--- Appendix C ---

Excerpts from and criticism of:
"On the anarchist outlook of Noam Chomsky"

Excerpts from (and criticism of) an article
showing how the anarchist ideology is strongly rooted
in idealized (and impossible) conceptions
of an economy based on small-scale capitalism.

This article can be found online here. I have added boldface and a larger font for some of the stronger (and a few of the weaker) sentences, deleted footnotes and added a few comments (clearly marked) of my own

I should note that the author of the article, the Communist Voice Organization (CVO), unfortunately shares many of the problems common to sectarian groups based on cargo-cult Leninism:

  1. A distrust of political transparency manifested in an inability
    to respond to or deal with public criticism
  2. An inability to confront the crisis of theory that has paralyzed the revolutionary movement--and, in particular, an inability to recognize the importance of understanding the relationship between democracy and democratic rights and the decisive role that democractic rights will play in: (a) future, post-bourgeois, society and (b) revolutionary organizations which aspire to be deserving of the respect and attention of the working class.
In spite of the problems of the group which wrote it, however, the article is extremely valuable.

-- Ben Seattle March 16, 2004

Anarchism as unwitting support of the market:
On the anarchist outlook of Noam Chomsky
by Mark (a supporter of the CVO)  November 27, 2000

[ ... ]

In his writings, Chomsky expresses outrage against the capitalist 
system. He attacks "capitalism", "the market", and the "wage-labor 
system". He speaks in favor of a socialist society without "private 
ownership of the means of production" or any government apparatus. 
No doubt these are worthy goals. But what is capitalism according 
to Chomsky? He thinks it's merely the big corporations kept alive 
by the government. As Chomsky puts it: 

    "What is called 'capitalism' is basically a system
    of corporate mercantilism, with huge and largely
    unaccountable private tyrannies exercising vast
    control over the economy, political systems, and
    social and cultural life, operating in close
    cooperation with powerful states that intervene
    massively in the domestic economy and international
    society."(x) 

The dominance of powerful private monopolies and state intervention 
on their behalf is an undeniable feature of modern capitalism. But 
there are also small capitalist businesses and farmers. Capitalist 
relations have developed among vast sections of the peasantry around 
the world, reflected in class divisions between rich and poor peasants. 
This occurs not only in private capitalist economies, but also where 
there have been communal forms such as in the "ejidos" of Mexico or 
the agricultural collectives in China. Wherever production of goods 
for the market becomes extensive, capitalism takes root. But Chomsky 
doesn't recognize small-scale capitalism. So time and again he ends 
up unwittingly supporting it. Thus, he winds up supporting the famous 
advocate of the free-market, Adam Smith, who wrote at a time when 
market production was still dominated by small producers, as 
anti-capitalist. 

Such stands of Chomsky are in line with the general anarchist vision. 
Anarchism promises that all the evils of capitalism will be overcome 
if only government is eliminated and society is composed of small 
autonomous groups, which perhaps might be loosely federated with one 
another.  

But anarchism, no matter what the wishes of
its proponents, is doomed to fail because
it does not recognize that in its future society
the economic transactions between its autonomous
groups will be subject to the laws of the market
just as certainly as the transactions that
take place between buyers and sellers today.
With this, the division between rich and poor 
will also eventually arise, along with money, 
class oppression and a state to enforce 
the privileges of the rich.

[ ... ]

while some anarchists may actually try to organize the masses, 
anarchist ideology introduces anti-organizational tendencies 
that will only weaken efforts to build a revolutionary class 
movement capable of destroying capitalism.
Comment # 1 by Ben:

The sentence above is true but it also ignores the reason that so many activists have embraced these anti-organizational tendencies: So many groups which call themselves "revolutionary" have used organization to impose "group-think" on activists, discourage independent thought and build sectarian cults--that few good examples exist of well-organized revolutionary groups.

[ ... ]

Adam Smith: Profit-seeking is good for the whole society

Chomsky's views shows the close affinity between anarchist ideology 
and classical free-market theory. Chomsky believes the most famous 
theorist of free-market economics, Adam Smith, represents a sort of 
nascent anti-capitalist anarchism. He says that 

    "my personal visions are fairly traditional
    anarchist ones, with origins in the Enlightenment
    and classical liberalism" 

and Smith is one of the figures of classical liberalism 
that he adores.(x)
Comment # 2 by Ben:

When I first saw the claim (above) that Chomsky "adores" Adam Smith I was highly skeptical--in particular since the CVO has a history of distorting the truth whenever it can get away with it. However a careful reading of this article has led me to conclude that this claim may be completely accurate.

Smith's best-known work, The Wealth of Nations, was written in 1776. 
The bourgeoisie at this time was still engaged in battling feudal 
regimes and restrictions on their development. Under the banner of 
establishing "natural liberty," Smith's work proposes measures that 
would promote the free development of capitalism. By "natural," Smith 
implied that the bourgeois relations of production which he sought to 
assist were in line with the laws of nature. Hence, in contrast, 
previous economic systems were artificial, while bourgeois relations 
were supposedly as eternal as nature itself. For Smith "natural 
liberty" meant the end of government efforts to assist economic 
activity in any particular direction or place restrictions on it. 
Thus, "natural liberty" was defined as follows: 

    "the sovereign is completely discharged from
    a duty, in the attempting to perform which
    he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, 
    and for the proper performance of which no human 
    wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient; the 
    duty of superintending the industry of private 
    people, and of directing it towards the employments 
    most suitable to the interests of society."(x) 

As opposed to the government interfering to decide what would be best 
for the economy, Smith advocated that society benefited by having 
production in whatever sector was most profitable. He did not deny 
this system of production would be motivated by the self-interest of 
each producer. But he thought that independent of the intentions of 
the profit-seekers, the interests of society as a whole, and not just 
the capitalists, would automatically be served. This was the supposed 
wonder-working "invisible hand" that Smith is known for. Here's an 
example of how Smith explained this, although here he does not use the 
phrase "invisible hand": 

    "Every individual is continually exerting
    himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever
    capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not
    that of the society, which he has in view. But the study of his
    own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily, leads him to
    prefer employment which is most advantageous to the society."(x) 

Smith recognized certain evils that were starting to develop even in 
the early capitalism that he described. But Smith thought these ills 
would just be temporary, and since he wrote during an early period of 
capitalism, before the very sharp class contradictions between the 
proletariat and the bourgeoisie had fully developed, it was possible 
to imagine it was so. Karl Marx aptly noted that 

    "Economists like Adam Smith and Ricardo [David Ricardo, whose main 
    work was written about 40 years after Smith's Wealth of Nations
    -- Mark], who are the historians of this epoch [of the bourgeoisie 
    fighting for supremacy against feudal conditions -- Mark] have no
    other mission than that of showing how wealth is acquired in
    bourgeois production relations, of formulating those relations
    into categories, into laws, and of showing how superior those
    laws, these categories, are for the production of wealth to the
    laws and categories of feudal society. Poverty is in their eyes
    merely the pang which accompanies every childbirth, in nature as
    in industry.(x) 
    
Adam Smith as Chomsky's nascent anarchist 

Given Smith's promotion of bourgeois relations, how is it that Chomsky 
considers him a forerunner of anti-capitalist anarchism? He sees in 
Smith merely the good things Smith thought would happen if only the 
government stayed out of the way of each producer doing their own 
thing and ignores the bourgeois nature and the actual workings of the 
economic relations that Smith was promoting Thus, Chomsky is excited 
about Smith for 

    "offering nuanced arguments for markets on the grounds that under 
    'perfect liberty' there should be a natural tendency towards
    equality, a condition for efficient market function."(x) 

As we have seen, Smith's "liberty" was to allow each producer to be 
free to pursue profit without government interference or assistance. 
But Chomsky avoids mentioning that according to Smith, the proper goal 
of each producer was profit. He only highlights that equality was the 
goal that was to be achieved by "perfect liberty." By avoiding the 
specific class nature of the economic relations that Smith supported, 
Chomsky can reinterpret Smith's phrases about liberty and equality to 
mean whatever he desires. Thus, Chomsky takes Smith's criticism of 
various horrors that were arising, like concentration of wealth and 
power and the subjection of workers to a mind-numbing type of 
production under capitalist division of labor, as sufficient to 
declare Smith a founding father of anti-capitalist anarchism, as 
opposition to bourgeois production relations themselves. But as we 
have seen, Smith argued that the ills of capitalism were merely a 
brief inconvenience on the way to universal harmony. 

Smith's glorification of small producers carrying out free 
transactions among themselves is music to Chomsky's anarchist ears. 
So he never bothers to question Smith's view that small producers 
pursuing their own designs would give rise to equality.

But starting from small, relatively equal 
producers, what did the market actually give 
rise to? It led not to equality, but to some 
producers growing stronger at the expense of 
the others, to a wiping out of the weaker 
capitalists, and to the concentration of 
production in the hands of a relative handful 
of monopolies. Smith's market lead not to 
universal well-being, but to the creation of 
a new oppressed class, the proletariat, 
suffering at the hands of the capitalist 
exploiters. Chomsky confuses the relative 
equality that existed between the producers 
at an early stage of capitalism with a 
so-called "natural tendency" of the market.

Smith wanted no capitalist to get an advantage over the other via 
government assistance. Thus, he was against the huge firms with 
Crown-granted monopolies of his day. Get rid of such privileged 
monopolies, and in that sense each business would be equal. As well, 
in Smith's time, despite the Crown-granted trading monopolies, 
production itself was still dominated by smaller entrepreneurs, not 
the giant industrial enterprises that eventually developed out of 
market competition. So in that sense as well, there was relative 
equality between producers.

But the tendency of capitalism was not toward 
equality, but toward creating huge gaps between 
the entrepreneurs both within a given country 
and between rich and poor countries. 

But rather than examine the true workings of the production relations 
described by Smith, Chomsky stresses that Smith has little in common 
with later economists who Chomsky considers as pro-capitalist because 
they insist on portraying in graphic detail how the capitalists, of 
necessity, ruin the working masses and each other. 

Let's look at one striking example of how Chomsky pretends there is 
nothing in common between Smith and later pro-capitalist economists. 
This involves Chomsky's reaction to certain statements by Nobel 
Prize-winning economist James Buchanan. (Buchanan is a conservative 
free-market economist with no relation to Pat Buchanan.) Buchanan 
states that 

    "Any person's ideal situation is one that allows him full freedom
    of action and inhibits the behavior of others so as to force 
    adherence to his own desires. That is to say, each person seeks 
    mastery over a world of slaves."(x) 

Chomsky's reaction is to declare that this statement by Buchanan is 
"a thought that Adam Smith would have considered pathological". But 
what exactly is it in Buchanan's views that upsets Chomsky? Chomsky 
isn't upset about the notion of complete freedom for the individual 
because that's the anarchist ideal. Chomsky is not pleased with the 
idea that full freedom for the individual means pursuing only their 
"own desires". But if so, he is arguing not only with Buchanan, but 
also Adam Smith who advocated that freedom to pursue economic 
self-interest for each person was the path to the best society. No 
doubt Chomsky is upset because Buchanan's general portrayal of 
complete market freedom is not a genteel pursuit of self-interest 
with each producer scarcely affecting the other, but a war of 
attrition. Buchanan depicts a ruthless struggle of each participant 
in the market to conquer the other, to crush one's competitors there, 
and pursue "mastery over a world of slaves." Buchanan's ideal 
situation certainly sounds very brutal. Chomsky, who does not want 
such a brutal society, thus cries out in horror against Buchanan. 
But as disgusting as Buchanan's ideal seems, it is an apt description 
of what actually happens in the market. Even the best-intentioned 
entrepreneur soon learns that the pursuit of their self-interest is 
impossible without doing damage to their competitors, and using every 
means at their disposal to do so. Chomsky fumes at Buchanan, because 
Buchanan, in his own crude way, spells out just where Smith's economic 
relations actually leads.(x) 

For Chomsky, the way Smith's free-market really operates is of little 
importance. What matters is what Smith thought should be the results 
of the developing capitalist order he described.

In short, what attracts Chomsky to Smith 
is Smith's idealization of early capitalism 
under the banner of liberty and equality.

It is no wonder that Chomsky sees anarchist ideals here. Smith had 
illusions that the relatively small capitalist firms of his day, free 
from state restrictions on commerce, would lead to a harmonious world.

The anarchists curse capitalism, but hold 
that an economy based on transactions between 
independent, autonomous producers freed from 
any governance, will end oppression.

The anarchist Chomsky embraces Smith's idealization of the market 
because, in reality, the future society of the anarchist is idealized 
market relations. 

Does state intervention negate economic laws? 

Chomsky's chafing at those who point out the inevitability of 
capitalism mistreating the masses is connected to a series of basic 
anarchist prejudices. Anti-capitalist anarchists do not like what 
they see of capitalism, but they see the state as the root cause of 
oppression, not the underlying economic relations. (Not all anarchists 
are anti-capitalist. There are also individualist-anarchists who 
simply want to unchain capitalism from the state, some even calling 
themselves anarcho-capitalists.) Chomsky objects to any talk of 
economic laws and promotes that how the economy develops is basically 
a matter of what the state decides to do. This can be seen in the 
following quote, in which Chomsky denounces David Ricardo, a proponent 
of capitalist economy who, nonetheless, made important advances in 
understanding its inner workings, such as that the source of profit 
was the unpaid surplus labor of the workers. Ricardo and other 
economists are attacked merely for claiming there are laws by which 
capitalism operates and not believing the state was the root cause of 
every major feature of capitalism. Chomsky, after giving examples of 
how capitalism doesn't meet "human needs," and thus is a "failure" 
for all but "a narrow sector of privilege" says: 

    "These developments are commonly attributed to inexorable market 
    forces -- immutable, like the principles of gravitation, David 
    Ricardo argued during an earlier exercise of ideological warfare. 
    Analysts then divide over the contribution of international trade,
    automation and other factors. Putting aside the absurdity of
    comparing human institutions, with their specific values and 
    choices, to laws of nature, there is an element of deception in 
    all of this. The alleged efficiencies of trade and automation are
    hardly attributable to the market. Huge state subsidy and
    intervention has always been required. . .."(9) 

Let's look at the contention that without the state, capitalist 
development would have come to nothing. That capitalism can develop 
according to definite laws on its own accord without the state, and 
even with the resistance of the state, is shown by the history of the 
bourgeoisie's development as a class.

Under feudalism there was also a state, 
but a state that choked capitalist development 
through guild restrictions, innumerable local 
customs barriers, etc. Despite that, the
bourgeoisie kept gaining in economic strength, 
became a powerful force in society, and where 
it became strong enough, it rid itself of the
old state and built a new one serving its needs.

This capitalist state tries to maintain and regulate the present 
system. But for all its efforts, it has hardly overcome the market. 
Even with today's domination by monopolies and with much state 
intervention, anarchy of production reigns, albeit in new forms. 
It's true the capitalists need the state as a means to maintain 
the present economic relations. But the increased reliance on 
the state for economic bailouts and keeping rebellions down only 
shows that capitalist development has given rise to new economic 
forces it cannot control and a vast expansion of the proletariat 
that struggles against it.

It demonstrates that the economic laws are 
more powerful than the will of any capitalist 
or the power of any state.

Far from this meaning that the toilers are doomed to perpetual 
oppression by inexorable laws, these laws are creating the conditions 
for a new social system. This new system will be marked by social 
ownership of the means of production, which will be in harmony with 
the already social character of large-scale production that has grown 
up under capitalism, and outgrown the forms of private ownership 
(whether they be ordinary private ownership, or state-capitalist). 

Chomsky though is blind to this and thus also tries to explain the 
growth of powerful monopoly corporations as mainly due to state 
action. He states: 

    "It should be added that the extraordinary power that corporations
    and financial institutions enjoy was not the result of popular
    choices. It was crafted by courts and lawyers in the course of the
    construction of a developmental state that serves the interests of
    private power."(x) 

It's obvious that the masses did not vote for the creation of monopoly 
and that the courts and lawyers rewrote the laws to assist monopoly. 
But this explains nothing about the origin of monopoly. If the 
small-scale capitalism of the early 19th century had not already been 
evolving into large businesses, writing laws to protect monopolies 
would have been pointless. If the state served powerful private 
corporations, how did that economic power arise? Chomsky doesn't 
answer this, but merely repeats over and over that the power of 
corporations subverts democracy. In contrast, Marx showed in 
painstaking detail how commodity production at a certain level leads 
to some producers becoming exploiters and others wage-laborers 
creating profits for them, i.e., to capitalism. In turn, the anarchy 
of capitalist production for the market leads to the means of 
production being centralized by a relatively small group of big 
monopolies. 

Chomsky's "explanation" explains nothing, but it fits in nicely with 
the anarchist idea that the state is the root cause of all evil. 
Likewise, anarchism does well to stay away from a close study of the 
laws of commodity production, as it would also tend to expose where 
their ideal society of independent producers, free from any 
centralized control by society as a whole, actually leads.
Comment # 3 by Ben:

This article by the CVO is quite valuable--but note the fetish for centralization that appears in the sentence above. Yes it is certainly necessary that the economy be controlled by society as a whole rather than be ruled by market forces. But how is this necessary task to be accomplished? Will centralization solve this problem? (It didn't solve this problem in the revisionist Soviet Union or China.)
 
It is a huge theoretical blunder to see the problem as being "independent producers" vs. "centralized control".
 
The marketplace economy can make do with a relatively small degree of centralized control because in many ways it is self-organizing. The independent actions of large numbers of producers and consumers in competition with one another combine to create prices and provide direction for investment decisions. But it is not only the capitalist marketplace that can be self-organizing. Self-organization is found everywhere in nature. Our galaxy, all the stars in it, our planet earth, and all the life on it are the product of the self-organization of matter. And the economy created by the working class will also make use of the principle of self-organization. This means that large numbers of independent producers will find effective methods of coordinating their actions and creating social wealth without the need to obey a central authority which tells them all what to do.
 
The correct way to understand the problem is to ask: Will the independent producers be united by the blind actions of market forces or by the conscious actions of the masses ?
 
If we favor the later solution then we need an economy that is not based on commodity production and (most importantly--since it will likely take several decades to create such an economy) a political system where the masses have the fundamental democratic rights (such as speech, assembly and organization) that are necessary to actively intervene in the political, cultural and economic life of society.

Glorifying small-scale production 

Chomsky's quote on economic laws and the role of the state also raises 
the specific charge that there is no inherent advantage to automation 
over earlier forms of production. If large-scale machine industry has 
nonetheless conquered small production, he can only explain this by 
the state coming in and subsidizing its development. It's true that 
present-day capitalism is far from a pure market, but involves a lot 
of government intervention on behalf of the capitalists. And there 
have been ebbs and flows of state intervention during the history of 
capitalism. But it's absurd to argue that there is no inherent 
advantage in employing the latest technology.

In fact, capitalist competition itself, 
without any assistance from the state, 
compels each competing owner toward 
utilizing technological innovation. 
Advances in production techniques create 
cheaper goods, and the capitalist who 
fails to match their competitors in this 
regard will become extinct.

The process of advancing production capabilities under capitalism also 
decimates the working class and creates an army of unemployed, thus 
creating more competition among the workers and driving their 
conditions down. Thus, capitalism advances production through ruining 
the workers. But the point is not that capitalism treats the workers 
well, but that

a tendency toward automation and 
large-scale production is an inherent 
tendency of capitalist economy, 
regardless of the degree, or lack 
thereof, of state interference.

The capitalists may enlist the state in various ways to assist this 
process, but the process goes on with or without state aid. 

If Chomsky can see no legitimate reason for the triumph of large-scale 
modern industry, what is his attitude toward small production? In the 
main Chomsky gives tacit support to small capitalism by confining his 
criticism of capitalism to the big corporations. But sometimes he 
directly lauds small production as superior to large-scale production.
For instance, he promotes Gandhi's scheme for economic development in 
India based on small-scale production. Chomsky writes of Gandhi's 
"emphasis on village development, self-help and communal projects" 
that 

    "That would have been very healthy for India. Implicitly he was 
    suggesting a model of development that could have been more
    successful and humane than the Stalinist model that was adopted 
    (which emphasized the development of heavy industry, etc.)."(x) 

Chomsky's argument here is that since Stalin was for modern 
large-scale industry, modern large-scale industry is suspect. 
No doubt the state-capitalist economy erected under Stalin's 
phony communist regime took a heavy toll on the masses, as 
capitalist modernization has done everywhere. But what sort 
of alternative would small production offer?

Chomsky presumably thinks that small production 
would avoid capitalism. Yet around the world 
the small economy of the peasant village has 
given rise to capitalist relations and class 
differentiation. Indeed, eventually large-scale 
capitalism arises from the competition between 
the small capitalists.

[ ... ]

Chomsky's fondness for small capitalism as an alternative to modern 
industry can also be seen in his sympathy for what he calls a 
"genuine conservative" opposition to capitalism. He writes: 

    "Genuine conservatives continued to recognize that market forces
    will destroy what is of value in human life unless sharply
    constrained."(x) 

The conservative opposition that Chomsky refers to here sees the 
solution to the evils of capitalism in somehow keeping the market 
forces as they were in an earlier stage. For instance, Chomsky refers 
to Alexis de Toqueville's view that the "manufacturing aristocracy" 
arising in the U.S. in the first half of the nineteenth century might 
eventually jeopardize democracy in the U.S. So if only we can go back 
to the good old days before the manufacturing aristocracy, everything 
will supposedly be fine.

Once again, Chomsky ignores that even if the 
big manufacturers were eliminated, that would 
still leave the small capitalists and the 
market itself intact, with competition 
eventually giving rise to monopoly again.

Really, Chomsky's "genuine conservative" opposition is not opposition 
to ruinous "market forces" themselves, as Chomsky mistakenly puts it, 
but support for capitalism at an earlier stage versus capitalism at a 
later stage. 

Chomsky's efforts to fight capitalism by seeking sanctuary from the 
horrors of modern production in petty commodity production is futile. 
But it reflects the typical anarchist view that sees in capitalist 
development only terrible things, and not also the creation of 
conditions that will lead to the replacement of capitalism by a 
higher economic order, socialism. Chomsky sees the suffering of the 
masses resulting from the growth of capitalist industry, but he does 
not see that large-scale production, by centralizing economic 
operations, is what makes societal control of production possible. 
He does not see that the colossal productive powers of modern 
industry make it possible to dramatically improve the conditions of 
the masses and reduce the working day, both of which are necessary 
for the elimination of classes. Of course, the working masses will 
not enjoy such things unless capitalism is overthrown. But it is 
capitalism, through the development of large-scale social production, 
which also creates and concentrates together vast forces of 
propertyless workers who have the potential power to accomplish this 
task so that the productive powers now used against them can be put 
at their disposal. 

Denying economic laws leads Chomsky down a blind path 

Had Chomsky paid attention to the real laws governing capitalist 
development, he would have seen why there was no point in returning 
to pre-monopoly capitalism. He would have seen that these laws create 
limits to the future possibilities. For instance,

there will always be a definite general pattern 
that emerges from the spread of market relations. 
One may wish for a commodity production which 
doesn't lead to a division between rich and poor, 
exploiter and exploited, but this division 
will occur just the same.

Likewise, not paying attention to these laws means not seeing the 
conditions for socialism emerging from within capitalism itself 
and instead diverting oneself into schemes to keep capitalism from 
developing, thereby only postponing the creation of the conditions 
for working class liberation. 

But, as we have seen, Chomsky denies the existence of economic 
and historical laws altogether. According to Chomsky, the market 
giving rise to bad things is not "inexorable" or "immutable" 
because that would deny that human institutions are created by 
a choice, a choice of what values to uphold. But this 
counterposition of "choice" to economic "laws" is wrong. He 
doesn't bother to directly contest the findings of Marx, who 
demonstrated the general laws of historical development and 
the particular laws of capitalist economy. He just dismisses 
the notion of laws of capitalism out of hand because Chomsky 
is offended by what he believes are the implications of such 
laws for free choice.

He fails to understand that in order for the
choices people make to have the desired effect, 
they have to be based a profound understanding
of the operations of the society they seek 
to change. If there are no laws of human 
societal development, then there isn't any way 
to know what the result of one's actions will be. 
Of course, someone can make a blind and arbitrary 
choice based on ignorance, which is what free 
choice amounts to in that case. But in that case 
their efforts are bound to fail, because the 
forces of which they are ignorant will continue 
to work against them despite not being consciously 
acknowledged. This is what human choice is reduced 
to if laws affecting the development of human 
institutions are denied. But if by freedom 
is meant the ability to consciously bring about 
change in a desired direction and not just be 
helpless as history churns ahead, the task is 
to strive to discover the laws of societal 
development.

Chomsky thinks ignoring the laws of capitalism is the key to freedom 
from the market. Actually it has meant he is reduced to moral 
indignation against its evils while having no idea how to replace it. 
He looks to small commodity production, but that's market production 
too. Chomsky, who is never consistent, at times flirts with 
anarcho-syndicalism, which accepts large-scale industry. But the 
federations of entire industries advocated by the anarcho-syndicalists 
are so weak that, in effect, they amount to dividing the different 
industries, and even the enterprises in each industry, among 
independent groups of workers. Such trends falsely imagine they can 
overcome the market in this way. But in essence dividing up the 
enterprises among autonomous groups means keeping private ownership 
and the market. 

Chomsky wonders if markets are "preferable" 

Chomsky's inability to find an alternative to the market even leads 
him to openly declare that markets may be necessary in his future 
society. As Chomsky puts it: 

    "I understand well enough what's wrong with them, but that's
    not sufficient to demonstrate that a system that eliminates
    market operations is preferable."(x) 

Such an open admission may seem strange. But if there are no economic 
laws, then why should the market be excluded? If human institutions 
can be shaped solely by choice, why can't a way be found to make the 
market serve the needs of the masses? This has long been a common idea 
of reformist apologists for capitalism. Look at the social-democratic 
governments that have come to power in Europe over the years. They too 
were "socialists" who imagined that the economy could operate on a 
capitalist basis, but that they could balance the profit-making of 
the capitalists with the needs of the masses. But the idea that class 
contradictions were going to be overcome in this way has been proved 
false. In fact, the concern of the social-democrats for the 
profit-margins of the corporations has time and again led them to 
slash the social programs that were supposed to redistribute the 
wealth to the masses. Marxism points out that the way a society 
distributes wealth reflects the way in which that wealth is produced. 
If there's private ownership of the means of production by the 
capitalists, then they will accumulate vast wealth at the expense of 
the working masses. Neither Chomsky nor the social-democrats believe 
in this law, but history has consistently proved it to be true. 
Chomsky asserted that recognizing capitalist economic laws would 
eliminate any choice but capitalism. But it turns out that ignoring 
these laws led Chomsky to speculate that maybe the market is 
"preferable" after all. 

Does freedom from the state imply an end to capitalism? 

Chomsky makes it clear that he thinks the struggle of today should be 
based on the principles of the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th 
century. The best Enlightenment figures developed ideas against 
tyranny, religion, superstition, etc. that they believed would lead 
to human emancipation. They were progressive in their day, and the 
philosophical materialists among them advanced the cause of 
scientific inquiry. But rather than general emancipation, they 
actually paved the way for the rise of a new set of exploiters, the 
bourgeoisie. Thus, despite their claims to be speaking for all 
humanity, their ideas on society are wholly inadequate for the modern 
class struggle, which scarcely existed at that time. 

Not according to Chomsky, though, who argues: 

    "In fact, on the very same assumptions that led classical
    liberalism to oppose the intervention of the state in social
    life, capitalist social relations are also intolerable. ... 

    "... It is true that classical libertarian thought is
    opposed to state intervention in social life, as a consequence
    of deeper assumptions about the human need for liberty,
    diversity, and free association. On the same assumptions,
    capitalist relations of production, wage labor, competitiveness,
    the ideology of the 'possessive individualism' -- all must be
    regarded as fundamentally antihuman. Libertarian socialism
    [read: "anti-capitalist anarchism" -- Mark] is properly to be
    regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the
    Enlightenment."(x) 

In reality, opposition to the state in no way automatically implies 
opposition to capitalism.

The assumption of classical liberalism was 
that without government interference in society, 
freedom and prosperity for all would reign.

Actually it meant free reign for the development of capitalism and 
new class antagonisms. Chomsky, like many anarchists, recognizes 
that capitalism is now also a problem. But the anarchist cure for 
this disease remains trapped in general prescriptions that not only 
had nothing to do with fighting capitalism, but paved the way for it.

Classical liberalism fought for liberty 
from the state, but didn't see that individual 
producers freely interacting with each other 
would lead to the enslavement of society by 
the market and the rise of a new state. 
Anarchism shares the same basic idea even though 
they denounce capitalism. It holds that once you 
eliminate the state, you have freedom for 
autonomous enterprises, sovereign and independent 
from one another. So far we have nothing but 
a mirror image of classical liberalism.

But what about overcoming the capitalist economy? The anarchist would 
take the enterprises from the corporations and divide them up among 
independent, sovereign collectives of workers and peasants. The 
problem is that insofar as these new enterprises really are free to 
carry out transactions with each other as they see fit, and not by 
a conscious plan serving society as a whole, the laws of the market 
will again assert themselves. Anarcho-syndicalists feel this problem 
will be overcome if there are some loose federations of the local 
enterprises. But in this scheme no part of the federation is obligated 
to follow any societal plan. The anarchists oppose any agreement 
binding on everyone, which means rejecting any institution that can 
effectively represent the interests of society as a whole. 

Chomsky, however, has no way to really overcome the market, so he 
prefers to romanticize the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy. He 
writes: 

    "As always in the past, one can choose to be a democrat in 
    [Thomas] Jefferson's sense, or an aristocrat. ... Today's
    world is far from that of Thomas Jefferson or mid-nineteenth
    century workers. The choices it offers, however, have not
    changed in any fundamental way."(x) 

But Jeffersonian democracy, while preferable to despotism, was also 
a form of bourgeois class rule. It was a political form corresponding 
to the early capitalism which preceded production becoming centralized
in the hands of a relatively few monopolies, which also became 
dominant politically. Chomsky, however, dresses up Jeffersonian 
democracy as opposition to the state itself, saying 

    "The aristocrats of his [Jefferson's] day were the advocates 
    of the rising capitalist state, which Jefferson regarded with
    dismay, recognizing the obvious contradiction between democracy
    and capitalism -- or more accurately, 'really existing
    capitalism,' linked closely to state power."(x) 

Thus, according to Chomsky, bourgeois democracy in the form supported 
by Jefferson has no class character and is against capitalism. This 
again shows how Chomsky has no clue that less developed capitalism is 
still capitalism. Indeed, Jefferson was a "founding father" of a 
revolution which aimed to spur the growth of the bourgeoisie in the 
American colonies by freeing it from the colonial restrictions of 
the British Empire. It was neither a revolt against the state in 
general nor intended to halt bourgeois development. By ignoring the 
class nature of early capitalist democracy Chomsky converts it into 
the end of class rule. Just as Chomsky declared war on the market 
only to embrace it in an earlier form, so he rids himself of the 
state and classes by creating illusions in bourgeois democracy in 
its beginning stages. Behind all the brave "socialist", 
"anti-capitalist", and anti-state phrases of Chomsky's anarchism, 
the essential content does not go beyond the limits of bourgeois 
democracy. 

Anarchism vs. the workers' state 

Chomsky looks with fright on the workers establishing a unified 
control of the economy. For Chomsky, any political or economic 
centralization is evil. As he puts it, 

    "This natural struggle for liberation runs counter to the 
    prevailing tendency towards centralization in economic and
    political life."

Chomsky does not realize that his independent enterprises will, 
through market relations, wind up centralizing themselves with 
monopolies just as the competition between the enterprises of 
early capitalism did. The real issue is not one of avoiding 
centralization of production, which cannot be avoided so long 
as we wish to maintain modern productive capabilities. Rather 
it's whether this centralized production shall remain in private 
hands, as it does now and would in a different form under 
anarchism also, or under the control of the working class. 

Unless the workers are able to establish such a control, there is 
no way to overcome the market, no way to replace anarchic production 
with planned production. After the bourgeois state is vanquished by 
a victorious workers' revolution there still remains the enormous 
task of transforming the economic system which will still be 
dominated by private ownership. The workers will need to keep the 
defeated bourgeoisie from making a comeback and must step-wise make 
take over the means of production, converting it into the property 
of society as a whole. They will also need a high degree of 
centralized organization to reorganize the economy under the 
conscious control of the workers as a whole. This means the workers 
cannot immediately dispense with the state, but must use their own 
state as a weapon to transform the economy along socialist lines. 
But while the workers' state is a form of class rule like all states, 
it differs dramatically from all other states in that it represents 
the vast majority, the toilers. Indeed, its most important task is 
to activate all the workers for the administration of the economy 
and all important social matters. When class distinctions are 
overcome and the economy is really run by all, the distinction 
between government and the population ends, and there will no 
longer be any state. Society will still need to run in an organized 
way and will require planning institutions and certain rules that 
everyone will obey. But with the elimination of classes, these 
institutions no longer represent the rule of one section of society 
over another. 

It should be noted that a real workers' state has nothing in common 
with the fake communist regimes that eventually consolidated 
themselves in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and that 
still rule in China, Cuba, North Korea, etc. In these countries the 
ruling party and state officials eventually hardened into a 
privileged bureaucracy lording over the masses and living in relative 
splendor off the labor of the workers. This bureaucracy maintained 
it was Marxist-Leninist, but distorted it beyond recognition to 
justify the construction of a new type of state-capitalist system. 
The old capitalists were largely expropriated, but the new state 
property was run along capitalist lines. These methods encouraged 
the development of private interests among the enterprise managers 
and the ministries, which assured that the economy could not overcome 
anarchic production no matter how many state production plans were 
drawn up. Indeed, the growth of private interests under this 
state-capitalist rule paved the way for the transition from 
state-capitalism to private capitalism that has gone on not only 
where the phony communist regimes fell, but where they still rule. 
Today, it is the duty of genuine Marxist-Leninists to clarify the 
difference between the revisionist distortion of communism and a 
revolutionary workers' government carrying out a transition to 
socialism.
Comment # 4 by Ben:

This kind of talk of "duty" (see the sentence above) is nothing but hot air.
 
The struggle to clarify the distinction between the revisionist and the scientific conceptions of the workers' state is the heart of the crisis of theory. Confronting the crisis of theory requires a recognition of the relationship between proletarian democracy and the fundamental democratic rights (ie: speech, assembly and the right to create independent organization) which the working class will use, in post-bourgeois conditions, to control the political and economic life of society.
 
A lesser aspect of the crisis of theory is the related question of the nature of democratic rights within a mass revolutionary organization. For example: during normal circumstances--should a member or a faction in the minority have the right to make his criticisms of the majority known to the supporters of the revolutionary mass organization? Or (equivalently) in normal circumstances (ie: excluding periods of insurrection, war or extensive illegal underground activity where security considerations may be paramount) will the supporters of the organization have the right to know about criticisms (of the leadership or policies of the organization) that have been made by its members or by other supporters?
 
Unfortunately the CVO has not, in the ten years of its existence, troubled itself to write about these topics nor allowed criticism of its neglect of these topics to be printed in its journal or posted on its website.

Chomsky, though, rejects the very concept of a workers' government. 
For him the basic problem with the regimes in the Soviet Union, 
China, etc., was that they supposedly were workers' regimes. He 
argues that if the workers' state takes over production, this means 
that the workers themselves are not taking over production, just a 
new "elite." But the workers' government ceases to be such if it is 
not sanctioned by the workers and is not drawing the workers into 
the task of administering society. It's notable that while anarchists 
often claim that a workers' state is anti-democratic, the prince of 
anarchism, Bakunin, argued that even if the workers' government were 
democratic, he would be against it. Chomsky himself cites Bakunin's 
argument that 

    "No state, however democratic, not even the reddest republic
    -- can ever give the people what they really want, i.e., the
    free self-organization and administration of their own affairs 
    from the bottom upward, without any interference or violence 
    from above."(x) (emphasis added) 
Comment # 5 by Ben:

Anarchism, as a political ideology, is saturated with problems. However there is nothing wrong with this particular quote (see above) by Bukunin: it is correct.

The CVO has gotten so caught up in their competition with anarchist trends (ie: competition over the recruitment of the warm bodies of activists who are new on the scene and looking for a trend with which to hook up) that they have forgotten what is fundamental about marxism: that the ultimate goal of the progressive movement is a society without a state--a society based on the free self-organization and adminstration--by the masses--from the bottom upward--of all politics, economics and culture.

A workers' state is necessary only as a means to get from "here" (ie: a society under bourgeois rule with a complex economy based on commodity production) to "there" (ie: a society consistent with Bakunin's statement above). Even a genuine workers' state that is controlled in a genuinely democratic way by the working class as a whole--will have real problems--manifested in unfortunate distortions in the administration of the life of society. These distortions will be struggled against and corrected by the active struggle of the masses and their independent organizations against the incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption that will inevitably emerge even in a workers' state. This is why the workers' state will be discarded (in a step by step process) as soon as the various functions of the state can be taken over by these self-organizing mass organizations.

The primary problem with anarchism as an ideology is that it fails to understand how humanity can get from "here" to "there" and, in the process, leads many activists to waste their time on paths (such as building co-ops -- which inevitable fall victim to the laws of commodity production) that lead nowhere.

So no matter if the workers' state democratically 
represents the masses. If the workers have 
the nerve to elect their most trusted comrades 
to represent their interests, that supposedly 
violates their "free self-organization"!

That's "violence from above"! The very act of representing is 
suspect, as it supposedly works against "the workers themselves" 
deciding things.
Comment # 6 by Ben:

Above we can see the CVO doing their typical dance around the topic of proletarian democracy. Yes, it is true that many anarchists have a poor understanding of the nature of democracy and the need for organizations with democratically elected representatives. But why not use this opportunity to explain the distinction between genuine democracy and the phony "democracy" that existed in the former Soviet Union?
 
Any discussion today of the nature of a genuine workers' state is nothing more than hot air if it cannot:
 
(1) confront the near universally held myth that such a state must exist in the form of the rule of a single-party with the ability to suppress the independent political voice and independent political life of the masses and
 
(2) discuss the fundamental democratic rights (such as speech, assembly and the right to create independent organizations) that the masses will need in order to exercise genuine democratic control over the political and economic life of society.

For example: What is the meaning of an "election" in which the voters are not allowed to know about criticisms that have been made of those who are running for office? How can the "workers' state" represent the democratic choice of the workers if the workers are not allowed to know anything (or say anything) that runs contrary to the interest of the ruling party?
 
Without such clarification--all talk of "democratically representing the masses" simply feeds the typical anarchist prejudice that (a) such talk is always empty and (b) genuine democratic control of a state machine will never be possible.

But wait. Chomsky himself touts various anarchist schemes that call 
for each enterprise to have elected representatives. Presumably this 
means the workers have authorized them to act on their behalf in some 
way. Either these representatives have no duties, and the whole 
exercise was a farce, or they have been entrusted to do certain 
things, in which case, by the standards applied by the anarchists 
against Marxist socialism, these representatives are exercising 
tyranny over those who elected them. Indeed, Chomsky at times 
promotes schemes for regional and national elective bodies. Thus, 
he must be promoting wholesale persecution of the masses! 

And what of the bogeyman of organizing from above, which is presented 
as in all instances an obstacle to organizing from below? In the 
above-mentioned stand of Bakunin, he is railing against "from above" 
to discredit the notion of a revolutionary workers' government. His 
reasoning is that the workers' revolution only operates from below 
and a workers' state is, in his terms, from "above", and as such must 
be rejected. But by rejecting the idea of a workers' state, Bakunin 
ignores that such a state is also a product of a revolution of the 
masses from below. When the workers are able to establish themselves 
as a ruling class, or before that, to develop their own revolutionary 
party, this signifies huge strides in their ability to organize 
themselves. It marks their ability to have a general means to force 
their will on the bourgeoisie. In this context, Bakunin's outcry 
against "from above" is simply shrieking against any high degree of 
organization the workers are able to achieve. The workers' revolution 
from below, if you like, gives rise to representative bodies that it 
grants certain powers. This state, in turn from above carries out a 
certain program on behalf of the workers which requires the 
mobilization of the whole class into the duties of running society. 
So action from above has, in this case, assisted action from below. 
Also, as the transition to socialism progresses, new mass movements 
assisting the accomplishment of this task will spontaneously well-up, 
and must be encouraged and assisted by the state. So in a very real 
sense, the process of achieving socialism will take place both from 
above and from below. 

In reality, all the anarchist charges against the workers' state
as being "from above" and not "the workers themselves" are a 
smokescreen. What the anarchists really mean when they say "from 
below" is that each local group or enterprise should be able to 
do whatever it wants, regardless of the wishes of the workers as 
a whole. Power for my little group, none for society. That's the 
anarchist ideal.
Comment by Ben -- I have added boldface to the section below
in order to highlight it for criticism
The anarchists cannot fathom that the workers 
can freely agree that each of their local 
organizations would be obliged to obey 
the decisions of bodies representing 
the interests of the workers overall.
That would be a sin in the anarchists' eyes 
because that would require accepting an 
"authority" and "centralization" which 
Chomsky and other anarchists consider 
anathema to everything they stand for. 
Never mind that this authority is that of 
the workers as a whole. Never mind that this 
centralization is necessary to replace anarchy 
of production between autonomous producers 
with societal planning.
Comment # 7 by Ben:

Again we see the fetish for centralization that is typical for sectarian organizations which are based on cargo-cult Leninism.
 
Will it really be necessary for every autonomous workers' production unit to obey the decisions of a central authority? No. The masses will be able to control (to whatever degree is necessary) the actions of autonomous production units thru a system of distributed authority that avoids the kind of excessive concentration of authority that invites corruption. The masses will have a broad spectrum of powerful tools that would allow them to influence (or, if necessary, intervene in a powerful way in) the actions of production units:
 
(1) The masses will supply the free labor and free materials that allow the production unit to produce. If the actions of the production unit run contrary to the interest of the masses the free labor and materials would quickly dry up.
 
(2) The masses will consume the products or services of the production unit. If the production unit engages in actions that hurt the interests of the masses--then this consumption would be replaced by boycott--and those who do supply the free labor or materials for the production unit will tend to become demoralized and lose their will to continue
 
(3) The masses, thru their vigorous participation in public life (ie: discussion, debates and forums in the mass media--and peripheral media) will create public opinion that decisively influences the two factors above--and the ability of the production unit to compete against rival units for free labor and materials and for public consumption of whatever it creates.
 
A system of distributed authority is necessary because many of the disagreements concerning the actions of production units will involve complex, long-term struggles in which the weight of many factors (temporal, geographical, environmental, etc) will combine and draw forth passionate disagreements which involve the actions of the millions of people. For example: should we build factories at place A in order to create B--or should we instead do something else for such-and-such reason? How do these decisions impact (a) present consumption, (b) investment for the future (such as education--a big and often long-term investment), (c) the development of training and infrastructure in Bangladesh, (d) the depletion of rainforests in Brazil or Malaysia, etc?
 
Complex and long-term questions, by their nature, must be as transparent as possible to everyone who is interested--and subject to the influence of anyone who cares enough to give a damn. The more complex the problem--the more brain cells we need to draw into solving it. The more the energy and attention of the masses can be drawn into consideration of such questions--the more knowledge will be applied and the more robust will be the solution that is the product of the struggle.
 
Yes, there will undoubted be organizations with some degree of elected authority and there will be some degree of centralized planning applicable to a particular production unit and, in some cases, to a particular industry (or even group of industries). For example I doubt that people will drive on the right side of the road in Seattle while at the same time the left side of the road in Portland (if cars are still being used). And, if I buy a lamp, the plug will still fit into the socket on the wall. But there will be no need for all of society to be under the control of a single central authority that must be obeyed. Production units will have a high degree of autonomy and will openly oppose and compete with one another because (among other reasons) they will have different and opposing views on what should be the priorities of society on questions related to consumption, investment, education, ecology, production methods (or even trends in software, entertainment or music).
 
Cargo-cult Leninist organizations often greatly exaggerate the need for "centralized authority" because they are aware of the actions taken by Lenin in the 1917 Russian revolution but fail to understand the context of these actions or the reasons they were taken. So instead we have a mechanical promotion of this or that policy (which Lenin resorted to as an emergency measure) as if it were some kind of inevitable feature of all post-bourgeois societies.

The transitional workers' state is a boon to 
the organization and mobilization of the 
workers. The anarchist outcry against it is 
an example of how their standpoint against 
authority in general undermines organization 
of the workers.
Comment # 8 by Ben:

Greater hypocrisy is difficult to imagine.

If the CVO were the least bit serious about popularizing the concept of the transitional workers' state they would have taken a clear stand against the myth that, under modern and stable conditions, this state must inevitably assume the form of the rule of a single party which has the ability to suppress the voices of its critics and the independent political voices of the masses.

It is this myth (a deeply ingrained revisionist concept) which (more than anything else) has enraged anarchist-minded activists and led them to equate the concept of a workers' state with a police state.

It is this myth which exists as the main barrier to serious consideration of the idea that the working class can run society better than the bourgeoisie.

The immense popularity of the anarchist ideology is a direct result of this kind of cowardly behavior by supposed "marxists" and "leninists" who fail to recognize that this myth is the heart of revisionist ideology and has led to the currently existing crisis of theory which has paralyzed the revolutionary movement and left it undeserving of the respect of the working class.

Indeed, if we take seriously the anarchist idea that authority is 
the principal evil in the world and must always be evil in every 
case, then the whole notion of organization itself must also be 
questioned. To see this, let's see how Chomsky deals with the 
question of authority. He puts forward that the grand idea informing 
anarchism is "the conviction that the burden of proof has to be 
placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden 
cannot be met."(x) Under the category of "authority", Chomsky 
includes many forms of oppression that really should be fought. 
But for him, it is authority in general that is the problem, and 
not merely the ills that arise from class society. Authority in 
general, however, is not merely something found in unjust 
institutions and relationships, but is implicit in organization 
in general. The oppressed need organization and collective effort, 
for without it they are weaponless against the exploiters.

Organization requires the individual to submit 
to some degree to the will of the group. Of 
course, the workers' movement doesn't need any 
sort of authority, but authority based on mass 
control and not just centralism, but democratic
centralism.
Comment # 9 by Ben:

Unfortunately the term democratic centralism (which once had a real, living meaning in working class politics and in mass revolutionary organizations) is now almost universally used to describe the sophisticated manipulation and fraudulent, charlatan methods by which sectarian, cult-like organizations can isolate their supporters from the threat posed by independent thought.
 
This unprincipled manipulation has, unfortunately, given a very bad name to the idea that revolutionary activists must take seriously the need to create an organization that both (a) has the power to get things done in the world and (b) is really controlled by its members.
 
I doubt that the CVO will be able to shed much light on this unfortunate state of affairs because they are too close to this problem to see it clearly.

Chomsky qualifies his stand against authority in 
general by conceding the possibility, remote though it may be, that 
some authority can be justified. Translation: the less organization, 
the better. The bourgeoisie, with all sorts of brutal organization 
at its command, must really be quaking at the anarchist Chomsky 
assuring the oppressed that the less organized they are, the better! 

[ ... ]

The problems with Chomsky's view reflect many of the basic problems 
of anarchism as a whole. Anarchism promises deliverance from 
oppression and exploitation. It curses the evil capitalist order. 
And no doubt many followers of anarchism sincerely want revolutionary 
change. But when one looks past the radical phrases, anarchism has 
no real alternative to the market and has no understanding of what 
needs to be done to overcome class oppression. It speaks in the name 
of the activity of the masses, but runs from the organizational tasks 
necessary to build a strong revolutionary movement.
Comment # 10 by Ben:

The above is true but, unfortunately, is also total hypocrisy, because the CVO, which wrote this article, also runs away from the organizational tasks necessary to build a strong revolutionary movement.
 
At this time the key organizational tasks revolve around making use of transparency and genuinely democratic methods (including the right of publicity for factions in the minority) to assemble together into a genuinely revolutionary mass organization all trends of militant activists who want to oppose the reformist domination of the antiwar movement.
 
Such a genuinely revolutionary mass organization would confront the real problems of the revolutionary movement (including the crisis of theory which has paralyzed the revolutionary movement), win the respect of tens of thousands of activists (and post their criticisms--and answer their questions--online) and create an open, interactive news service that allows readers to help in the work of rating and filtering posts and comments.
 
Such a genuinely revolutionary mass organization would make systematic and combined use of paper and digital media to build its press and information network in the streets and on the internet. Such a genuinely revolutionary mass organization would help hundreds of thousands of potential militants understand that neither Kerry nor Nader is an answer to the imperialist war launched by Bush.
 
Unfortunately, at this time the CVO is too busy attempting to recruit activists into its organization (which--like many on the left--is part revolutionary political organization--and part religious cult) to write about (or to even consider) how to build the kind of genuinely revolutionary mass organization that the revolutionary movement desperately needs.

That's why anarchism cannot deliver on its anti-capitalist promises.
Comment # 11 by Ben:

More hypocrisy because the CVO is unable to do any better to deliver on the anti-capitalist promises that it makes. For starters, in any article discussing the shortcomings of anarchism, some mention should also be made of strengths of this ideology that have led so many thousands of serious and dedicated activists to embrace it.
 
One of the main strengths of the anarchist ideology is that it takes questions related to democracy far more seriously than do organizations like the CVO--which has never, in the ten years of its existence, seen a need to discuss the kinds of democratic rights that the masses will enjoy in a genuine workers' state--and which is unable to give the question of democracy anything more than lip service.

[ ... ]
Will the CVO reply to this criticism?
(don't hold your breath)

March 14, 2004

From: Ben Seattle
To:     Joseph Green, editor of Communist Voice

Hi Joseph,

I am writing to inform you that, as part of round 3 of the Anarcho-Leninist Debate on the State, I have written a criticism of Mark's November 2000 article: On the anarchist outlook of Noam Chomsky. My criticism can be found on the web at: http://struggle.net/ALDS/part_7_C.htm

In the event that Mark or you (or any of your supporters) would like to make a public reply to my criticism I will link to it from that page.

Sincerely and with revolutionary regards,
Ben Seattle


( this space permanently reserved for any reply
from the CVO or any of its supporters )