Noam Chomsky: Materials from the Russell Foundation Archives


A photo-portrait of Russell hung in Chomsky’s office

Noam Chomsky has maintained a high regard for Bertrand Russell and has had a lengthy relationship with the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, which Russell founded in 1963. In 1971, Chomsky was invited to deliver the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge. In his introduction to the published version of these lectures, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom, Chomsky writes as follows about Russell:

Russell sought not only to interpret the world but also to change it. I imagine that he would have agreed with Marx’s admonition that to change the world is the ‘real task’. I would not presume to assess or even to try to record his achievement in interpreting or changing the world. To several generations, mine among them, Russell has been an inspiring figure, in the problems he posed and the causes he championed, in his insights as well as what is left unfinished …

Is there a common thread running through Russell’s enormously varied studies, which, taken as whole, touch on virtually every question of vital human concern? … One point of contact I will discuss briefly in the final paragraphs of the first lecture and the beginning of the second: the ‘humanistic conception’ of man’s intrinsic nature and creative potential that Russell formulates, as he places himself in a tradition of great richness and undiminished promise.

Noam Chomsky, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom

Chomsky’s own – very significant – contributions are legion. In sharing these materials from Russell Foundation journals, pamphlets and books we mark our admiration and gratitude to Noam, his life and his work.

The London Bulletin

The London Bulletin carried news, opinion and statements from Bertrand Russell reflecting the ongoing work of the Russell Foundation. A full index of the London Bulletin can be accessed HERE.

‘Inside the American Turmoil’, London Bulletin, August 1969 | DOWNLOAD PDF

I see that the programme has my title listed as ”Nixon’s policies in Vietnam”. I will not talk about that topic, however. Some things are proper subjects for talk – others, proper subjects for action. Nixon’s Vietnam policies fall into the latter category. Nixon is, I am sure, a complete opportunist. If pressures, internal and external, mount sufficiently, his policy will become what it should have been in the first place – as Professor Myrdal put it, the policy of orderly withdrawal from Vietnam. I would depart from this formulation only in that I do not care very much, at this point, whether or not the withdrawal is orderly, so long as it indeed takes place – and is followed by the withdrawal of American military force from other parts of the world as well, including even parts of the United States where the police are functioning as an occupying army. We must make certain that the terrible· ordeal of the Vietnamese people will, at least, serve to save others from a similar fate.

Noam Chomsky, 1969

The Spokesman: early days

The Spokesman is the journal of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. First published in 1970 – with Chomsky serving as a ‘Corresponding Editor’ in the first series of the journal – The Spokesman is currently published three times a year.

‘On Anarchism’, The Spokesman, October 1970 | DOWNLOAD PDF

A French writer, sympathetic to anarchism, wrote in the 1890s that “anarchism has a broad back, like paper it endures anything” – including, he noted, those whose acts are such that “a mortal enemy of anarchism could not have done better.” There have been many styles of thought and action that have been referred to as “anarchist.” It would be hopeless to try to encompass all of these conflicting tendencies in some general theory or ideology. Even if we proceed to extract from the history of libertarian thought a living, evolving tradition, as the French writer Daniel Guerin does in his book Anarchism, it remains difficult to formulate its doctrines as a specific and determinate theory of society and social change.

Noam Chomsky, 1970

‘The Student Movement’, The Spokesman, February 1971 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The student movement today is the one organized, significant segment of the intellectual community that has a real and active commitment to the kind of social change that our society desperately needs. Developments now taking place may lead to its destruction, in part through repression, in part through what I think are rather foolish tactics on the part of the student movement itself. I think this would be a great, perhaps irreparable, loss. And I think if it does take place the blame will largely fall on the liberal enlightened community that has permitted a situation to arise in which the most committed, sincere, and most socially active of young people are perhaps working themselves into a position at the end of a limb, from which they may be sawed off at great cost to all of us and to society as a whole.

Noam Chomsky, 1971

Books and Pamphlets

Two Essays on Cambodia, Spokesman Pamphlet No. 5, 1970 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The invasion of Cambodia by the United States and its Saigon subsidiary comes as no surprise, in the light of recent events in Southeast Asia. Since 1968, the United States has steadily escalated the war in Laos, both on the ground, as the CIA-sponsored Clandestine Army swept through the Plain of Jars in late 1969, and from the air. When the report of the Symington sub­committee on Laos was finally released on April 20, the Washington Post carried the front-page headline: US ESCALATES WAR IN LAOS, HILL DISCLOSES. The headline was accurate; other evidence, to which I shall return in a later article, shows that the subcommittee hearings seriously understate the scale, and the grim effects, of the American escalation. This American escalation provoked a response by the Pathet Lao and North Vietnam, who now control more of Laos than ever before, and led to devastation and population removal on a vast scale.

Noam Chomsky, 1970

‘Foreword’, Prevent the Crime of Silence, 1971 | DOWNLOAD PDF | BUY BOOK

‘We are not judges. We are witnesses. Our task is to make mankind bear witness to these terrible crimes and to unite humanity on the side of justice in Vietnam.’
With these words, Bertrand Russell opened the second session of the International War Crimes Tribunal, in November 1967. The American people were given no opportunity, at that time, to bear witness to the terrible crimes recorded in the proceedings of the Tribunal. As Russell writes in the introduction to the first edition. ‘ … it is in the nature of imperialism that citizens of the imperial power are always among the last to know – or care – about circumstances in the colonies’. The evidence brought before the Tribunal was suppressed by the self-censorship of the mass media, and its proceedings, when they appeared in print, were barely reviewed.

Noam Chomsky, 1971

‘Introduction’, ‘Human Rights’ and American Foreign Policy, 1978 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The United States emerged from World War II with unparalleled power and wealth. Quite naturally; the state, responsive to the demands of those who control the domestic economy, sought to construct an international framework in which US-based corporations would flourish. In many respects the project was a stunning success. But it also suffered some sharp reversals, most strikingly, in South-east Asia, where despite massive efforts over virtually the entire period, the forces of Vietnamese nationalism were able to survive the onslaught and, with their allies in Laos and Cambodia, to extricate the countries of Indo-China from the capitalist world system. In the course of this defeat, American power declined in relation to its industrial rivals and the domestic society too suffered significant strains and conflict.

Noam Chomsky 1978

East Timor and the Western Democracies, Spokesman Pamphlet no. 57, 1979 | DOWNLOAD PDF

An address to the International Conference on East Timar, Lisbon, May 1979.

Before this audience, it is unnecessary for me to review in any detail the recent history of East Timor or the substantial evidence that has been accumulated revealing the scale and character of the horrors perpetrated by the Indonesian army in the course of its aggression since 1975. I will therefore concentrate on another matter, namely, the response to these events in the West. This is a matter of considerable significance in itself, not only because of the insight it provides into the nature of the free institutions of the West, but also because the Indonesian aggression could not have taken place and could not continue without the crucial support of the Western industrial democracies, as is obvious with no further comment.

Noam Chomsky, May 1979

The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume I

BUY HERE | £17.95, 414 pages, 1979

by Noam Chomsky & Edward S Herman
The Washington Connection argues with devastating logic and overwhelming documentation that the purpose of US global policy is to make the world safe for exploitation by US corporate interests and that this has required and continues to require the installation and support of brutal military/police dictatorships throughout the Third World. It also requires an apologetic ideology which portrays all this as being in the highest interests of democracy and human rights.

After the Cataclysm: Postwar Indochina & the Reconstruction of Imperial Ideology, The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume II

BUY HERE | £17.95, 392 pages, 1979

by Noam Chomsky & Edward S Herman
After the Cataclysm is the story of how the US press prints the news it sees fit to print. It is a valuable, carefully documented assessment of Western reporting on post-1975 Indo-China. Especially comprehensive in its treatment of Cambodia, it provides a trenchant and healthy critique of news media coverage that has usually been as tendentious as that dealing with the early years of US military intervention in Indo-China.

‘US & Israel: Case Study’, from ENDpapers (European Nuclear Disarmament) special pamphlet: The Lebanon War | DOWNLOAD PDF

On 12 June 1982 over half a million people demonstrated in New York, calling for a halt to the nuclear arms race. The demonstration was unusual in its size, and even more so in the favourable media coverage it received. At about the same time, a few thousand people in scattered cities throughout the country demonstrated in protest over the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the barely disguised US government support for it. A strong case can be made that the latter actions constituted the more direct and appropriate response to the very real danger of nuclear war, though this was not their specific intent. It is not difficult to see why.

Noam Chomsky, 1982

The Race to Destruction – its Rational Basis, 1986 | DOWNLOAD PDF | BUY HERE

Surveying the historical record, we can find examples of societies so organised that they drifted towards catastrophe with a certain inevitability, systematically avoiding steps that could have changed this course. Our own society is an example, except that in this case the catastrophe that lies ahead involves national and perhaps global suicide. It is hardly unrealistic to surmise that we may be entering the terminal phase of history.

Noam Chomsky, 1986

The Spokesman, 1975-1980

By Issue 22 (1972), The Spokesman appeared in a bound journal format. Noam Chomsky continued to contribute.

‘Repression in Belgrade’, with Bob Cohen, from The Spokesman 29: Civil and Academic Freedom in the USSR and Eastern Europe (1975) | DOWNLOAD PDF

Towards the end of 1972 the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy was exposed to intense pressure: there were rumours of enemies and foreign spies teaching there; there were threats to stop further financing and to close the faculty. The building of the faculty was equipped with hidden microphones, some of which were discovered. The University Committee drew up a list of eight professors to be fired. Passports were confiscated from five of them. Their recent books were banned. Some collaborators of Praxis were arrested and sent to jail.

Noam Chomsky and Bob Cohen, 1975

Extended review of Henry Kissinger: White House Years, from The Spokesman 37: Socialism and Nationalism (1980) | DOWNLOAD PDF

European Nuclear Disarmament Bulletin

Upon the launch of the European Nuclear Disarmament Appeal – which Noam Chomsky supported – the Russell Foundation launched a ‘Bulletin of Work in Progress’. Noam contributed two ‘Letters from America’ to the END Bulletin.

‘A Letter from America’ from European Nuclear Disarmament, Bulletin of Work in Progress, No. 1 1980 | DOWNLOAD PDF

After the hostage crisis erupted in Iran, the New York Times printed a front-page article by Hedrick Smith head­lined “Iran is Helping the US to Shed Fear of Intervening Abroad” (2 Dec. 1979). Smith reported “an important shift of attitudes” in Washington “that; many believe, will have a significant long-term impact on the willingness of the United States to project its power in the third world and to develop greater military capabilities for protecting its interests there.” “We are moving away from our post­-Vietnam reticence,” one policy-maker said. Democratic national chairman John White stated that “We may have reached a turning point in our attitude toward ourselves, and that is a feeling that we have a right to protect legitimate American interests anywhere in the world.” Senator Frank Church indicated support for military intervention in the Middle East “if our interests were threatened.” The “lesson of Vietnam” is that we must be “more selective” in the use of military power, with a more careful calculation of the costs to us, as we consider intervention “in such troubled regions of potential American influence as the Middle East and the Caribbean” – consider what must be intended if our influence in these regions is regarded as only “potential.”

Noam Chomsky, 1980

‘Letter from America’, from European Nuclear Disarmament, Bulletin of Work in Progress, No. 2 1980 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The essence of Carter’s “human rights campaign” was captured brilliantly by Arthur Schlesinger, the well-known liberal historian and adviser to President Kennedy. He describes the campaign as “a considerable and very serious success”, adding that “human rights is replacing self-determination as the guiding value in American foreign policy”.
Throughout modern history, great powers have sought to mobilise popular support for coercion and violence by appealing to noble impulses: the White Man’s burden, the civilising mission, the defence of socialism and freedom. The United States is unusual only in that such pronouncements are subjected to so little critical analysis, or more properly, ridicule. Schlesinger is quite right in reporting the success of the “human rights campaign”, at least in some circles. In fact, “human rights” is now the “guiding value” in American foreign policy in exactly the sense in which self-determination was the guiding value in the era of Iran, Guatemala, Indo-China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Chile, and so on.

Noam Chomsky, 1980


From the winter of 1981, The Spokesman was incorporated into ENDpapers which served the quickly-expanding campaign for European Nuclear Disarmament.

‘War, Crisis and the Bomb’, ENDpapers 1 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The meetings being held throughout the United States on 11 November 1981 are a domestic counterpart to the mass popular movement growing in Western Europe, a movement that reflects the deepening concern that we may be facing the final moments of our civilization,
conceivably even the end of human existence.
This is no idle concern. Any sane and rational person who considers the scale and character of contemporary military power, the current vast expansion of the military arsenals of the super powers, and the proliferation of armaments throughout the world, would surely have to conclude that the likelihood of a global catastrophe is not small.

Noam Chomsky, 1980

‘Some Observations on the US-Israel “Special Relationship”‘, ENDpapers 4 | DOWNLOAD PDF

The relationship between the United States and Israel has been a curious one in world affairs and in American culture. Its unique character is symbolised by recent votes in the United Nations. The US stood alone in June 1982 in vetoing a UN Security Council resolution calling for simultaneous withdrawal of Israeli and Palestinian armed forces from Beirut, and on the same day, Israel and the US voted against a General Assembly resolution calling for an end to hostilities in Lebanon and on the Israel/Lebanon border, which passed 127-2 with no abstentions. More concretely, the relationship is expressed in the unprecedented US military and economic aid to Israel over many years, this amounting to roughly $1,000 dollars per year for each citizen of Israel. A concomitant, at the ideological level, is the persistence of considerable illusion about the nature of Israeli society and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Noam Chomsky, 1983

‘The United States and the Middle East’, ENDpapers 10 | DOWNLOAD PDF

I would like to discuss the evolution of US foreign policy towards the ‘Middle East’ since World War II, the consequences for the people of the region, and the potential consequences for the world. Before entering into details, however; I want to identify several fundamental points of reference that should provide the framework for any serious discussion of the recent past and the likely future:

  1. The strategic significance of the Middle East region.
  2. The role of the US as the ‘dominant power’ in this region during the period under review.
  3. The threat of superpower confrontation and nuclear war resulting from regional tensions and conflicts.
Noam Chomsky, 1985

‘Libya in US Demonology’, ENDpapers 14 | DOWNLOAD PDF

What is Terrorism? St. Augustine tells the story of a pirate captured by Alexander the Great, who asked him “how he dares molest the sea?”. “How dare you molest the whole world?” the pirate replied: “because l do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you doing it with a great navy are called an Emperor.” The pirate’s answer was ”elegant and excellent,” St. Augustine relates. It captures with some accuracy the current relations between the United States and Libya, a minor actor on the stage of international terrorism.

Noam Chomsky, 1986

European Labour Forum

European Labour Forum (ELF) was launched in the Summer of 1990, following the election of Ken Coates to the European Parliament. ELF was a bridge between the work of the Institute for Workers’ Control and the later work done through Socialist Renewal. A total of 20 issues of the journal were published between 1990 and 1999, each of them edited by Ken Coates and each featuring wide-ranging discussion and analysis of unemployment, European recovery, socialist politics in Europe and an array of other issues. PDFs of all 20 issues of ELF together with a full index can be found here: European Labour Forum

‘Crisis in the Gulf’, European Labour Forum 4, Spring 1991 | DOWNLOAD PDF

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 evoked a strong response from the industrial powers; in fact, two rather different responses. The first was an array of economic sanctions of unprecedented severity. The second was the threat of war. Both responses were initiated at once, even before Iraq’s annexation of the invaded country. The first response had broad support. The second was pretty much limited to the US and Britain, apart from the family dictatorships that had been placed in charge of the Gulf oil producing states. As leader of the two-member coalition, the US moved quickly to ensure that sanctions could not be effective and to bar any diplomatic initiative.
What lies behind the tactical division over generally shared objectives?

Noam Chomsky, 1991

The Spokesman: 1999 onwards

‘Bombings and Human Rights: Behind the Rhetoric’, from The Spokesman 65: Ethical Imperialism | DOWNLOAD PDF

There have been many inquiries concerning NATO (meaning primarily American) bombing with connection to Kosovo. A great deal has been written about the topic, including Znet commentaries on the internet. I’d like to make a few general observations, keeping to the facts that are not seriously contested.

There are two fundamental issues: (1) What are the accepted and applicable ‘rules of the world order’? (2) How do these or other considerations apply in the case of Kosovo?

Noam Chomsky, 1999

‘East Timor is Not Yesterday’s Story’, from The Spokesman 66: The Third Way to the Servile State | DOWNLOAD PDF

According to recent reports, the UN mission in East Timor (UNAMET) has been able to account for just over 150,000 people out of an estimated population of 850,000. It reports that 260,000 ‘are now languishing in squalid refugee camps in West Timor under the effective control of the militias after either fleeing or being forcibly removed from their homes’, and ‘… that another 100,000 have been relocated to other parts of Indonesia.’ The rest are presumed to be hiding in the mountains. The Australian commander expressed the natural concern that displaced people lack food and medical supplies. Touring camps in East and West Timor, US Assistant Secretary of State Harold Koh reported that the refugees are ‘starving and terrorized’, and that disappearances ‘without explanation’ are a daily occurrence.

Noam Chomsky, 1999

‘The Black Book of Communism’, from The Spokesman 67: Disarming the New World Disorder | DOWNLOAD PDF

The New Year opened with familiar refrains, amplified by the numerology: a chorus of self-adulation, sombre ruminations about the incomprehensible evil of our enemies and the usual recourse to selective amnesia to smooth the way. A few illustrations follow, that may suggest the kind of evaluation that would have appeared, were different values to prevail in the intellectual culture.

Noam Chomsky, 2000

‘Rogue States’, from The Spokesman 68: The Short Millennium? | DOWNLOAD PDF

The concept of ‘rogue state’ plays a preeminent role today in policy planning and analysis. The Iraq crisis of 1998 was a recent example. Washington and London declared Iraq a ‘rogue state’, a threat to its neighbours and to the entire world, an ‘outlaw nation’ led by a reincarnation of Hitler who must be contained by the guardians of world order, the United States and its British ‘junior partner’, to adopt the term ruefully employed by the British foreign office half a century ago. The concept merits a close look. But first, let’s consider its application in the current crisis.

Noam Chomsky, 2000

‘Peace Process Prospects’, from The Spokesman 69: ‘Collateral Damage’ or Unlawful Killings | DOWNLOAD PDF

The latest AP report from Camp David (evening, July 25) begins: ‘The Middle East peace talks at Camp David collapsed Tuesday over rival claims to East Jerusalem. Disappointed, President Clinton said he tried several approaches but could not come up with a solution.’ Clinton expressed hope that the process would continue to a resolution of the East Jerusalem problem, at which point the fundamental outstanding issue would have been overcome.
To have a sense of what is taking place, it is useful to back off a few steps and to look at the immediate events from a somewhat broader perspective.

Noam Chomsky, 2000

‘The new war on terror’, from The Spokesman 73: War is Peace | DOWNLOAD PDF

Everyone knows it’s the TV people who run the world [crowd laughter]. I just got orders that I’m supposed to be here, not there. Well the last talk I gave at this forum was on a light pleasant topic. It was about how humans are an endangered species and given the nature of their institutions they are Iikely to destroy themselves in a fairly short time. So this time there is a little relief and we have a pleasant topic instead, the new war on terror. Unfortunately, the world keeps coming up with things that make it more and more horrible as we proceed…

Noam Chomsky, 2001

‘Masters of the Universe versus World Social Forum’, from The Spokesman 74: A better world is possible | DOWNLOAD PDF

Two meetings are taking place pretty much at same time. One is the Davos meeting of ‘the masters of the universe,’ to borrow the term used by the world’s leading business journal, the London Financial Times, when they met a year ago. The term was presumably used with a touch of irony, but it is rather accurate. The second is the World Social Forum meeting in Porto Alegre, bringing together representatives of popular
organizations throughout the world whose conception of what the world needs is rather different from that of the masters.

Noam Chomsky, 2002

‘Voyage to Diyarbakir’, from The Spokesman 76: The New American Century? | DOWNLOAD PDF

If I can open with just a personal remark of my own, it is a very moving experience for me to be here. I have followed as best I can the noble and tragic history of the Kurds in Turkey in past years from everything I can find, particularly in the last ten years. But it is quite different to see the actual faces of the people who are resisting and who continue to struggle for freedom and justice.

Noam Chomsky, 2002

‘Creating a Different World’, from The Spokesman 78 | DOWNLOAD PDF

We are meeting at a moment of world history that is in many ways unique – a moment that is ominous, but also full of hope. The most powerful state in history has proclaimed, loud and clear, that it intends to rule the world by force, the dimension in which it reigns supreme. Apart from the conventional bow to noble intentions that is the standard (hence meaningless) accompaniment of coercion, its leaders are committed to pursuit of their ‘imperial ambition,’ as it is frankly described in the leading journal of the foreign policy establishment – critically, an important matter. They have also declared that they will tolerate no competitors, now or in the future.
They evidently believe that the means of violence in their hands are so extraordinary that they can dismiss with contempt anyone who stands in their way. There is good reason to believe that the war with Iraq is intended, in part, to teach the world some lessons about what lies ahead when the empire decides to strike a blow – though ‘war’ is hardly the proper term, given the array of forces.

Noam Chomsky, 2003

‘Dominance and its Dilemmas’, from The Spokesman 80: The Strangelove Doctine | DOWNLOAD PDF

The past year has been a momentous one in world affairs. In the normal rhythm, the pattern was set in September, a month marked by several important and closely related events. The most powerful state in history announced a new National Security Strategy asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently: any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the United States reigns supreme. At the same time, the war drums began to beat to mobilise the population for an invasion of Iraq, which would be ‘the first test [of the doctrine], not the last,’ the New York Times observed after the invasion, ‘the petri dish in which this experiment in preemptive policy grew.’ And the campaign opened for the mid-term congressional elections, which would determine whether the administration would be able to carry forward its radical international and domestic agenda.

Noam Chomsky, 2003

‘Remembering History’, Hawzheen O. Kareem interviews Noam Chomsky, from The Spokesman 81: Dark Times | DOWNLOAD PDF

As an opponent of US policies, to which political wing do you belong?

If you mean Democrat or Republican, the answer is: neither. It has often been pointed out by political scientists that the United States is basically a one-party state – the business party, with two factions, Democrats and Republicans. Most of the population seems to agree. A very high percentage, sometimes passing 80%, believe that the government serves ‘the few and special interests,’ not ‘the people’.

Noam Chomsky, 2004

‘Doctrines and Visions: Who is to run the world, and how?’, from The Spokesman 85: Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell – Manifesto 50′ | DOWNLOAD PDF

We have just passed the first anniversary of the President’s declaration of victory in Iraq. I won’t speak about what is happening on the ground. There is more than enough information about that, and we can draw our own conclusions. I will just mention one aspect of it: what has happened to Iraqis? About that, we know little, because it is not investigated. Some surprise has recently been voiced in the British press about this gap in our knowledge. That’s a misunderstanding. It is quite general practice.

Noam Chomsky, 2005

‘Apocalypse Near’, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Merav Yudilovitch, from The Spokesman 92: The carnage continues … | DOWNLOAD PDF

You say the provocation and counter-provocation all serve as a distraction from the real issue. Is the war in Lebanon also a distraction that aims to draw the world’s attention to the north of Israel while Gaza is been destroyed?

I assume you are referring to John Berger’s letter (see page 10). The ‘real issue’ that is being ignored is the systematic destruction of any prospects for a viable Palestinian existence as Israel annexes valuable land and major resources (water particularly), leaving the shrinking territories assigned to Palestinians as unviable cantons, largely separated from one another and from whatever little bit of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians, and completely imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan valley (and of course controls air space, etc.).

Noam Chomsky, 2006

‘Enduring Obedience’, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Michael Shank, from The Spokesman 96: War Crimes | DOWNLOAD PDF

With similar nuclear developments in North Korea and Iran, why has the United States pursued direct diplomacy with North Korea but refuses to do so with Iran?

To say that the United States has pursued diplomacy with North Korea is a little bit misleading. It did under the Clinton administration, though neither side completely lived up to their obligations. Clinton didn’t do what was promised, nor did North Korea, but they were making progress. So when Bush came into the presidency, North Korea had enough uranium or plutonium for maybe one or two bombs, but then very limited missile capacity. During the Bush years it’s exploded. The reason is, he immediately cancelled the diplomacy and he’s pretty much blocked it ever since.

Noam Chomsky, 2007

‘Meltdown Election’, from The Spokesman 102: Slump and War | DOWNLOAD PDF

The simultaneous unfolding of the US presidential campaign and unravelling of the financial markets presents one of those occasions where the political and economic systems starkly reveal their nature. Passion about the campaign may not be universally shared, but almost everyone can feel the anxiety from the foreclosure of a million homes, and concerns about jobs, savings and healthcare at risk.

Noam Chomsky, 2009

”Exterminate all the Brutes’: Gaza 2009, from The Spokesman 103: Unholy Land | DOWNLOAD PDF

On Saturday 27 December 2008, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over six months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.

Noam Chomsky, 2009

‘Responsibility to Protest’, from The Spokesman 106: Responsibility to Protest | DOWNLOAD PDF

The discussions about ‘Responsibilty to Protest’ (R2P), or its cousin ‘humanitarian intervention’, are regularly disturbed by the rattling of a skeleton in the closet: history, to the present moment. Throughout history, there have been a few principles of international affairs that apply quite generally. One is the maxim of Thucydides that the strong do as they wish while the weak suffer as they must. A corollary is what Ian Brownlie calls ‘the hegemonial approach to law-making’: the voice of the powerful sets precedents.

Noam Chomsky, 2009

‘The US and Israel’, from The Spokesman 107: Regime Change Anonymous | DOWNLOAD PDF

On 10 November 2009, a telephone interview with Professor Chomsky was conducted before live audiences at three locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The events were sponsored by Radio Ramadan Edinburgh, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The questions are in italics, and Professor Chomsky’s replies in ordinary type.

Professor Avi Shlaim came to Edinburgh and ridiculed the idea that Israel was a strategic asset to the US. Would you comment on this?

CHOMSKY (in Boston, USA): There are two questions here. Is Israel perceived as a strategic asset? Is the perception accurate? Yes, it is perceived as a strategic asset. Whether the judgment is correct is a separate matter, which I’ll put aside. But is it perceived that way, yes, quite definitely.
Israel is perceived as a strategic asset but that has changed over the years.

Noam Chomsky, 2010

‘Exposing Western Leadership’, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Amy Goodman, from The Spokesman 111: Complicity against Palestine | DOWNLOAD PDF

Amy Goodman: … Forty years ago, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg edit and release the Pentagon Papers, that top-secret internal US history of the Vietnam War … Before we talk about WikiLeaks, what was your involvement in the Pentagon Papers? I don’t think most people know about this.
Noam Chomsky: Dan and I were friends. Tony Russo also prepared them and helped leak them. I got advance copies from Dan and Tony and there were several people who were releasing them to the press. I was one of them. Then I – along with Howard Zinn, as you mentioned – edited a volume of essays and indexed the papers.

Noam Chomsky, 2011

‘Academic Freedom?’, from The Spokesman 114: From Hiroshima to Fukushima | DOWNLOAD PDF

A couple of months ago, I went to Mexico to give talks at the National University in Mexico, UNAM. It’s quite an impressive university – hundreds of thousands of students, high-quality and engaged students, excellent faculty. It’s free. Actually, the government, ten years ago, did try to add a little tuition, but there was a national student strike, and the government backed off. In fact, there’s an administrative building on campus that is still occupied by students and used as a centre for activism throughout the city. There’s also, in the city itself, another university, which is not only free but has open admissions. It has compensatory options for those who need them. I was there, too; it’s also quite an impressive level, students, faculty, and so on. That’s Mexico, a poor country.

Noam Chomsky 2011

Extras …

The Russell Lectures

Chomsky delivered the Bertrand Russell Memorial Lectures at Cambridge University on June 25th and 28th 1971, at the invitation of the Master and Follows of Trinity College, in honour of Bertrand Russell, Fellow of Trinity 1895-1901 and 1944-1970. The lectures were published in Cambridge Review, Volume 92, Numbers 2200 and 2201. They were published as the book, Problems of Knowledge and Freedom, in 1972. This book appears to be out of print.

Beyond Wage Slavery

Ken Coate’s 1977 book, Beyond Wage Slavery (Spokesman), “continues the quest for a body of socialist theory relevant to the contemporary realities of neo-capitalist society.” The dedication page reads as follows:

Peggy Duff

Noam Chomsky greatly admired the work and activities of Peggy Duff. Peggy served as the first General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament but her political and campaigning work was by no means limited to the anti-nuclear cause. Noam offered the following text, printed on the reverse cover of the Spokesman edition of Peggy’s memoir, Left, Left, Left.

Peggy Duff is one of the unsung heroes of the struggles for peace and justice in the post World-War II period. She was a founder and leading figure in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which was instrumental in bringing the dire threat of nuclear war to general attention. Among activists, if not the general public, she is widely recognized – by some (like me) virtually revered – for her incredible contributions to the international movement of protest against wars in Indochina. Peggy was indefatigable, a highly effective organizer, patient and persistent in bringing together the many complex strands of opposition to US crimes in Indochina, the worst of the post-war era. Only those deeply involved were fully aware of this impressive accomplishment, which alone would easily merit the Nobel Peace Prize. And it was far from her only major achievement. The list ranges from her defence of the rights of prisoners of war in the early post-war years to her courageous role in the thankless struggle for Palestinian rights.

Truly a remarkable person, and speaking personally, a close and deeply valued friend.

Noam Chomsky, 2019


Compiled with the assistance of Joanne Hamilton.


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