Noam Chomsky and the Anarchist Tradition

  • Benjamin J. Pauli
Part of the Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought book series (CEPT)


The relationship of Noam Chomsky to the anarchist tradition is a matter of some controversy. On one end of the spectrum are those—usually self-identified anarchists—who maintain that Chomsky is not an anarchist at all. The corollary of this claim is generally that Chomsky is something else masquerading as an anarchist—a Marxist, perhaps, or a liberal (Woodcock, 1974; Zerzan, 2002). On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who believe that Chomsky ranks among the elite members of the anarchist canon, as exemplified by Carlos Otero’s contention that ‘Chomsky’s anarchism … appears to be the most developed conception of anarchism to date, and the deepest and best founded intellectually speaking’ (Otero, 2003: 29). If the former assessment is coloured by a certain amount of resentment that Chomsky, the mild-mannered and pragmatic intellectual, has become the de facto standard-bearer for a tradition that prides itself on fire-breathing radicalism, the latter has surely been embellished by the adulatory tone struck all too frequently by Chomsky’s admirers.


Human Nature Historical Context Political Ideal Human Freedom Public Intellectual 
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© Benjamin J. Pauli 2015

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  • Benjamin J. Pauli

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