Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Noam Chomsky offers No Alternative to Global Capitalism.

As the feeble rationalisations for going back to the future with the USSR, or posing a Bolshevik style revolution as showing the possibility of 'Another World' or 'Systemic Alternative' are still being touted by some as a way out of the global economic crisis of since 2008, there are also those who think Noam Chomsky is a guru who can offer salvation.

Chomsky is popular in the UK as much as the USA for having never have been tarred with the same brush as the Communists.

For Chomsky lauds the libertarian myth of the Russian Revolution as a workers revolution betrayed by commissars like Lenin and Trotsky who use myths of a perfect future and of global harmony and Utopia to rationalise repression and privation in the present until the ultimate goal had been reached

Perhaps those who think so could look at the history of the Russian Revolution and of the actual global communist movement as it really was instead of projecting ideological fantasies on to it and making excuses for its failure. In the conditions of the chaos caused, power was bound to fill the power vacuum.

The libertarian left myth of revolution is certainly a better one and at least accepts that Lenin and Trotsky were not interested in spontaneous freedom but in 'totalitarianism'. That's then taken to mean that the USA is no better in this regard and also based on spreading universal hegemony as the barrel of the gun.

What Chomsky and Pilger share with Leninists is the idea is that a catastrophic crisis can bring 'freedom'. Just not if it allows ideological cliques to seize power in the name of the people and to accelerate progress through apocalyptic change and telescoping social and economic development into a short period.

That was the Bolshevik plan in 1917. It has little relevance to the global crisis today. For a start it was environmentally ruinous and depended on a dogmatic idea similar to that of neoliberal capitalism: that Man can Dominate Nature and make it his exclusive servant. Yet Chomsky shares this Enlightenment myth. Overpopulation never figures in his writing.

Much of what is wrong with radical left anti-capitalism of the kind advocated by Chomsky is that it shares many of the myths of progress that have been taken from liberal democracy and capitalism. That there can be a humanistic world of superabundance and the problem is that capitalism cannot share it equitably.

Most notably there is a distinct problem with the idea that 'we' can remake the world and its only 'false consciousness' and the illusions of the media and money power of 'the system' that decide otherwise. Since the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam protests of the 60s when Chomsky came to prominence, 'the system' has absorbed counter-culture successfully.

The only line left of Noam Chomsky, who still makes some brilliant points about US double standards in foreign policy is the ideal of anarcho-syndicalism that depend on the myth of revolution and of 'revolution betrayed' and 'deferred' by the increased sophistication of US corporate capitalism, admass society and the media machine.

New thinking about the world is necessary but real benefits can come only by ridding ourselves of illusory and burdensome hopes of a world that would be perfect if it were not for the dominance of one global system of capitalism-in Chomsky's view of the US's Imperial Elite having far more domination and control than it does.

In reality that does not exist: Chomsky like all Radical Enlightenment figures is Eurocentric and parochial in thinking that US Imperialism is the root cause of most of the globe's problems from inequality, to profligate consumerism, the arms race, racism and poverty. It depends upon three myths,

1) That the USA is and will continue to be dominant for the foreseeable future and that successful resistance against Empire will necessarily lead to freedom.

2) The reassuring thought that because the USA is an Empire and a formal democracy, global change could come from change within the USA.

3) Third World revolutionary movements , even of the Islamist type, offer the prospect of liberation for the poor and oppressed of the Middle East.

Chomsky is just another Cold War fossil who hasn't had much more of great interest to say since the Vietnam War, though his analysis of the role of a supposedly 'free media' in a liberal democratic capitalist state is still a necessary corrective to the idea that propaganda and media manipulation only occur under totalitarian regimes.

1 comment:

  1. As Chomsky points out, there's no rule which says that capital needs to be held in the hands of a small class of individuals. Throughout history, political-economies have developed and slowly but surely become more fair and equitable, and capitalism is but one stage on the road to progress. Further, I don't know about the U.S. being the 'root cause' of the world's ills, but it is a major impediment to overcoming them. It seems reasonable to say that a change in U.S. politics and foreign policy is a pre-requisite to a more democratic, peaceful and equitable world.