Why do libertarians hate Chomsky?

Seriously, I don't get it.

Here is a man who is the perfect reflection of everything most of my libertarian friends think a political thinker should be - extremely precise, versed in the facts, comprehensive in his treatment. Non-interventionist and an advocate of absolute free association. Putting his name on the line for what he believes in.

Are we libertarians so superficial as to cast out his enlightening findings on society and politics - simply because he doesn't like corporations? Are we that glib? Sure, we may not agree with his solution to the corporate / institutional problem (or at least the one he alludes to) - complete social revolution - but certainly we can address his concerns?

It seems to me that an ideology always works by leaving out the legitimate concerns of another ideology. Liberalism doesn't see the strangling of the market by gov't coercion as a problem. It's simply not a problem - no matter how many times conservatives bring up market distortion, they simply will not regard it as something worthy of treatment. Same for conservatives - it doesn't *matter* to conservatives that peoples' rights are trampled by authoritarian laws. This is why the American public gets jostled between two partial world views - because each view exists only in so far as it can marginalize the other. People get angry at politicians for not speaking to the issues - believe me, I'm in Richmond, VA and just witnessed one of the most vicious campaigns ever waged from personality and not from issues anybody cares about - but what they don't understand, and what I'm starting to, is that politics is almost designed to obfuscate the issues. And so politics becomes more akin to the lobbying of special interests on K Street than the Athenian forum where citizens debate the merits of different positions.

Here's how it should work: The Democratic Party should make its case, not to fellow Democrats, but to the Republicans (and vice versa). Giving America the best solution should be the goal, and obviously that solution must address the concerns of all sides. The election of Kaine speaks to the wisdom of this goal - you address those with whom you disagree, not those with whom you agree. Otherwise politics is just pandering and there's no forward moving debate or eventual consensus. Reaching out doesn't mean you pander to the other side (or your own) - it means addressing concerns, maybe not with the perfect solution for the other side, but at least with something that acknowledges the legitimacy of the concern. This is precisely the kind of politics the LP should adopt.

Regardless of whether we LIKE the concerns Chomsky is addressing, they ARE legitimate concerns. Ignoring those concerns is not an alternative to addressing them. And now, after years of nodding my head to my fellow libertarians who wrote off everything Chomsky said, I'm starting to read him and find that - what the hell! - I largely agree with his institutional analysis, if not his specific political response to the analysis. And I'm wondering how I got so hoodwinked into writing off one of the only people in this country who has been fair and balanced during the last 50 years. The sad answer? I was lazy.

And Noam predicted that.

UPDATE: The original site of my anti-Chomsky bias has been served.

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Written on Monday, November 14, 2005