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May 18, 2022

Wednesday Morning Rant [Joe Mannix]

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The Government-Research Complex

Since the start of the Russia/Ukraine war and the involvement of the United States in that effort - intelligence, weapons, money, etc. - discussion of Eisenhower's warning about the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) has once again come into the fore. This is not without reason, given the corruption in Ukraine and Washington, the involvement of big name military contractors, the enthusiastic push for expansion of this war from all corners and so on.

Eisenhower urged constant vigilance with regard to the MIC during his farewell address to Congress. The MIC, however, was only one of his warnings. Another less famous but perhaps more profound warning was about what could be called the Government-Research Complex. His warning in this realm is all but forgotten.


... first is that the process of research has become highly formalized, complex, and extremely costly. Second, because this is so, a steadily increasing share of research is conducted by, for, and under the direction of the Federal government. ... The major impetus to research now comes not from private individuals in pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, but from public agencies in pursuit of specific, predetermined results. ...
Many a college and university is in some manner beholden to the Federal government for funds needed to support its own research program. The prospect of domination of the nation's research effort by the federal government is a real and ever-present one, and deadly serious. ...

The dangers of the Government-Research Complex are perhaps more important - though were less urgent at the time - than the MIC. The Government-Research Complex sets the direction in all things, pursues the goals of the government and starves anything not aligned to those goals. The slow-motion global disaster of the COVID response is perhaps the greatest example of this phenomenon. Government-backed research - and therefore all tolerable research - was in only two directions: stop environmental spread and produce a vaccine. The former absolutely failed and the latter has effectively failed. Any pursuit outside of these two realms was not supported by the state and was in fact suppressed. The costs associated with that have only begun to be borne.

The MIC risk dominated while Eisenhower's second warning was largely forgotten. Research has continued to become more centralized, either under the state itself or under corporate entities partnered with the state and pursuing congruent goals and ambitions. This problem is at least as great as the MIC, and is in the process of destroying science at all levels. COVID, climate change, social theory and more are all directed by the government or congruent with its goals.

And the world is descending into ruin in part as a result of this. The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is right now. The government must stop directing research and thwarting unaligned activities. Non-defense scientific pursuits must be left to other parties. They can research and invent unfettered - and unsupported - by government.

Sadly, the road typically runs only one way and this road's destination is post-scientific dark age.

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:00 AM

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