Noam Chomsky has Gone Nuts — Why He is Wrong About Russian Freedom

Jakub Ferencik
5 min readJul 25, 2022

In an interview with Russell Brand on his podcast Under the Skin, the linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky claimed that Americans have less freedom than Russians.

This is the typical jargon we see from right-wing pundits like Donald Trump Jr., Candace Owens, or Dave Rubin. But … to hear it from Chomsky. Well, Twitter had a field day, needless to say.

So, I thought it would be worth addressing Chomsky’s remarks and setting the record straight: Russians in the 1970s did not have more political freedoms than Americans in the 21st century.

Photo by Aditya Joshi on Unsplash

Today there are more political prisoners in Russia than at the height of the Cold War. There is real political dissent against Putin’s regime. So, Chomsky’s statement really comes across as clueless. I should quote it below for you to see exactly what he said:

“Take the United States today. It is living under a kind of totalitarian culture which has never existed in my lifetime, and is much worse in many ways than the Soviet Union before Gorbachev.”

He then added “If today, in the United States, you want to find out what [Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov of Russia is saying, can’t do it. It’s barred. Americans are not permitted to hear what Russians are saying. Can’t get Russian television, can’t access Russian sources.”

He continues: “You want to find out what the adversary is saying, which is of the utmost importance, you can maybe tune into Indian state television and find it out, or you can read it on Al-Jazeera.”

“But the United States has imposed constraints on freedom of access to information which are astonishing, which in fact go beyond what was the case in post-Stalin Soviet Russia,” Chomsky claimed.

In one sense, Chomsky seems to fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of the term totalitarianism in the first statement I quote from him.

Under totalitarian dictatorships, every aspect of society is controlled by one dictatorial government. Stalin’s rule was a totalitarian dictatorship. Hitler’s rule was a totalitarian dictatorship. And in the United States, Congress both introduces and passes legislation. The president can reject the bill, but the US Supreme Court…

Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views