Saturday, August 31, 2013

(Secret) Military Funding Of Academic Research

The quote below from Edward Said (1991) concludes an excellent expose by Joel Wainwright about the murky and often secretive links between intellectuals, researchers and the military. The full article is somewhat longer than the usual posts here but is recommended for further insight into the limits and constraints of academics and researchers working within the capitalist system and at the same time seeking funding to continue their work.

"There’s only one way to anchor oneself [as an intellectual], and that is by affiliation with a cause, a political movement. There has to be identification not with the secretary of state or the leading philosopher of the time but with matters involving justice, principle, truth, conviction. Those don’t occur in a laboratory or a library.  For the American intellectual, that means, at bottom, that the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world, now based upon profit and power, has to be altered to one of coexistence among human communities that can make and remake their own histories and environments together. … [Unfortunately, even] inside the university, the prevalence of norms based upon domination and coercion is so strong because the idea of authority is so strong, whether it’s derived from the nation-state, from religion, from the ethnos, from tradition.… Part of intellectual work is understanding how authority is formed.  Authority is not God-given. It’s secular. And if you can understand that, then your work is conducted in such a way as to be able to provide alternatives to the authoritative and coercive norms that dominate so much of our intellectual life, our national and political life, and our international life above all."

To which Joel Wainwright adds:

If we are going to criticize the formation of authority and provide alternatives to the norms that dominate intellectual life, we have no choice: we must confront the US military.

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