Friday, March 28, 2008

Terrorism, rent-seeking, and Academe

In an article from Wired called "Civil Libertarians See a Hopeful Dawn in 2009 ... the Fools," comes this ominous paragraph:

"There is so much money in the terrorism trough," says Steven Aftergood, who runs the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy Project. "There are constituencies within agencies who are going to be advocating for retention of those practices. It will take a lot of work to roll back practices that have been entrenched for the last seven years."

I personally got creaped out about this when I moved to Washington to go to Georgetown, and noticed a) ads by Raytheon and colleges advertising "Homeland Security" certificates in the Metro, and b) the obsession with students and academics in Georgetown's foreign studies departments with terrorism. The rent-seeking associated with anti-terrorist things is obvious – there are many companies who do a lot of business with governments. And then there's the academic side of it – academic rockstars like Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama inspire future generations of grad students and aspiring academics, who in turn coax undergraduates into classes on terrorism and Arabic. This pattern isn't new: socialism and statist brewed in universities across the US and Europe in the early twentieth century, and then the ideologies bled over into the real world. But at least statism was romantic and progressive-feeling – this shit is just fear-mongering.

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