Right Of The Star

Friday, January 18, 2008

Scientific-Technological Elite, A Warning For The Ages

UPDATE: November 27, 2009 --  With the release of the University of East Anglia's emails this month and the beginning of the discovery of "climategate" this message has never been more important!

Everybody remembers Eisenhower’s warning about the, “military-industrial complex,” shoot, it has become the siren call of some.

(Google video search. "Eisenhower's Farewell." 53 most 2 minutes or less of a 46 minute speech one of the full speech. Reagan's, "Tear Down This Wall," gets less then half at 26, JFK's inaugural, "Ask Not...," gets 7, and FDR's, "Pearl Harbor," gets 3 (and one is from Crooksandliars ripping Condi for a comment she made))

Few if any recall — and it is never repeated — the second of the two specific warning he made in that very same speech:
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” (emphasis added)
The scientific-technological elite, Eisenhower truly was prescient. Read the speech, it could have been written today.
Update: Here are a few more quotes from Eisenhower's farewell (a speech about balance not about the war machine, by the way) that we really should heed:

[...] Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress. [...]
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility.

For being so oft quoted (about 290,000 Google hits!) it is one of America's under appreciated speeches.