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  • "The Responsibility of Intellectuals" is an essay by the US academic Noam Chomsky which was published as a special supplement by The New York Review of Books on the 23 February 1967. The article was written during the then ongoing Vietnam War, as news of human rights abuses started to return to the United States, and as the war had increasingly become seen as a quagmire. The article is an attack on the intellectual culture in the U.S., which Chomsky argues is largely subservient to power. He is particularly critical of social scientists and technocrats, whom he believed were providing a pseudo-scientific justification for the crimes of the state in regard to the Vietnam War. He notes that those who opposed the war on moral rather than technical grounds are "often psychologists, mathematicians, chemists, or philosophers...rather than people with Washington contacts, who, of course, realize that 'had they a new, good idea about Vietnam, they would get a prompt and respectful hearing' in Washington." The topic was inspired by articles of Dwight Macdonald published after the Second World War who "asks the question: To what extent were the German or Japanese people responsible for the atrocities committed by their governments? And, quite properly...turns the question back to us: To what extent are the British or American people responsible for the vicious terror bombings of civilians, perfected as a technique of warfare by the Western democracies and reaching their culmination in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surely among the most unspeakable crimes in history."

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