‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals’ anniversary

Noam Chomsky’s New York Review of Books essay was published fifty years ago today (Feb 23 1967) and is a seminal criticism of much of the response to the Vietnam war by academics at the time. Among other things he argues that intellectuals have special obligations have over and above their obligations as citizens:

For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interest, through which the events of current history are presented to us. The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than… the “responsibility of people,” given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.

An event in London to commemorating the anniversary on Saturday (Feb 25) is sold out but will be live streamed, and will feature a video-link contribution by the author. The essay itself is freely available from the NYRB website.