[OPE] Anthony Giddens, the LSE and Gaddafi

From: Jurriaan Bendien <jurriaanbendien@online.nl>
Date: Tue Mar 15 2011 - 09:13:04 EDT

(...) As the monumental changes around the Muslim and particular Arab world
demonstrate, never has there been a greater need for independent, academic
programs capable of training a new generation of scholars and policy-makers
who can participate in the kind of reshaping of American or European
policies in which the Obama administration, for one, is presently engaged.

Instead, the humanities and social sciences are are being defunded, with
less money each year for graduate training and research. And it is in this
context that the recent uproar over the London School of Economics taking
millions of dollars from the Gaddafi family needs to be understood.

Before we criticise the LSE for taking money from the Libyan leader and his
family, we should understand that British universities have lost funding at
a rate that is shocking even in the US.

At the same time, the government pressed LSE to develop ties with Gaddafi
and take his money - essentially, it prostituted the school - not just to
replace public funding, but as a tool in the larger British effort to win
Gaddafi's friendship, and through it, billions of dollars in contracts.

Yet were senior LSE administrators really naive enough to imagine that
Gaddafi family were genuinely interested in opening up the country along a
democratic path?

Could someone as brilliant as former LSE Director Anthony Giddens, one of
the world's keenest critics of modernity and globalisation, so easily fall
under Gaddafi's spell that after a couple of visits he opined in the New
Statesman that "I get the strong sense it [the reform process] is authentic
and there is a lot of motive power behind it. Saif Gaddafi is a driving
force behind the rehabilitation and potential modernisation of Libya"?

If Giddens actually believed that Seif, who did his PhD at LSE, was a
potential moderniser, should we be reevaluating his celebrated theories of
modernisation? If so, what about the theories of academic luminaries like
Benjamin Barber, author of Jihad Vs. McWorld, and the Peruvian development
economist Hernando de Soto, both board members of Gaddafi's foundation?

And what does it say that George Soros, no friend of dictators he, advised
the LSE to accept the donations. He too believed in the potential for Libya
to modernise and, if not quite democratise, at least open its society in
unprecedented ways.

Perhaps more important, he understood that in the current funding
environment the LSE had little choice but to take the chance it would get
burned by Gaddafi, accept his money, and hope that the Libyan fairy tale
came true. (...)

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Received on Tue Mar 15 09:16:01 2011

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