On Anarchism provides the reasoning behind Noam Chomsky's fearless lifelong questioning of the legitimacy of entrenched power. In these essays, Chomsky redeems one of the most maligned ideologies, anarchism, and places it at the foundation of his political thinking. Chomsky's anarchism is distinctly optimistic and egalitarian. Moreover, it is a living, evolving tradition that is situated in a historical lineage; Chomsky's anarchism emphasizes the power of collective, rather than individualist, action. The collection includes a revealing new introduction by journalist Nathan Schneider, who documented the Occupy movement for Harper's and The Nation, and who places Chomsky's ideas in the contemporary political moment. On Anarchism will be essential listening for a new generation of activists who are at the forefront of a resurgence of interest in anarchism - and for anyone who struggles with what can be done to create a more just world.
©2013 Noam Chomsky; Introduction 2013 Nathan Schneider (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Of all that is written I love only that which is written with blood. -Nietzsche
What is not made clear anywhere in the description of the book is that this is a collection of pieces, often excerpts from longer works, including interviews and book reviews where Chomsky talks about anarchism. It is not analytic or deeply thought through; the inclusion criteria seems to be if Chomsky mentions anarchism in the text then it is in. It is also quite often repetitive - not on Chomsky's part but if he wants to quote the same passage from Humboldt at different points across a thirty year period it is probably up to an editor to not to collect all those quotations together.
Some of the pieces are better than others - the middle section on the Spanish civil war is the most interesting but is a review of a book that probably no one has read since the sixties so it is not the best anarchist history of that time period. The final essay on "Language and Freedom" is hampered by Chomsky clearly working to a commission and not really being sure of what the topic is supposed to be about.
This is still worth listening to, Chomsky is a clear and interesting thinker and the reader does a good job with the material, but as a curiosity. You need to know going in that this book is not intended to be in any way a definitive statement on anarchism by Chomsky but is a collection of lesser writing by a third party.
Also introduction is unrelated to the book and has already dated more than anything else here.
Armen Pandola is a playwright, columnist, director, actor and attorney.
If you are interested in the history of anarchism and its place in the modern world, you will enjoy this in depth account of anarchism. Chomsky puts on his scholor's cap and dissects the anarchist movement in modern times.
Chomsky takes issue with those who believe that anarchism and effective state action are opposed to each other. He sees anarchism as fitting in with an enlightened socialism.
This is a book that makes you think - and then think again.
Chomsky has gotten such a bad rap as some kind of extreme nut that rarely do people take the time to notice that he is one of the greatest political, social and philosophical thinkers of our time. He has always been spot on in his criticism of our - and other - governments when they trample on international law, people's rights and - most importantly - trample on the best tool we have for understanding even the most complex problems - our reason.
Overall this book is very inspiring and opens the imagination to ways of thinking that are almost never presented in the public discourse. Different chapters have different styles, some from talks or one on one interviews. The sections on interpretations of the Spanish civil war are a bit dry - i.e. presented in a formal and academic manner, but nonetheless very rigorous and interesting.
This is a great read for anyone who is completely unfamiliar with the nature of man, an understanding of their own ambitions and/or an unwillingness to accept personal accountability. Hooray for the finger-pointers, those who must be offended and liberal hypocrisy!
I found myself laughing out loud at Chomsky who enriches himself while excoriating others who have similar personal ambitions. Only a sophomore from an upper middle class family could be influenced, however briefly, by this demonization of owner's of capital - the only people standing between true utopia and modern slavery.
Shame on Chomsky for amassing his wealth on the backs of young idealists while encouraging them to build a commune-based society. Kind of like a plantation owner prosthelytizing about becoming independent.
Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.
Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.Caw. Caw. Caaaaw.
the end. too far
A good introduction to an important area of political thought that one seldom encounters elsewhere. The reader's voice is a little too strident, it would be better if read in a more contemplative tone.
Fresh thinking and real solutions for the modern world, beyond the typical, failed "solutions" we usually hear. Anarchism(s) contain a great deal of wisdom.
"Lazy, Rambling, Unpersuasive"
This is on of the laziest and least persuasive books I've ever read on the topic of Anarchism. Rather than offering a discursive positive argument, all Chomsky did was cobble together a collection of Q&A transcripts and tangentially related essays already written. The only reason he gets 3 stars is for the research on the Spanish Civil War and a handful of interesting insights on Humboldt and Rousseau.
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