It is now fifty years since Noam Chomsky published his celebrated article, 'The Responsibility of Intellectuals'.* Few other writings had a greater impact on the turbulent political atmosphere on US campuses in the 1960s. The essay launched Chomsky's political career as the world's most intransigent and cogent critic of US foreign policy - a position he has held to this day.
On 25 February 2017, a conference was held at University College London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Noam Chomsky's landmark article, 'The Responsibility of Intellectuals'.
During the conference, Noam made the following statement about the military research that was going on at his university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, around the time when the article was published:
The protests that erupted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1960s were an important part of the student unrest that shook the US in this period.
Noam Chomsky has talked sympathetically about these protests, which focused on MIT's development of both nuclear weapons and weapons used in the Vietnam war. However, Chomsky also has a strong loyalty to MIT – at one point describing the university as ‘the freest and the most honest and has the best relations between faculty and students than any other ... [with] a good record on civil liberties’ – and it seems this loyalty has prevented him from giving a full account of these events.