Support BR on #GivingTuesday

Readers like you understand the role our publication plays in the media landscape: providing a vital, public space for ideas. We will never hide our online content or archive behind a paywall or accept advertising. Our ongoing commitment to this work would not be possible without the support we receive from everyone who visits our site. Join us in this effort by making a tax-deductible donation of $5, $10, $25, or more.

Reading List December 07, 2018

Noam Chomsky – Essential Reads

The “father of modern linguistics” turns 90!
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on print

Today cognitive scientist, political activist, and the “father of modern linguistics” Noam Chomsky celebrates his 90th year. We jumped at the chance to compile a reading list of his writings, not only because we have published him several times on topics ranging from anarchism to JFK, but also because Chomsky is integral to the history of Boston Review itself. 

In our Fall 2011 issue, editors-in-chief Joshua Cohen and Deb Chasman wrote: “When Josh first took on Boston Review in 1991, he was inspired by Chomsky’s important essay, ‘The Responsibility of Intellectuals.’ With no experience in magazine publishing, Josh had a vision that BR could be a place where reasoned argument could be brought to bear on the realities of politics and power, all in service of democracy’s promise.”

Almost thirty years later, we hope you agree that it is—and if so, consider making a donation to our end of year fundraising campaign. 

—Rosie Gillies


The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Redux

At the height of the Vietnam War, Chomsky penned “The Responsibility of Intellectuals,” a stunning rebuke to scholars for their subservience to political power. Today we face a similar array of crises. What are the obligations of contemporary intellectuals?

• • •

Choosing Hope

“We have two choices: to abandon hope and help ensure that the worst will happen; or to make use of the opportunities that exist and perhaps contribute to a better world. It is not a very difficult choice.”

• • •

Crisis and Hope

“The scale of military spending is phenomenal, regularly increasing. The United States is responsible for almost as much as the rest of the world combined, seven times as much as its nearest rival, China. ”

• • •

The Possibility of Humanitarian Intervention

“The first question that comes to mind about ‘humanitarian intervention’ is whether the category exists. Are states moral agents? Or were Machiavelli, Adam Smith, and a host of others correct in concluding that they commonly act in the interests of domestic power?”

• • •

What We Know

“There are useful things to say about universality in language and about universality in human rights, but talking about universality in language andhuman rights raises difficulties.”

• • •

Dominance and Its Dilemmas

“There is no justification for ‘preventive’ war—the use of military force to eliminate an invented or imagined threat—and even the term ‘preventive’ is too charitable.”

• • •

Chomsky on JFK

“No one—even JFK himself—could have known how he would react to the radically changed assessments of the military/political situation immediately after his assassination.”

• • •

What is Anarchism?

A recording of a lecture Chomsky gave at MIT in 2013, where he pinpoints his favorite type of anarchism as being “a kind of voluntary socialism or libertarian socialism in the tradition of Bakunin, Kropotkin, and others.”

Our weekly themed reading lists present the best of Boston Review’s archive and get emailed to members every Sunday, and sometimes make their way to our website too. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

Contributions from readers enable us to provide a public space, free and open, for the discussion of ideas. Join this effort – become a supporting reader today.

Sign Up for Our
Newsletter

Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.

Similar Content

No items found