The Leaning Ivory Towers of America’s Corpocracy

With due respect to the citizens of Pisa and their landmark bell tower, I am using it loosely as a metaphor for the permanent tilting of America’s institutions of higher learning to the corrupting influences of America’s corpocracy ever since the beginning of those institutions.

While I have written several times about the corruption of American education, this article limits itself to an overview of the corruption of America’s post-secondary education by America’s corpocracy. ((See, e.g., pp. 143-151 of my book, America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. 2015; also, my article, “The Militarization of American Education”, OpEdNews, August 17, 2014.))

Background Up Close and Personal

What provoked me into writing this article was remembering my umbrage in seeing several years ago that my undergraduate alma mater, Indiana University, had invited former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to be a guest speaker on the subject of “Making War, Making Peace.” Gloated the university’s program official:  “Bringing a speaker of Madeleine Albright’s stature will attract a large, diverse group of students and faculty because of her extensive political and economic experience in national and global affairs, as well as her current political beliefs on how the U.S. can continue to position itself on the world stage.” ((IU News Room. October, 11, 2011. Madeleine Albright, the First Woman to Serve as Secretary of State of the United States, Will Present a Public Lecture. “Making War, Making Peace.”)) I wrote a searing letter excoriating IU for inviting a former US official who, as our UN Ambassador, had heartlessly stated in an interview show that deaths of 500,000 children from US sanctions was “worth the price.” ((Watson, J.W. “If Anyone’s Going to Hell It’s Madeleine Albright“. As UN Ambassador, Albright Justified the Death of 500,000 Children. Info Wars, February 8, 2016.))

The Littered Landscape of Leaning Ivory Towers

My alma mater is hardly the only university offering programs specializing in international relations. There are nearly 70 of them on campuses spread throughout the US, and I think it is fair to say that most, if not all, are  beholden to the corpocracy. ((Wikipedia. List of Schools of International Relations in the United States.)) A case in point is the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, a division of Johns Hopkins University. On its campus is the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, whose purpose according to its namesake and international war criminal is to “develop a multi-disciplinary approach to world order with special emphasis on historical and cultural evolution.” ((Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Introducing the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs. Undated.)) The veiled purpose, I am certain, is to ensure that the US controls that world order by whatever means possible.

Those nearly 70 schools are yet a miniscule portion of the many different schools among 4700 some accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. under the influence of the corpocracy. For example, two investigative journalists ranked the 100 most “militarized universities in America.” ((Arkin, W.M. and O’Brien, A.O. “The Most Militarized Universities in America: Our Ranking Methodology Explained”, Vice News, November 5, 2015.))  Their identity is far less interesting than the fact that the journalists listed nearly 50 government programs that are the conduit for funding the military’s influence on these universities, an influence that is decidedly in the interest of furthering the US militaristic and imperialistic agenda rather than that of the common good of America and the world.

Spy Schools

“Spy Schools” is the provocative title of a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden who, through his extensive research, shows “how the CIA, FBI, and foreign intelligence secretly exploit America’s universities” and in so doing “has transformed U.S. higher education into a front line for international spying.” ((Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities, Daniel Golden, Henry Holt and Co., 2017.))

Doctors of Doom

Moving up the ladder of advanced learning, the same two journalists who investigated the militarization of America’s universities wrote a lengthy article disclosing how “doctors of doom,” or PhDs, are pawns of the US national security industry. ((Arkin, W.M. and O’Brien, A.O. “A Doctors of Doom: What a PhD Really Means in the US National Security Community”, Vice News, January 27, 2016.)) They estimate that about 25,000 PhD’s have top secret clearances. Many of these doctorates were earned at online universities, an inferior source of “advanced” learning, which is more than adequate I should think for the childishness of the entire spook and secret business. Who loves a secret more than a child?

The national security community, concerned about the declining quality of doctoral programs (on line, particularly) educating its recruits, established an in-house university, “The National Intelligence University.” Given that it is a government run degree mill, I can’t imagine there has been a subsequent rise in actual intelligence.

Ubiquitous Corporate Influences on Campus

The military and intelligence sectors of America’s corpocracy are not the only sources of corruption tilting the ivory towers. One would be hard put, I should think, to find very many, if any, sources in the corpocracy that do not tilt the towers, and conversely, very few, if any, academic departments within universities that are not so tilted. Indeed, as journalist and researcher Jennifer Washburn shows in her book, University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education, that higher education, especially in the larger universities, has been thoroughly commercialized, with bona fide education and learning becoming a subordinate and deprived objective. She gives as one of many examples of corporate influence how professors of corporate sponsored and funded research are pressured to yield control of the research to the sponsor. ((Washburn, J. University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education. Basic Books, 2006.))

In Closing

Decades ago I had the honor of debating in a small forum J. Edward Deming, the putative father of the “total quality management” movement when he was in his nineties. “Knowledge is everything” was his mantra. “No sir,” I had the temerity to argue, “how knowledge is used is everything.”  It is not enough to know the difference between right and wrong. What is required on a wide scale for civilization to survive in the long run is to use the right knowledge in the right way.

Throughout the leaning towers of America’s corpocratic history knowledge has been thin, twisted, and used to benefit the selfish good of the power elite, not the common good of America and the world. Not coincidentally, it seems, the higher the education the lower the morality.

What might be an antidote to upright the towers? A cultural revolution a la the era of Chairman Mao? I hope not. The only antidote that would succeed is one replacing America’s corpocracy with a true democracy, a state-of-affairs that has never existed before in America’s short history and is unlikely to ever exist at all. And we know for certain that the leaning towers will never upright themselves.

Gary Brumback, PhD, is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Read other articles by Gary.