I am very familiar with Chomsky’s theories…
…on language, that is.
I am not quite as familiar with Chomsky’s social views.
This gets me in trouble.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been involved in a debate over Chomsky and his alleged ‘hypocrisy’ involving my friend Bumf, and his partial posting of this guy’s article that ended up in the Western Standard. Well, these guys might not know I’ve been involved in this debate, but I assure you, students in the linguistics department at the UofC do.
W.G.’s argument was that Chomsky is a hypocrite because he believes language is an innate feature of the human mind…and he’s left wing.
I’m not going to get into all that right now. You can read it in my post before this, if you want. I did eventually comment to W.G. and I hope he responds.
But this whole thing has been haunting me.
Now…this being the case, I did a little research. I intend to do more because I think starting my M.A. in linguistics in the fall would warrent I do a little research into philosophy beyond language acquisition…but as I do research into Chomsky’s politics, I’m finding something interesting.
Now…as a woman studying linguistics, believe me…I know Chomsky can be a difficult read. Hell, I’ve attended a speaking engagement here in Calgary a few years ago and didn’t understand a word (the acoustics were terrible). But I’ve seen Manufacturing Consent. My boyfriend reads Chomsky regularly. I’m not entirely blind to his politics. And I’ve done some additional research.
So..what I found was interesting. Frankly, I don’t think anyone who argues against Chomsky has read/listend to him, either. They’ve certainly read/listened to each other…but not necessarily him.
They describe him as a socialist. And hate him for it. Well…my own politics aside..from what I understand, he’s not. He’s an anarchist (with a socialist bend). Look:
CHOMSKY: The introduction to Guerin’s book that you mentioned opens with a quote from an anarchist sympathiser a century ago, who says that anarchism has a broad back, and endures anything. One major element has been what has traditionally been called ‘libertarian socialism’. I’ve tried to explain there and elsewhere what I mean by that, stressing that it’s hardly original; I’m taking the ideas from leading figures in the anarchist movement whom I quote, and who rather consistently describe themselves as socialists, while harshly condemning the ‘new class’ of radical intellectuals who seek to attain state power in the course of popular struggle and to become the vicious Red bureaucracy of which Bakunin warned; what’s often called ‘socialism’. I rather agree with Rudolf Rocker’s perception that these (quite central) tendencies in anarchism draw from the best of Enlightenment and classical liberal thought, well beyond what he described. In fact, as I’ve tried to show they contrast sharply with Marxist-Leninist doctrine and practice, the ‘libertarian’ doctrines that are fashionable in the US and UK particularly, and other contemporary ideologies, all of which seem to me to reduce to advocacy of one or another form of illegitimate authority, quite often real tyranny.”
So, when I read “…because he argues that our sociability is also natural, and therefore in a better world without capitalists, etc, we would all be loving socialists like him.” I wonder where that came from.
From what I understand, and I do intend to get more familiar with it this summer when I have time, what he’s against is extreme forms of politics…because they end up needing some sort of oppression in order to keep themselves going. That’s his problem with capitalism, that an unusual amount of power has been given to “the corporation”.
And actually…that’s what I thought he was all about the whole time.