Workers Vanguard No. 874
4 August 2006
Failed Anarchist on "Failed States"
Noam Chomsky: "Radical" Adviser to U.S. Imperialism
BOSTON—On June 6, members of the Spartacist League/Spartacus Youth Club attended a Harvard Book Store-sponsored forum in Cambridge, featuring Noam Chomsky as one of two panelists. Chomsky was there to promote his new book, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Chomskys exposure of some of the crimes of U.S. imperialism can open students eyes to what the U.S. really does internationally, but the esteemed professor then feeds them the lie that this can be changed through the promotion of pure democracy with the help of the UN and international law. An SL/SYC speaker at the forum challenged Chomsky:
Basically what I see that youre doing, as the title of your book says, is basically—as you have done historically—build faith in this mythical bird called Pure Democracy
. The fact of the matter is that democracy has a class basis. This is what capitalist democracy looks like: Its Lynndie England with a naked, tortured Iraqi on the end of a leash. Its
the racist frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who faces the very real threat of execution now
. For all your criticisms of the Democrats whose hands are dripping in blood, you called people in the last election to vote for the Democratic Party.
Unlike Noam Chomsky, we understand that under capitalism democracy serves as a mask for a system of exploitation, oppression and state repression. Under its facade of government of the people, by the people and for the people, the U.S. capitalist state is a violent terror machine for the defense of the capitalist classs profit system—a system based on private ownership of the means of production and the concentration of vast amounts of the wealth created by the labor of the working-class masses in the hands of a tiny, exploiting minority. The capitalist states cops, courts and prisons exist to prevent working people and, in the U.S., particularly the specially oppressed black masses, from fundamentally challenging the racist, oppressive capitalist order. Capitalist democracy is in reality the dictatorship of the capitalist class over the working class and oppressed.
It is only through proletarian revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the working class that the basis can be laid for creating an egalitarian, socialist society where production is based on human need and not profit. Democracy for working people can only become a reality by ripping the means of production out of the hands of the capitalist exploiters and replacing their state with a state for the defense of the interests of workers and the oppressed, as a transition to a classless, stateless, communist society.
Far from wanting to smash capitalist states, armchair anarchist Chomsky wants to rescue these from failure! According to Chomskys book, the salient features of failed states such as the U.S. include what he calls the democratic deficit or the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy. Once again, Chomsky arrives with the earth-shattering news flash: the capitalist rulers dont govern based on the interests of the working class and the oppressed! But that wont stop him from promoting the virtues of U.S. capitalist democracy: The United States was the first modern (more or less) democratic society, and has been a model for others ever since. And in many dimensions crucial for authentic democracy—protection of freedom of speech, for example—it has become a leader among the societies of the world.
Chomskys regard for U.S. capitalist democracy is superseded only by his regard for the UN Charter and the sacred international law that he makes impotent appeals for the U.S. to respect. Behind the anarchists purported rejection of all states, including the dictatorship of the working class, is a program that in practice upholds the capitalist state. Yet, Chomsky fails to even pretend he is for the destruction of capitalism, openly counseling the imperialist rulers to democratize their system. And his virulent anti-communism, typical of anarchists, places him squarely in the camp of the bloody imperialist powers that he purports to criticize. Thus it follows that Chomskys idea of free speech at his own events means telling the communists to shut up and ask their question, as he did at the Harvard forum on June 6. This prompted another SL/SYC member in the crowd to tell Chomsky to stop manufacturing consent.
Its Canadas Fault?
In response to a question from the floor regarding the recent immigration debate in the U.S., Chomsky gave the usual endless speech of a rambling, pompous professor: saying everything while saying nothing. But then, suddenly, we sat up in our seats as the spectre of South Park entered the hall: We need to form a full assault. Its Canadas fault! Chomsky said:
There was a 9/11 Commission set up, a government commission to recommend a means to produce a threat barrier to the United States. It was set up over strong opposition by the Bush Administration, for which it carries a very low priority, and they didnt want it.... As they pointed out that the greatest threat of terror, one of the greatest infiltrations across the border, namely the Canadian border. The long, unguarded border reaching across. And that they said, Youve got to do something about infiltration from the Canadian border. What has the Administration done? Well, first the Bush Administration since 9/11 reduced the border control altogether, reduced the growth of border patrol. The really long length of border
. But they dont care
the Canadian border is left unguarded, the one thats considered the most dangerous. (Emphases his.)
Chomsky is now calling on the racist, rapacious American ruling class and its murderous state to save us from the evil clutches of
Canadians! Thats right, this radical imposter has joined the chorus of hysterical townspeople of South Park: With all their beady little eyes and flapping heads so full of lies, Blame Canada! Blame Canada!
But unlike the creators of South Park, Noam Chomsky wasnt joking. Chomskys comments about the Canadian border were made just a few days after Canadian police carried out anti-terror raids resulting in the arrests of 17 Muslim men. A central and recurring complaint in Chomskys latest book is that members of the Bush administration do not consider terrorism a high priority. Chomsky echoes the Democratic Party liberals who complain that Bush is giving low priority to fighting terrorism and who consider the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq as a distraction from the war on terror. Chomsky complains: Preventing terrorist attacks is simply not a high priority in comparison with serious geopolitical and strategic objectives—specifically, controlling the worlds major energy resources.
It is grotesque that Chomsky posits that the biggest terrorists on the planet, the U.S. imperialist rulers, who also attack the livelihoods of working people at home, could be in the business of protecting anyone but themselves and their profit system. The racist atrocity that took place in New Orleans around Hurricane Katrina is proof on its own of the murderous contempt the capitalist rulers have for black, working and poor people in this country. The so-called war on terror is in reality a cover for imperialist slaughter abroad and for a war on the rights of labor, immigrants, black people and leftists at home. For all of Chomskys concern about the assault on democracy in the U.S., his recent book doesnt even reference the Patriot Act or comment on the wholesale shredding of the democratic rights of the U.S. population under the rubric of the war on terror.
While Chomsky complains about the unguarded Canadian border, the Canadian capitalist rulers have in fact followed the U.S.s lead in using a purported war on terror to vastly restrict the rights of the population as a whole, as have other democratic capitalist governments around the world. These restrictions are aimed at repressing working-class and social struggle, which will always represent the biggest threat for the capitalist rulers.
Disarming Iraq and Iran
Chomsky calls for relying on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror. Indeed, it was such measures that the UN employed with its sanctions against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of over 1.5 million Iraqis, especially children, during the period of peace between Americas two shooting wars against Iraq. While Chomsky spends several pages in Failed States railing against the murderous regime of sanctions against Iraq, he fails to mention that he himself advocated these sanctions in 1991 (Z Magazine, February 1991). Chomskys beloved UN, which in his fantasy world is supposed to lead the way to peace, served as a democratic fig leaf for the sanctions and weapons inspections, which were aimed at disarming neocolonial Iraq and setting it up for a one-sided slaughter by U.S. imperialism.
As Marxists, we not only opposed the sanctions and the U.S. war, but stood for the military defense of Iraq against U.S. imperialism while giving no political support to the capitalist regime of Saddam Hussein. In the same way, today we oppose the U.S.s nuclear blackmail against Iran, which it has threatened to attack. As we noted in U.S. Hands Off Iran (WV No. 863, 3 February):
In the event of military attack against Iran by U.S. imperialism or by Israel, or by any other force operating on behalf of the imperialists, we Marxists declare: The international proletariat must stand for the military defense of Iran against imperialist attack. At the same time, we give not one iota of political support to the reactionary Tehran regime. Our defense of capitalist Iran is conditional: In military conflicts between an imperialist power and a dependent semicolonial country, our policy is revolutionary defensism. We defend the oppressed country against the oppressor country and promote class struggle in the imperialist centers, as well as in the oppressed country. Every victory for the imperialists in their military adventures encourages more predatory wars; every setback serves to assist the struggles of working people and the oppressed.
We have also noted that in the context of threats by the nuclear-armed imperialists, Iran clearly needs nukes to defend itself and deter a U.S. attack. Not so Noam Chomsky, who penned an article titled A Negotiated Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis Is Within Reach (London Guardian, 19 June). While acknowledging that the very credible US and Israeli threats
virtually urge Iran to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent, Chomskys response is to urge the U.S. and Israel to call off their threats! And just in case that wasnt too much of a fantastical demand upon the U.S. imperialists, he also calls on them to take good-faith efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The bottom line for Chomsky is expressed in his Failed States: Of course, every sane person hopes that ways will be found to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program. The U.S. imperialist madmen, who are unique in having actually carried out nuclear holocaust with their bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, push the same line. And Chomsky is far from alone among liberals and leftists in counseling the mass-murdering imperialists on how best to disarm Iran, with the International Socialist Organization and Revolutionary Communist Partys World Cant Wait signing a petition calling on Bush and Cheney to effectively disarm Iran and inaugurate world peace (see ISO, RCP to Bush: Disarm Iran, Lead the Way to Peace, WV No. 870, 12 May).
Anti-Communist Fighter for Democratic Counterrevolution
At the June 6 forum, a second SL/SYC speaker challenged Chomsky over his endorsement of a 2003 declaration which echoed the U.S. imperialist hue and cry over the arrests of 78 pro-imperialist dissidents in Cuba. Our speaker asked:
Please explain why, in 2003, you signed on to an anti-Cuba declaration, penned by none other than Joanne Landy, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a lifelong advocate of the violent overthrow of the Cuban government. You endorsed this letter. Please tell us why you fought for the fall of the Soviet Union.
Chomsky is typical of the petty-bourgeois liberals and leftist intellectuals who lend their anti-imperialist credentials to U.S. imperialisms drive to overthrow the gains of the Cuban Revolution. For these types, the abstract notion of (bourgeois) democracy, and not the proletarian class character of the Cuban state, is the be-all and end-all. This was expressed clearly in the declaration Chomsky signed: We support civil liberties and democratic rights everywhere, regardless of the countrys economic, political or social system
.We support democracy in Cuba. The imprisonment of people for attempting to exercise their rights of free expression is outrageous and unacceptable.
The Spartacist League understands Cuba to be a deformed workers state: a society in which capitalism has been overthrown and workers property forms established, but deformed by the rule of a parasitic, nationalist Stalinist bureaucracy. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the petty-bourgeois Castro government expropriated the holdings of the U.S. imperialists and their domestic bourgeois lackeys. The nationalization of the means of production and the creation of a collectivized, planned economy led to enormous gains for the Cuban working masses and made it possible, with critical Soviet military and economic aid, to provide everyone a job, decent housing, food and education. Despite these achievements, which have been eroded since the destruction of the Soviet Union, the Cuban workers state has been bureaucratically deformed from its inception, with the working class excluded from political power. Cuba is run by a Stalinist bureaucratic caste that upholds the nationalist dogma of socialism in one country, which means renouncing the struggle for international socialist revolution and undermining the defense of the Cuban Revolution.
We call for the unconditional military defense of the Cuban deformed workers state—as well as the other remaining workers states of China, North Korea and Vietnam—against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution. While opposing the barbaric institution of capital punishment and the Stalinist bureaucracys use of it, we support Cubas military defense against imperialism and all measures that are genuinely in defense of the Cuban Revolution, including the imprisonment of those dissidents who are actively collaborating with U.S. imperialism. At the same time, and as we noted in 2003:
As Trotskyists, we know full well that the Castro regime metes out repression to those of its opponents, including socialist militants, who are not counterrevolutionaries
Workers democracy is completely alien to Stalinism, as it is to the crew of rad-libs and others who peddle the cause of the pro-imperialist dissidents in the name of bourgeois democracy. But it is critical for us Marxists, who fight to defend and extend the gains of the Cuban Revolution by replacing the nationalist rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy that seeks to appease the imperialists with the rule of the workers soviets based on a program of proletarian revolutionary internationalism.
—Defend the Cuban Revolution! WV No. 805, 6 June 2003
Our fight for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy and institute a regime of workers democracy is premised on defense of the proletarian property forms in the deformed workers states. Chomsky postures as a defender of Cuba against U.S. imperialism, opposing the U.S. sanctions and the imprisonment of the Cuban Five. But far from defending the collectivized economy of Cuba against the imperialist drive toward the restoration of capitalism, Chomsky cant even bring himself to mention its existence in his latest book, theorizing that U.S. hostility toward Cuba stems from the fear of independent nationalism. Thus, Chomskys statement that hed like to see the Castro regime overthrown by an internal libertarian revolution (and not that one alone) (Chomsky on Cuba, 27 August 1994, posted on www.zmag.org) can only be a call for democratic capitalist counterrevolution.
Not surprisingly, Chomskys models of democracy are capitalist Bolivia, capitalist Venezuela and imperialist America! Chomsky deflected our question at the June 6 forum by telling us to go listen to his interview on Radio Havana for an answer. In this 28 August 2003 interview, Chomsky announces to the Cuban workers state that the United States, to its credit, is a very free country, maybe the freest country in the world in many respects (Radio Havana Interviews Chomsky, 4 September 2003, posted on www.zmag.org). One wonders if the news reached the ears of the bound and hooded prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
For a Leninist-Trotskyist Revolutionary Vanguard!
For Chomsky, the blood-drenched Democratic Party is far less objectionable than Bolshevism (see WV No. 829, 9 July 2004). The Bolshevik-led workers revolution, which Chomsky spits on, liberated one-sixth of the planet from the clutches of capitalist exploitation. The destruction of the Soviet Union has been a world-historic defeat for working people internationally. We Trotskyists fought for the unconditional military defense of the degenerated Soviet workers state against imperialism and capitalist counterrevolution, and for political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy. We fight to build a workers party that will make a socialist revolution in the belly of the U.S. imperialist beast. In the final instance, this is Cubas and the other workers states best defense.
From our labor/black mobilizations to stop the Klan, to our fight against the forces of capitalist counterrevolution through our interventions in the former East Germany and Soviet Union, to our fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal today, we have earned our reputation and proudly carry on the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky. Meanwhile, Chomsky continues to babble about how the democratic credentials of the bloodiest empire on the planet have lost their luster. As we stated about Chomsky at the June 6 forum, You perpetuate that you can have a humane imperialist system, which actually disarms not only the working class but leftists.
In Noam Chomsky: Imperialisms Armchair Anarchist (WV No. 735, 5 May 2000) we wrote:
Just as it took Lenin and Trotskys Bolshevik Party, a vanguard party leading the working class, to create the first revolutionary workers state in history out of the ruins of the autocratic Russian empire, so today it will take a revolutionary internationalist vanguard party to lead the fight for successful workers revolution against rotting American imperialism. That is the fight to which the Spartacist League, American section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) and Spartacus Youth Clubs are dedicated. Those who set their sights higher than a comfortable academic career as an ideologist for the imperialist war machine should join us in our fight for a communist future for humanity.