Noam Chomsky’s argument on the responsibility of intellectuals is well detailed and uses United States’ foreign policy and its involvement in cold war to explore the topic. The following is a summary his argument.
Intellectuals have the responsibility of probing the actions of governments by analyzing the causes of their actions and the motives behind them (Chomsky, 1967). This responsibility is placed on intellectuals because they have been given the ability to carry out this task, more so in the western world. Intellectuals in the western world have the freedom of expression, political liberty, access to information and other resources that are required to carry out their responsibilities with little limitation and hindrances.
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Intellectuals should be very vigilant in speaking the truth at all times about their views on governments’ actions and if they keep quiet when they should talk, history will judge them. A case in point when intellectuals should talk without fear is when superpowers such as American violate other smaller nation’s sovereignty in the pretext of fighting for democracy while perpetuating their political and economic interests. Intellectuals have the duty and responsibility of evaluating events from a historical perspective. Historical events that led to catastrophic events can serve as indicators of where certain actions by governments of the world can lead. The deaths that resulted from American war with Vietnam are an indicator of how powerful nations manipulate small nations to gain their control regardless of the price the small nations have to pay.
Intellectuals should stand for the highest moral standards including questioning authorities when they violate human rights. Failure by intellectuals to stand out and defend these moral values in the society has led to deaths and suffering of many people who have been victimized and coerced by powerful nations into conforming to their demands.
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