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Robert Jay Lifton, "Americans as Survivors—Vietnam and Iraq":
Lecture and Panel Discussion, Nov. 9 and 10, 2004

Robert Jay Lifton spoke on "Americans as Survivors—Vietnam and Iraq" on Nov. 9, 2004. The following day, Anthony W. Marx, Amherst College president, and Gerald Fink '62, founding member of the Whitehead Institute and American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at MIT, joined Lifton for a discussion of national security and academic freedom. Read more in Amherst's news release.

Audio clips of the lecture and panel are below.


Robert Jay Lifton, "Americans as Survivors—Vietnam and Iraq," Nov. 9, 2004

  1. Introduction. MP3 791 K

  2. "The state may collapse, but the mountains and rivers remain." MP3 793 K

  3. "The weapons could do, we sensed, what in the past only what God could do: destroy the world." MP3 690 K

  4. "…A near worship of the [nuclear] weapons to keep the world going." MP3 723 K

  5. "It was a vision of killing to heal." MP3 751 K

  6. "If one says a little bit more about apocalyptic violence, one has to recognize that it's a product of the apocalyptic imagination." MP3 889 K

  7. "The war on terrorism becomes a kind of American military apocalyptic – it acts in concert, or in tandem, with the Islamic apocalyptic." MP3 693 K

  8. " There is, in all this…a process by which war begets war." MP3 742 K

  9. "More and more Americans sought to find some sort of meaning under 9/11, and we found some heroic behavior on the part of family members who insisted upon the investigation." MP3 756 K

  10. " We can close down with our numbing and fantasies of revenge, or we can open out to seek some kind of illumination…we can take steps to diminishing, rather than increasing, the world's violence." MP3 425 K

  11. Questions, part 1 (not all questions are audible). MP3 783 K

  12. Questions, part 2 (not all questions are audible). MP3 755 K

Panel Discussion, Nov. 10, 2004

  1. "If we sacrifice our core beliefs and benefits of liberty in the pursuit of security, we invite the prospect of losing both our liberty and our security." MP3 781 K

  2. "I feel in this extraordinary room, we could probably reinvent the world." MP3 572 K

  3. "What if the policies now, which are in effect in the name of national security, pose a direct threat to national security?" MP3 741 K

  4. "We best serve national security by the fullest expression of academic freedom." MP3 585 K

  5. "These very technologies that have fueled these benefits pose a potential risk…to create the next generation of biological weapons." MP3 1017 K

  6. "If we have these laws [in virology], I can tell you that the very smartest will go into other areas." MP3 623 K

  7. "Students who work on anthrax are under pressure to be foolishly careful." MP3 637 K

  8. "There are elements of the government that actually understand the importance of continued openness in science and academia, and they know it's our best defense against bioterrorism. Remarkably, those are in the CIA." MP3 437 K

  9. "We don't act well as a country in crisis… the Patriot Act is a good example of that." MP3 909 K

  10. "To make a trillion spores of anthrax is not complicated." MP3 354 K

  11. "Can the scientists govern themselves? Can we be sure?" MP3 633 K

  12. President Marx's thanks. MP3 135 K

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