Academy an anti-intellectual proposal

By David Green

I heartily agree with everything that Jim Barrett has said (Letters, 9/9) on The Academy of Capitalism and Limited Government, but I would go further. I propose that instead of the ACLG, we have the Academy for the Study of the Influence of Think Tanks in American Political Life. Since the 1970s backlash against whatever progress had been made in promoting social equality and opposing war, conservative think tanks have become increasingly influential as, essentially, ideological lobbyists-not to mention the revolving door between government employment and positions as “Senior Fellows.” These think tanks are funded by wealthy conservatives and reactionaries. While one cannot dismiss research findings and related policy proposals on the basis of ideology, it’s important to note that if conservative conclusions are not forthcoming, a Fellow will be out of work.

Think tanks are treated by the political establishment and the media as qualified experts rather than paid ideologues, usually to the exclusion of credentialed but politically suspect academics. They are far more influential regarding both foreign and domestic policy. They have promoted, in general, American global hegemony, the military-industrial complex, privatization, the squeeze on the middle class and the demonization of the poor. Academia and academic politics have their problems-and I don’t refer to “liberal bias”, but corporatization, elitism and trendiness-but in any event, the survival of serious research and debate on campus in an atmosphere of integrity is almost irrelevant to government policies. Academics are most successful when they serve as technocrats, not as promoters of discourse on fundamental social, cultural and political issues.

This university, like many others, is a monument to corporate ideology. The ACLG is consistent with that mentality. But the richly-deserved demise of this blatantly anti-intellectual proposal would leave unaddressed much more fundamental political problems that demand serious attention.

David Green

University Employee