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Chomsky on Socialism

Noam Chomsky


Posted: Aug 26, 2013

Noam Chomsky responds to a caller’s request for his thoughts on socialism, during a 2003 interview by Brian Lamb, for C-SPAN’s “In Depth” program. He describes how socialism was equated with the Leninist model of the Soviet Union by both the USA and its allies on the one hand, and the USSR and its allies on the other.


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So far [will try not to digress] religious organisations have been the most socialist institutions in modern times. Those of us who are skeptics know the drawbacks (what I meant by 'loose ends', Pete) to religious orgs: their hierarchies, outmoded--by our lights-- notions. However the public and private sectors outside houses of worship; extra-legal bodies (organised crime organisations); and secret societies, are less socialistic than houses of worship.
The longest running collectives and communes have been religious in nature.

Doesn't mean there's anything or much of anything positive about religion. Yet it is a given non-religious organisations as well as religious orgs. have enormous difficulty living up to their ideals, often due to self-interest. The State generally wants to aid the poor, unfortunately (for the poor that is) 'equality under the Law' fades when a large number of govt employees think they themselves are more equal than others; govt employees usually receive better benefits than their clients. And needless to write, those at the bottom are fighting for scraps: there is in fact a sort-of pecking order in hell. We don't have to discuss the evils of business, the bottom line is more important than justice and even family to the private sector. Chomsky can tell us making business more humane is tantamount to making slaughterhouses more humane for cattle-- only so far you can go.

Do realise Chomsky is delivering an academic talk. But we might want to consider kicking over the traces to come up with something more 21st century than socialism. It may be that all ideology finished when Communism ended. Perhaps even equality itself died when Communism ended. Don't know; do know the political mausoleum does exist, though it isn't a location.. it is a repository for outmoded ideologies/religions which retain one value: lingua franca. For instance although we can justifiably dismiss white nationalism as extremist, it can be accepted as social club/culture club. Often, bad religion-bad social club, are considered better than no religion, no social club at all. Bad religion/bad social club are thought by many-- v. many-- to be better than atomisation.
Matter of opinion. And then there is the question of hierarchy: there's meritocracy; and then there's how one guy has a bigger dick than another so he is higher up.

Atomisation doesn't concern me much aside from the disingenuousness of telling people to be holistic while economic warfare is ongoing. Plus we radically change the world around us, while expecting holism?? We degrade the biosphere while wanting order, cleanliness? don't know what to think, where to start albeit we (again) might want to start thinking about kicking over the traces, think about radically diminishing our outdated ideologies and religions-- in preparation for the 22nd century as well as the 21st. Let's assume we are serious about socialism- where would we start? Since Chomsky and I are American, we could start with a couple of Hank's proposals from a few years back; not that we hold someone to what they wrote yrs ago. First have the US decentralised as five separate nations: N. England; the South, Midwest; Southwest; the Northwest. That way, each region can choose its character. Next, tax houses of worship. More to, probably, cut back on the ability of churches to manipulate the poor than to utilise the revenue. You take it from there. Right now we are going nowhere fast, appear to have reached maximum stagnation.

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