invasive intellectuals

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In painting the intellectual as servant of the state, Andrew Bacevich states that "Policy intellectuals -- eggheads presuming to instruct the mere mortals who actually run for office -- are a blight on the republic:"

Like some invasive species, they infest present-day Washington, where their presence strangles common sense and has brought to the verge of extinction the simple ability to perceive reality. A benign appearance -- well-dressed types testifying before Congress, pontificating in print and on TV, or even filling key positions in the executive branch -- belies a malign impact. They are like Asian carp let loose in the Great Lakes.

After FDR's Brain Trust, World War II, and the Cold War, the problem was exacerbated:

These events brought to Washington a second wave of deep thinkers, their agenda now focused on "national security." This eminently elastic concept -- more properly, "national insecurity" -- encompassed just about anything related to preparing for, fighting, or surviving wars, including economics, technology, weapons design, decision-making, the structure of the armed forces, and other matters said to be of vital importance to the nation's survival. National insecurity became, and remains today, the policy world's equivalent of the gift that just keeps on giving.

He questions the prevalence of groupthink:

How was it that during Vietnam bad ideas exerted such a perverse influence? Why were those ideas so impervious to challenge? Why, in short, was it so difficult for Americans to recognize bullshit for what it was?

These questions are by no means of mere historical interest. They are no less relevant when applied to the handiwork of the twenty-first-century version of policy intellectuals, specializing in national insecurity, whose bullshit underpins policies hardly more coherent than those used to justify and prosecute the Vietnam War.

Today's status quo--from the Global War on Terror to global spying--is no better.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on March 9, 2015 11:52 AM.

Republican revisionism was the previous entry in this blog.

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