Tag: chomsky

On Chomsky: Are Libertarians Just Senseless Utopians?

Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

The libertarian tradition has been slowly but steadily growing in the United States since the 1970s. From Rothbard to Gary Johnson and from Ron Paul to John McAfee, the movement has been kept alive. Yet obviously, the libertarian social order doesn’t yet exist. The theoretical foundation is already here. Libertarians know what they want broadly speaking. The pragmatics of libertarianism, though, are in their infantile stage. Chomsky seems to think this is because libertarians believe in a senseless utopia.

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The Art of Pursuing Knowledge

Ian Brzeski | United States

Imagine a society where people did not strive to obtain knowledge, where people did not try and better themselves and society as a whole due to laziness or negligence. There would be no intellectual debate or discussion amongst peoples; there would not even be the high level of society we live in today. From generation to generation, society has progressed and there is no question about it. Life expectancy has gone up tremendously, and the impoverished are nowhere near the level of terrible poverty that they once endured. All of this progress comes from our desire to learn, our desire to improve, and our desire to make our lives easier and better. Without these desires, nobody would care about anything and we would have never achieved this progress. Without this desire, who knows where we would be at in society today. Would we still be stuck in the Dark Ages? Maybe it would be worse; perhaps we would still be neanderthals who have yet to invent the wheel.

The ability to learn is the most underappreciated and undervalued skill that people possess. Choosing to acquire knowledge in a particular subject is bound to shape who we are as a person. The saying “knowledge is power” holds a tremendous amount of weight. Knowledge opens up worlds of opportunity. It liberates our minds from the thinking of the masses. It allows us to think critically, analyze ideas, and develop our own conclusions from said ideas.  From the eagerness to learn comes knowledge and from knowledge comes wisdom.

The Importance of Reading

The best way to obtain knowledge is through reading. Reading is simply a wonder. Regardless of the subject matter, you can always learn something from a good piece of literature. Fiction, non-fiction, politics, sports, or history, the subject does not matter. Harvest the knowledge that comes from all these readings. There are always going to be facts to learn, concepts to grasp, morals to uncover, and ideas to critique through reading.

Reading a book may motivate you, relax you, give you information to better yourself as a person, or even give you random bits of information that you find interesting. No matter what you are reading, it will always help you. Reading poorly written books or conceptually poor books also have some benefit because you would be able to distinguish and analyze the faults of these books. If none of the prior reasons convinced you to pick up a book and start reading, remember that reading is overall inherently fun. When picking up a book, you never really know what to expect. The stories you read or the facts and opinions portrayed could be just full of surprises. Reading could change your life.

You are What You Read

What you choose to read stem from your interests and beliefs. If you read books and articles about politics and more specifically libertarianism, you are interested in politics and are probably a libertarian. While this claim is a given and is true most of the time, your interests and beliefs also stem from the books you read as long as you go into the book with an open mind. Reading with an open mind will help shape your political ideology and who you are. It will increase your understanding of different positions and mold you into a person who you would want to be.

When reading books about politics or political theory, it is just as important to read opposing views as it is to read the views you agree with or the ones you are most comfortable with. The books we read shape our persona and develop our livelihood and our way of thinking. Think about everything you can learn from reading. Think about the different viewpoints and understanding and knowledge you will obtain from reading your opposition. You will undoubtedly learn a lot and be incomparably more educated than the person who only reads Rothbard or the person who only reads Marx.

Read Differing Opinions

If you only read Marx or Baudrillard, you are still ignorant. If you only read Rothbard or Hoppe, you are still ignorant. This goes for anybody who reads only one side of things. These people will have no understanding of their political counterparts. They will sound stupid, ignorant, and hateful, inevitably leading to an abrupt halt to any political discussion. Civil discourse will be virtually nonexistent.

This is why it is so important to read your opposition. If we want to continue progressing as a society, we must be able to develop an understanding of different views and opinions. People must be prepared to understand and listen to different opinions if we want to maintain any civil discourse. Allowing for civil discourse makes way for a more transparent and more efficient exchange of information and ideas. Civil discourse will undoubtedly lead to a quicker progression in society.

Reading differing opinions is better than reading books with opinions in which you agree with. It will challenge your way of thinking while giving you more of an understanding of different opinions, making you more compassionate and sympathetic to people who think differently from you. Your critical thinking skills and levels of analysis will certainly improve by challenging your opinions and allow you to form your way of thinking in a more articulate manner.

Read Rothbard, read Marx, read Zizek, read Nozick, read Chomsky, read Orwell, and read Konkin. Read from all the brilliant minds who were able to develop and create discussion in politics. Especially read from the people who you disagree with or are maybe disgusted with. It is essential to do this in order to be able to formulate and strengthen your position. Keep on reading for the knowledge and wisdom that you will inevitably gain.


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An Ultra-Conservative Libertarian is No Libertarian at All

By James Sweet III | United States

The libertarian movement is one that encompasses a wide variety of ideologies. Whether you believe in communal ownership of property or the virtue of selfishness, you can still advocate for the center of governance to be more local than it currently is. Yet, a select group of libertarians refuses to believe this, seeing libertarianism as an “inherently” right-wing ideology. This group often holds traditionalist values and sees any left-leaning libertarian as a walking contradiction. They may also see these “hypocrites” as degenerate due to not emphasizing morals and values over the will of humans. How can one claim to be a libertarian when their primary goal is not to free the people, but to encase them in a narrow mindset with no respect for opposing cultures and views?

What’s an Ultra-Conservative Libertarian?

An ultra-conservative “libertarian” differs from a libertarian with a conservative lifestyle in the aspect that an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees their morals and policies as one and the same. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle believes their lifestyle is preferable to others but does not allow it to get in the way of furthering the movement of letting an individual decide their own life. For example, an ultra-conservative “libertarian” sees drugs and pornography as degenerative and that a libertarian society could not exist without these things being discouraged. A libertarian with a conservative lifestyle would refrain from engaging in this degenerative society but sees a libertarian society possible if some of their fellow individuals still decide to engage in this behavior. This distinction is essential, as I see myself as a libertarian with a traditionalist-leaning lifestyle. In no way do I see morality as a negative thing to hold close. Rather, having a strong set of morals is a good way to define one’s self.

Does Left-Wing Libertarianism Exist?

A prominent criticism of organizations like the Libertarian Party is that they allow libertarian socialists to be a part of the party. Ultra-conservative “libertarians” criticize the existence of this group, seeing them as detrimental to the existence of both the party and the liberty movement as a whole. They criticize the “degenerative” aspects of libertarian socialism, despite these “degenerative” tendencies actually being rooted in immature behavior or the lack of formality. This can exist in any person and is not reserved for libertarian socialists. The stripping of James Weeks on the stage of the Libertarian Party National Convention is often cited as an example of this “degenerative libertarian socialist behavior.”

One can be a libertarian socialist, but to understand how, one must look beyond the ideological label. If one believes in the use of government force as a way to achieve libertarian socialism, then the likelihood of them truly being a libertarian has hit the floor. If one is a disciple of Noam Chomsky or other like-minded individuals and sees the tyranny of both the state and corporations as something that should be thrown away, then it is likely that you are a libertarian socialist. Noam Chomsky sees the views of Adam Smith as more egalitarian than what the typical American libertarian would believe. According to his interpretation of Adam Smith’s works (like The Wealth of Nations), a man should not subjugate himself to unjust authority in the form of the government and the corporations that exploit the value of a human. He argues that equality could exist under completely free markets and absolute liberty, but yet he differs from the typical laissez-faire capitalist. Chomsky argues that modern-day corporations go against libertarian values, as those in charge will hold on to their wealth and power similar to the way corrupt politicians do.

There is much more to libertarian socialism than what I just described, and I will admit that I have not read libertarian socialist literature. Yet, from what Noam Chomsky has said, it is rational to infer that the difference between a libertarian socialist and a right-wing libertarian is the enemy they see in society. A right-wing libertarian sees the state as the most corrupt institution that exists and should be restrained as much as possible in an attempt to minimize its influence in the lives of the individual. A libertarian socialist might agree with this but believes the state is not alone in its faults. A libertarian socialist, for the reason stated previously, believes that the 21st-century corporation is at fault for many problems as well and that they should not be spared from criticism. Yet, both libertarian socialists and right-wing libertarians want to reduce the power of the state, and they split when it comes to what they do once the state is reduced or abolished. Do they rely on corporations, or do they rely on voluntary, communal sharing of goods under a free and equal market that is unobstructed by the corruption of suits and ties?

Libertarian socialists, like Noam Chomsky himself, can still oppose engaging in unnecessary foreign conflicts, as well as call for the end of the Federal Reserve, War on Drugs, and market regulations. They can even call themselves conservative, as Chomsky himself did. So why do ultra-conservative “libertarians” deny the legitimacy of this group despite not having an ideological split with them until far down the road, when the government is heavily reduced or flat out abolished?

The Tyranny of the Mind

The mind of a human is one’s greatest ally but can also serve as the silent, unknown enemy. We think with our mind, and our decisions arise from there. Ultra-conservative “libertarians”, whether knowingly or not, want to control the minds of others. This form of tyranny is worse than both the state and the corporations combined, as they wish to change the course of an individual’s life that was already chosen by themselves. The higher authority, the Big Brother, is not a man or woman, but rather the ideas that the ultra-conservative relies upon. By influencing the morality and attempting to control the actions of a conscious, is one not engaging in tyranny? Can one truly consent to have their beliefs and opinions changed by another man’s personal principles? Listening and deciding to change your ways through civil discussion is not what I am describing here. The constant ridicule and discrediting of opposing ideas by ultra-conservative “libertarians” is what I am arguing against, as breaking down another man’s brain and building it up with your own beliefs is not freedom. It is the most dangerous form of tyranny that has existed on this planet. A libertarian does not enforce their ideas on another person, whether through the state, corporations, or the breakdown of the mind.


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