PM Press Blog

Noam Chomsky: Common Sense and Freedom

A Radical Guide

January 1990, Noam Chomsky gave the keynote address at the Self-Determination and Power Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Self-Determination and Power Conference was organized by an alliance of the Free University of Glasgow, the Edinburgh Review, James Kelman (who introduced Chomsky in this video), Peter Kravitz, and Scottish Child magazine, edited by Rosemary Milne.

As reported in James Kelman and Noam Chomsky’s latest book, Between Thought and Expression Lies a Lifetime: Why Ideas Matter. Noam Chomsky had been asked to speak on the topic “Common Sense and Freedom” for the second day of this event, due to the topic being brought up in several workshops during the first day of the conference.  In the book, Chomsky reflects on this keynote speech, “I am torn between two conflicting impulses. A sense of duty that leads me to want to speak about the topic I’ve been asked to address. But I also feel a good deal of empathy with sentiments expressed at the plenary session by many people who felt that there is something quite unsatisfying about general and abstract discussion of questions of deep human significances– such as self-determination & power — unless it is brought to bear quote directly upon concrete and substantive problems of daily life: what we should do about specific circumstances of injustice and oppression.”  (page 135 Between Thought and Expression Lies a Lifetime: Why Ideas Matter)

We hope you enjoy this video and will join us on Dec. 6th for a live online conversation with James Kelman and Noam Chomsky to speak about their new book and this conference.  You can register for that event here.

A Radical Guide is forever grateful to Malcolm Dickson and Adam Lockhart for their permission to use this footage.

Original video footage from 1990 courtesy of Malcolm Dickson and Adam Lockhart.