I'll have to always be grateful to Chomsky and his deconstruction of capitalism. But when it comes to the natural question "OK, what should we do about it?" Chomsky offers the wrong answer. It's something about forming unions, organizing the work place, from there workers councils and worker federations. No hierarchies. It sounds great to not have bossses, but it was hard to wrap my head around how this was really going to stop this freight train of capitalism, with all the weaponry of the US government. I just can't imagine a capitalist system would feel threatened by this.
There was an alternate model in places like the Soviet Union and China and these were perceived as a threat by the CIA and the US military. But those, according to Chomsky, are not REAL socialism. Those were horrible dungeons. Let's wait around for a more PURE socialism to emerge, with no coercion, no force, no hierarchies. Anarchism baby!! And if you look at our communities, we punch Nazis, we break windows, we have drugs, heavy metal, green hair, torn pants, ACAB, etc.
Is this message going to sound compelling to the bulk of the US population that we need to persuade? Are they going to be impressed with this model? Are they going to think it's reasonable that the Soviet Union really wasn't socialist and that real socialism is this idea that exists in Chomsky's head?
And what does this model have to show for it's accomplishments? That's the question I would be asked. Well there was free Spain for a few months, even though that was made up of a lot of different organizations, not just anarchists. There was some island in the North Atlantic that was anarchist. The Amish are kind of anarchist. This is seriously how I would respond.
Let's compare to that other style of socialism that Chomsky says is not REAL socialism. The Soviet Union was the poorest part of Europe in 1917, and then they got invaded by 15 different countries, including the US, which tried to kill socialism in its cradle. They beat back the invaders and then they industrialized faster than ever before, electrified the whole country, built the world's largest hydro-electric dam, became the leading producer of steel, of tractors, higher caloric consumption than Americans, and the food was more nutritious according to the CIA. They more than doubled life expectancy. They did most of the heavy lifting beating the Nazis, and yet after being totally destroyed by that war somehow they managed to end homelessness, end poverty, invent space travel, and all this despite a harsh embargo and needing to spend like crazy on defense to counter hostile outsiders. They also supported successful revolutionary movements outside of their borders, some of which saw death on a genocidal scale after the SU fell, just like death descended on Russia and other former Soviet states in the 90s.
Today the world's fastest growing economy is in China. In the last 40 years they have ended extreme poverty within their country. That's 800M people. Capitalist apologists like Steven Pinker and Bill Gates like to pretend capitalism is making life better because worldwide poverty is falling. Excluding China the number of people in poverty in the world is rising (though the rate is falling). In the midst of all of our technological advancements. Today it is China that has the world's largest hydro-electric dam. China managed covid better than any other country when you consider the difficult conditions in which they started. China does far and away the most to help other countries battling covid. The US hoards vaccines, China exports them (for which they are condemned in the US for their use of "soft power"). China would attempt to provide equipment for battling covid to other countries, the US would intercept them. China is leading the world in renewable energy, infrastructure development.
To top it off the Soviet people were happy with their governments. Chinese people are happy with their government. If the people were happy, if development was the best and fastest the world has ever seen you can see why this would be perceived as a threat to the US capitalist system.
So why is Chomsky such a prominent leftist if he has this bad take? The reason is because the CIA has sponsored him. Not the he knew that, but the CIA had a program called the Congress for Cultural Freedom. They knew that some people were going to figure out that capitalism sucked and socialism was the answer. How to sheep herd people like this into ineffective resistance to capitalism? Promote people that have the right criticisms of capitalism but the wrong solutions. And so they sponsored Chomsky. That's why we've heard of books like "Manufacturing Consent" but not "Inventing Reality" by Michael Parenti that apparently covers the same ground, some say does a better job, and he wrote this before Chomsky and Herman's book. Why have we not heard of Michael Parenti? Because he didn't pretend the Soviet Union wasn't socialist. He didn't like an idiot just fall for every lie told about the Soviet Union, lies that our own government tells us they propagate.
We have to be gracious to Chomsky though because in the 50s and 60s it was probably frightening to support the Soviet Union. But today it's really not so scary. We need to be better. And yet it seems Chomsky continues to side with the imperialists when it comes to actually existing socialist societies that are striving and usually succeeding at making the lives of their people better. In the case of Libya (maybe not socialist, but certainly anti-imperialist) while he did not think the west should intervene militarily he was generally supportive of the rebels and wanted to see Qaddafi out. This is the same pattern as the effect of the fall of the Soviet Union, which Chomsky called a "small victory for socialism." Libya boasted the highest life expectancy on the African continent, all kinds of programs that made life better for the people. People flocked to get in. Today they drown in the Mediterranean trying to get out, just as people fled the Soviet Union when it fell while also dying en masse, turning to the sex industry, drugs, alcohol, and crime. In Libya they are sold as slaves in open markets. I recall Chomsky expressing support for US troops in Syria. He's constantly attacking anti-imperialist states like Syria, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Venezuela. He's always been extremely hostile to supporters of BDS. Here's an interview where he gets very testy with a BDS supporter. At every turn where there's a real anti-imperialist movement he's crapping on it, it's not pure enough, it's not perfect enough. Nothing that could actually emerge in the real world that would resist capitalism is ever acceptable. Despite his deconstruction of capitalism, which is spot on, I'm sad to say I'm realizing Chomsky has been a great ally to capitalism by diverting anti-capitalist energy away from real solutions. Learn from his analysis, but look elsewhere for strategies to deal with the crisis we are in.