Interview with Noam Chomsky – Published on radio The Voice of Russia, by Sean Nevins, Dec 20, 2013.
… Anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism:
I kind of want to start up by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?
- Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism in general as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called ‘a general tendency in the history of humanity’ which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justified and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers’ communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is my view and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.
So, you are talking about workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises that work in expanding out to the community?
- It’s one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.
I’m kind of wondering how workers are controlling their own work. How is this organized? And how does it arise?
- Well, it’s all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the US, in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they’re being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that’s undergone great conglomerate in Spain which is worker ownedand the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.
So, did they rise spontaneously or is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves like maybe in the US, like they do it one way and then over Spain Mondragon they’ll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?
- There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Oregon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities in the way the take-over by working people, peasants of their own lives proceded.
Let’s say that Mondragon wants to have an association with somebody in the Rust Belt…
- That is what is happening in fact. I don’t know how far it will go, but one of the major US unions, the steel workers, has now entered into some kinds of interactions with Mondragon. They try to work out ways to develop Mondragon-type system in the old industrial sections of the US and revive them on the basis of worker-ownership and community-ownership in control.
“Norman Ornstein, who was referring to the Republican Party, described them as a radical insurgency opposed to rationality, to political compromise, to participation in a parliamentary system, in fact with no positive goals in themselves.”
Could you comment on the Tea Party and their tactics? They are almost anarchistic, like ‘government is bad and everything that destroys it is good,’ and in some ways they are also thinking about what people on the left would like, myself and yourself and other individuals. In some ways they are most revolutionary group on the US, they are able to stop the government for 16 days.
- I wouldn’t call them “revolutionary.” I think one of the best description of them is by one of the leading conservative political analysts, Norman Ornstein, who was referring to the Republican Party altogether, the modern Republican Party, but Tea Party is an extreme example. He described them as a radical insurgency opposed to rationality, to political compromise, to participation in a parliamentary system, in fact with no positive goals in themselves. They do oppose too much state power, but that is a bit of a joke, they also support state power. They support the powerful systems that sustain private power and put their concentration of power as opposed to the traditional anarchists were opposed to the relation of dominance between masters and servants, between owners and workers. That is one of the major, one of the most elemental types of dominance that have always been opposed by any anarchist but not by them, they are in favor of it. They want, they’re in favor of having the population subordinated to concentrated private power, which should have no limits. When they call themselves “anti- government,” that means they don’t want government to limit the capacity of concentrated private power to dominate the society. That is very far from any anarchism. The reason that they are successful is that they have enormous amount of private capital supporting them. They are very heavily funded, they have media-outlets I meanthey’re a genuine, popular movement, they have a base and they kind of mostly almost entirely white, mostly petty bourgeois, small store-keepers and so on, many of them…. There’s elements that are highly nationalist as racist elements. They basically just … their power and significance doesn’t come from their numbers, but by the backing that they have. They do serve the interests of significant elements of private capital.
I was thinking more in a sense that the power of the government is not able to legitimize themselves so they actually challenge the government very directly and they are able to be voted into power.
- They have popular support and they have plenty of financial support and a lot of their power comes from the radical gerrymandering, redesigning of electoral districts. You can see it, for example, they are powerful now and so are representatives when in fact the Republicans have a majority of the representatives but with the minority of the vote. So in the last election, the Democrats actually won a significant majority of the popular vote for the House but virtue of rearranging electoral districts and a vast amount of money, the right wing was able to take over the representation. In fact, there is a good study by the main political scientist who has been working on campaign funding for many years, Thomas Ferguson, University of Massachusetts, came out with a study which saidthat there was almost linear relationship between the amount of money put into a campaign and electoral victory; it’s basically bought.
Syrian crisis and Geneva-2 peace conference: … //
… Iran and Iranian nuclear program: … //
… Nuclear weapons and the Non-Proliferation Treaty: … //
We were subjected to meticulous, daily torture – freed Gitmo detainee, on Russia Today RT, Dec 20, 2013;
Friendly Fire: How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU, on Spiegel Online International, by Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark, December 20, 2013 (Photo Gallery):
Documents from the archive of whistleblower and former NSA worker Edward Snowden show that Britain’s GCHQ signals intelligence agency has targeted European, German and Israeli politicians for surveillance …;
(Government Communications Headquarters) on en.wikipedia:
... is a British intelligence agency responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance to the British government and armed forces. Based in 'The Doughnut', in the suburbs of Cheltenham, it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) alongside the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Defence Intelligence (DI) ...].