Noam Chomsky is an enigma.
The New York Times has called him “America’s greatest intellectual.” That’s ironic, considering he has called the New York Times part of “the elite media, the agenda-setting ones,” whose real goal is to divert the public away from real issues and serve the interests of the power systems that own them. Besides, to Chomsky, “liberal intellectuals” are “the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice… they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”
Noam Chomsky then represents some different kind of intellectual, a conscientious kind who calls things like he sees them, regardless of what his colleagues might think. For fifty years he has relentlessly gone after American imperialism and dogmatic foreign policy, while attacking the media as being a giant propaganda machine in books like his Manufacturing Consent. As a result, the world-renowned linguistics professor from MIT and foreign policy expert rarely gets “ink” from mainstream media; “Chomskyans” tend to be found online at sites with names like “guerillaunderground.org” and “countercurrents.org.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of Chomsky’s political views is his belief in anarchism, which Chomsky says is probably not well-known because “little is known about (his) views on anything.” In a 1995 interview, Chomsky defined the point of anarchism as, “to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom…”
To hear Chomsky tell it in his singular, sensible way, anarchism does not sound like the thing to be feared that some would have us believe. Indeed, he said that the misrepresentation that has surrounded the theory of anarchism has been promulgated by the ones who have a vested interest in preventing public understanding on anarchy. Instead of being chaos, true anarchy would mean “a highly organised society, integrating many different kinds of structures, but controlled by participants, not by those in a position to give orders…”
In today’s climate of Tea Parties and heightened distrust of government, Chomsky seems like the ideal candidate to lead a revolution of political thought and address the disenfranchisement many Americans feel. For his part, Chomsky was recently quoted as saying the United States is lucky no truly charismatic yet honest leader has come along to capitalize on “the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger” that exists in America today, the likes of which he has never seen.
“The mood of the country is frightening,” he said. “The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.” He said people like Joe Stack are asking, “What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing.”
As more and more Joe Stacks crop up, the public may become more inclined to give ear to philosophers like Chomsky who propose a new way of governing, however much the liberal intellectuals and media elite might like to keep such ideas under wraps.
Chomsky says, “More than ever, libertarian socialist ideas are relevant, and the population is very much open to them. Despite a huge mass of corporate propaganda, outside of educated circles, people still maintain pretty much their traditional attitudes… Intellectuals may tell a different story, but it’s not all that difficult to find out the facts.”