Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Research Stoppage

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.

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.

“Research Stoppage, March 4, 1969”:  Chomsky reminisces

On March 4, 1969, students and professors at MIT organized a “Research Stoppage” demonstration.  They expressed their anxieties of the “dangerous usage of research and scientific technologies.”

Seminars were programmed with the collaboration of Concerned Scientists Union.  The themes were focused on: Intellectual responsibilities; Non-military opportunities for research; the relationship between university and government; and the disarmament policies.

The movement spread to other campuses and a text was published entitled: “March 4: Scientists, Students, and Society”, Boston, The MIT Press, 1970.

Noam Chomsky wrote in 1969, as a personal addendum to the Panel report:

“My feeling is that the American society is oriented toward a grave crisis.  A crisis implicit in the kinds of contradictions in current problems.  We are aggressive, imperialist, and becoming further militaristic in our political interventions in the affairs of the nations.  We are a military socialist community.

Internally, we exhibit a large latitude of spiritual openness:  Universities witness an open-door policy to criticism and to freedom of expression and research.

We benefit of a high standard of living:  Youth have the opportunity to think; youth don’t need to work full-time to earning a living.

Thus,  the power-to-be is devising a scheme to get students working full-time for their education in order to minimize their agitation and turbulent activities.

Making students work full-time  to earning education expenses is to render this young class apathetic and conformist Give people a breathing moment to think and people react to what is outrageous.

I realized that students (in 1969) are reacting against scientific knowledge.  For example, I read banners and slogans such as “Are you going to be dominated by science?”; and “Are you going to become a machine working for technologies?”.

This is a kind of revulsion for professional jobs that is taking roots.  This is a dangerous trend that sap rational thinking and cannot solve social difficulties or enhance intellectual comprehension.”

Note 1:  The current state of affairs in the US is the same in the militaristic mentality and policies, but it is aggravated in that universities are practically close-shut to freedom of expressions, alternative creative lines of thinking, and dwindling availability in fields of study that do not match multinationals needs.

Note 2:  The current mighty waves of protests in the Arab World is the work of educated youth who have no job opportunities and had plenty of time to think and ponder on outrageous realities around them.

Note 3: After the real estates fiasco in 2008, the US has to deal with the trillion dollars in student loans: Students cannot find “good jobs” after graduation in order to repay their exorbitant loans, at accumulated and compounded interest rates…




April 2023

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