INTERVIEWER: “Hello and thank you for joining us. Today we will be interviewing MIT professor Noam Chomsky and popular entertainer Britney Spears. First off, Noam, for quite a time now you’ve been an advocate for the anarchist idea. What is it that attracts you to anarchism?
NOAM CHOMSKY: “I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven’t seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else.
Naturally this means a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on.”
INTERVIEWER: “Very interesting. Now Britney, you were offered the Daisy Duke role in The Dukes of Hazzard, correct?”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Yeah. Ashton Kutcher was supposed to be in it too. But things change and happen for a reason. That wasn’t my time. I’m supposed to be pregnant now. And I’m proud of Jessica [Simpson], she’s doing really well.”
INTERVIWER: “The sex must have been really great when you’re trying to make a baby.”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Oh yeah!”
INTERVIEWER: “All that Catholic schoolgirl stuff-”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Is out the window!”
INTERVIEWER: “And when you think of all those years you spent trying not to.”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “[Laughs] Right. Oh my goodness. It’s awesome, though. Wow!”
INTERVIEWER: “Now, Professor Chomsky, it’s true to say that your ideas and critique are now more widely known than ever before. It should also be said that your views are widely respected. How do you think your support for anarchism is received in this context? In particular, I’m interested in the response you receive from people who are getting interested in politics for the first time and who may, perhaps, have come across your views. Are such people surprised by your support for anarchism? Are they interested?”
CHOMSKY: “The general intellectual culture, as you know, associates ‘anarchism’ with chaos, violence, bombs, disruption, and so on. So people are often surprised when I speak positively of anarchism and identify myself with leading traditions within it. But my impression is that among the general public, the basic ideas seem reasonable when the clouds are cleared away. Of course, when we turn to specific matters – say, the nature of families, or how an economy would work in a society that is more free and just – questions and controversy arise. But that is as it should be. Physics can’t really explain how water flows from the tap in your sink. When we turn to vastly more complex questions of human significance, understanding is very thin, and there is plenty of room for disagreement, experimentation, both intellectual and real-life exploration of possibilities, to help us learn more.”
INTERVIEWER: “Perhaps, more than any other idea, anarchism has suffered from the problem of misrepresentation. Anarchism can mean many things to many people. Now Britney, your mom’s going to be a grandmother for the first time. Was she happy when you broke the news or taken aback?”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Taken aback. I think she thought I was probably going to wait a little bit, be married for awhile. But those weren’t the plans for Britney! [Laughs] She’s gonna be a hot grandma. And I’m gonna be a hot mom.”
INTERVIEWER: “Your sister’s show Zoey 101 got nominated for an Emmy.”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Her little show’s doing amazing. I’m so proud of her. I love her. She’s very sweet-and dry. She’s the person when you’re in a room that says the things you want to say but you don’t say. She just blurts it out and you’re like, Oh, that was an air breaker. She’s very smart.”
INTERVIEWER: “I’ll bet she is. Now Professor Chomsky, do you often find yourself having to explain what it is that you mean by anarchism? Does the misrepresentation of anarchism bother you?”
CHOMSKY: “All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons. It’s well to recall David Hume’s Principles of Government. He expressed surprise that people ever submitted to their rulers. He concluded that since Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. ‘Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. Hume was very astute – and incidentally, hardly a libertarian by the standards of the day. He surely underestimates the efficacy of force, but his observation seems to me basically correct, and important, particularly in the more free societies, where the art of controlling opinion is therefore far more refined. Misrepresentation and other forms of befuddlement are a natural concomitant.
So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Sounds simple-minded, and it is. But I have yet to find much commentary on human life and society that is not simple-minded, when absurdity and self-serving posturing are cleared away.”
INTERVIEWER: “Simple minded indeed. Now, Britney, tell me about practicing Kabbalah.”
BRITNEY SPEARS: “Kabbalah has helped my soul. I was brought up a Baptist and there’s religions and all that stuff, and the Bible’s written-everything’s in codes. And the thing that drew me to Kabbalah is, it all comes from light. This sounds so weird, I know, but I’m just tring to explain it in a way that-like, it all stems from light. And Kabbalah, out of all of ’em, is the oldest, er, it’s so rich, I think it kind of overrules everything. Like, if I read a normal self-help book-I think that the people who write these [Kabbalah] books are so on a different level, that if you come into contact with their consciousness, it’s like, so profound and enlightening.”
(Questions and quotes from Noam Chomsky come from this article and all questions and quotes from Britney Spears come from the October 2005 issue of Elle)