(2013) by noam chomsky.. via kindle version from anarchist library [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/noam-chomsky-on-anarchism]
intro – nathan schneider.. anarcho curious or anarchist amnesia
And this means missing out on what makes anarchism worth taking seriously in the end: the prospect of learning, over the course of generations, how to build a well-organized and free society from the ground up.
Anarchism’s slate is really anything but blank.
More to the point, it should be refashioned from below. Without greedy elites maintaining their privilege with propaganda and force, workers might own and govern their workplaces, and communities might provide for the basic needs of everyone. Not all anarchist tactics are equally ethical or effective, but they do more or less arise from this common hope.
Into old age, Chomsky carries his anarchism with uncommon humaneness, without the need to put it on display as a black-masked caricature of itself. A lifetime of radical ideas and busy activism is enough of a credential. He sees no contradiction between holding anarchist ideals and pursuing certain reforms through the state when there’s a chance for a more free, more just society in the short term; such humility is a necessary antidote to the self-defeating purism of many anarchists today. He represents a time when anarchists were truly fearsome—less because they were willing to put a brick through a Starbucks window than because they had figured out how to organize themselves in a functional, egalitarian, and sufficiently productive society.
agree.. costello screen\service law et al.. but to me.. while some are doing that ‘reform thru state ness’.. we need to find/facil a means for a global leap over all of it.. or we’ll never get back/to the sync we need.. for (blank)’s sake
The anarcho-curious left might rediscover that there is more to a functional resistance movement than youthful rebellion. Its members might, for instance, study working examples of the mutual aid they long for—education, material support, free day care—in churches and megachurches across the country, which form both the social life and the power base of the right. Independent of the state, these citadels put into practice something anarchists have been saying all along: no form of politics is worth our time until it helps struggling people get what they need, sustainably and reliably. All the better if you can do so without patriarchy and fundamentalism.
oi oi.. ie: ed, day care, .. as whalespeak.. we need to let go of those confines.. that patriarchy and fundamentalism ness
1 – notes on anarchism
Surely our understanding of the nature of man or of the range of viable social forms is so rudimentary that any far-reaching doctrine must be treated with great skepticism, just as skepticism is in order when we hear that “human nature” or “the demands of efficiency” or “the complexity of modern life” requires this or that form of oppression and autocratic rule.
huge.. we have no idea what legit free people are like.. only what whales in sea world are like.. and we do need to do chomsky serious things law .. ie: let go of all the non legit data to date (aka: all the data to date)
“What we put in place of the government is industrial organization.”
Anarcho-syndicalists are convinced that a Socialist economic order cannot be created by the decrees and statutes of a government, but only by the solidaric collaboration of the workers with hand and brain in each special branch of production; that is, through the taking over of the management of all plants by the producers themselves under such form that the separate groups, plants, and branches of industry are independent members of the general economic organism and systematically carry on production and the distribution of the products in the interest of the community on the basis of free mutual agreements.
Rocker was writing at a moment when such ideas had been put into practice in a dramatic way in the Spanish Revolution. Just prior to the outbreak of the revolution, the anarchosyndicalist economist Diego Abad de Santillan had written:
… in facing the problem of social transformation, the Revolution cannot consider the state as a medium, but must depend on the organization of producers.
We have followed this norm and we find no need for the hypothesis of a superior power to organized labor, in order to establish a new order of things.
The anarchosyndicalist Fernand Pelloutier asked: “Must even the transitory state to which we have to submit necessarily and fatally be the collectivist jail? Can’t it consist in a free organization limited exclusively by the needs of production and consumption, all political institutions having disappeared?”
I do not pretend to know the answer to this question. But it seems clear that unless there is, in some form, a positive answer, the chances for a truly democratic revolution that will achieve the humanistic ideals of the left are not great.
huge.. again.. focus on production/consumption keeps us in state/cancer ness
If one were to seek a single leading idea within the anarchist tradition, it should, I believe, be that expressed by Bakunin when, in writing on the Paris Commune, he identified himself as follows:
I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition under which intelligence, dignity and human happiness can develop and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the School of J.-J. Rousseau and the other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each—an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero. No, I mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that consists in the full development of all of the material, intellectual and moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognizes no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our own individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of our material, intellectual and moral being—they do not limit us but are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom
yeah that.. let’s org around that..
in order to do that.. we need first/most: a means to undo our hierarchical listening to self/others/nature.. as global detox
endnote 9: ‘not state, however democratic not even the reddest republic can ever give the people what they really want ie: the free self org/admin of their own affairs from the bottom upward w/o any interference o f violence from above because every state even the pseudo people’s state concocted by marx is in essence only a machine ruling the masses from above thru a privilege minority of conceited intellectuals who imagine that they know what the people need/want better than do the people themselves.. but the people will feel no better if the stick w which they are being beaten is labeled ‘the people’s stick’ – bakunin
Similarly, Marx conceives of “a new type of human being who needs his fellow-men…. [The workers’ association becomes] the real constructive effort to create the social texture of future human relations.”
oi.. i don’t think legit free people would have any concerns about worker ness and workers’ association ness..
imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..
with out that.. we get same song ness described in 3rd line of same paragraph:
marx ‘alienation of labor when work is external to work.. not part of his nature.. so that he does not fulfill himself in his work but denies himself.. and and is physically exhausted and mentally debased.. casts some back into barbarous kind of work and turns others into machines’
A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer. As Marx put it, socialists look forward to a society in which labor will “become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life,” an *impossibility when the worker is driven by external authority or need rather than inner impulse: “no form of wage-labor, even though one may be less obnoxious than another, can do away with the misery of wage-labor itself.” A consistent anarchist must oppose not only alienated labor but also the stupefying specialization of labor that takes place when the means for developing production
The prerequisite is the abolition of capital and wage labor as social categories (not to speak of the industrial armies of the “labor state” or the various modern forms of totalitarianism or state capitalism)
have to go much deeper (let go so much more) than this.. the prereq is to let go.. the prereq is to let go enough to we can trust us
This goal is not reached and cannot be reached by a new directing and governing class substituting itself for the bourgeoisie. It is only realized by the workers themselves being master over production.
oi.. still not if don’t let go of production ness.. of any form of m\a\p
Under these conditions of authoritarian domination the classical libertarian ideals developed further by Marx and Bakunin and all true revolutionaries cannot be realized; man will not be free to develop his own potentialities to their fullest, and the producer will remain “a fragment of a human being,” degraded, a tool in the productive process directed from above.
The erosion of the cold-war mythology at least makes it possible to raise these questions in fairly broad circles. If the present wave of repression can be beaten back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in the past decade, then the problem of how to organize industrial society on truly democratic lines, with democratic control in the workplace and in the community, should become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are alive to the problems of contemporary society, and, as a mass movement for libertarian socialism develops, speculation should proceed to action.
Guérin is concerned not only with anarchist thought but also with *the spontaneous actions of popular forces that actually create new social forms in the course of revolutionary struggle. He is concerned with social as well as intellectual creativity. Furthermore, **he attempts to draw from the constructive achievements of the past lessons that will enrich the theory of social liberation. For those who wish not only to understand the world, but also to change it, this is the proper way to study the history of anarchism.
As long as this is so, the doctrines and the revolutionary practice of libertarian socialism will serve as an inspiration and a guide.
2 – excerpts form understanding power
MAN: Or what would you suggest to others who might be in a position to set it up and get it going?
Well, I think that what used to be called, centuries ago, “wage slavery” is intolerable. I mean, *I do not think that people ought to be forced to rent themselves in order to survive. **I think that the economic institutions ought to be run democratically—by their participants, and by the communities in which they live. And I think that through various forms of free association and federalism, it’s possible to imagine a society working like that. I mean, I don’t think you can lay it out in detail—nobody’s smart enough to design a society; you’ve got to experiment. ***But reasonable principles on which to build such a society are quite clear.
**this is still *that.. ***could be.. but haven’t yet gone deep enough for that clarity.. we keep not letting go of any form of m\a\p
MAN: It would be hard to find a working model of an ideal.
Yes, but in the eighteenth century it would have been hard to find a working model of a political democracy—that didn’t prove it couldn’t exist. By the nineteenth century, it did exist. Unless you think that human history is over, it’s not an argument to say “it’s not around.” You go back two hundred years, it was hard to imagine slavery being abolished.
but it never was.. oi
I’ve never heard of anybody studying it, but if you watch the kids growing up, you can understand why they’re going to go into the rangers and the pilot programs and the commandos. There’s a tremendous macho pressure, right from the very beginning—you’re just no good unless you can go through Marine Corps training and become a really tough bastard. And that starts pretty early, and I think the kids go through real traumas if they can’t do it: it’s psychologically very difficult.
we need to org around legit needs
And the results are striking. For example, there’s a movement of resisters in Israel [Yesh G’vul], people who won’t serve in the Occupied Territories—but it doesn’t have any kibbutz kids in it: the movement just doesn’t exist there. Kibbutz kids also have a reputation for being what are called “good soldiers”—which means, you know, not nice people: do what you gotta do. All of these things are other aspects of it, and the whole phenomenon comes pretty much without force or authority, but because of a dynamics of conformism that’s extremely powerful.
MAN: Then how can we build a social contract which is cooperative in nature, but at the same time recognizes individual humanity? It seems to me that there’s always going to be a very tense polar pull there.
Where’s the polar pull—between what and what?
MAN: Between a collective value and an individual value.
I guess I don’t see why there has to be any contradiction there at all. It seems to me that a crucial aspect of humanity is being a part of functioning communities—so if we can create social bonds in which people find satisfaction, we’ve done it: there’s no contradiction.
Look, you can’t really figure out what problems are going to arise in group situations unless you experiment with them—it’s like physics: you can’t just sit around and think what the world would be like under such and such conditions, you’ve got to experiment and learn how things actually work out. And one of the things I think you learn from the kibbutz experiment is that you can in fact construct quite viable and successful democratic structures—but there are still going to be problems that come along. And one of the problems that people just have to face is the effect of group pressures to conform.
oi.. doesn’t have to be that way if we org around legit needs
I think everybody knows about this from families. Living in a family is a crucial part of human life, you don’t want to give it up. On the other hand, there plainly are problems that go along with it—nobody has to be told that. And a serious problem, which becomes almost pathological when it arises in a close-knit group, is exclusion—and to avoid exclusion often means doing things you wouldn’t want to do if you had your own way. But that’s just a part of living, to be faced with human problems like that.
yeah.. part of living in sea world.. not what legit free people would/could be like
See, the idea that people could be free is extremely frightening to anybody with power. That’s why the 1960s have such a bad reputation. I mean, there’s a big literature about the Sixties, and it’s mostly written by intellectuals, because they’re the people who write books, so naturally it has a very bad name—because they hated it. You could see it in the faculty clubs at the time: people were just traumatized by the idea that students were suddenly asking questions and not just copying things down.
Well, I suppose I don’t feel that in order to work hard for social change you need to be able to spell out a plan for a future society in any kind of detail. What I feel should drive a person to work for change are certain principles you’d like to see achieved. *Now, you may not know in detail—and I don’t think that any of us do know in detail—how those principles can best be realized at this point in complex systems like human societies. But I don’t really see why that should make any difference: what you try to do is advance the principles. Now, that may be what some people call “reformism”—but that’s kind of like a put-down: **reforms can be quite revolutionary if they lead in a certain direction. And to push in that direction, I don’t think you have to know precisely how a future society would work: I think what you have to be able to do is spell out the principles you want to see such a society realize—and I think we can imagine many different ways in which a future society could realize them. Well, work to help people start trying them.
*i don’t know.. i think we can know this much: how to org around legit needs
So for example, in the case of workers taking control of the workplace, there are a lot of different ways in which you can think of workplaces being controlled—and since nobody knows enough about what all the effects are going to be of large-scale social changes, *I think what we should do is try them piecemeal. In fact, I have a rather conservative attitude towards social change: since we’re dealing with complex systems which nobody understands very much, the sensible move I think is to make changes and then see what happens—and if they work, make further changes. That’s true across the board, actually.
So, I don’t feel in a position—and even if I felt I was, I wouldn’t say it—to know what the long-term results are going to look like in any kind of detail: those are things that will have to be discovered, in my view. *Instead, the basic principle I would like to see communicated to people is the idea that every form of authority and domination and hierarchy, every authoritarian structure, has to prove that it’s justified—it has no prior justification. For instance, when you stop your five-year-old kid from trying to cross the street, that’s an authoritarian situation: it’s got to be justified. Well, in that case, I think you can give a justification. But the burden of proof for any exercise of authority is always on the person exercising it—invariably. And when you look, most of the time these authority structures have no justification: they have no moral justification, they have no justification in the interests of the person lower in the hierarchy, or in the interests of other people, or the environment, or the future, or the society, or anything else—they’re just there in order to preserve certain structures of power and domination, and the people at the top.
*such a time/energy suck.. esp when today we have the means to leap
So I think that whenever you find situations of power, these questions should be asked—and the person who claims the legitimacy of the authority always bears the burden of justifying it. And if they can’t justify it, it’s illegitimate and should be *dismantled. To tell you the truth, I don’t really understand anarchism as being much more than that. As far as I can see, it’s just the point of view that says that people have the right to be free, and **if there are constraints on that freedom then you’ve got to justify them. Sometimes you can—but of course, anarchism or anything else doesn’t give you the answers about when that is. You just have to look at the specific cases.
*&** are time/energy/cancerous sucks
MAN: But if we ever had a society with no wage incentive and no authority, where would the drive come from to advance and grow?
Well, the drive to “advance”—I think you have to ask exactly what that means. If you mean a drive to produce more, well, who wants it? Is that necessarily the right thing to do? It’s not obvious. In fact, in many areas it’s probably the wrong thing to do—maybe it’s a good thing that there wouldn’t be the same drive to produce. People have to be driven to have certain wants in our system—why? Why not leave them alone so they can just be happy, do other things?
yeah.. just stop there.. let’s just focus on and trust that
*Whatever “drive” there is ought to be internal. So take a look at kids: they’re creative, they explore, they want to try new things. I mean, why does a kid start to walk? You take a one-year-old kid, he’s crawling fine, he can get anywhere across the room he likes really fast, so fast his parents have to run after him to keep him from knocking everything down—all of a sudden he gets up and starts **walking. He’s terrible at walking: he walks one step and he falls on his face, and if he wants to really get somewhere he’s going to crawl. So why do kids start walking? Well, they just want to do new things, that’s the way people are built. We’re built to want to do new things, even if they’re not efficient, even if they’re harmful, even if you get hurt—and I don’t think that ever stops.
**model another way ness
People want to explore, we want to press our capacities to their limits, we want to appreciate what we can. But the joy of creation is something very few people get the opportunity to have in our society: *artists get to have it, craftspeople have it, scientists. And if you’ve been lucky enough to have had that opportunity, you know it’s quite an experience—and it doesn’t have to be discovering Einstein’s theory of relativity: **anybody can have that pleasure, even by seeing what other people have done. For instance, if you read even a simple mathematical proof like the Pythagorean Theorem, what you study in tenth grade, and you finally figure out what it’s all about, that’s exciting—“My God, I never understood that before.” Okay, that’s creativity, even though somebody else proved it two thousand years ago.
**dangerous if don’t listen for the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday..
Well, *I think people should be able to live in a society where they can exercise these kinds of internal drives and develop their capacities freely—instead of being forced into the narrow range of options that are available to most people in the world now. And by that, I mean not only options that are objectively available, but also options that are subjectively available—like, how are people allowed to think, how are they able to think? Remember, there are all kinds of ways of thinking that are cut off from us in our society—not because we’re incapable of them, but because various blockages have been developed and imposed to prevent people from thinking in those ways. That’s what indoctrination is about in the first place, in fact—and I don’t mean somebody giving you lectures: sitcoms on television, sports that you watch, every aspect of the culture implicitly involves an expression of what a “proper” life and a “proper” set of values are, and that’s all indoctrination.
So I think what has to happen is, *other options have to be opened up to people—both subjectively, and in fact concretely: meaning you can do something about them without great suffering. And that’s one of the main purposes of socialism, I think: to reach a point where people have the opportunity to decide freely for themselves what their needs are, and not just have the “choices” forced on them by some arbitrary system of power. [ … ]
*huge problem here.. not just other options.. all the options.. and not opened up.. but listened for w/in each heart.. huge
WOMAN: Noam, since you’re an anarchist and often say that you oppose the existence of the nation-state itself and think it’s incompatible with true socialism, does that make you at all reluctant to defend welfare programs and other social services which are now under attack from the right wing, and which the right wing wants to dismantle?
Well, it’s true that the anarchist vision in just about all its varieties has looked forward to dismantling state power—and personally I share that vision. But right now it runs directly counter to my goals: my immediate goals have been, and now very much are, to defend and even strengthen certain elements of state authority that are now under severe attack. And I don’t think there’s any contradiction there—none at all, really.
For example, take the so-called welfare state. What’s called the “welfare state” is essentially a recognition that every child has a right to have food, and to have health care and so on—and as I’ve been saying, those programs were set up in the nation-state system after a century of very hard struggle, by the labor movement, and the socialist movement, and so on. Well, according to the new spirit of the age, in the case of a fourteen-year-old girl who got raped and has a child, her child has to learn “personal responsibility” by not accepting state welfare handouts, meaning, by not having enough to eat. Alright, I don’t agree with that at any level. In fact, I think it’s grotesque at any level. I think those children should be saved. And in today’s world, that’s going to have to involve working through the state system; it’s not the only case.
which has not yet ever happened in history.. because we keep institutionalizing band aid treatments.. rather than org ing around legit needs.. otherwise.. not ‘saving’ anyone
So despite the anarchist “vision,” I think aspects of the state system, like the one that makes sure children eat, have to be defended—in fact, defended very vigorously. And given the accelerating effort that’s being made these days to roll back the victories for justice and human rights which have been won through long and often extremely bitter struggles in the West, in my opinion the immediate goal of even committed anarchists should be to defend some state institutions, while helping to pry them open to more meaningful public participation, and ultimately to dismantle them in a much more free society.
but/and.. today we have the mans for a global leap.. for (blank)’s sake.. for (blank)’s sake.. for (blank)’s sake
There are practical problems of tomorrow on which people’s lives very much depend, and while defending these kinds of programs is by no means the ultimate end we should be pursuing, in my view *we still have to face the problems that are right on the horizon, and which seriously affect human lives. I don’t think those things can simply be forgotten because they might not fit within some radical slogan that reflects a deeper vision of a future society. The deeper visions should be maintained, they’re important—but dismantling the state system is a goal that’s a lot farther away, and **you want to deal first with what’s at hand and nearby, I think. And in any realistic perspective, the political system, with all its flaws, does have opportunities for participation by the general population which other existing institutions, such as corporations, don’t have.
**will just perpetuate same song
So take something that’s been happening in recent years: devolution—that is, removing authority from the federal government down to the state governments. Well, in some circumstances, that would be a democratizing move which I would be in favor of—it would be a move away from central authority down to local authority. But that’s in abstract circumstances that don’t exist. Right now it’ll happen because moving decision-making power down to the state level in fact means handing it over to private power. See, huge corporations can influence and dominate the federal government, but even middle-sized corporations can influence state governments and play one state’s workforce off against another’s by threatening to move production elsewhere unless they get better tax breaks and so on. So under the conditions of existing systems of power, devolution is very antidemocratic; under other systems of much greater equality, devolution could be highly democratic—but these are questions which really can’t be discussed in isolation from the society as it actually exists.
So I think that it’s completely realistic and rational to work within structures to which you are opposed, because by doing so you can help to move to a situation where then you can challenge those structures.
time/energy such.. for (blank)’s sake
Let me just give you an analogy. I don’t like to have armed police everywhere, I think it’s a bad idea. On the other hand, a number of years ago when I had little kids, there was a rabid raccoon running around our neighborhood biting children. Well, we tried various ways of getting rid of it—you know, “Have-a-Heart” animal traps, all this kind of stuff—but nothing worked. So finally we just called the police and had them do it: it was better than having the kids bitten by a rabid raccoon, right? Is there a contradiction there? No: in particular circumstances, you sometimes have to accept and use illegitimate structures.
Well, we happen to have a huge rabid raccoon running around—it’s called corporations. And there is nothing in the society right now that can protect people from that tyranny, except the federal government. Now, it doesn’t protect them very well, because mostly it’s run by the corporations, but still it does have some limited effect—it can enforce regulatory measures under public pressure, let’s say, it can reduce dangerous toxic waste disposal, it can set minimal standards on health care, and so on. In fact, it has various things that it can do to improve the situation when there’s this huge rabid raccoon dominating the place. So, fine, I think we ought to get it to do the things it can do—if you can get rid of the raccoon, great, then let’s dismantle the federal government. But to say, “Okay, let’s just get rid of the federal government as soon as we possibly can,” and then let the private tyrannies take over everything—I mean, for an anarchist to advocate that is just outlandish, in my opinion. So I really don’t see any contradiction at all here.
Supporting these aspects of the governmental structures just seems to me to be part of a willingness to face some of the complexities of life for what they are—and the complexities of life include the fact that there are a lot of ugly things out there, and if you care about the fact that some kid in downtown Boston is starving, or that some poor person can’t get adequate medical care, or that somebody’s going to pour toxic waste in your backyard, or anything at all like that, well, then you try to stop it. And there’s only one institution around right now that can stop it. If you just want to be pure and say, “I’m against power, period,” well, okay, say, “I’m against the federal government.” But that’s just to divorce yourself from any human concerns, in my view. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable stance for anarchists or anyone else to take.
3 – part 2 of objectivity and liberal scholarship
The cited correspondence from Companys to Prieto, according to Vernon Richards (p. 47), presents evidence showing the success of Catalonian war industry under collectivization and demonstrating how “much more could have been achieved had the means for expanding the industry not been denied them by the Central Government.” Richards also cites testimony by a spokesman for the subsecretariat of munitions and armament of the Valencia government admitting that “the war industry of Catalonia had produced ten times more than the rest of Spanish industry put together and [agreeing] … that this output could have been quadrupled as from beginning of September if Catalonia had had access to the necessary means for purchasing raw materials that were unobtainable in Spanish territory.”.. Only in exchange for government control would they give financial assistance.”
oi.. the famous catalonia.. via war industry.. oi
Bolloten cites two Communist sources, among others, to the effect that about 70 percent of the population in rural areas of Aragon lived in collectives (p. 71); he adds that “many of the region’s 450 collectives were largely voluntary,” although “the presence of militiamen from the neighbouring region of Catalonia, the immense majority of whom were members of the CNT and FAI” was “in some measure” responsible for the extensive collectivization.
add page on catalonia’s not ness?
The anarchist minister Garcia Oliver stated that “we had confidence in the word and in the person of a Catalan democrat and retained and supported Companys as President of the Generalitat,” at a time when in Catalonia, at least, the workers’ organizations could easily have replaced the state apparatus and dispensed with the former political parties, as they had replaced the old economy with an entirely new structure. Companys recognized fully that there were limits beyond which he could not cooperate with the anarchists.
not new if militia ness et al.. ?
I have already cited a good deal of evidence indicating that the repression conducted by the Popular Front seriously weakened popular commitment and involvement in the antifascist war.
how can you have an antifascist war..? isn’t war fascist?.. chomsky huge focus on war.. (explained a bit in history in p 70 interview)
4 – interview with harry kreisler.. from political awakenings
[father from ukraine.. most influence.. self taught uncles and newsstand culture.. and being only jew on streets.. unknown to parents]
You examine in your work the extent to which histories and traditions are forgotten. To define a new position often means going back and finding those older traditions.
oi.. so much deeper.. otherwise same song
Things like this, they’re forgotten in the intellectual culture, but my feeling is they’re alive in the popular culture, in people’s sentiments and attitudes and understanding and so on. I know when I talk to, say, working-class audiences today, and I talk about these ideas, they seem very natural to them. It’s true, nobody talks about them, but when you bring up the idea that you have to rent yourself to somebody and follow their orders, and that they own and you work—you built it, but you don’t own it—that’s a highly unnatural notion. You don’t have to study any complicated theories to see that this is an attack on human dignity.
All right, now, let’s suppose that you play the mainstream game. You can say anything you want because you support power, and nobody expects you to justify anything. For example, in the unimaginable circumstance that I was on, say, Nightline, and I was asked, “Do you think Kadhafi is a terrorist?” I could say, “Yeah, Kadhafi is a terrorist.” I don’t need any evidence. Suppose I said, “George Bush is a terrorist.” Well, then I would be expected to provide evidence—“Why would you say that?”
In fact, the structure of the news production system is, you can’t produce evidence. There’s even a name for it—I learned it from the producer of Nightline, Jeff Greenfield. It’s called “concision.” He was asked in an interview somewhere why they didn’t have me on Nightline. First of all, he says, “Well, he talks Turkish, and nobody understands it.” But the other answer was, “He lacks concision.” Which is correct, I agree with him. The kinds of things that I would say on Nightline, you can’t say in one sentence because they depart from standard religion. If you want to repeat the religion, you can get away with it between two commercials. If you want to say something that questions the religion, you’re expected to give evidence, and that you can’t do between two commercials. So therefore you lack concision, so therefore you can’t talk.
this is what language (as control/enclosure) does for/to everybody
I think that’s a terrific technique of propaganda. To impose concision is a way of virtually guaranteeing that the party line gets repeated over and over again, and that nothing else is heard.
exactly.. and why we need something like idiosyncratic jargon ness..
I don’t think we should give up long-term visions. I agree with the factory girls in Lowell in 1850. I think wage slavery is an attack on fundamental human rights. I think those who work in the plants should own them. I think we should struggle against what was then the “new spirit of the age”: gain wealth, forgetting everybody but yourself. Yes, that’s all degrading and destructive, and in the long term—I don’t know how long—it should be dismantled. But right now there are serious problems to deal with, like thirty million Americans who don’t have enough to eat, or people elsewhere in the world who are far worse off, and who are, in fact, under our boot, we’re grinding them into the dust. Those are short-term things that can be dealt with. There’s nothing wrong with making small gains, like the gains that I was talking about before, from the ’60s until today. They’re extremely important for human lives. It doesn’t mean that there are not a lot of mountain peaks to climb, there are. But you do what’s within range..t
The same in the sciences. You might like to solve the problems of, say, what causes human action, but the problems you work on are the ones that are right at the edge of your understanding. There’s a famous joke about a drunk under a lamppost looking at the ground, and somebody comes up and asks him “What are you looking for?” He says, “I’m looking for a pencil that I dropped.” They say, “Well, where did you drop it?” He says, “Oh, I dropped it across the street.” “Well, why are looking here?” “This is where the light is.” That’s the way the sciences work. Maybe the problem you would like to solve is across the street, but you have to work where the light is. If you try to move it a little farther, maybe ultimately you’ll get across the street.
until now.. we can/need to work on problem deep enough to get to and hasten root of all of them..
5 – language and freedom
When I was invited to speak on the topic “language and freedom,” I was puzzled and intrigued. Most of my professional life has been devoted to the study of language. There would be no great difficulty in finding a topic to discuss in that domain. And there is much to say about the problems of freedom and liberation as they pose themselves to us and to others in the mid-twentieth century. What is troublesome in the title of this lecture is the conjunction. In what way are language and freedom to be interconnected?
As a preliminary, let me say just a word about the contemporary study of language, as I see it. There are many aspects of language and language use that raise intriguing questions, but—in my judgment—only a few have so far led to productive theoretical work. *In particular, our deepest insights are in the area of formal grammatical structure. A person who knows a language has acquired a system of rules and principles—a “generative grammar,” in technical terms—that associates sound and meaning in some specific fashion. There are many reasonably well-founded and, I think, rather enlightening hypotheses as to the character of such grammars, for quite a number of languages. Furthermore, there has been a renewal of interest in **“universal grammar,” interpreted now as the theory that tries to specify the general properties of these languages that can be learned in the normal way by humans. Here too, significant progress has been achieved. The subject is of particular importance. It is appropriate to regard universal grammar as the study of one of the essential faculties of mind. It is, therefore, extremely interesting to discover, as I believe we do, that the principles of universal grammar are rich, abstract, and restrictive, and can be used to construct principled explanations for a variety of phenomena. At the present stage of our understanding, if language is to provide a springboard for the investigation of other problems of man, it is these aspects of language to which we will have to turn our attention, for the simple reason that it is only these aspects that are reasonably well understood. In another sense, the study of formal properties of language reveals something of the nature of man in a negative way: it ***underscores, with great clarity, the limits of our understanding of those qualities of mind that are apparently unique to man and that must enter into his cultural achievements in an intimate, if still quite obscure, manner.
*oi oi oi oi oi.. oh my.. language as control/enclosure et al
**needs/begs to be a non grammar.. ie: idiosyncratic jargon
In searching for a point of departure, one turns naturally to a period in the history of Western thought when it was possible to believe that “the thought of making freedom the sum and substance of philosophy has emancipated the human spirit in all its relationships, and … has given to science in all its parts a more powerful reorientation than any earlier revolution.” The word “revolution” bears multiple associations in this passage, for Schelling also proclaims that *“man is born to act and not to speculate”; and when he writes that “the time has come to proclaim to a nobler humanity the freedom of the spirit, and no longer to have patience with men’s tearful regrets for their lost chains,” we hear the echoes of the libertarian thought and revolutionary acts of the late eighteenth century. Schelling writes that “the beginning and end of all philosophy is—Freedom.” These words are invested with meaning and urgency at a time when men are struggling to cast off their chains, to resist authority that has lost its claim to legitimacy, to construct more humane and more democratic social institutions. It is at such a time that the philosopher may be driven to inquire into the nature of human freedom and its limits, and perhaps to conclude, with Schelling, that with respect to the human ego, **“its essence is freedom”; and with respect to philosophy, “the highest dignity of Philosophy consists precisely therein, that it stakes all on human freedom.”
**and so huge.. that we have no idea what legit free people are like..
Rather similar thoughts were expressed by Kant, forty years later. He cannot, he says, accept the proposition that certain people “are not ripe for freedom,” for example, the serfs of some landlord.
If one accepts this assumption, freedom will never be achieved; for one can not arrive at the maturity for freedom without having already acquired it; *one must be free to learn how to make use of one’s powers freely and usefully. The **first attempts will surely be brutal and will lead to a state of affairs more painful and dangerous than the former condition under the dominance but also the protection of an external authority. However, one can achieve reason only through one’s own experiences and one must be free to be able to undertake them…. To accept the principle that freedom is worthless for those under one’s control and that one has the right to refuse it to them forever, is an infringement on the rights of God himself, who has created man to be free.
To Descartes and his followers, such as Cordemoy, the only sure sign that another organism has a mind, and hence also lies beyond the bounds of mechanical explanation, is its use of language in the normal, creative human fashion, free from control by identifiable stimuli, novel and innovative, appropriate to situations, coherent, and engendering in our minds new thoughts and ideas. To the Cartesians, it is obvious by introspection that each man possesses a mind, a substance whose essence is thought; his creative use of language reflects this freedom of thought and conception. When we have evidence that another organism too uses language in this free and creative fashion, we are led to attribute to it as well a mind like ours. From similar assumptions regarding the intrinsic limits of mechanical explanation, its inability to account for man’s freedom and consciousness of his freedom, Rousseau proceeds to develop his critique of authoritarian institutions, which deny to man his essential attribute of freedom, in varying degree.
Were we to combine these speculations, we might develop an interesting connection between language and freedom. Language, in its essential properties and the manner of its use, provides the basic criterion for determining that another organism is a being with a human mind and the human capacity for *free thought and self-expression, and with the essential human need for freedom from the external constraints of repressive authority. Furthermore, we might try to proceed from the detailed investigation of language and its use to a deeper and more specific understanding of the human mind. Proceeding on this model, we might further attempt to **study other aspects of that human nature which, as Rousseau rightly observes, must be correctly conceived if we are to be able to develop, in theory, the foundations for a rational social order.
left off 81
He holds that “general ideas can come into the mind only with the aid of words, and the understanding grasps them only through propositions”—a fact which prevents animals, devoid of reason, from formulating such ideas or ever acquiring “the perfectiblity which depends upon them.” Thus he cannot conceive of the means by which “our new grammarians began to extend their ideas and to generalize their words,” or to develop the means “to express all the thoughts of men”: “numbers, abstract words, aorists, and all the tenses of verbs, particles, syntax, the linking of propositions, reasoning, and the forming of all the logic of discourse.” He does speculate about later stages of the perfection of the species, “when the ideas of men began to spread and multiply, and when closer communication was established among them, [and] they sought more numerous signs and a more extensive language.” But he must, unhappily, abandon “the following difficult problem: which was most necessary, previously formed society for the institution of languages, or previously invented languages for the establishment of society?”
If this is correct, as at least a first approximation to the facts, the study of language might be expected to offer an entering wedge, or perhaps a model, for an investigation of human nature that would provide the grounding for a much broader theory of human nature.
or rather.. control/enclose it
Whatever does not spring from a man’s free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very being, but remains alien to his true nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness.
imagine if we ness
Humboldt’s vision is quite different:
… the whole tenor of the ideas and arguments unfolded in this essay might fairly be reduced to this, that while they would break all fetters in human society, they would attempt to find as many new social bonds as possible. The isolated man is no more able to develop than the one who is fettered.
Without this tension between necessity and freedom, rule and choice, there can be no creativity, no communication, no meaningful acts at all.
oi.. we have no idea what legit free people are like
last sent 1fp.. oi.. last 2 sents last fp
Modern science and technology can relieve men of the necessity for specialized, imbecile labor. They may, in principle, provide the basis for a rational social order based on free association and democratic control, if we have the will to create it.
ie: tech as it could be
A vision of a future social order is in turn based on a concept of human nature. *If in fact man is an indefinitely malleable, completely plastic being, with no innate structures of mind and no intrinsic needs of a cultural or social character, then he is a fit subject for the “shaping of behavior” by the state authority, the corporate manager, the technocrat, or the central committee. **Those with some confidence in the human species will hope this is not so and will try to determine the intrinsic human characteristics that provide the framework for intellectual development, the growth of moral consciousness, cultural achievement, and participation in a free community. In a partly analogous way, a classical tradition spoke of artistic genius acting within and in some ways challenging a framework of rule. Here we touch on matters that are little understood. It seems to me that we must break away, sharply and radically, from much of modern social and behavioral science if we are to move towards a deeper understanding of these matters
Perhaps one might go on to project a concept of social organization that would—under given conditions of material and spiritual culture—best encourage and accommodate the fundamental human need—if such it is—for spontaneous initiative, creative work, solidarity, pursuit of social justice.
ie: if we org around legit needs
I do not want to exaggerate, as I no doubt have, the role of investigation of language. Language is the product of human intelligence that is, for the moment, most accessible to study. A rich tradition held language to be a mirror of mind. To some extent, there is surely truth and useful insight in this idea.
I am no less puzzled by the topic “language and freedom” than when I began—and no less intrigued. In these speculative and sketchy remarks there are gaps so vast that one might question what would remain, when metaphor and unsubstantiated guess are removed. It is sobering to realize—as I believe we must—how little we have progressed in our knowledge of man and society, or even in formulating clearly the problems that might be seriously studied. But there are, I think, a few footholds that seem fairly firm. I like to believe that the intensive study of one aspect of human psychology—human language—may contribute to a humanistic social science that will serve, as well, as an instrument for social action. It must, needless to say, be stressed that social action cannot await a firmly established theory of man and society, nor can the validity of the latter be determined by our hopes and moral judgments. The two—speculation and action—must progress as best they can, looking forward to the day when theoretical inquiry will provide a firm guide to the unending, often grim, but never hopeless struggle for freedom and social justice.
- accidental anarchist
- anarchism and other essays
- anarchist library
- anarchists against democracy
- anarchy after leftism
- enlightened anarchy
- fragments of an anarchist anthropology
- graeber anarchism law
- inventing anarchy
- is anarchism impossible
- kevin on anarchism w/o adj
- on anarchism
- post scarcity anarchism