Monday, July 18, 2016

6. Dissidents in American Politics: The Academic Oligarchist Class

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the sixth in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Academic Oligarchists advocate control of government executive and judicial power by people who can be trusted to act on behalf of the "common good." They can be trusted because they have shared ties and knowledge gained through higher education, meaning colleges and universities they have attended.

Membership into the American Academic Oligarchy can automatically derive from holding a degree from an American Ivy League school (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale) plus a few others (College of William and Mary, University of Chicago, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford, Wellesley, and the three military academies).

It is important to recognize that Academic Oligarchists are not employed by a university or college, except on a temporary basis or when semi-retired. Nor are they employed regularly in the private sector. Rather they work as elected or appointed public officials.

While the focus here is on the latter half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century, the American Academic Oligarchy assumed control at the creation of the United States. Of course our first six Presidents attended one of those colleges:
  • George Washington - College of William and Mary
  • Thomas Jefferson - College of William and Mary
  • John Adams - Harvard
  • James Madison - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Monroe - College of William and Mary
  • John Quincy Adams - Harvard
And among the Supreme Court Justices appointed by those Presidents were:
  • John Jay - Columbia
  • Oliver Ellsworth - Yale, Princeton
  • William Paterson - Princeton
  • William Cushing - Harvard
  • John Blair, Jr. - College of William and Mary
  • Bushrod Washington - College of William and Mary
  • John Marshall - College of William and Mary
  • William Johnson - Princeton
  • Henry Brockholst Livingston - Princeton
  • Joseph Story - Harvard
  • Smith Thompson - Princeton
In reality it began with the Declaration of Independence as the signers included:
  • John Hancock - Harvard
  • William Hooper - Harvard
  • Samuel Adams - Harvard
  • Robert Treat Paine - Harvard
  • Elbridge Gerry - Harvard
  • William Ellery - Harvard
  • William Williams - Harvard
  • Oliver Wolcott - Yale
  • Philip Livingston - Yale
  • Lyman Hall - Yale
  • Carter Braxton - College of William and Mary
  • Benjamin Harrison V - College of William and Mary
  • Benjamin Rush - Princeton
  • Joseph Hewes - Princeton
  • Thomas McKean - Princeton, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania
  • Francis Hopkinson - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Smith - University of Pennsylvania
  • James Wilson - University of Pennsylvania
  • William Paca - University of Pennsylvania
It's even more complicated than that.

We all know that Benjamin Franklin, like so many of his time, was educated more informally. That might make you think he wasn't involved in the Academic Oligarchy. What you may not know is the Academy and College of Philadelphia located in Philadelphia was founded in 1749 by a group of local notables that included Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, the first president of the board of trustee, drew up the constitution for the academy, which was notable for its emphasis on modern languages and science in place of Latin and Greek. It was reorganized in 1791 as the University of Pennsylvania.

Twenty-one members of the Continental Congress were graduates of Benjamin Franklin's school, and nine signers of the Declaration of Independence were either alumni or trustees.

Given the times, as we might expect many signers not listed were educated in Great Britain. As an example, John Witherspoon attended the University of Edinburgh but emigrated from Scotland to New Jersey in 1768 to become the sixth President of the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton University.

While holding a degree from any university, any person can become affiliated with American Academic Oligarchists by working in a senior position for a President, or Cabinet Member, or even a State executive official who is an Academic Oligarchist.

Most significantly, the American Academic Oligarchy controls the U.S. Presidency and Supreme Court. Oh. And did I say that they believe they work to achieve "the common good" which in the 20th Century was defined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a documents most Americans don't even know exists. On other hand, how to achieve "the common good" is the subject of political disputes.

Here is a list of the American Presidents who first entered the office after the adoption of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and their alma maters:
  • Barack Obama - Columbia and Harvard Law School
  • George W. Bush - Yale and Harvard Business School
  • Bill Clinton - Georgetown, Oxford, and Yale Law School
  • George H. W. Bush - Yale
  • Ronald Reagan -  Eureka College
  • Jimmy Carter -  U.S. Naval Academy
  • Gerald Ford -  Yale Law School
  • Richard Nixon -  Duke University School of Law
  • Lyndon B. Johnson - Texas State University
  • John F. Kennedy -  attended Stanford and graduated from Harvard
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower - United States Military Academy (West Point)
Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson were not automatic members of the American Academic Oligarchy.

As we know, Lyndon Johnson accidentally became President after the assassination of Jack Kennedy and immediately was surrounded by members of the American Academic Oligarchy who were part of the Kennedy administration. Ironically, because of timing the American Academic Oligarchy in 1964 had to use Johnson, whose leanings were toward being a Romantic Populist, to stop a Mythical Reactionary movement led by  Barry Goldwater. Johnson only recently has been posthumously "embraced" by Academic Oligarchs.

By the time Ronald Reagan entered the Office of the President he too was surrounded with automatic members. But he had served two terms as Governor of California 1967–75 with Ed Meese as his Chief of Staff.  Meese was a Yale graduate. It is in examining the people like Meese around Reagan's political career that we can gain a clearer picture of what it means to be an Academic Oligarchist.

For instance, a classic example of an Academic Oligarchist associated with Reagan was Caspar Weinberger, who held a BA and a law degree from Harvard.
  • Governor Ronald Reagan named Weinberger chairman of the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy in 1967 and appointed him State director of finance early in 1968. 
  • Two years later Weinberger became chairman of the Federal Trade Commission where is credited for having revitalized the FTC by enforcing consumer protection. 
  • Weinberger subsequently served under President Richard Nixon as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. 
  • Weinberger then became vice president and general counsel of the Bechtel Corporation in California directly working in the world of Shareholder Capitalists for what is today the largest construction and civil engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 5th-largest privately owned company in the United States; it was and is a major contractor working for the U.S. Government which, as of July 2015, leads a consortium that manages three national security-related facilities in the U.S.: the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the combined Y-12 National Security Complex/Pantex Plant..
  • Weinberger then served as Secretary of Defense for the first six years of Reagan's Presidency. 
  • Afterwards Weinberger joined Forbes, Inc., in 1989 as publisher of Forbes magazine, and in 1993 he was named chairman. 
  • In he early 21st Century Weinberger was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute of Oxford University.
Regarding Ronald Reagan as California's most conservative Governor, the presence of Academic Oligarchy thinking in him or around him led to some rather non-conservative policies:
  • In 1968, he signed the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, establishing collective bargaining for California's municipal and county employees which is consistent with his history as a union leader;
  • During his term as Governor, he oversaw adoption of sweeping tax packages at least four times larger than the previous record California tax increase obtained by Governor Brown in 1959;
  • In 1970 he signed the landmark California Environmental Quality Act; he worked with Nevada Republican Governor Paul Laxalt to establish the Lake Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to protect the Lake from irresponsible development; he signed the bill that created the California Air Resources Control Board; and he opposed a major federal highway construction project through the southern Sierras, literally putting on his cowboy hat and riding his horse through the John Muir Wilderness to publicize his opposition;
  • He signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act, making California the third and largest state to allow for abortion in cases such as rape, incest, or where pregnancy would impair the physical or mental health of the mother, though he did struggle with this bill personally as explained in this story.
By the time his term as Governor ended, Academic Oligarchists accepted him one of their own. As a Presidential candidate, Reagan was an experienced union executive and governor who throughout his life regularly sought the advice and counsel of automatic Academic Oligarchists.

Regarding the Supreme Court, here is a list of the current Supreme Court justices:
  • John Roberts - Harvard and Harvard Law School
  • Anthony Kennedy - Stanford and Harvard Law School
  • Clarence Thomas -Yale Law School
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Cornell University, Harvard Law School, and Columbia Law School
  • Stephen Breyer - Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School
  • Samuel Alito - Princeton and Yale Law School
  • Sonia Sotomayor - Princeton and Yale Law School
  • Elena Kagan - Princeton, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School
In terms of the future of the Presidency we have a strong challenge to the Academic Oligarchist tradition:
  • Hillary Clinton is the model Academic Oligarchist who graduated from Wellesley in 1969 and received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale in 1973, and has held the positions of U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. Her Vice-Presidential nominee Tim Kaine also is a model Academic Oligarchist who holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard, has specialized training as an Academic Oligarchist from the Coro Foundation, and has held the positions of City Council Member, Mayor, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and U.S. Senator.
  • The challenge comes from Donald Trump who did graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968, Penn's business school, but has never held any governmental office having always been a Shareholder Capitalist. His Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence is an anti-Academic Oligarchist as a long-time member of the State Policy Network (we will discuss that further in the next post) who has held the position of the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative talk radio show host, Congressman and Governor.
Regarding Donald Trump's alma mater, there is a certain irony that has to be noted given his bombastic anti-China demagoguery which can be seen if you click on the image below:

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to look at the lists above and think: "Yes, the evidence indicates that the American Academic Oligarchy dominates the  U.S. Presidency and Supreme Court."

However, Academic Oligarchists do not dominate the law-making or budget-adoption roles in the United States. That function is left to Congress and the state legislatures, members of which are directly elected and are therefore responsible to the voters.

If members of the public do not like our laws and budgets, they need only look in the mirror to find someone to blame. Academic Oligarchists only have review and veto power, and do control administration of the laws and budget.

Like the Shareholder Capitalists, they do try to influence the direction of policy-making pursuant to those laws.The views of  Academic Oligarchists, particularly in the context of seeking a common good as defined by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, frequently do conflict with those of Shareholder Capitalists. We need to examine that conflict and how resolution is achieved.

But first we need to look at the other two classes - the dissidents.

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