Chomsky comes around on Marx

In a recent talk Chomsky has publicly dispelled (go to 5:16) a common myth concerning Marx’s idea of communism:

If you read Marx for example, I discovered that he says almost nothing about a post capitalist society, a few remarks here or there. But he didn’t say anything about post capitalist society for a reason: he thought post capitalist society would have to be determined by the working class after they had assumed control over the society. I assume the background thinking is that this is too much to understand, and that answers would have to be discovered by trying to organize participatory systems, which can be done right now. You all know that it’s possible for information about production to be made available to the democratically functioning workforce in realtime, so they can make sensible decisions. That doesn’t have to be associated with control or renumeration. But what’s the answer? Nobody knows, you have to try out and see. And that’s true of other forms of social organization as well.

-Chomsky March 11th 2011, Cardiff, England

My supervisor always makes this point when people try to complain about Marx’s “theory of communism”, which simply doesn’t exist.



  1. Marx was in favor of abolishing all private property which seems a pretty radical step toward a post capitalist society. Whereas Chomsky believes in workers forming collectives within a free market libertarian system. The latter will never work because in a free society the rich will always use their economic power to buy up the means of production – an unfortunate fact of history which Chomsky always manages to overlook.


  2. I think there might be confusion over the term “libertarian”. In any case, Chomsky does not believe in workers forming collectives within a free market libertarian system.


  3. Chomsky definitely favours workers taking over factories. He rarely proposes concrete actions, saying instead that the actions must be decided by the people in the struggle – but when pressed he does often mention worker occupation/control over factories, and under working control converting those factories to make the things our society actually needs – i.e. trains rather than cars.


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