Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Professor Noam Chomsky: 'America Is Not a Democracy'

Source:The Film Archives- MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

"Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talked about his book, On Anarchism, in which he examines the political ideology of anarchism, from its history and early proponents to the author’s thoughts on its current usage and practicality. Noam Chomsky spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts." 


"In practice Chomsky has tended to emphasize the philosophical tendency of anarchism to criticize all forms of illegitimate authority. He has been reticent about theorizing an anarchist society in detail, although he has outlined its likely value systems and institutional framework in broad terms. According to Chomsky, the variety of anarchism which he favors is:

    ... a kind of voluntary socialism, that is, as libertarian socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or communist anarchist, in the tradition of, say, Bakunin and Kropotkin and others. They had in mind a highly organized form of society, but a society that was organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally, they meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from those two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization which might be national or even international in scope. And these decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return, and in which, in fact, they live.

On the question of the government of political and economic institutions, Chomsky has consistently emphasized the importance of grassroots democratic forms. Accordingly, current Anglo-American institutions of representative democracy "would be criticized by an anarchist of this school on two grounds. First of all because there is a monopoly of power centralized in the state, and secondly – and critically – because the representative democracy is limited to the political sphere and in no serious way encroaches on the economic sphere."

Chomsky believes anarchism is a direct descendant of liberalism, further developing the ideals of personal liberty and minimal government of the Enlightenment.[20] He views libertarian socialism thus as the logical conclusion of liberalism, extending its democratic ideals into the economy, making anarchism an inherently socialist philosophy." 

"On Anarchism provides the reasoning behind Noam Chomsky's fearless lifelong questioning of the legitimacy of entrenched power. In these essays, Chomsky redeems one of the most maligned ideologies, anarchism, and places it at the foundation of his political thinking. Chomsky's anarchism is distinctly optimistic and egalitarian. Moreover, it is a living, evolving tradition that is situated in a historical lineage; Chomsky's anarchism emphasizes the power of collective, rather than individualist, action. The collection includes a revealing new introduction by journalist Nathan Schneider, who documented the Occupy movement for Harper's and The Nation, and who places Chomsky's ideas in the contemporary political moment. On Anarchism will be essential listening for a new generation of activists who are at the forefront of a resurgence of interest in anarchism - and for anyone who struggles with what can be done to create a more just world." 

Source:Amazon- Noam Chomsky's book

From Amazon

"Noam Chomsky: America is not a Democracy"

Source:CSPAN- MIT Professor Noam Chomsky.

"Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, romanized: dēmokratiā, from dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule'[1]) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy"). Who is considered part of "the people" and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different rates in different countries, but over time more and more of a democratic country's inhabitants have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly, association, property rights, freedom of religion and speech, inclusiveness and equality, citizenship, consent of the governed, voting rights, freedom from unwarranted governmental deprivation of the right to life and liberty, and minority rights.

The notion of democracy has evolved over time considerably. The original form of democracy was a direct democracy. The most common form of democracy today is a representative democracy, where the people elect government officials to govern on their behalf such as in a parliamentary or presidential democracy" 

From Wikipedia 

"Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that is sceptical of authority and rejects all involuntary, coercive forms of hierarchy.[1] Anarchism calls for the abolition of the state, which it holds to be unnecessary, undesirable, and harmful. As a historically left-wing movement, placed on the farthest left of the political spectrum, it is usually described alongside communalism and libertarian Marxism as the libertarian wing (libertarian socialism) of the socialist movement, and has a strong historical association with anti-capitalism and socialism." 

From Wikipedia 

The Right likes to say that America is not a democracy, but a republic. The Far-Left (or left-wing, if you prefer) likes to say that America is not a democracy either, but for different reasons. America isn't their version of democracy, which is a majoritarian, social democracy, with a large, centralized, national state, where the chief executive would be elected by either the Congress, or House of Representatives in Congress, or directly elected by the people without an Electoral College. 

The Right is right (so to speak) that America is not a majoritarian, social democracy. We don't do everything by majority rule or vote. Our constitutional and individual rights can't be thrown out simply because you have one more vote in the House and one more in the Senate and a President that signs the bills that throws at least one of our individual rights out. Everything that Congress and the President does has to be constitutional, whether it's popular or not. 

But if you go by the Wikipedia definition of democracy (check above) America meets most of the components that you see in most democracies. The people elect their legislators and executives. We have a free press and guaranteed right to free speech. We have property rights that can't be taken away by a majority vote in Congress and a presidential signature. Actually, none of our constitutional rights can be taken away by Congress and the President. We have freedom of religion. America is a pluralistic country where everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender, has the same constitutional rights as everyone else. 

I think of America is a liberal democratic, constitutional republic, based on the values of liberal democracy and classical liberalism (meaning the real liberalism) but we're not the social democracy that leftists want and perhaps we'll never be. 

Liberal Democrat

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