What the Soviet Union used to be is usually considered a socialist state.

Noam Chomsky is a political activist who is also considered a socialist.

Still, Noam Chomsky appears to have a very negative opinion of the Soviet Union, referring to it as a system of "state capitalism".

Which are the key differences between the form of socialism proposed by Noam Chomsky and the Soviet implementation of socialism?

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    As far as I know Chomsky is an anarchist (i.e. a liberal socialist), the Soviet Union was based on state capitalism (a form of authoritarian socialism). – liftarn Jan 8 '16 at 11:52
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    @SVilcans I would prefer if this question would not be answered with further abstract ideological labels like "anarchist" or "authoritarian" which are again subject to interpretation but rather tangible examples of practical differences. A good answer could list differences in the style "The Soviet Union enacted [policy] while Noam Chomsky said in [source] one should rather do [other policy]". – Philipp Jan 8 '16 at 13:12
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    Chomsky is an anarchist flavor. The basis of this question in flawed. – Citizen Jan 18 '16 at 10:50

Noam Chomsky advocates what has been called "anarcho-syndicalism", basically the idea that "workers" would control all businesses, sort of like ESOPs, and there would be little or no centralized government; essentially a union paradise.

Soviet-style communism is nearly the complete opposite: a rigid, centralized, authoritarian state in which unions were illegal and workers had zero control over their own destiny.

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  • This is probably accurate, but could really benefit from some quotes from Chomsky and analysis how those platform points match the basics of Anarcho-Syndicalism... – user4012 Jan 15 '16 at 18:18
  • "unions were illegal"? WP says membership was compulsory. – Genli Ai Jan 18 '16 at 22:32
  • @WillNess That article is pretty funny. Reads like it was written by Molotov. All unions were outlawed and "subsumed" by the Communist Party by Lenin's dictate in 1921. Anyone attempting to form in a union in the USSR between 1921 and 1991 would be quickly arrested and executed or later sent to the gulag as attempting to form a type of criminal conspiracy called a "syndicate" to use the old Soviet lingo. – Tyler Durden Jan 18 '16 at 22:43
  • sorry, no. factually wrong. you may correctly claim they were a sham, but Trade Unions were everywhere. of course they were controlled by the Party, everything was. so if you change that to "independent trade unions were illegal", that would make it right. – Genli Ai Jan 18 '16 at 22:47
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    @WillNess A trade union is, by definition, is an independent group of workers. A so-called profsoyuz in which the leaders are appointed by the government and by law cannot strike is not a union. – Tyler Durden Jan 18 '16 at 23:24

The ideology of a state and its practices aren't always (actually are rarely) the same. The Soviet Union's leadership used the rhetoric of worker's struggle but was so authoritarian and brutal towards it's own population that it was a farce. The population had almost no control and that's contrary to the core of socialist values. There were many other differences.

Chomsky has written extensively about it. He called the Soviet Union a "dungeon" with a certain level of social services.

I don't think he's necessarily proposed a form of socialism but he's said he believes the workers should own the means to production - that there should a guarantee to food, shelter, healthcare, etc.

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    I would have wished for an answer which explains Chomsky's theories in greater detail and compared them directly with the USSR policy. – Philipp Jan 8 '16 at 17:32

Well, I'm not really good at Chomsky's works, yet he seems to be always mentioned in Bakunin's line. And according to Bakunin, "socialist state" is not a "true socialism" by the definition.

For Bakunin and others, there's no much difference between "capitalism" and "state socialism", because workers' rights are to be violated anyway either by capitalist owner, or by state "socialist" manager (and this is why "state capitalism" term is born - it rather means "any state system is about exploitation of workers anyway"). So any deficiency in Soviet Union's implementation of socialism is only to prove once more anarchist idea, not to influence it.

The only possible (anarchist) solution to protect freedom and workers' rights is to make self-governing worker collectives. Which is actually the end of (any) modern state and written law. This is what the anarchism is about.

This is an excerpt from Chomsky's speech taken from wiki page on Chomsky's political positions:

... a kind of voluntary socialism, that is, as libertarian socialist or anarcho-syndicalist or communist anarchist, in the tradition of, say, Bakunin and Kropotkin and others. They had in mind a highly organized form of society, but a society that was organized on the basis of organic units, organic communities. And generally, they meant by that the workplace and the neighborhood, and from those two basic units there could derive through federal arrangements a highly integrated kind of social organization which might be national or even international in scope. And these decisions could be made over a substantial range, but by delegates who are always part of the organic community from which they come, to which they return, and in which, in fact, they live.

This is what is called "Social anarchism", which clearly opposes any state ideology be it capitalist or socialist one.

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    "self-governing ... collectives" like, say, cults? or archaic primitive tribes? the (totalitarian and all-pervasive, arbitrary) dictate of collective is better than dictate of (restrained and formalized) written law?? that stuff is laughable. that's not a comment on your answer of course, just on so called "anarchism" of so called "Chomsky". that guy is stoopid. sorry, had to vent. :) -- thanks for the quotations. – Genli Ai Jan 18 '16 at 22:43
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    @WillNess That's a common problem of anarchism. These guys are full of good intentions (I'm really serious), but no one, except them, can understand how it's possible to make a better society by degrading it into primitive system. But I'm inclined to think of them as "striving for good", rather than just stupid. – Matt Jan 19 '16 at 8:06
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    I get you. I consider myself also an anarchist, as a far ideal. Except that it must come from the individual, not any group. Group is always tyranny, unless association - and disassociation is free. In their model when means of production belong to groups of "workers", making a significant contribution and then leaving the group leaves me without fair compensation. So compensation too must be individual. If we take it to its logical conclusion, the only solution is total transparency (one might call it surveillance) so everyone's contributions may be known & calculated. Or total honesty. :) – Genli Ai Jan 19 '16 at 9:19
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    @TellyneckBendosack so what happens when I associate, make a crucial and lasting contribution, then disassociate? Who's reaping the fruits of my "labor" then, and why should they? – Genli Ai Apr 19 '16 at 18:27
  • The main issue with anarchistically themed utopias is that they seem to be workable for small communities only where everybody knows each other. There appears no anarchistic solution which would allow for a large city to operate well -- where most of people don't know each other and have no social bonds to the majority of others. However, modern urban life is concentrating human efforts and gives many more possibilities, which are nonexistant in smaller communities. – Gnudiff Oct 11 '17 at 9:01

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