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Summary

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.

©2013 Noam Chomsky; Introduction 2013 Nathan Schneider (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about On Anarchism

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First Chomsky will not be the last

Noam Chomsky is one of those names that I have heard quoted by intellectual types for a while now. I do not consider myself to be particularly intellectual or academic so it was with some trepidation that I downloaded "On Anarchism". Well it is less than 5 hours long so I did not think it would be beyond me to concentrate on. I had recently listened to Orwell's excellent Homage to Catalonia and the background of the story of the anarchist struggle during the Spanish Civil War served as a useful backdrop to Chomsky.
This book is a bit of a hotchpotch of essays, interviews and seemingly random ideas on the subject of Anarchism that complement each other and form a coherent and interesting perspective of the concept of nation states and the use of power by their leaders. As fundamentally a linguist, Chomsky has a unique take on the terminology used by nation states regarding the use and misuse of authority to assert their power.
Noam Chomsky is undoubtedly one of the greatest original thinkers of our time and I now want to explore more of his works.

14 people found this helpful

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For anyone who wants to understand anarchism.

A goood introduction to anarchism. Marking fun of ancaps was a very welcomed surprise = )).

6 people found this helpful

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Lazy, Rambling, Unpersuasive

This is on of the laziest and least persuasive books I've ever read on the topic of Anarchism. Rather than offering a discursive positive argument, all Chomsky did was cobble together a collection of Q&A transcripts and tangentially related essays already written. The only reason he gets 3 stars is for the research on the Spanish Civil War and a handful of interesting insights on Humboldt and Rousseau.

6 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking

The prevailing cultural understanding of 'anarchism' is a superficial one at best, more closely summarised as "chaos". Chomsky in this work describes a view of anarchism more closely related to libertarian socialism and founded on the principles that any power structure must justify its necessity or be dismantled. From modern examples such as the Kibbutz he also traces back to the anarcho syndicalism of the Spanish civil war (1936) and looks at how these ideas were briefly implemented and then crushed from both left and right. Overall a very interesting viewpoint and thought provoking alternative to authoritarian state power.

5 people found this helpful

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Boring monotone

I struggled to finish this book, the narrator lacked enthusiasm for the subject matter and had a rather laborious monotone though out his narrator-ship of this book

I won't be listening to this book again.

underwhelming overall.

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Good book, narrated badly

This is a very good book. Sadly The narrator was not good in any way.

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Dreadful Narration

Dreadful narration; interesting points. Narration is easily the worst I’ve ever listened to. A shame.

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Not recommended.

The narration is dry and monotone, nothing like the sample.More problematically almost two hours of this is his interpretation of the Spanish civil war. To the best of my knowledge, the main theme is that he thinks historians has been unfair to Spanish anarchist citing George orwell's and other historians' work. He went straight into his interpretation without explaining anything about that historical period, if you are not already familiar with that history, you will not understand anything in this part. The rest of this audio book is just his yaping about freedom.I dislike his way of arguing for the importance of freedom, often using very emotive language, without making any sense. It sounds impressive, but if you stop to think about it, it doesn't really make any sense.how would anarchism work in real life? What would the societal structure be like?Why is freedom the most important quality or principle?He offers no explanation for this. And believe he shouldn't be asked to offered any explanation. He believes that we all should restructure our society according to this supreme Principle that is freedom without any concern for the consequences, or without any plan for what the society would be like. Its a very extremist view.

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Rambling old man

Chomsky's utopian ideas are all based on the supposition that all humans are sovereign and that dominance hierarchies are artificial constructs rather than natural ones. It would indeed be great if we could have a truly egalitarian society, but man's need for leadership and the dynamics of sexual selection through competition prohibit this. Hence a society like that could only be established through coercion, which is exactly what we saw happen in the USSR for instance (but no this is not TRUE communism. Well, I say it most definitely is)

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it's short it's important listen to it

this is a very important piece of political theory from a very smart man. Give it the time it deserves.

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  • Jacob King
  • 18-06-14

Hit and Miss

What is not made clear anywhere in the description of the book is that this is a collection of pieces, often excerpts from longer works, including interviews and book reviews where Chomsky talks about anarchism. It is not analytic or deeply thought through; the inclusion criteria seems to be if Chomsky mentions anarchism in the text then it is in. It is also quite often repetitive - not on Chomsky's part but if he wants to quote the same passage from Humboldt at different points across a thirty year period it is probably up to an editor to not to collect all those quotations together.

Some of the pieces are better than others - the middle section on the Spanish civil war is the most interesting but is a review of a book that probably no one has read since the sixties so it is not the best anarchist history of that time period. The final essay on "Language and Freedom" is hampered by Chomsky clearly working to a commission and not really being sure of what the topic is supposed to be about.

This is still worth listening to, Chomsky is a clear and interesting thinker and the reader does a good job with the material, but as a curiosity. You need to know going in that this book is not intended to be in any way a definitive statement on anarchism by Chomsky but is a collection of lesser writing by a third party.

Also introduction is unrelated to the book and has already dated more than anything else here.

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  • Armen Pandola
  • 24-04-14

Chomsky Delivers - Again

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If you are interested in the history of anarchism and its place in the modern world, you will enjoy this in depth account of anarchism. Chomsky puts on his scholor's cap and dissects the anarchist movement in modern times.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Chomsky takes issue with those who believe that anarchism and effective state action are opposed to each other. He sees anarchism as fitting in with an enlightened socialism.

Have you listened to any of Eric Martin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This is a book that makes you think - and then think again.

Any additional comments?

Chomsky has gotten such a bad rap as some kind of extreme nut that rarely do people take the time to notice that he is one of the greatest political, social and philosophical thinkers of our time. He has always been spot on in his criticism of our - and other - governments when they trample on international law, people's rights and - most importantly - trample on the best tool we have for understanding even the most complex problems - our reason.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick Daoust
  • 26-03-16

very interesting book

Overall this book is very inspiring and opens the imagination to ways of thinking that are almost never presented in the public discourse. Different chapters have different styles, some from talks or one on one interviews. The sections on interpretations of the Spanish civil war are a bit dry - i.e. presented in a formal and academic manner, but nonetheless very rigorous and interesting.

5 people found this helpful

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  • shaleg
  • 20-01-15

Juvenile

Any additional comments?

This is a great read for anyone who is completely unfamiliar with the nature of man, an understanding of their own ambitions and/or an unwillingness to accept personal accountability. Hooray for the finger-pointers, those who must be offended and liberal hypocrisy!

I found myself laughing out loud at Chomsky who enriches himself while excoriating others who have similar personal ambitions. Only a sophomore from an upper middle class family could be influenced, however briefly, by this demonization of owner's of capital - the only people standing between true utopia and modern slavery.

Shame on Chomsky for amassing his wealth on the backs of young idealists while encouraging them to build a commune-based society. Kind of like a plantation owner prosthelytizing about becoming independent.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-06-19

Must Read!

"Anarchism deserves better than to be a mere curiosity, or a blank slate, or an overlapping consensus among newly minted radicals who have trouble agreeing on anything else. It is better than that! It is overdue for serious consideration."* I have struggled with being a democrat, republican, libertarian and socialist. I agreed with bits and pieces here and there but ultimately rejected them as labels I would use to identify myself. However, I have always been an anarchist; It has always felt right. The older I get the more I understand and the more I reject what I find morally repugnant and harmful. Freedom isn't an abstract concept that governments need to make tangible somehow. Also, the government should not ever be in control of the means of production; The people who produce and consume the goods should be. Ever wonder, "How did things get so convoluted and messed up?" Why must we sacrifice what makes us human just to get by? Why do you automatically assume the worst when you hear the word "anarchy"? *Chomsky, Noam. On Anarchism. Penguin Books, 2014

4 people found this helpful

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  • James L Gleeson
  • 10-03-17

The American Misunderstanding of Anarchism

A must read for every American citizen to understand the true nature of our so called democratic government and our freedom

4 people found this helpful

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  • Loomityy
  • 11-05-20

A must-have introduction to Anarchism!

This book gives great insight to the ideals, hopes and aspirations of the most misubderstood of political ideologies

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hildegard
  • 12-01-20

Fascinating

It’s Chomsky. What else needs to be said? I learned so much about anarchism, the ideal of anarchism, and the bastardization of the term in modern times. I will definitely be listening to this again. So much wisdom to glean.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vilmaldor
  • 09-08-18

Not what was expected

It was good but not what I expected, the book circled mainly around the Spanish revolution. This was my first book I've tried from chomsky but I'm willing to try others of his.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tianguis Trader
  • 13-09-17

Chomsky' "On Anarchism" is on point

A must read. I would recommend for any human being to read this. One of the greatest thinkers of our time.

1 person found this helpful