Chomsky's anarchism

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Fri Oct 9 07:51:58 PDT 1998

> Later Chomsky distinguishes between those anarchists--like
> Kropotkin--who believed that anarchism fit best with a
> preindustrial setting, and those who believed that anarchism was
> "the proper mode of organization for a highly complex advanced
> industrial society." Chomsky sides with the latter tradition.

Uday, Thank you for the stimulating message.

A few years ago, I read this book by Moishe Postone, Time, Labor and Social Domination: a critical reinterpretation of Marx's critical theory.

Now he argues that industrialism is the specific manner in which capitalism develops the productive force. At a very high level of abstraction, he argues that the industrial mode of production itself would have to be transformed, not simply better organized as Chomsky seems to be suggesting. Large scale gigantic production, assembly lines, depletion of non renewable resources--all these things that seem to be an inevitable concommitant of man's mastery over nature through the industrialization of technique are indeed gears in the social machinery of the extraction of maximum quanta of surplus labor and would thus need to be dismantled and reconstructed in a classless society.

There are similar arguments in Phil Slater, ed. Outlines of a Critique of Technology and Alan B Carter, Marx: A Radical Critique. We also have Alfred Sohn Rethel's and Harry Braverman's critiques of Taylorism.

Postone's reinterpretation seems to capture the spirit of Marx's comments on the industrial system in the List critique (Postone also seems to have picked up on Marx's idea of the self abolition of hte proletariat from the German Ideology).

At any rate, PKT theorist extraordinaire Luigi Pasinetti has this queer idea that there is a natural industrial system the properties of which he can dilineate. He then uses this natural model of industrial society to investigate capitalism critically.

But for Postone, the idea of the industrial system as pre-existent to capitalism and valid for all modes of production would be absurd, fetishistic indeed. There is a lot to be thought through here.

best, rakesh

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