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Noam Chomsky – Manufacturing consent (1992) [video] (youtube.com)
38 points by bedros 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

"If you're really in favor of free speech, then you're in favor of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favor of free speech." Noam Chomsky. A smart man, worth listening too, even if you disagree.

"Well what’s called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn’t really exist anywhere else — a little bit in England — permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. The assumption is that by some kind of magic, concentrated private power will lead to a more free and just society.

…that kind of libertarianism, in my view, in the current world, is just a call for some of the worst kinds of tyranny, namely unaccountable private tyranny. Anarchism is quite different from that. It calls for an elimination to tyranny, all kinds of tyranny. Including the kind of tyranny that’s internal to private power concentrations. So why should we prefer it? Well I think because freedom is better than subordination. It’s better to be free than to be a slave. Its’ better to be able to make your own decisions than to have someone else make decisions and force you to observe them. I mean, I don’t think you really need an argument for that. It seems like … transparent."

Noam Chomsky

There's so much wrong about NC and mainstream perception of classic liberalism I don't even know where to begin.

There are some interesting topics of dispute between NC / Proudhon-like anarchists and libertarians, but I don't see how this kind of quote achieves anything in this regard. Libertarians don't advocate "concentrated" powers or "tyranny" but acknowledge that hierarchy and subordination can develop in a voluntarily way and think about the best meta-rules with which each society groups can co-exist. Yes, large entities can occur - proof is with nation states and big companies.

But I don't see how Chomsky fans can replace them with anything better, do you ? Theirs solutions generally involve the state taking a monopole about some product / service or over regulations, leading to an even growing state and big co (all of which are "tyranny", "concentrated powers", "domination", "authority" they supposedly despise)

>Libertarians don't advocate "concentrated" powers or "tyranny"

I disagree. Capital has a tendency to accumulate, and in fact, to survive in capitalism is to accumulate capital. The tyranny being spoken of is found hiding in a shallow place - under the guise of free exchange, free enterprise, free association. Many would contend property is tyranny - beacuse it is due to the existence of property for which generations of people have to toil while surrendering the fruits of their labour to the landlord, capitalist, State etc. To be forced to pay rent is not dissimilar to be forced to be paid taxes. And what right does the landlord have over the property? Transferred title from a time when it was forcibly enclosed by the state or transformed into property without the consent of all at the time - i.e it is an arbitrary right founded on violence.

The idea is not to transfer property into the ownership of all, it is to abolish it entirely.

"The labourers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, if they once become thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing could withstand them; they would only have to stop labour, regard the product of labour as theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the labour disturbances which show themselves here and there." (Max Stirner)

   Capital has a tendency to accumulate, and in fact, to survive in capitalism is to accumulate capital
What's wrong with that ? That's a good thing. Gathering human and physical capital, saving and investing are the mechanisms that enabled us humans to make such tremendous progress.

   To be forced to pay rent is not dissimilar to be forced to be paid taxes
I think the rules of the game are generally fair, but the initial conditions inherited from history are not. But I understand what you mean if you don't believe the rules are "fair" and if you believe there's an alternative to our "capitalist system".

  The idea is not to transfer property into the ownership of all, it is to abolish it entirely.
I read a lot of left leaning authors years ago before discovering french XIX th century liberalism (including Max Stirner most famous text). I never found anything remotely concerned about the course of actions society should engage to abolish private property. Seriously, I've been searching for years. I'm open to any text if you have some.

But libertarian thought paves the way for concentrated power and even relies upon it. Wealth, which libertarians believe can gotten from self-determination alone, does not accrue without legally enforced property relations (state monopolized justice/violence).

Self-determination without other anarchist values of mutual aid and solidarity creates classist society. I don't want to live in a classist society. I don't have an interest in a political critique which remains imminent to capitalist values and society.

I'd also add that libertarian thought in practice leads to abhorrent entities such as the Cato institute and the Atlas Network.

Could you care to explain how we could reduce "concentrated powers" ? It's not enough to simply claim that libertarian or neoliberal are not anti-business and hence facilitate concentrated powers, you have to explain to me a better solution, how you would approach this issue.

   values of mutual aid and solidarity 
Isn't that what exchange, association and charity are about ? Theses are core libertarian values.

In my listening to and reading of libertarians the non-aggression principle is of higher importance than aid and solidarity. The NAP is then extended to property belonging to the individual such that property becomes prioritized over other individuals: "That person is starving, but this is my property and they have no right to it". When solidarity is taken as a core value it doesn't provide an avenue for allowing one to starve while another has more wealth than they need to provide for themselves.

My lack of providing an alternative doesn't negate my point that libertarianism depends on state monopolization of certain rights, such as violence towards others for the sake of property relations.

I think a reduction in concentration of power requires a cultural shift where people cease to fetishize the accumulation of power a la money.

The NAP tries to draw a line between what people can do to each other in society and hence what groups of people are able to do to each other ; it doesn't tell you to not help the poor "because it's my property", it tells you you have no right to steal from someone else under the pretense that you will use the stolen resources to feed someone dying (Also, maybe the "duty to rescue" is a fair legal way of dealing with small scale incidents like theses), you have to convince that person to give you the resource to help the other person. By doing so, she/he might discover others situations, have compassion, get interested in those matters, get engaged just like you do etc... Seems more fair to me for everyone.

And you can be libertarian and have the value to help other individuals, theses values are not mutually exclusive.

Note : not all libertarian think with the NAP. I personally think it might be a great intellectual construct and could be good to introduce libertarianism to people ; but I'm not sure about how it could fit into our actual society and laws. There's 200 years of very interesting classic liberalism philosophy before Rand and Rothbard :)

   When solidarity is taken as a core value 
What do you mean by that ? Try to create some laws or use case, or give me a link to people you read that talk about that ;)

   My lack of providing an alternative doesn't negate my point that libertarianism depends on state monopolization of certain rights, such as violence towards others for the sake of property relations.
Oh because the solution friends of Chomsky don't involve violence ? For example running the whole economy through the visible hand of the friendly politicians, as a mean to control society and be 100 % sure that no one dies of hunger in the street.

>Oh because the solution friends of Chomsky don't involve violence ?

It probably does, just as capitalism was borne into this world with violence, "soaked in blood" as Marx put it. The point however is that it does not rely on violence to support property relations, beacuse anarchists generally view such violence for the purpose of property as inhumane. I can't speak for Chomsky personally.

>Seems more fair to me for everyone.

Arguably, it seems that property is "fair" only for the very few, and especially not those who must rely on charity. What fairness is found in the case of a man who cannot secure the bread to eat, for his wages are surrendered to the capitalist, middleman and State for rent or tax? It's always amusing to me this idea that in an anarcho-capitalist society, the proponents always figure themselves to be capitalists, never the poor, the dregs of society, the propertyless who live in hideous conditions.

>it tells you you have no right to steal from someone else under the pretense that you will use the stolen resources to feed someone dying

Perhaps we have a different view of what is just, then. I would even agree with you if we were talking about personal property. But we are not, we are talking about private property, and I think that such an attitude is abhorrent in the face of such conditions.

>how we could reduce "concentrated powers"

The abolition of private property, which as Oscar Wilde and Bookchin have noted is restricting to one's individualism and the freedom of many. It goes beyond being pro or anti-business, it goes down the route of Proudhonist and Stirnerist anarchists as you mentioned earlier.

>you have to explain to me a better solution

I'd say that for many people, the current situation in which there is a government is better than the proposed solution of minarchy or the whole abolition of the state. "Better" is a matter of perspective here; Stalin (who I do not admire) one said "It is difficult for me to imagine what 'personal liberty' is enjoyed by an unemployed person, who goes about hungry, and cannot find employment."

However I'm currently reading into the works of Murray Bookchin, who advances what he calls Communalism, which is a social anarchist mode of social organisation. Libertarian in the original sense of the word.

>Isn't that what exchange, association and charity are about ?

I don't think so. The way Mutual Aid is described by the social anarchists and Communists is a kind of society built around helping each other out in a structured way such that the whole of society engages, because it makes sense to do so. Relying on charity is not that - it implies a kind of one-way relationship, it's rare that the person on the receiving end of the donation helps mutually, mostly beacuse he is disadvantaged in the first place. The point of a mutual aid society is such that everyone firstly has the capacity to help everyone else out. A society based on charity would seem to me to be opposite.

Kropotkin wrote about mutual aid in one example,

"It hardly need be said that a great number of mutual-aid habits and customs continue to persist in the Swiss villages. The evening gatherings for shelling walnuts, which take place in turns in each household; the evening parties for sewing the dowry of the girl who is going to marry; the calling of "aids" for building the houses and taking in the crops, as well as for all sorts of work which may be required by one of the commoners; the custom of exchanging children from one canton to the other, in order to make them learn two languages, French and German; and so on – all these are quite habitual; while, on the other side, divers modern requirements are met in the same spirit."

The point is that charity shoudn't be a core value of a free society. Democratic Socialist Oscar Wilde said:

"We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. Why should they be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table? They should be seated at the board, and are beginning to know it."

I believe mutualism might be a good way to create closed groups of mutual aid inside society and I've read that's how it worked before the industrial revolution (French "Compagnonnage", friendly societies, confraternities, guilds etc...).

So why all people like you don't try to launch a new modern version of theses things ? If you don't need the state to do this then it should work without trying to influence governments to your benefit (because you supposedly don't need it).

  it's rare that the person on the receiving end of the donation helps mutually
Sounds like you want to talk about exchanges, but don't want to use that filthy word. What's the difference between exchange and mutually aid ?

You can't have liberty without "state monopolized justice/violence".

I didn't mean to imply otherwise, rather I just wanted to point out that one of the principles of Libertarianism as I understand it (freedom from government regulation of things) is counter to the libertarian value of wealth accumulation.

There is no libertarian value of wealth accumulation. There is only the libertarian value of individual liberties such as being able to own personal property without limits. If some accumulate wealth, as long as they don't take it from others that's fine.


Lovely projection I have to say. Chomsky is the guy with the good ideas (though he'd be the first to point out they're not original, but he still understands and holds them so the sentence is correct as is), you're the one biting his ankles with a straw man.

“ The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. „

Noam Chomsky, The Common Good

This has been a feature of American society as long as there has been an America. It was noted by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. There were strict bounds on what people could discuss, though within those bounds they could say what they liked. As opposed to, for example, English society, which traditionally was more accepting of the eccentric (upperclass) oddball.

Here's an interesting excerpt from a Chris Marker documentary I found when I was doing research about Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent at the time I was still buying into his B.S. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1XWKULjfQ

>at the time I was still buying into his B.S.

Why do you think it's BS, out of interest? I'm not too familiar with the man himself, though I am familiar with main social anarchist and Communist thought.

>Here's an interesting excerpt from a Chris Marker documentary

Chomsky does not support the Soviet Union, and to my knowledge never has. He also has no sympathy for Marxism-Leninism. He's more of a syndicalist/social anarchist, so the video doesn't really fit in so well. Unless he used a propaganda video himself, which would surprise me.

Chris Marker is a french cinematographer. His works is unregular but this documentary (Letter from Siberia) is great. (Also, he is the author of the photo movie La Jetée, here in english https://vimeo.com/46620661, which inspired the movie 12 Monkeys !). He has communist leaning from what I remember but it doesn't feel like he's using cinema to convince you about his political beliefs, and he doesn't defends USSR, although he is culturally very interested in this country.

This excerpt is about media manipulation if you didn't understand it, it shows how it feels to change the voice over and keep the same images.

  Why do you think it's BS, out of interest? 
Sorry I wasn't talking about this documentary, it's not that bad, what he says in it is pretty obvious.

Given the implications of the current precarious state of net neutrality and the gawker case on independant news outlets, Compsky's analysis of traditional news model as propaghanda is more relevant than ever.

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