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Chomsky on libertarianism and Murray Rothbard

(All of the below was not written by me, please see links.)

Since it's relevant in the context of that last posting, here's one of my favorite selections from Understanding Power, in which Noam Chomsky discusses the difference between libertarianism and anarchism and comments on the world envisioned by Murray Rothbard:
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Man: What's the difference between "libertarian" and "anarchist," exactly?

Chomsky: There's no difference, really. I think they're the same thing. But you see, "libertarian" has a special meaning in the United States. The United States is off the spectrum of the main tradition in this respect: what's called "libertarianism" here is unbridled capitalism. Now, that's always been opposed in the European libertarian tradition, where every anarchist has been a socialist—because the point is, if you have unbridled capitalism, you have all kinds of authority: you have extreme authority.

If capital is privately controlled, then people are going to have to rent themselves in order to survive. Now, you can say, "they rent themselves freely, it's a free contract"—but that's a joke. If your choice is, "do what I tell you or starve," that's not a choice—it's in fact what was commonly referred to as wage slavery in more civilized times, like the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example.

The American version of "libertarianism" is an aberration, though—nobody really takes it seriously. I mean, everybody knows that a society that worked by American libertarian principles would self-destruct in three seconds. The only reason people pretend to take it seriously is because you can use it as a weapon. Like, when somebody comes out in favor of a tax, you can say: "No, I'm a libertarian, I'm against that tax"—but of course, I'm still in favor of the government building roads, and having schools, and killing Libyans, and all that sort of stuff.

Now, there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard—and if you just read the world that they describe, it's a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it. This is a world where you don't have roads because you don't see any reason why you should cooperate in building a road that you're not going to use: if you want a road, you get together with a bunch of other people who are going to use that road and you build it, then you charge people to ride on it. If you don't like the pollution from somebody's automobile, you take them to court and you litigate it. Who would want to live in a world like that? It's a world built on hatred.19

The whole thing's not even worth talking about, though. First of all, it couldn't function for a second—and if it could, all you'd want to do is get out, or commit suicide or something. But this is a special American aberration, it's not really serious.

http://www.distantocean.com/2008/04/chomsky-on-libe.html

A rebuttal to Chomsky's claims(not by myself,link below).

Originally Posted by AmericaFyeah92
Here is an article or interview or something i found of Noam Chomsky attacking "Right-Libertarianism," or whatever he likes to call True Libertarianism. I was wondering how you guys would refute this:

Man: What's the difference between "libertarian" and "anarchist," exactly?

Libertarian: based on the non-aggression axiom + property rights.. the role of government is to protect the life, liberty and property of it's people.

Anarchist: well.. it depends on what type of anarchist.. You can have anarcho-capitalist, anarcho-communist (tribes)... basically it comes down to anarchy being without a state, or where it is only voluntary to support it, i.e via taxes etc. Since the state is theft, coercion, and violence - anarchists, well anarcho-capitalists don't want it at all, they contend it as evil - and thus should not be there.. while the minarchists / libertarians contend it is a necessary evil, and as such should be limited to as small as possible.

I'll assume when Chomsky means "anarchist" he's referring to anarcho-capitalists, as he does mention Rothbard. They believe in property rights and the non aggression axiom aswell.

Quote:
Chomsky: There's no difference, really. I think they're the same thing. But you see, "libertarian" has a special meaning in the United States. The United States is off the spectrum of the main tradition in this respect: what's called "libertarianism" here is unbridled capitalism.

No, they are similar (obviously) but there is a difference. The libertarians believe in the state; just as small as possible. Anarcho-capitalists don't believe in the state. He goes for the linguistic approach, or definition - he just fails to recognise their true nature. Ignorance is what I believe it's called. Unbridled capitalism? That'd be anarcho-capitalism.. The state is negative for libertarians; protect the life, liberty, property... so it steps in if those have been violated etc. Anyway; does he know what true capitalism is? OR does he think the current system is capitalism?

Quote:
Now, that's always been opposed in the European libertarian tradition, where every anarchist has been a socialist—because the point is, if you have unbridled capitalism, you have all kinds of authority: you have extreme authority.

He's mixing the terms. It's kind of odd, no doubt he is intelligent - he uses half truths for the set up, but the finale - is the lie or mistruth. The same with marxism etc in a way... you can clearly see there are classes in society; that's the set up, but the 'finale' is why that is, and their proposed solutions to rectify it etc all lead down the wrong path / direction, to a place you REALLY don't want to be.

"if you have unbridled capitalism, you have all kinds of authority: you have extreme authority"... say; unbridled capitalism (and I would REALLY like his definition of "capitalism") like does he know anything about subjective value, trade, positive sum game etc. etc... why is it a BAD thing to begin with? He is dissing economic freedom. The guys ignorant to the extreme. Authority is the state. With anarcho-capitalism, how you going to get extreme authority?

Quote:
If capital is privately controlled, then people are going to have to rent themselves in order to survive. Now, you can say, "they rent themselves freely, it's a free contract"—but that's a joke. If your choice is, "do what I tell you or starve," that's not a choice—it's in fact what was commonly referred to as wage slavery in more civilized times, like the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for example.

LOL! Chomsky would probably learn MORE from this comic book, than his entire studies in economics. How an Economy Grows People can create their own capital, through sacrifice. Also, what's he mean by "Capital"? Factors of production, land and labor? or savings? He could be contending wealth? You can't control ALL labor. (capital) Labor is a product of your property (actions etc.) And if you're a libertarian or anarcho-capitalist - the state doesn't own your body.

You don't need to rent yourself to survive. Voluntarism is not a joke. You decide what you do with your labor and capital. Wage slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries - errrrr NOOooo, they CHOSE to work in factories etc, because according to their SUBJECTIVE value; they were better off doing so, than working the farm! This is the same contention Marx held, and the excuse is he had that view - because of the times... WHICH IS BULLSHIT.

Frederik Bastiat - wrote in the exact same period. He fken pwns Marx & that retarded notion.

Quote:
The American version of "libertarianism" is an aberration, though—nobody really takes it seriously. I mean, everybody knows that a society that worked by American libertarian principles would self-destruct in three seconds. The only reason people pretend to take it seriously is because you can use it as a weapon. Like, when somebody comes out in favor of a tax, you can say: "No, I'm a libertarian, I'm against that tax"—but of course, I'm still in favor of the government building roads, and having schools, and killing Libyans, and all that sort of stuff.

Those who despise Liberty, sure do take it seriously... Look at how they treated the former "Libertarian" candidate. "I mean, everybody knows that a society that worked by American libertarian principles would self-destruct in three seconds." In bold for the sheer retardedness of this statement. EVER heard of the US Constitution? This clown really needs to go learn about the Gold Standard - and what it brings = PEACE for starters, among other things. As for his comment about for this; but not for this tax. (Really he should mean coercion) and that libertarians contend that it is ok in some places; roads etc etc. I would agree with this, I argued for privatising the roads with a NEO-con friend... he was like, "yeah that'd work, but it will never happen." Which is why I associate / label myself when I have to - as either a libertarian / minarchist / anarcho-capitalist... depending on how good I know the anarchists position / the level of knowledge of the people etc. Slapping someone in the face with anarcho-capitalism, isn't going to work - if they think the minimum wage is good, or that the role of government should be positive... Haha.... baby steps.

Quote:
Now, there are consistent libertarians, people like Murray Rothbard—and if you just read the world that they describe, it's a world so full of hate that no human being would want to live in it. This is a world where you don't have roads because you don't see any reason why you should cooperate in building a road that you're not going to use: if you want a road, you get together with a bunch of other people who are going to use that road and you build it, then you charge people to ride on it. If you don't like the pollution from somebody's automobile, you take them to court and you litigate it. Who would want to live in a world like that? It's a world built on hatred.19

Consistent Libertarians - translation: anarcho-capitalists. Like Murry Rothbard. Well, well, well - Chomsky shows his true colours. Typical socialist; thinks humanity - given the chance at voluntary action - would desolve into hatred. Wow... maybe he should elect himself as a social engineer? And run everyone's lives? This is the most retarded analysis / commentary on privatizing roads that I have ever seen. The ONLY difference between that and a undergrad socialist tool, is that Chomsky has a reputation that lends his analysis credibility.

Want to know what'd happen in such a situation? Let's ask our old mate Rothbard. I'm certain Chomsky only dropped the name, so he could gain more credence for his "argument".

11 The Public Sector, II: Streets and Roads, Audio.

Quote:
The whole thing's not even worth talking about, though. First of all, it couldn't function for a second—and if it could, all you'd want to do is get out, or commit suicide or something. But this is a special American aberration, it's not really serious

His role: He brings the intelligent to the table with his foreign policy, which is usually the most obvious detriment of the state - WAR. As "War is the health of the state"... but what he does then, is after having a discussion with people, he leads them down a hallway, constantly whispering into their ears. Now - there are two doors present at the end of the corridor, "Socialism / collectivism" on the left, and "Liberty / Individualism", on the right. (Not trying to use false paradigm, but in terms of economic labelling, that's what the state likes to use - to keep you in the box - helping propel their notion that; if you like capitalism, you must like war etc etc. See how it works?) Anyway, Noam Chomsky presents both doors to you, the one marked Liberty has "Danger" written all over it etc, painted red, with black stains. The one on the left is clean, green and inviting. He doesn't essentially tell you which one to go into or adopt....
the choice is yours, but you've been prepped - and you just don't know it.

Thing is, it's just the door. Once you open it; that green and clean becomes red, and mean. That's the truth beneath the surface. The one marked Liberty / Individualism, opens up into green fields, and a clean environment. It is privately owned, the person cares about it. Public owned: - well why should "I" do it?
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“I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice... I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison

http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?t=153224&page=4



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reedr3v's picture

The dominant attitude that runs through

left ideologues is unbridled arrogance:

1. they truly believe they know best and it is moral for them to force their agendas on everyone else. They assume they are "purer" in motivation than the bulk of the mean, indifferent, unenlightened majority that have to be forced into right actions by some variant of "progressive" government.
2. Their disdain of people is so boundless they will use any means up to and including war and execution to enforce their agendas on peaceful individuals who don't willingly comply.

Chomsky even endorsed Obama for POTUS.

Apparently, he didn't see a contradiction between that and his anarcho-syndicalist beliefs.

He did some good work in linguistics, but politically, he's an idiot.

Very Healthy Discussion ...

... analyzing the contours of differences among potential allies as we separately oppose the same dark forces. Except for making the debate more colorful, I think we could do without the mutual name calling. Such provocation perhaps draws attention, but I think it presents unnecessary obstacles to understanding and collaboration. For my own part, I think Chomsky is onto something when he claims capitalism (at least in the modern world) fails to provide an alternative to wage slavery when the frontiers are eventually extinguished by total control of the means of production in private hands. ( I realize I'm refining his view to apply only in a most modern context.) Absent a State Of Nature outlet, where does one freely apply their labor to create wealth, if a consolidation of ownership, protected by power, becomes perfected? Such somewhat compatible, yet competing ideas, merit respectful dialog.

good post

Thanks for pointing out Chomsky mixes terms, I've noticed the same myself.

As I've gotten older I've been able to pinpoint that Chomsky repeats the same mistake so many in the lay public do...pointing out the flaws of our current economic system (state monopoly capitalism/mercantilism/corporatism) and labeling it 'the free market'.

Chomsky is great at analyzing power (I've found most of the socialists are) but his economic analysis (the real meat and potatoes) is lacking.

Lots of people read Chomsky and realize something is wrong - being familiar with him and his shortcomings helps convert people over to the our side, instead of wallowing in yet another flavor of socialism.