Inspiration of the Week #41

January 2, 2012 through January 8, 2012

Libertarian Socialism: Complimentary Opposites

In a speaking engagement held on September 7, 2011 in Oslo, Norway, Noam Chomsky spoke at length about Libertarian Socialism, an ideology he identifies with. The terms alone, Libertarian and Socialism, may seem oxymoronic or hypocritical when used together, as the former advocates for the individuals freedom while the latter promotes the individuals responsibility to society. But when you study this political philosophy closely you begin to see the brilliance and beauty in the way these two ideas compliment each other.

Over the many years that I have followed politics my views have shifted from one end of the spectrum to the other. I began to find myself agreeing with different political beliefs depending on the circumstances of the issue at hand. This willingness to learn both sides of an issue taught me not to be so narrow minded our quick to judge based on a single ideology. In the past 10 years that I have spent working, along with the few years I attended college, I have grown to identify and appreciate the principles of Libertarian Socialism. It is important that we have a society of strong and independent individuals, but it is even more important that we build communities that respect each others differences and that prioritize helping the less fortunate.

Another great independent but socially-aware thinker was Albert Einstein, he once wrote “Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.” For he understood the obligations that free citizens have to their society. In his short writing titled “The World As I See It” he elaborated on this belief:

“we exist for our fellow-men–in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men”

There is a lot to be learned from Einstein and Chomsky, not just in their scientific accomplishments, but in their philosophies about life. Below I have edited video highlights from Chomsky’s speech in Norway. Listen closely to these words of wisdom:

Chomsky on American Libertarianism

Chomsky on Libertarian Socialism and Economics

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  1. My problem with most discussions of socio-economic systems/theory is that they don’t recognize the most important variable of the equation, human nature. There is an overlap between philosophy and so-eco theory, but it isn’t realistic in my view. Prof. Chomsky refers to modern economists dogmatic belief and view that labor is motivated not by self reliance or personal pride but a selfish idea that “if I’m not paid what I feel my effort is worth then I simply won’t perform, why should I dig a ditch with vigor when the man next to me is asleep on his shovel?” He counter argues that modestly paid scientist put in 80 hr work weeks out of devotion and genuine love of their work. This is totally valid but what he doesn’t acknowledge is the work no one wants to do. Who is devoted to cleaning a toilet or working a toll booth or picking fruit? Who places their pride on being the greatest shit scrapper in the world? People work dirty, humiliating, dangerous jobs because they’re paid – only just enough mind you, to do so. A world where every man is self reliant, grows his own food, builds his own home and crafts the rocking chair in which he rests his bones after a honest days work for himself would be nice, ideal really. The problem, and this is my belief, is that there will always be a villain to break your chair and eat your food. Humans range the spectrum from selfless and altruistic to barbaric and unfeeling. It’s that grain of salt human nature, greed, fear, laziness, pride, honor for better or worse; that chompsky and others need to be factor in to the living equation.

  2. JD says:

    Ron Paul may be the wrong messenger but many of his ideas, are incredibly important to public political discourse. He’s a step in the right direction to usher in the generation of Americans that will transform the status quo. He’s got my vote and support as a one term president, two terms..probably not a good idea IMO. The old man is smart, he’s got some incredible courage speaking on certain issues that all other politicians cowardly dance around. This country wont change until we muster up the courage to turn around and face the real enemy, this nation was built by radicals and some where along the timeline we’ve demonized this system that once encouraged freedom/liberty through means of fear and deception. Just like Paul, Chompsky’s has his +’s & -‘s to, no human is perfect. Thanks for sharing those videos bean, although i disagreed at times in that video, and your know I love me some Chompsky, he brought up some really good points. imagine Paul/Chompsky 2012!!

  3. Admin Admin says:

    Thank you Anthony and JD for taking the time to write such thoughtful comments on this post. I agree with certain points you both have made but I think you are both missing the big idea. What Chomsky (JD check your spelling) is making the case for is that if you create an environment and culture that promotes Individuality and at the same time Social Responsibility, then you end up creating more equitable institutions and a better world to live in. The problem with American Libertarianism is that it flies in the face of logic, you cannot have Individual Liberty without Social Responsibility, that is you can not have private institutions/power without public institutions/power, they act as balances to each other. You may be familiar with this quote from George Bernard Shaw, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

    The complexity of our social problems are deep and numerous. That is why I have created this site, to act as a comprehensive resource to help empower you with well-rounded factual knowledge (not the overly ideological social arguments you get from Ron Paul or the rhetoric and propaganda that you hear from Alex Jones) in order to help you recognize and combat behaviors by individuals and institutions that promote economic and social inequality.

    Check out this video of Chomsky Expanding on the ideas of American Libertarians and their flaws, notice at the end how he is being logical and realistic about “perfect liberty”:

    Scientific research on human empathy and drive: