A comparative analysis of the anarchist political theories of Noam Chomsky and Murray Rothbard

Farmer, Donna (1995) A comparative analysis of the anarchist political theories of Noam Chomsky and Murray Rothbard. (MPhil thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis was undertaken in response to the lack of secondary literature on the anarchism of Noam Chomsky and Murray Rothbard. There is secondary literature on other areas of their work - Chomsky's linguistics and social thought, and Rothbard's economics•- but little on their anarchism. In view of this neglect it would have been feasible to focus on either one, but a comparative analysis enabled the highlighting of similarities and differences between two important contemporary thinkers, and also a wider exploration of anarchist thought. The comparison is carried out by a detailed textual analysis of a wide selection of texts, and is divided into four areas: the socio-political, human nature, freedom and equality, and strategy. I have located both Chomsky and Rothbard within the anarchist tradition of discourse by focusing on four. criteria of anarchism as expressed by John P. Clark. Clark's criteria (all of which need to be met in order for a political theory to be called "anarchism"), are 1) a view of an ideal, non-coercive, non-authoritarian society. 2) a criticism of existing society and its institutions. 3) a view of human nature that justifies the hope for significant progress toward the ideal. 4) a strategy for change, involving the immediate institution of non-coercive, non-authoritarian, and decentralist alternatives. The overall significance of Chomsky and Rothbard as political thinkers is assessed, and it is argued that their synthetic approach, which includes the influence of non-anarchist thinking, has enabled them to construct an original form of anarchism which they believe is relevant to the modem world. After judging that both Chomsky and Rothbard are anarchists, the thesis concludes with discussion of whether or not their respective forms of anarchism are viable, and examines the value of their anarchist thought.

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