Hip: Chomsky

Chris Johnson cj at s1.GANet.NET
Tue Jul 11 06:07:26 MDT 1995

Matt D. writes:

> Overall, I find him to be very eclectic in his application of "theory" to
> the problems he looks at, and I think he would agree.  He does not regard
> himself, to my knowledge, does not take a "totalizing" view of social
> "science" and is more interested in practical immediate applications of
> analyses than broader theoretical underpinnings.  While certainly not all
> "anarcho-socialists" (this is what he calls himself, right?) show the same
> disinterest in theory, many that I've known definitely do.

It is important to note that Chomsky is not a political scientist, an
economist, a sociologist, or anything of that nature.  In his speeches he
never claims to be an "expert" about anything but linguistics.  So the
fact that he doesn't promote some grand theory of society is
understandable.  He is, however, very sympathetic to the work of Michael
Albert and Robin Hahnel.  So, while he is very obviously anti-Leninist,
and doesn't accept some of Marx and doesn't use the label "marxist,"  he
isn't opposed to a lot of neo-Marixist frameworks.  (While many
anarchists and left-libertarians have been disinterested in theory, it
should be remember that the first Russian and Italian translations of
"Capital" were done by anarchists.)  You might want to check out
"Liberating Theory" (South End Press, 1986).  I haven't read it yet, but
it contains stuff from Chomsky, Albert, Hahnel, as well as a bunch of
other people outlining the basics of a "totalizing" theory of society.

Anyway, my main point: Chomsky never claims to be an expert social
scientist.  He always says that any citizen could do what he does in
politics.  He just expends the effort and happens to have enough fame
from his linguisitc work to put him into a position where his ideas are
heard.  I have a feeling he would agree with you that he's an agitator,
not a theorist.

Chris Johnson 						     cj at ganet.net
"Irrelevant, irreverent, out of key with all that has gone before.  But
man's greatest strength is his capacity for irrelevance.  In the midst of
pestilences, wars and famines, he builds cathedrals; and a slave, he can
think the irrelevant and unsuitable thoughts of a free man."

					-- Aldous Huxley, "Antic Hay"

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