Mauricio Macri and the Old Wedge of Power in the Universities

By Jorge Majfud on October 15, 2021

Mauricio Macri, photo: EFE

Mauricio Macri, ex-President of Argentina, announced, “I have been called upon by the Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom of Florida International University to be part of their program of academic leadership.”  Since they love that word “leadership” they string it together with this business of “academic.” They also announced that he will teach classes. In reality, they have not appointed him as a professor, which would be against the rules, but they have given him a Senior Leadership Fellow scholarship so that he can share “his vision of leadership for implementing policies of the free market in his country.” According to the academic system, this is an invitational temporary appointment, different from the several month processes of competition and selection among hundreds of candidates who are specialists in their areas required by the usual hiring of a professor.

Without a doubt, this is another way of gaming the system. The system of committees, with scoring systems and voting for the selection of professors in this country is rather transparent.  At least, it is more transparent than in almost any other sector of the labor market.  But politicians and spokesmen for the 1% are accustomed to protest because the professors in the United States tend to be progressive ( 45% vs 9% for conservatives).  This is due to natural causes: the powerful people who own all the money do not need ideas, and those who love money and power also don’t dedicate themselves to study and research.  The general rule is that scholars and researchers are people on a salary, passionate about research and not about the pathological accumulation of large sums of capital. For the same reason, we don’t find very many big capitalists in workers’ unions.  No, not all of us want to be millionaires; what we don’t want is to be governed by millionaires, who are the kidnappers of democracies in the name of democracy.

But power does not accept areas in which it cannot take part and intervene, and so proposals are often made to “balance” the ranks of professors between “left” and “right,” as if we were dealing with a balancing act that hides the fact that the reality is that we are speaking of the politics of “those on top” and “those on the bottom.”  It never ceases to be a paradox when politics is represented as something horizontal and equilibrated, like a scale, when the power is distributed between the 1% and the remaining 99%.  The only “balance” consists of the fact that, due to the great political combo of God, patriotism, and capital, elections between the 1% and the party of the 99% tend to end up as a technical tie.  The 1% has almost the same amount of capital as the whole rest of the population, but they know how to invest it.

Universities in the United States invite well-known figures, including recognized failures like Macri, for three reasons:

1. For Marketing,

2.Because the invited visiting professor really has something to say or, when dealing with a well-known person, as a “study case.” Most know that they will learn nothing from these personages, but it is interesting for them to see “in real life” how the monkey peels the banana.

3.Because they are a way of “balancing” the traditional tendency of the mass of academia to think “differently than we do” – that is, differently from the owners of both the money and the countries that they have obtained by means of kidnapping liberal democracies.

Where is the democratic breakdown in US universities that facilitates this third reason?  On one side, the academic rules are written and are voted on democratically by the academic senates, so that even a private but nonprofit university functions as a cooperative.  Its objective is not the accumulation of wealth, as in ordinary businesses.  However – and I have discussed this in academic assemblies – from this level on up, even public universities cease to be democratic, as many Latin American and European universities are, in which the students, the professors and the alumni have a right to vote on their governance. This does not occur in the United States. The universities function like the Vatican. Thus, just as the Pope elects the cardinals and the cardinals elect the Pope, in a U.S. university, the executive function is similar: the members of the board of trustees select the university president who in turn chooses the members of the board of trustees.

Certainly, these universities often are outstanding in terms of research, but this is due to economic power (a product of hegemonic power) which makes it possible for a majority of the inventors to be foreigners.  But, if we are speaking about democracy, there’s no possible argument.  In the executive suites of the Ivory Tower, the affairs are as anti-democratic as those of any big business, and, like any big business, they portray themselves as the “leaders of the free world.”

For this reason, every once in a while some member of a board of directors – a board composed of  many important businessmen and thus tending to hold ideological beliefs opposed to those of the professors as a group, something which it never occurs to anyone to question – decides to promote “ideological balance” without academic competence.  In this light it is not strange that those invited to deliver graduation addresses or those especially selected, like Macri, share the same ideology as those in power.

Of course, these repeated calls to “balance the ideological tendencies among the professors “are never applied to the stock markets of the world, nor to the churches, nor to  the boards of huge businesses like Amazon and Facebook. No – because each big business is a perfect dictatorship, and – it becomes clearer daily – the model comes from the system of slavery supposedly overthrown in 1865.

It is not strange that the whole media machinery insists upon the administrative know-how of the businessman as president, reducing the human complexity of the country to the one-dimensional reality of a successful business. Although successful businesses are always protected by the government, their rhetoric is always anti-government.  They want to eliminate the government when it regulates them, but strengthen it in the areas that support them, such as repressive forces like the police and the army.  At the same time they curse and benefit from those government services that make it possible for the businesses to avoid caring for their employees, such as schools, hospitals and pension plans. They do the same with the infrastructure that they use and abuse, such as streets and highways, electricity, internet, and airports, while they demand reductions in their taxes or hide billions of dollars in off-shore banks – this last-named is something that ex-President Macri could teach expert classes about.

By a simple trick of the language, the small “businessman” who struggles each day to meet payroll on a few salaries somehow is considered part of the same guild as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and he will tend to defend them rather than to defend his employees. But while his only political power is one vote, a large corporation has the power of pressuring legislators, of buying candidates with huge donations, and, like in the United States, of writing the laws that later the senators representing the people vote to enact.  And everyone is just fine with this, although, by simple mathematical logic, 99% of those who dream of becoming one of the 1% will never achieve this neo-feudal utopia, since the system that they defend is set up for the success of the 1%, those specialists in looting all of human progress of the past centuries and presenting it as their own achievement, while at the same time they pocket the profits of this progress, almost all of which was truly created by the radicals that they demonize and by inventors working for wages.

In the same manner, these “academic institutions” invented the myth of the “Chilean miracle” for Pinochet, supported by tons of dollars from Washington – shortly after strangling the Chilean economy because the “people of Chile voted irresponsibly for Allende,” according to Nixon and Kissinger.  Even so, they are unable to avoid crisis after crisis, which did not leave Chile any better off, nor even with an increase of GNP much higher than those of the countries they labeled “failed.”  The same avalanche of dollars to the rescue of their puppet allies, such as, for example, Carlos Andrés Pérez during the Caracazo of the Venezuelan economic crisis of 1989, and the same to Macri in 2018, together with the blockade, both economic and media/informational applied to the “failed models.”

Now, since the universities of the United States are progressive islands in seas of conservatism, the lords of wealth invite failed politicians and those responsible for wrecking their countries – men such as Juan Domingo Cavalo, José María Aznar or Mauricio Macri – to be professors, all preceded with the title of “leadership.”

Source: Alainet, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano – English