collectivist jail ? Can't it consist in a free organisation, limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared ?" [25:28]
“No rational person will approve of violence and terror, and in particular the terror of the post-revolutionary state, which has fallen into the hands of a grim autocracy, has more than once reached indescribable levels of savagery. At the same time no person of understanding or humanity will too quickly condemn the violence that often occurs, when long subdued masses rise against their oppressors or take their first steps towards liberty and social reconstruction.” [31:17]

HAHA FUCkIng WIN..

Chomsky is a fraud, trying to pass off a local sort of totalitarianism for liberty.

a) "If capital is privately controlled, then people are going to have to rent themselves in order to survive.

- OK...and if capital was "publicly controlled" people won't need to do this?? It seems to me like they would need to do so even more given the nature of statism + politics...

NO, WORKING IN TANDEM WITH EQUAL REMUNERATION OR EACH PERSON REAPING THE TOTAL SURPLUS VALUE OF WHAT THE PRODUCE IS NOT AT ALL COMPARABLE TO RENTING YOURSELF TO A CAPITALIST. THERE IS NO HIERARCHY, NO BOSSISM, AND YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN WORK. IT ALSO PROMOTES A LOT MORE PRODUCTIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE AND MORALE.YOU ARE NO LONGER A COMMODITY USED TO MAKE A CAPITALIST RICH AT YOUR DISPOSAL. DUH, THAT WAS EASY.

b) Now, you can say, "they rent themselves freely, it's a free contract"—but that's a joke. If your choice is, "do what I tell you or starve," that's not a choice—

- Umm, yes it is. Scarcity exists Noam you idiot. What it sounds like you are implying in this statement of yours is that a something is not a "real choice" if scarcity is present. This is absurd...get with the program. Living on planet earth is difficult. Choices always (or maybe almost always) involve scarcity.

NO IT'S NOT. WHEN THEY RULING CLASS OWN AND CONTROL THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, AND USE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND OWNERSHIP/PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS AS ENTRY BARRIERS, THEN WAGE SLAVERY IS THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN. SCARCITY IS ARTIFICIALLY CREATED IN THIS WAY. CAPITALISM IS A GAME OF MUSICAL CHAIRS, WHERE ONE PERSON HAS TO BE THE LOSER, IN ORDER FOR THERE TO BE A WINNER, AND IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. COMMON SENSE, NOT EVERYONE CAN JUST GO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS. ALL THAT AYN RAND "OBJECTIVISM" IS BULLSHIT. EVEN IF WE ALL HAD EQUAL TALENTS, ACCESS TO STARTUP CAPITAL, ETC., COMPANIES WOULD STILL NEED EMPLOYEES, UNLESS EVERYONE IS GOING TO OPEN A LEMONADE STAND.

c) It's in fact what was commonly referred to as wage slavery in more civilized times, like the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example."

-The term 'wage slavery' throughout its use has almost always been a lie--that is, there is almost always been no slavery involved.

READ ABOVE FOR CLARITY, YOU'VE PUT YOUR FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH AGAIN. WHEN YOU WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE, WHICH IS ALWAYS THE CASE IN CAPITALISM, YOU CAN'T JUST SAY "I WANT MORE SALARY", BECAUSE YOUR BOSS CAN TELL YOU TO GO FUCK OFF. WORKERS HAVE NEXT TO ZERO BARGAINING POWER, AS THEY DON'T OWN A SHARE OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. CAPITALISM IS ALL ABOUT EXTRACTING AS MUCH AS YOU CAN OUT OF YOUR HUMAN COMMODITIES (WORKERS) WHILE PAYING THEM JUST ENOUGH TO KEEP THEM COMING BACK. JUST TRY GOING INTO WORK TOMORROW AND DEMANDING A RAISE WITH ONE HAND THEN SHITTING IN THE OTHER, SEE WHICH ONE FILLS UP FIRST.

d) Now, there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard—and if you just read the world that they describe, it's a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it.

-OK...and funny how you don't give any evidence or put forth an argument for why it's a "world so full of hate"...

ANY TYPE OF SLAVE/MASTER RELATIONSHIP AND MONEY AT ANY COST, IS HATE AND VIOLENCE. PAYING YOUR WORKERS THE LEAST POSSIBLE AND CUTTING CORNERS ON PROGRAMS LIKE BENEFITS THAT THEY DEPEND ON, IS A FORM OF HATRED. GREED AND SELFISHNESS THAT DRIVE CAPITALISM, ARE FORMS OF HATRED.

Oh, and btw....all you Rothtard "free market capitalism" (oxymoron) fiends, I have a little surprise for you :)

http://c4ss.org/content/14799

That's right, your sacred cow in all his glory, cozying up to the left. Perhaps since then he was rung over the head with a piece of heavy mining equipment that some burgeois douche had a patent on lol

Libertarians are wall street whores.

Libertarians don't accept the truth because similiar to other cults they are afraid of democratic socialism and the liberty to question any authority or ideology they preach. We must remember that cults are not only religious base but economic and political also...like fascism,libertarianism,capitalism and other extremist ideologies of hate and power. I compare David Koresh and his followers to Ron Paul and his libertarian cultist followers.

Chomsky very incisively points out that what passes off for 'libertarianism' in the US is not a real social movement but an ideological pretext people in power give when they need it. Its function in many respects is very similar to what Marxism and derivative ideologies were used for in the Soviet Union. For this, he receives vitriolic character assassinations and little substantive counter-arguments. Predictable.

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