Bloomington High School North Library

Bloomington High School North

On anarchism

Review by Nickolas Penrod on May 20, 2016

Categories: Non-fiction

Noam Chomsky’s “On Anarchism” is an interesting accumulation of essays and excerpts from interviews, and it details Chomsky’s knowledge on the historical, philosophical and ideological concepts of Anarchism, also known as “Libertarian Socialism”, and provides an excellent insight. Even in cursory reading, the intelligence of Noam Chomsky proves fascinating to delve into.
The book consists firstly of excerpts from interviews, where Chomsky details some of the fundamental ideas of Anarchism, dispels misnomers, and challenges authority. Chomsky states that “every form of authority [must be challenged] to prove that it is justified”, and that “authoritarian structures… have no prior justification”, and extrapolates upon this tenet of Anarchism with analogy and philosophical examination. He also speaks of the beliefs that “workers [should take] control of the workplace”, where he believes that rather than having some overarching, hierarchical structure in workplaces as typical in Capitalist society, that on the contrary the workers should control where they work. He further details this using historical and analytical methods. He also explains many of the other core tenets of Anarchism, such as where incentive comes from without the concept of money in existence, how to do away with wages, what “wage slavery” is, and how the terms “Libertarian” and “Libertarianism” were essentially stolen by Laissez-Faire Capitalists believing in the creation of a society of complete exploitation of every aspect of life and nature, and how it has created a sort of ignorance within American society toward the actual historical context of the term “Libertarian”, as well as an ignorance to its actual, legitimate use in the context of global society.
In majority of the book, Chomsky speaks about history and philosophy, refuting ideas made by those such as Borkenau, clarifying the ideas of Adam Smith and Classical Liberalism, and providing unparalleled, cited historical evidence of the success of Anarchism in Spain, during the time of Catalonia’s anarchist society from 1936 – 1939. The historical information is often quite compelling, and the analyzation of social structure, and the relation of the Anarchists compared to the USSR and Marxist-Leninist opposition creates a heated historical scene.
This book would be an excellent addition to anyone interested in various fields of academia, varying from history to political science to even economics. Furthermore this book is an excellent addition to the repertoire of any enthusiast of intellectual and academic discussion on political systems and their history. However, the format of it book lends itself more to those whom would read it in its entirety, rather than acting as a reference book.
Chomsky’s “On Anarchism” will assuredly provide any readers of any beliefs a compelling look into history, ideology and philosophy via a myriad of detailed analyses of historical events, people, societal changes and societal structures. It acts as a challenge to all authority, a rebellion of the intellectual variety, as well as providing comprehensive and honest explanation of Anarchism, dispelling common, simple arguments against Anarchism, and creating complex and powerful arguments attacking the authoritarian structures which oppress and hinder mankind.