Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Disciplinary Prostitution

While the two political parties have made a habit of selling themselves and their political representatives to the highest bidder, one might expect academic disciplines to hold a higher standard of integrity and ethical conduct. But as you might expect, you would be sadly mistaken.

Recent revelations on the torture practices of the United States have disclosed the role of the American Psychological Association in condoning professional involvement with the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.  When Forbes magazine holds the moral high ground on the practices of your discipline, you know you are in ethical quicksand.

But let’s not isolate just one academic discipline selling its soul to the anti-terrorism industrial complex. It turns out that there is other ways for academics to cash in on the war on terrorism. Many have responded to the siren calls of the national security state through the Minerva Initiative.  In describing their purpose, they state:

The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008 focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.
Just as our military forces could not effectively operate without understanding the physical terrain and environment, detection of radical actors and regime disruptions is limited by our understanding of the cultural and political environments where those threats develop.

The purpose of the DoD funded research is ultimately to develop effective techniques for neutralizing resistance and opposition to global neoliberalism and the inequality and oppression that it has spawned.
There are many social scientists willing to engage in this research…. for a price. 

As the late great sociologist Alvin Gouldner once remarked on those sociologists engaging in the world’s oldest profession: “Some people live for sociology, others live off sociology.”

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a bit like the MK ULTRA experiments from many decades ago. []

    How does one make the distinction between someone living for sociology, as opposed to off of it?