I just finished reading Chomsky on Anarchism, which I read to better understand radical leftist thought from a man who seems like one of the more legitimately intellectual radical leftists. The book is a collection of talks, essays and interviews that give insights into what Chomsky stands for (Chomsky’s work is usually criticism of existing society, rather than describing what he advocates). Chomsky says he advocates libertarian socialism (anarchism), which, as I understand it, is essentially socialist democracy where democracy permeates essentially all economic life. Workers and communities form councils which control resources in their respective spheres democratically. Councils send delegates to other councils which coordinate resources on a wider scale. Chomsky wants to dismantle all forms of non-democratic power, especially private property, which I think he sees as the worst form of this power in the west.

The reason I disagree with so much of what Chomsky says is that his conception of humanity is very organic and non-individualist, while my view is very individualist. I think in his view, people have what I will call solidarity with people in their group; every person has a very deep connection with others in their group and values outcomes for those people almost as much as for themselves. He applies this conception to common working people, who he sympathizes with, and even more strongly to the elites of society. Solidarity amongst non-elites leads to worker and community organization, which is naturally democratic. Solidarity amongst elites causes them to work hard and deliberately to strengthen and maintain the power of their group. This was done by brute force but is increasingly done by subverting the solidarity amongst non-elites. For example, the current capitalist, private property structure of society works to undermine solidarity amongst working people by pitting them against each other. I think to Chomsky it seems obvious that in a libertarian socialist society that solidarity and democracy will eliminate all problems of scarcity and competing interests.

I am unsure how explicit this view of humanity is for Chomsky, he does very occasionally make individualist arguments, but I don’t think he recognizes that there are significantly different views of humanity because I have never seen him address issues which people with a different view (for example, most economists) would raise.

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