Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Wed Mar 14 16:46:11 MST 2001

Sam Pawlett wrote:

>Jim Farmelant wrote:
> >Chomsky as Marxist?  I think it would be more accurate to characterize
> >him as someone who freely draws upon Marxist analysis without
> >necessarily being a Marxist.

>OK. He used to quote and discuss Marx extensively in his early writings.
>I had a friend who marched into his MIT office some years ago and
>demanded what Chomsky's political allegiances were. C replied "council
>communist". The council communists were Marxists who were kosher in
>anarchist circles.

I guess that was a while ago.  Chomsky still makes use of Marx and
writers but he seems clearly to shy away from the label of Marxist.

 >> There is in his political writings a
> >certain nostalgia for an idealized "purer" capitalism that was
> >to have existed sometime in the past.

I can't quote anything offhand but I seem to recall getting the distinct
impression that he tends to criticize modern corporate capitalism by
comparing it to an idealized free market capitalism that may have existed
at one time in the distant past.  I am not saying that he necessarily
holds this
out as a viable alternative to contemporary capitalism, on the contrary
has usually espoused some form of socialism but he tends to make
his case for socialism as being justified by the fact that corporate
deviates sharply from the ideals of free market capitalism.  Whereas,
libertarians think that the answer to the problems of corporate
lie in the pursuit of a radical neo-liberalism, Chimsky accepts that we
cannot go backwards, and for him moving forwards means moving towards
a form of socialism.

>Hmm. Where?

  >>Chomsky has often expressed
> >admiration for Adam Smith.

>Yes, but it seems to me he is trying to use capitalist ideologues
>against themselves. There are those well known passages in Smith where
>he condemns the deleterious effects of capitalism on the person of the
>wage laborer.

Marx did this too but with Chomsky, I get (or have gotten) a sense that
he regrets the loss of a past idealized capitalism, which is something
I do not get in reading Marx.  Chomsky agrees that we can't move
backwards, but I sometime get the impression that this is for him
a matter of regret.

>Chomsky (and William Tabb in his latest book) seem to think this means
>Smith was disdainful of capitalism. Michael Perelman in hisbook on
>primitive accumulation has put a strong case otherwise.

>.  At the same time it should be noted that even many
>> of the classical anarchists drew upon Marxist analysis, whether
> >or not they were willing to admit it.  Bakunin was one such example.
> >

>Oh yeah. Anarchism is derivative from Marxism. Bakunin was hired as a
>Russian translator of Capital but true to character never finished.

And of course they later waged a bitter fight over control of the First

>> Marxists would of course say that they too are opposed to all forms of
> >opression and that they too look forward to the abolition of state
> >The differences lie in their respective analyses of how this it to be
> >done,
> >and this in turn lies in their differing analyses concerning the
> >dialectics
> >of oppression.

>The anarchists at best are harmless wishful thinkers. They owe an
>explanation of how counterrevolution(aries) are to be treated. Saying
>"exile them" is not good enough since a state and a standing army will
>be needed to protect the anarchist society from without. In other words,
>anarchism is not an evolutionary stable strategy. Nozick explained this
>in his book.

Bakunin as I recall, in at least some moods conceded the need for a
dictatorship.  How this was to differ from Marx's "dictatorship of the
which he condemned, he never quite spelled out.

>Macdonald Stainsby wrote:
> > Sam Pawlett (former teenage and undergrad Anarchist)
>> What changed you?

>I read Marx&Engels then Lenin, Trotsky and Gramsci. The anarchist
>movement (if you want tocall it that) became a bore with its focus on
>"personal liberation" i.e. screwing anything that moves, listening to
>horrible music, being called a 'sellout' because you had a job, a formal
>education and didn't die your hair green, constant whining about the
>right to smoke dope and take speed in the street and total ignorance
>about what really matters like capitalist social relations and class

Murray Bookchin, to my knowledge has in recent years become sharply
critical of this brand of anarchism.  He was not always so critical.  In
*Post-scarcity Anarchism* he celebrated the politics of "personal
liberation" but he was writing at a time (1960s & early '70s) in which
there was a considerable overlap between people who were into
"personal liberation" and those who were political activists.  Many
"personal liberation" type people back in the '60s marched against the
Vietnam War and fought the draft.  Many of the "politicos" back then
smoked dope and dropped acid.  However, now a days, it no longer
seems to make much sense to celebrate "personal liberationism"
as inherently revolutionary, the way people like Bookchin did back then.

>Sam Pawlett
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