Adonis Diaries

What is MIT? Chomsky reminiscing

Posted on: March 19, 2011

In the middle of 1960, MIT (Mass. Institute of technology), although it was almost entirely funded by the Pentagon for various basic research, this university was far more active in its opposition to the war in Vietnam and less hostile to freedom of expressions by dissidents than Harvard.  Most of the efforts against the war in the region were lead from MIT.  MIT had two main military laboratories attached to the Pentagon.  The impression that the teaching staff in Harvard was liberal did not match reality.

Salvador Luria, a refugee from fascist Italy,  was heavily implicated in leftist movement and was at the origin of many activities.  Public gatherings on critical issues of the moment were mostly held in MIT campus.  For example, the group RESIST, instituted in 1967 in MIT , financed  activist movements; most the members of its administrative counsel were MIT graduates and very few from Harvard.

MIT was a university dedicated to natural sciences and engineering, and thus, ideological constraints were less significant than in Harvard.  I wouldn’t have survived the climate of expression constraints in Harvard.  I have never been harassed in MIT, even though I was very implicated in war resistance and was briefly put in prison.

When I arrived to MIT in 1955, the university was profoundly militaristic.  The building I worked in was an electronic laboratory for research that was founded by the joint collaboration of navy, air and land armies.  Employees and teachers were to submit to systematic authorization procedures, but i was the first one to decline and refused:  Nobody really cared of being submitted to the procedure.  The only drawback was that I lost a couple of benefits such as free military transportation…

Before 1968, students in MIT were pretty much passive.  A group of a few students formed the collective of Rosa Luxemburg in 1966 and I was one of the tutor for the group.  I gave this group lectures in my free time.  Mike Albert and Steve Shalom were among these students.  Albert initiated the South End press and then Z Magazine.

The Rosa group decided in 1968 to mount a refuge for a deserter to the war until the FBI lands.  The group held a press conference and thousands of students converged.  The university stopped to function.  A flow of successive activities were launched every hour and every day for weeks.  A large meeting was held on March 4, 1969 that closed the university. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/research-stoppage-march-4-1969-panel-report/

McGeorge Bundy of Harvard  and counsellor to the national security was hired to disseminate a “peace mission” stating:  “We are hearing you.  Let us reconcile and let bygone be bygone.”  As he arrived to MIT, a surprise was waiting for him and the campaign was cancelled by the government.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

March 2011
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