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Chomsky On Anarchism

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  2,985 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews

We all know what Noam Chomsky is against. His scathing analysis of everything that's wrong with our society reaches more and more people every day. His brilliant critiques of-among other things-capitalism, imperialism, domestic repression and government propaganda have become mini-publishing industries unto themselves. But, in this flood of publishing and republishing, ver

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Published (first published 2005)
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Nov 25, 2014 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Anarchism is a collection of excerpts from previous interviews. Chomsky needs no introduction as he is well known as a voice of the far left -- articulate and well spoken. He is not the political sound bite of the evening or 24 hour news channel. He is the details and the details that get drowned out of the mainstream media.

As a professor of linguistics Chomsky knows words mean things. He sticks to the proper usage of words rather than the contemporary view. Historically, libertarian does no
As an introduction to anarchist theory for someone who knows only the conceptual framework, this was very helpful. And also very frustrating.

The vast majority of people have no idea what anarchism is. (Chaos and bombs, right?) This is unfortunate. Anarchism is so beautiful and liberating, and really, truly founded in common sense.

The basic premise which Chomsky reiterates many times is that humans should be completely free, to the greatest extent possible. Any structure, relationship, or insti
Oct 14, 2015 Chris_P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Let's be honest here people! Noam Chomsky is the only person alive who speaks publicly about the real (dare I say only) truths about the world order that is and the one that should be. And he does that for the sake of education. He doesn't sell conspiracy theories nor cheap ideologies. You won't find any patronizing propaganda shit here. That's why he doesn't get any publicity. Because he can't be used against his own theories.

This particular book is a great way for one to be introduced not only
Aug 24, 2016 Safat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm the most apolitical person as one could possibly be, partly because I'm a lazy drone with little energy for anything out of intellectual masturbation, and partly because I'm a great cynic who doesn't believe the nature of human beings will ever let them able to create an ideal political system. Nevertheless, I became slightly interested in politics(or political theories) lately. I picked up this book because the title seemed appealing, and I watched many of Chomsky's YouTube videos wanted to ...more
Benjamin A'Lee
This is a collection of a few articles and book introductions, transcripts of speeches, and interviews. The problem is that this format ends up being pretty repetitive. The introductions in particular, and some of the articles, tend to cover mostly the same ground, and I can't help but feeling that a synthesis of them into a new article would be much more valuable than reading several slightly different articles.

The high point was “Containing the Threat of Democracy”, which was one of the longer
Guillermo Macbeth
Oct 14, 2016 Guillermo Macbeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book on anarchism. Noam Chomsky achieved his goal, as he always does. I think that Chomsky finds politics harder to explain than linguistics, which seems strange but is completely reasonable. Some predictions derived from his theory of natural languages can be experimentally tested. By the opposite, nothing derived from specific points of view on politics or history can be empirically tested. Hence, any statement about anarchism is just an opinion. In my opinion as common reader, Cho ...more
Samuel Brase
In a lot of ways, this book feels like a remix. Virtually all of the material is either from ~1970 or ~2002. But the commentaries appear next to each other in a timeless, unending stream of anarchist thought and analysis. I like this aspect a lot actually, I think it shows both certainty on Chomsky's part and thoughtfulness on the side of the editors (and probably Chomsky himself) in terms of selecting the material.

At the end of the day, one has to ask: Who's the audience? At $16 for 140 neatly
Ron Joniak
Jun 26, 2015 Ron Joniak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read on some of Chomsky's thoughts. I particularly enjoyed the chapters that were based off prior interviews of Chomsky as it answered a few of my questions.

Indeed Chomsky:
"...every form of authority and domination and hierarchy, every authoritarian structure, has to prove that it's justified--it has no prior justification. For instance, when you stop your five-year-old kid from trying to cross the street, that's an authoritarian situation: it's got to be justified. Well, in that cas
Jun 14, 2009 Jerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me anarchism is a questioning of institutions political, religious, educational, corporate, agribusiness etc., in the way Tom Paine did. If any institution creates more harm than good then it should be rethought or restructured. I am certainly in no way an advocate of violence. There is too much violence already perpetrated by some of these institutions. It's time for us old farts to get out of the way, and stop sending young kids many of whom don't even shave yet, into endless wars. And if w ...more
Sep 20, 2016 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Noam Chomsky is my first and most important teacher. On Anarchism works equally well as an introduction or supplement to anyone interested in the man’s work. However, it is worth noting that this is an anthology of essays and interviews published elsewhere on the topic, not an original work.

The book can be divided, broadly, into 3 categories; Anarchist theory, a history of the Anarcho-Syndicalist communes during Spanish Civil War, and slightly denser philosophical treatise, situated with his an
Matthew Lowery
Dec 30, 2015 Matthew Lowery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an 'original' work but instead a small collection of various essays and interviews from Chomsky's career that I think intend to provide just a basic overview of Anarchism and Chomsky's thought. Approached from this perspective, this is a great read. The interviews were very digestible and contained good questions that probed Chomsky's early life, inspirations, and posed challenges to him that he responded well to. Chomsky writes at length in one section about scholarship and bias in ...more
Logan Williams
Apr 06, 2014 Logan Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chomsky has always been an author beyond praise. His works are as informing and surprising as they are interesting. He is one of the few intellectuals that blends information and entertainment together seamlessly, without seeming full of himself or like a comedian.

This small compilation includes an essay on modern anarchism, 2 excerpts from interviews, 2 other essays related to anarchism, and an extensive bibliography. The version I read also had a introduction by Nathan Schneider, which was ins
Billie Pritchett
UPDATE: I re-read this book Monday, February 3, 2014. I don't think my views of the book have changed much since I wrote the review I did below on January 16, 2010. Actually, though, I should say that as for the remark about some of the language being hyperbolic I don't see it that way much anymore. Perhaps it's a matter of me getting older.

ORIGINAL REVIEW (January 16, 2010)
Noam Chomsky didn't write this book, but it is a collection of interviews conducted with Chomsky, chapter excerpts from boo
Chomsky on Anarchism is a collection of essays and interviews in which Chomsky discusses the broadness and complexity of anarchism and anarchist issues. He mainly refers to anarcho-syndicalism and there are some good parts where he goes over the role that anarchism played in the Spanish Civil War (though to the experienced reader, this has since been well noted by others). I found his comments on Rousseau's Discourse of Equality interesting, as well as Chapter 4 (The Relevance of Anarcho-Syndica ...more
Matt Roberts
Nov 14, 2014 Matt Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of essays and interviews of Chomsky from the 1960's to the early 2000's. These writings substantially cover Chomsky's thoughts on anarchism, socialism, libertarianism, and everything in between. This is a great read.
Jul 02, 2016 Kit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Reading this was an effort to understand Chomsky, and my own political inclinations, better. I'm not often articulate, and my efforts to explain precisely how and why anarchism does not equal 'chaos' in accordance with a popular misconception are often inchoate and meandering. Chomsky of course explains it very well, as am overriding concern for the wellbeing of humans that puts their development, and human relations, rather than "progress" in its interpretation of increased capitalist efficienc ...more
Marko Boskovic
May 13, 2016 Marko Boskovic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to get a good introduction to anarchism
Shelves: non-fiction
"On Anarchism" is a collection of 5 essays/interview transcripts by Chomsky that came to be in vastly different periods and contexts and were combined, more or less successfully, in order to give an introduction to the concepts of anarchism. It is corroborated by a wealth of citations and references, and the notes section is abundant with additional information.

I would say that this compilation works pretty well, and that after reading it I understand the topic in question much better.

1. Notes o
Chirag Yadav
This is just not a good read. Understanding Power is a really good compilation of Chomsky's thought and it has a section on anarchism too, if that's what you're looking for. In fact, On Anarchism has a chapter devoted to excerpts from Understanding Power, which was the only interesting part that gave an insight into Chomsky's thought on anarchism apart from his interview with Harry Kreisler given in another chapter.

The book is divided as follows:
Chapter 1. Notes on Anarchism (20 pages ): Gives
Alya AlShaibani
Nov 25, 2015 Alya AlShaibani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 20, 2015 Maira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The two- speculation and action- must progress, as best they can, looking forward to the day when theoretical inquiry will provide a firm guide to the unending, often grim, but never hopeless struggle for freedom and social justice.'

This book was challenging in parts, particularly where I was not familiar with the terminology such as the classical (now warped) notion of libertarianism, and in regards to the historical events of the Spanish Civil War.

Nevertheless, this book was so eloquent, so
Jul 07, 2014 Jens rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
I've always been very much opposed to being a fan of anybody or being awestruck, but if I were to have a role model, it might as well be Noam Chomsky.
I hope to get around to a more sophisticated review of this particular collection in the future for now I can just say you get what you expect. It's Chomsky, in his calm and analytic manner sharing his thoughts with anyone who cares to listen.
The collection tends to get a bit redundant as some points are reiterated over again but I especially enjoy
Xavier Shay
Left me wanting. Quite short, and a couple of the essays were hard for me to follow. Still, I highlighted a lot. A sampling:

"at every stage of history our concern must be to dismantle those forms of authority and oppression that survive from an era when they might have been justified in terms of the need for security or survival or economic development, but that now contribute to—rather than alleviate—material and cultural deficit."

"It would be hard to find a working model of an ideal. Yes, but
I'd read a few books by Noam Chomsky, increasingly one of my favorite writers and thinkers over the years. Here is one of the brightest minds of our time--in addition to his endless volumes of persuasive and influential political commentary, he's also a legendary linguist--and yet, I still didn't know what he actually believed. One reason for this mystery, I think, is that he's short on opinions and long on facts, which I admire.

I read this book, a collection of his writings and talks about anar
Luka Ekhvaia
Jan 31, 2016 Luka Ekhvaia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book is a rare compilation of articles and interviews which are dedicated to various issues, starting from the definition of anarchism and explanation of this notion's true nature, book also includes the analyze of links between anarchism, libertarianism and socialism, reveals some fixed cliches, you can also find a deepest thoughts about the Kibbutz experiment, talks about welfare state and for sure one of the significant part is discussion of Spanish Revolution, its meaning and legacy. So, if ...more
Nov 10, 2008 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this as a person who is NOT a Chomsky admirer. I usually agree with a lot of what Chomsky says, though I don't see a lot of argument. It's important to point out, Chomsky is an intelligent, informed dissenter whose professional specialty is in linguistics, but he is not a political philosopher. So really you will not find anything here you won't find in classical anarchist thought, which is a century old! It's a travesty that good old Locke-Rousseau-Kant political philosophy has ...more
Terry Pearce
Apr 21, 2015 Terry Pearce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to rate this one. In a sense I'd give pretty much anything by him 4-5 stars but this is a mish-mash of collected writings from elsewhere mjuch of which I'd come across in one form or another already. It did improve my understanding of Anarchism a little, but his talk 'On Government' is probably better. WHat would have been great is if this had included some up-to-date stuff, although to be fair, he doesn't really lose relevance.
Yousef Nabil
Mar 09, 2016 Yousef Nabil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
كتاب مذهل كعادة تشومسكي. تتراوح موضوعاته كبقية كتب تشومسكي أيضًا بين الحديث عن علم اللغة والطبيعة البشرية والأناركية والاشتراكية التحررية. في لغة فلسفية بسيطة وسهلة يعرض لنا تشومسكي وجهات نظره حول تلك الموضوعات ويفاجئنا ببداهته الكاملة، فأنت عندما تقرأ لتشومسكي تقرأ لشيخ يرى العالم ببداهة طفل.. دون وجهات نظر مسبقة، ودون أي ادعاءات غير مثبتة علميًا.
Jon Vegard
Som nemnt i førre oppdatering så var det to litt kjeisame kapitlar i boka, resten var ikkje så ille. Den får berre tre stjerner fordi den handla for lite om anarkisme, men eg lærte i det minste to ting; anarkisme er ei høgst organisert samfunnsform der alle kan få seie sitt og at det ikkje er nokon grunn til at nokon få skal eige mykje.
Feb 13, 2015 Pink rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a book, but a rather disjointed collection of essays and other pieces. I agree with all of Chomsky's ideas, but it was very dry to read. I didn't like how this was put together at all.
Mar 18, 2016 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice, hard-hitting intro to the subject of Anarchism. Long story short: it's not what you think it is. One of my favorite moments in the book was his clever use of Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt. He makes a (disappointingly) brief argument for how their philosophies have been transfigured and misconstrued by modern conservatives. I also found it interesting how American Libertarianism can actually be traced back to Social Anarchism. In the light of this historical connection, a right-wing l ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Anarchism
  • Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice
  • Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings
  • Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism
  • Post-Scarcity Anarchism
  • On Anarchism
  • Anarchism and Other Essays
  • Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology
  • Parecon: Life After Capitalism
  • The ABC of Anarchism
  • Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (Counter-Power vol 1)
  • Proposed Roads to Freedom: Socialism, Anarchism and Syndicalism
  • What Is Property?
  • How Nonviolence Protects the State
  • Anarchism: Arguments For and Against
  • Anarchy in Action
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. H
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“With regard to freedom of speech there are basically two positions: you defend it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it and prefer Stalinist/fascist standards. It is unfortunate that it remains necessary to stress these simple truths.” 9 likes
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