As alumni of Georgetown University, we must declare our profound degree of unease regarding the intellectual environment at Georgetown. We submit that our school increasingly resembles a breeding ground for mere functionaries.

Of late, much in this newspaper has presented ground for concern in this regard. It seems rather questionable that the election of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will provide a break from the “status quo that 28 [sic] years of Bushes and Clintons have created” (“Obama: Change We Believe in,” THE HOYA, Feb. 5, 2008, A2), as THE HOYA’s editors would have it, because Obama has made his commitment to the continuation of Israeli apartheid, capitalist globalization and American oligarchy rather clear. Another editorial (“Save a Cow, Go to Leo’s,” Feb. 8, A3) claims not to want to “overly politicize” Georgetown’s achievement of largely vegetarian-friendly facilities – but, to us, it seems obvious that one’s dietary choices are, like most other things, eminently political, and should be politicized, as cruelty to non-human animals and lack of concern for the malnourished humans who could be fed with the food given to animals later slaughtered for consumption should both quite clearly be resisted. In a similar vein, Stephen Kenny (“By Dramatizing Planet’s Perils, Politicians Create New Ones,” THE HOYA, March 18, 2008, A3) warns us to approach our response to the problem of climate change with an eye to the “core American value of individual liberty”: in response, we would say that such an atomized, air-conditioned, and de-natured conception of “liberty” must be called into question by the presence of an “Other” – especially, as in this case, when the capitalist pursuit of “freedom” calls into question the very ability for billions of dispossessed human beings to continue living. It is not surprising, in our view, that such anti-social modes of analysis should be so casually expressed in THE HOYA, for they speak to what we consider a deeply troubled society – and university.

Prone to groupthink, many Georgetown students see law school or Wall Street as the goal of university education. Though society itself is much to blame for this unfortunate set of priorities, it is also true that Georgetown discourages idealism, be it through economics courses that present mainstream theories as grounded truth or international relations professors who dismiss anything other than the conventional theories of realism and its corollaries as the realm of “intellectual softies.”

In our view, the university’s ties to trans-national power elites also contribute largely to this problem. Those in the mainstream who already have ready access to the hegemonic media are often given the university’s stage, while critical voices only rarely make their way to campus – and then rarely without extended lobbying by student groups. The university’s provision of Gaston Hall to Jim Cramer’s 2006 “Mad Money Back to School Tour,” which was marked by an infantile adulation of capital and an attendant drive to make as much money as possible, should be considered an embarrassment for an institution that purports to instill values of social justice in its students. As, of course, should Georgetown’s hiring of powerful and highly destructive state officials as professors. Need we remind the community that it was Professor Albright who famously concluded that “the price” – the death of a half-million Iraqi children resulting from the pre-invasion sanctions regime – “is worth it.” It is practically unbelievable that “slam-dunk” George Tenet has absurdly been granted the position of distinguished professor in the practice of diplomacy at our university.

Our alma mater does not understand itself, as a true host of teaching should, as a dissident institution – that is, as one that gives students the tools to question orthodoxy. Rather, it willingly embraces and submits itself to the intense bigotry of mainstream thought. Extant power structures, Georgetown tells us, represent the full range of the possible. Students are only able to “choose” from a set of theories seen as holding the most Ccurrency in the marketplace”; accordingly, they are taught not to interrogate power and resist its abuses, but rather unquestioningly adore and valorize it. Such institutional myopia, has the hardly shocking consequence of systematically de-legitimizing any consideration of alternative modes of thought and social organization – methods by which, we believe, true happiness could come to replace the alienation and fragmentation that so centrally characterize much of our current reality.

If our emphasis on the systematic dismissal of alternative visions of society that dominates Georgetown harkens back to the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, with their notorious platitudes of TINA (There Is No Alternative), it should: Though the political “leadership” of the United States has been seen to moderate itself from the “excesses” of Thatcherism and Reaganism, the fact remains that our socio-economic system – marked by an elective aristocracy that claims itself a democracy and the domination of everyday life by corporate interests – is largely indistinguishable from the one championed by Thatcher and Reagan. In truth, any change that has taken place since their time has been – as it only could have been – a quantitative one. We, in contrast, seek a decidedly qualitative change of society that fundamentally affirms the development of true individuality within a supportive human community characterized at minimum by productive and distributional schemes responsive to human need and ecological balance. In place of TINA, we proclaim that another world is possible – and profoundly desirable.

We here claim that the dominant mode of intellectual transference at Georgetown represents a very clear impediment to the realization of such dreams. We find Georgetown to be an institution that propagates knowledge which is systematically reduced for the sake of expediency and accommodation to the “way things are”; concurrently, we see the dispensation of such knowledge as characterized by a marked disregard for social responsibility. We lament that Georgetown students are taught to become acceptable, streamlined candidates for positions within existing hierarchical arrangements. They should, in our view, be taught to become revolutionaries.

Javier Sethness and Jakob Rieken graduated from the School of Foreign Service in 2007.

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