Chomsky on capitalism and libertarian socialism.

QUESTION: What then do you really think the goals of society must be?

CHOMSKY: Personally I’m in favor of democracy, which means that the central institutions in the society have to be under popular control. Now, under capitalism we can’t have democracy by definition. Capitalism is a system in which the central institutions of society are in principle under autocratic control. Thus, a corporation or an industry is, if we were to think of it in political terms, fascist; that is, it has tight control at the top and strict obedience has to be established at every level — there’s a little bargaining, a little give and take, but the line of authority is perfectly straightforward. Just as I’m opposed to political fascism, I’m opposed to economic fascism. I think that until major institutions of society are under the popular control of participants and communities, it’s pointless to talk about democracy. In this sense, I would describe myself as a libertarian socialist — I’d love to see centralized power eliminated, whether it’s the state or the economy, and have it diffused and ultimately under direct control of the participants. Moreover, I think that’s entirely realistic. Every bit of evidence that exists (there isn’t much) seems to show, for example, that workers’ control increases efficiency. Nevertheless, capitalists don’t want it, naturally; what they’re worried about is control, not the loss of productivity or efficiency…

QUESTION: How do you view the possible transition of the economic system to libertarian socialism?

CHOMSKY: One can imagine it happening by a series of very radical reforms, imagining it happening by social revolution, but it would be a fundamental change in the nature of social organization however it happens. I don’t think it’s very likely to happen unless there’s at the very least considerable awareness of the possibility of another kind of organization and a real commitment to achieve on the part of a large mass of the population — of course, that’s nothing like the case here. And the universities and other ideological institutions are working very hard to prevent it from being the case. This is the respect in which they are very loyal servants of the corporate state. For example, the questions that I’ve just been discussing aren’t dealt with in the university curriculum. To my knowledge, up to until about two or three years ago, I know of one book on workers’ control in the United States, a very hostile one. In the last two or three years, again as a result of the activity of the 60s, there has been a little discussion that will subside if the ferment subsides.

QUESTION: All the Communist revolutions have been in basically non-capitalist societies.

CHOMSKY: I don’t think they’re communist revolutions. I think what are called communist revolutions are authoritarian — are revolutions of development that introduce structures which are politically authoritarian and socially egalitarian, and basically they take a do-it-yourself kind of approach to development. That’s what we call “communist.” It has nothing to do with what we call communist in the tradition of Western European socialism, so I don’t think there are any communist revolutions, at least in the traditional sense.

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