This piece was sent to me anonymously. It was written by an old colleague, Javier Sicard, now diseased. It’s a piece that now resides in a yet to be published book on the story of how the tri-border region, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, along the Iguazu falls, became a nexus for terrorism’s easy border crossing. Sicard was visiting the area and following new investments in the region. In fact, after 9/11, when I visited the AMIA, in Buenos Aires, I was told that the CIA immediately visited them to inquire about what they new about this porous border.
I, here, copy the entire piece by Javier Sicard, once a noted scholar, A New Consolidation of Power. What do you make of it?
A New Consolidation of Power
Javier Sicard November 30, 1995
Since the Cold War (1947-93), there has been an increasingly open cohabitation between the corporation and the state. As the state’s ambitions have grown more expansive and more global, corporate economic muscle has become its basis of power, a reliable strength that, in the minds of governments, assures dominance. The corporation is the main sponsor and coordinator of the powers represented by science and technology – a way to dominate. These unprecedented alliances – and combinations – are challenging established political, moral, intellectual, and economic boundaries; they are re-inventing and disseminating culture – and notions of pleasure, privacy, and consumption, eagerly creating a politically passive citizen. We find ourselves slowly transcending into an imperial culture that is less democratic, less republican in the eighteenth century sense.
Nowhere are these new alliances more noticeable then in the University. The University has literally been transformed. Up until now, the University’s raison d’être has been to determine and nurture the national cultural mission; however, given the state’s ambitions and the corporation’s predatory nature, new alliances with governments, in the US and Europe, have definitively separated the University from the idea of the nation-state. The University is a different kind of institution, no longer linked to the destiny of the nation-state, and a powerful protector of economic globalization, which brings with it a relative decline in the nation-state as a prime instance of the reproduction of capital around the world. The University is complicit in creating a world where the nation-state is governed by the corporation. Those of us who are the professors in the University have been relegated to nothing more than administrators producing yet more able bodied managers that will enter into the different nodes made available by the flow of global capital. We are like a concierge in a grand hotel ushering guests towards new luxuries. We are the gatekeepers to the moneyed gentry – nothing but policemen cleaning up the next wave of managers that will maintain all our systems as they are. The University, today, is no different then AT&T, McDonald Douglas, Triad Management – or any other Wall Street enterprise fixated on excellence (read: efficiency) and accountability. The University cleans money; it takes it in, allocates it to fund managers, that in turn reap their own rewards from the exchange of capital, after which they return a healthy profit for the University. The University is another way to move wealth. It’s quiet. It’s unseen, masked by its mythological – and historical – past. The centrality of the humanistic disciplines are no longer assured in the University; accounting and management are the new guides that acquiesce to new and dynamic systems of power, control and discipline.
The historical project for the University, a legacy of the Enlightenment, is the historical project of culture. The University is no longer a participant in this project. We may be witnessing the end of the University as traditionally known. The aim of the University is to indoctrinate its participants into the deep structure of postmodern industrialization; that is, the project is to industrialize thought. No critiques from the left, no one from the boundaries is allowed in. The University ensures that the illusion of the truth – now called reality – is widely accepted. Stripped of its grand narrative, the University’s overall mission is not cultural, it is corporate. It is a conduit integrating individuals to industry, accomplished by becoming depositories (think endowments) of global capital. In this relationship, Universities have become banks that answer to Wall Street, for starters, and must acquiesce to the whims of an ideology synonymous with corporatism. This is a great leap backwards, a denial of a growing imbalance which leads to our adoration of self-interest and our denial of public good, as my friend John Ralston Saul likes to say.
This new concentration of power has evolved into a society-dominating technocracy; in this brave new world, we in the University teach that management is, indeed, doing. New communication technologies are canonized, financial speculation is praised – and promoted – and we glorify the service economy. Consequently, we interiorizing an artificial vision of civilization that comes from hundreds of specialized sectors that carefully measure outcomes. Truth, therefore, does not exist since it is measured by professionals while citizens are busy interiorizing a synthetic world that really doesn’t exist and liable to break apart at any moment.
War is common place and widely supported by these powerful relationships. The massive killing of people is a sort of efficiency model; and greed, the prodigal child of hyperindividualism, is systematically created and delivered from one world to the next, from the First World to the Third World; it’s our outreach, our foreign policy. That means that some worlds – take Latin America, for instance, where my own country, Argentina, can serve as an example – exist to be conduits for this greed, facilitating it, enabling insincere transactions that, in order for these to come to fruition, a certain part of the population must be de-humanized, marginalized, sent off into an existence marked by nomadism, a new reality for the weak and the poor, the disenfranchised that are made to run from depravation, famine, and violence and towards simple subsistence found elsewhere, sometimes only on the side of a desolate road to nowhere.
The new consolidation of power makes us vulnerable, not more secure, though we’re lead to believe that everything is just dandy, going along smoothly. We’re better off, we are told. Yet we find ourselves more susceptible to everything from diseases (some unknown) to terrorism to climate change and environmental degradation, the mechanical fluctuations of machines that run global markets.
We can lay blame for this world on the doorsteps of the most elite Universities, and we can lay blame, here, to the most accomplished minds that have created an allegiance with the predatory nature of corporatism, the mechanism by which power has been consolidated and government made to serve it, not us. The University is the newest member to this world order. The University is the entry level institution to this new consolidation of power.