Top positive review
modern update on anarchism
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2014
Unless your interest in this book is purely academic analysis of political systems, I assume you have some leanings in its direction. If so, you know that anarchy has a bad rep; I've seen it equated with 'chaos' in crossword puzzles. Chomsky acknowledges this early on and refutes it; he takes us back to the original goals of anarchy, devoid of people who riot and throw bricks through windows, the goals of individual freedom, economic equality and democracy built from the ground up.
The book consists of five chapters; each taken from a previously published work. Although copyright 2013, the earliest chapter is from 1969, the latest @2002.
The first is an essay entitled 'Notes on Anarchism' and is just that; a wide variety of thoughts, with quotes from others, as to just what true anarchism is, and is not. The second chapter, excerpts from Understanding Power, is worth the price of the book. A question and answer session (Chomsky giving the answers) seemingly in a group setting with various people raising the essential questions of anarchism (tension of collectivism vs. individual freedom etc.) Chomsky gives a magnificent tour-de-force performance in replies. He also mentions the anarchy/chaos situation.
The third chapter is one of very heavy reading. Stating that the Spanish Revolution, 1936-37, is of great historical significance, Chomsky not only reviews the history of the 'people's revolution' which was crushed by those in power, but, citing numerous historians, questions whether or not their views coincided with reality as to what was happening. If you're not familiar with the named historians or their works, this is a tough read. However, if you bypass all of that and accept Chomsky's opinions, you will learn a lot regarding the Spanish Civil War and especially the entrenched power response to anarchists.
The fourth chapter is an interview with Harry Kreisler (of UC Berkeley), Chomsky is the interviewee; the effect is similar to chapters one and two, a variety of anarchist thoughts and concepts are discussed.
The last chapter is the transcript of a lecture given at Loyola University in 1970; Chomsky is a linguist so he is seemingly in his element as this address is entitled -Language and Freedom. But no, he raises the question as to just how language and freedom are related and admits, at the end, that he is still not sure but much intrigued by the association. An interesting essay which will challenge your thinking in many areas, but may also, answer many questions you have had in your pursuit of an understanding of anarchism.