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On Anarchism (Penguin Special)

On Anarchism (Penguin Special) [Kindle Edition]

Noam Chomsky
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

On Anarchism is an essential introduction to the Noam Chomsky's political theory.

On Anarchism sheds a much needed light on the foundations of Chomsky's thought, specifically his constant questioning of the legitimacy of entrenched power. The book gathers his essays and interviews to provide a short, accessible introduction to his distinctively optimistic brand of anarchism. Refuting the notion of anarchism as a fixed idea, and disputing the traditional fault lines between anarchism and socialism, this is a book sure to challenge, provoke and inspire. Profoundly relevant to our times, it is a touchstone for political activists and anyone interested in deepening their understanding of anarchism, or of Chomsky's thought.

'Arguably the most important intellectual alive' New York Times

Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous bestselling and influential political books, including Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Interventions, What We Say Goes, Hopes and Prospects, Gaza in Crisis, Making the Future and Occupy.

Nathan Schneider is the author of Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse and God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet.

About the Author

Noam Chomsky is the author of numerous bestselling and influential political books, including Hegemony or Survival, Failed States, Interventions, What We Say Goes, Hopes and Prospects, Gaza in Crisis, Making the Future and Occupy. Nathan Schneider is the author of Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse and God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chomsky takes on the impossible task of answering what the alternative to dysfunctional government should be. The era of the individual is coming worldwide. That will be a vindication that Chomsky is right and government is wrong.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! 26 Feb 2014
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A nice introduction to Chomsky's thoughts. I would also recommend checking out Chomsky's talks and debates on this topic (of which plenty exist on the internet).
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2.0 out of 5 stars A bit repetitive 12 Aug 2014
By gen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a collection of articles, speeches and interviews: I feel a synthesis of them into a new article would be much more valuable than reading several slightly different articles. I'd recommend this book only if you're a fan of Chomsky and know the subject already quite well.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars modern update on anarchism 12 Jan 2014
By ken mccaffrey - Published on
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Unless your interest in this book is purely academic analysis of political systems, I assume you have some leanings in its direction. If so, you know that anarchy has a bad rep; I've seen it equated with 'chaos' in crossword puzzles. Chomsky acknowledges this early on and refutes it; he takes us back to the original goals of anarchy, devoid of people who riot and throw bricks through windows, the goals of individual freedom, economic equality and democracy built from the ground up.
The book consists of five chapters; each taken from a previously published work. Although copyright 2013, the earliest chapter is from 1969, the latest @2002.
The first is an essay entitled 'Notes on Anarchism' and is just that; a wide variety of thoughts, with quotes from others, as to just what true anarchism is, and is not. The second chapter, excerpts from Understanding Power, is worth the price of the book. A question and answer session (Chomsky giving the answers) seemingly in a group setting with various people raising the essential questions of anarchism (tension of collectivism vs. individual freedom etc.) Chomsky gives a magnificent tour-de-force performance in replies. He also mentions the anarchy/chaos situation.
The third chapter is one of very heavy reading. Stating that the Spanish Revolution, 1936-37, is of great historical significance, Chomsky not only reviews the history of the 'people's revolution' which was crushed by those in power, but, citing numerous historians, questions whether or not their views coincided with reality as to what was happening. If you're not familiar with the named historians or their works, this is a tough read. However, if you bypass all of that and accept Chomsky's opinions, you will learn a lot regarding the Spanish Civil War and especially the entrenched power response to anarchists.
The fourth chapter is an interview with Harry Kreisler (of UC Berkeley), Chomsky is the interviewee; the effect is similar to chapters one and two, a variety of anarchist thoughts and concepts are discussed.
The last chapter is the transcript of a lecture given at Loyola University in 1970; Chomsky is a linguist so he is seemingly in his element as this address is entitled -Language and Freedom. But no, he raises the question as to just how language and freedom are related and admits, at the end, that he is still not sure but much intrigued by the association. An interesting essay which will challenge your thinking in many areas, but may also, answer many questions you have had in your pursuit of an understanding of anarchism.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anarchy - it's not a dirty word 25 Jan 2014
By desert razor - Published on
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Chomsky's exploration of the roots and continued vitality of anarchism as a socio-economic and political theory and strategy is important reading for anyone wanting to dig beneath the sketchy surface of the word "anarchy" to get at the root of its meaning and see its practical applications for today. It is not "Molotov cocktails" and "chaos," as so commonly assumed, but a belief system that is typically highly organized around the search for local solutions to local problems by independent and autonomous actors responsible to and for themselves, without arbitrary authority imposed from above and without. The presumption that all impositions of authority by one person or group over another are invalid unless and until they are justified by necessity and tempered by restraint is a presumption that we should all embrace, particularly in today's increasingly authoritarian world. Once again, Chomsky steps up as one of the leading public intellectuals of our time and tells some uncomfortable but simple truths.

This book is a collection of excerpts from past articles, talks, etc., rather than a single coherent exploration of anarchy in theory and practice. The reader should not expect a text book on the subject, but rather a history lesson and an exhortation to the "anarcho-curious" to embrace the notion that we are each entitled to dominion over our own lives, and to enlighten those who blindly submit to unjustified and unjustifiable impositions of power and authority.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Not to have read [Chomsky] is to court genuine ignorance" 17 Jan 2014
By Christopher - Published on
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Fantastic reader and intro into basic ideas that animate capitalism as well as socialism and beyond. This is not am intro into political theory however and is meant as a condensed version of Chomsky's more expanded works like "Understanding Power." So if you think you understand anarchy or socialism and think its a vapid idea or just want to learn more, please consider this book. You cannot walk away from reading "On Anarchism" without understanding more about yourself and our world. Highly Recommended--I never buy anything but I bought this!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How does this compare with the book "Chomsky on Anarchism"? 26 Jun 2014
By John L Murphy - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This similarly titled book, from 2013 ("A" cover in colors; New Press), overlaps a lot with the AK Press "Chomsky On Anarchism." A spirited introduction by Nathan Schneider (see my reviews of his fine 2013 Occupy study "Thank You Anarchy") places this in context of events that in Schneider's view widened anarchism's range so many curious or hostile were confronted for a time with its presence downtown. As his book had advised, Schneider here suggests churches as examples of successful mutual aid independent of the state, and how the left might overcome its tendency to reject such models as part of a "functional resistance movement." He reaches out to the libertarian capitalists who briefly tried to find common ground with OWS activists and anarchists, and he encourages the "anarcho-curious" who found that movement intriguing to contemplate more efforts to expand their impact. Chomsky himself sums anarchism up: "people have the right to be free, and if there are constraints on that freedom, then you've got to justify them." (33) He wants no more wage slavery, but work as willed.

As Schneider notes (and many of Chomsky's critics on the left, who find this inconsistent), Chomsky pragmatically or strategically accepts working within the system so as to prevent right-wing restrictions or for public safety (he uses an example of a rabid raccoon resisting humane traps so he and his neighbors agreed to call authorities to deal with it after local attempts had failed), "because by doing so you can help move to a situation where you can then challenge these structures." (41)

As for the contents, 3/5 are repeated entries from "Chomsky On Anarchism" (also reviewed by me in June 2014; AK Press, 2005 with a red cover; none of the articles appearing there are credited as such in the acknowledgements although other reprints and their original sources are cited, oddly.) "Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship" (1969) reveals how elites and think-tanks support US foreign policy in Vietnam by "the new mandarins"; "Language and Freedom" (1970) uses linguistics and politics to examine Rousseau, Descartes, and Humboldt. "Notes on Anarchism" (1970/3) is a revision of an introduction to Daniel Guerin's anthology of anarchism.

The new inclusions appear to be a 2002 excerpt from "Understanding Power" and a 2002 interview with Harry Kreisler from his book Political Awakenings (2010). These, as many of the AK Press entries had, often repeat themselves, but it makes for a briefer book than its predecessor, probably published to take understandable advantage of the post-OWS interest in Chomsky and these topics. But the unacknowledged repetition of what has been previously published more than once must be noted.
5.0 out of 5 stars Read On Anarchism!! 24 Jun 2014
By Robert B. - Published on
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If more people read, understood, and applied the political principles astutely depicted by Noam Chomsky, our nation would not be suffering from the problems reflected in the population's widespread discontent.
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