The Chomsky-Foucault Debate

In 1971, Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault debated on a few topics, by no means mutually exclusive: “human nature” (or whether there was such a thing), the “ideal society”, and “justice” and “power”.

Make sure to put on English subtitles if necessary, as Foucault speaks in French, though Chomsky speaks in English (alternatively, a full English transcript of the video can be found here). I will not say who I believe to be the “winner” of the debate, but I will post this, from

the anarchist Dutch host, Fons Elders, wanted to jazz things up a bit. So, aside from offering Foucault hashish for part of his payment, Elder tried repeatedly to get Foucault to wear a bright red wig while debating Chomsky. Throughout the debate Elders kept poking Foucault under the table, pointing to the red wig on his lap, and whispering, ‘put it on, put it on.’ Foucault ignored him, robbing posterity of the memory, and the Foucault-Chomsky debate remains wig-less.

As for the “large chunk of hashish,” that he received as partial payment, Foucault brought it back home where he and his Parisian friends would jokingly refer to [it] as ‘Chomsky Hash.’

“He [Foucault] struck me as completely amoral,” said Chomsky. “I’d never met anyone who was so totally amoral.”

Alternatively, if one wishes for the abridged version:

Displaying Foucault03.png
Foucault admiring Chomsky’s work

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