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Hell in a Very Small Place

Hell: the creditor of last resort Note: While I was writing this I thought about many things I experienced and read. Then as I was posting this the title of a book I read many years ago came to mind. Bernard Fall’s Hell in a Very Small Place. Fall was and remained a sympathizer with […]

The post Hell in a Very Small Place first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Hell: the creditor of last resort

Note: While I was writing this I thought about many things I experienced and read. Then as I was posting this the title of a book I read many years ago came to mind. Bernard Fall’s Hell in a Very Small Place. Fall was and remained a sympathizer with the imperial powers that exploited Indochina, both French and American. His account of the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu was a combination of despair and appeal for a more sensible counter-insurgency strategy that would waste fewer (French) lives. While Gaza and Dien Bien Phu are by no means politically or historically comparable. The ambiguities in the assessment of this military operation do bear some similarity to the contradictions among opponents of the annihilation of Palestinians in Gaza. Thus the reference to Fall’s title is not intended as analogy or allegory but as cognitive provocation.

Between BlackRock and a hard place

According to published sources, whatever one may think of Wikipedia’s notoriously selective entries, the university named after the Puritan merchant-adventurer of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Harvard, constitutes a corporation with the largest academic endowment in the world, valued at some USD 50 billion as of 2022. This had led to at least one wag designating “Harvard” as a hedge fund with a university in its portfolio. Hedge funds are unregulated entities that permit people with real money to move it from one source of extraction to another with various benefits such as offshore opacity, tax avoidance, and sundry immunities obtained through the efforts of correspondingly empowered managers to influence investment conditions and outcomes. The hedge fund is a modern version of the Latin Church’s vast traffic in salvation, otherwise known as the indulgence business and Crusades.

Salvation is the intangible product promised by the Latin Church in the context of its risk management business. Financial risk management is the modern product for which the hedge fund was developed. The rabbinical-papal financial services industry — concentrated in the Vatican by Innocent III —  is composed of the congregations that preach damnation, those that preach salvation, and the orders and offices that deliver the risk management products, i.e. various types of sacraments, indulgences, dispensations and preferment. Parallel to but in fact a logical extension of the Latin Church’s financial system, the hedge fund has superseded the bank as the core instrument for trading life in return for death.

The university corporations upon which the US Ivy League were based are found in the renowned collegiate universities located in Cambridge and Oxford. Unlike most universities today, the collegiate university was created on the basis of ecclesiastical endowments — hedge funds by which the founders secured dispensation and protected their wealth from those they had robbed in their lifetime. When the Latin Church was nationalized under the Tudors, the English Church succeeded in title but the business continued otherwise unabated. The history of exclusion from the Oxford and Cambridge colleges has been presented as a history of arbitrary prejudice and discrimination, all of which was successively remedied by the post-1945 order. This is a crass avoidance of the real issue. The Oxford or Cambridge college was foremost a financial institution. One must recall that both universities were entitled to send members to the House of Commons. That was not because of their learned activity but because they were property and asset holders and as such satisfied the requirements for the franchise whereas municipalities with ordinary tenants did not.

In other words to become a member of a college in either university made one a shareholder in the corporation and at least a limited beneficiary of the wealth extraction instruments inherent in these entities. From the standpoint of the university corporations, it was clearly inconceivable that persons otherwise not entitled to property or the franchise be admitted to these universities. The fact that Oxford and Cambridge graduates enjoyed privileged access to government, after the precedence of aristocracy and the great public schools, was not based on academic merit but on class membership and in some cases meritorious service to the ruling class. The US elite universities were founded with the same principles and the same structures, albeit without the loyal toast at high table. Later foundations, the post-colonial colleges and universities were controlled by a similar business model. Then the 1862 (and 1890) Morrill Acts, created the basis for the so-called Land Grant universities. Federal land, generously transferred from the indigenous population to the US government, was allocated to the states for the purpose of establishing universities, mainly of the agricultural and technical type. These were a departure from the collegiate structure and more closely resembled the German technical college. Toward the end of the 19th century the US would largely abandon the English model in favour of the German Hochschule. On one hand this was because the Anglo-American elite needed engineers and technicians to develop the country and lacked (rejected) the occupational dual-education system common on the Continent. On the other hand it was implicitly desired to replace hereditary aristocracy with quasi-hereditary “meritocracy”. The Ivy League was to continue to indoctrinate the senior civil service and managerial class as well as issue credentials to the runs of the plutocratic litter so as to preserve the latent class structure in America’s “classless society.” The Anglo-American elite, in contrast to the latifundista of the “Blessed Isle”, recognized the need for merchants and engineers or mechanics to convert a stolen and progressively vacated continent into fungible assets. The settler-colonial elite in North America did not have the benefit or obstacle of the millions with which first the East India Company and then HM Viceroy was confronted.

As a result of this distinct historical development most of the US higher (tertiary) education system is in fact state established and funded by the public purse. After the Second World War, the US elite — in panic after failure to destroy the Soviet Union or even inhibit its technological and social development — adopted legislation to inject massive amounts of public funds into education, a policy deeply antithetical to Anglo-American elite culture, Thomas Arnold and John Dewey notwithstanding. Harvard and Yale graduates were forced to recognize that even their theological seminaries (the new business schools) were not enough to train the masses of indoctrinated technicians needed to confront the Ivan who had not only taken Berlin but launched the first artificial satellite into orbit. Places like Michigan State specialized in counter-insurgency to help the regime terrorize Vietnamese. However even here the bulk of the money went to private universities. This was not only because of the personal union of grantors and grantees but because funnelling public funds for research at MIT or Columbia promoted the money-laundering schemes by which these foundations retained their exclusivity.

Behind the mask of merit, the endowment (and the gravy train to public research funding) permit the university to operate profitably without regard for tuition fees. Essentially the “research grants” subsidize these tax dodges (universities are generally tax-exempt and can accept donations for tax exemption) and constitute a covert subsidy to those corporations or wealthy individuals who endow them. What is in a name? A library by any other name would smell as mouldy.

There is another less obvious but intellectually insidious aspect of this business model. Elite universities become repositories of rare and valuable cultural, intellectual and scientific resources. They are able to hoard them and restrict access accordingly. Thus a poor or mediocre scholar can establish himself as an authority by virtue of using the sources held by such endowments to which others have only restricted access, if any. In a system where canonical texts are used to exemplify dominant ideology, limiting access to such materials gives authority to the loyal servants while diminishing that of scholars forced to rely on secondary or even tertiary sources. It should be recalled that until the Reformation even possession of a Bible by anyone without ecclesiastical license could be punished by death. When our loquacious regurgitators of doctrine and dogma preach against conspiracy they are protected by the locks and keys of the Hoover Institution and the US Holocaust Museum as well as the soft files that saturate the corporate, espionage and secret police bureaucracies.

Which leads us to the business at hand: what is actually happening at the renowned universities of the Great North American republic? The charming claims that academic freedom is being violated are really nothing more than charming. As George Carlin said about “rights”, they are a cute idea. There has never been anything called “academic freedom”, unless one means by that “free enterprise” applied to universities as businesses. As I have already argued elsewhere, science was wholly replaced by Science after the Manhattan Project and the less known biological warfare unit run by Merck during the great war against communism (aka WW2). Where scholarship has been genuinely free it has been despite the university not because of it. The same applies even more rigorously to teaching. There is a reason why teacher colleges (once the only venues to accept women) were called “normal schools”. John Dewey, celebrated for his assertions that education was essential for democracy, never vocally challenged the plutocracy that obstructed it. His education for democracy was ultimately distilled into indoctrination of an emergent multi-ethnic society such that they possessed no identity capable of coherent interest articulation. Unlike the Soviet Union, defunct successor to a historically multi-ethnic state, the US was not only founded on the extermination of the indigenous but on the acidic brain dissolution of the immigrant. Genetic engineering is in fact a deep technological application of the ideology by which humans can be infinitely reconfigured beyond Donald Cameron’s reprogramming at the Allan Memorial between 1957 and 1964.

Barely buried, the FBI asset and GE lackey appointed governor of California and later POTUS, Ronald Wilson Reagan, was canonized for his propaganda (to use the term Edward Bernays did his best to replace) contributions to the complete privatization of what little public and potentially democratic space had emerged in the US despite the victory of finance capital in 1913. Under so-called New Deal policies, the historic mercenary forces of corporate industrial and financial capital managed by so-called White Shoe law firms in cooperation with the US Marine Corps (don’t take my word for it, USMC General Smedley Butler knew what he was he was being ordered to do), was temporarily nationalized. As the war drew to an end there were some who wanted to dissolve these state agencies like the OSS and return liability for piracy to the private sector. However the prescient, mainly Ivy League, elite recognized that the propaganda they had embedded in the UN Charter made a return to open corporate criminality bad for the US image in the competition with the unfortunately surviving system competitor. Thus the National Security Act of 1947 preserved the state protection of the US plutocracy that prevails to this day. Saint Ronald is worshipped like Our Lady of Fatima, by the witting for his PR success and the unwitting because of their blind faith.

Meanwhile there have been numerous challenges to the brutality perpetrated by the militarized police forces of cities where even elite universities reside. They have not prevented the police repression. However some have at least insinuated—as in the case of Columbia — that the actions are not entirely based on local law enforcement perceptions. The relationship between a certain Ms Weiner, as head of NYPD intelligence and counter-terrorism (let’s call it NYC’s Phoenix Program) embedded in the university faculty like what the NSDAP called a “Führungsoffizier” (a party leadership officer responsible for assuring ideological compliance under the Hitler regime) and NYPD liaison to the state terrorist apparatus in Tel Aviv has been illuminated without innuendo. The investigators recognize that the conclusions one can draw are hopelessly obvious. This archetypical infiltration of a primary academic and research institution has been rightfully criticized. However it is not a new phenomenon. The FBI and through cut-outs the CIA have always had agents in the educational institutions deemed critical for the system. These agents served as “talent scouts” and police informers. What appears quite unique to this period of campus protest is on one hand the willingness of students to make demands on the “official permanent and privileged victim state” aka as the State of Israel in Palestine and the violence with which the agents and assets of that State without constitutional or moral boundaries are prepared to perpetrate in their largest host country. As Ron Unz et al. have said with justifiable vehemence, the masks have fallen. The State of Israel is demonstrably capable not only of buying the entire federal legislature and considerable assets at state level, it is able and willing to dictate individual police actions at municipal and university level.

The debate has begun — albeit only among already sensitized critics — about how the precedent set by Lyndon Johnson in suppressing the investigation and condemnation of the State of Israel for its murderous attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 created the immunity of that settler-colonial regime’s officials from any liability under any recognized law. The blatant interventions have followed pronouncements by the reigning head of government with such rapidity that only an idiot could imagine that diplomatic channels were even necessary. This atrocious and obvious capacity to intervene in the minutia of US domestic politics (whereby these are surely not purely domestic matters) may, even if only at the pace of snails or winter maple syrup, produce a partial revulsion against the gut feeling of many sharing that primitive spirit of national sovereignty residual from the 19th century.

Yet beyond the mathematical equation by which the thermodynamics of dog and tail are integrated, there is a more elemental quality that bears consideration. Morse Peckham once wrote and frequently said that “man does not live by bread alone, but mostly by platitudes”. Thomas Friedman wrote that McDonald’s was inseparable from McDonnell Douglas (all now Boeing, I believe). And Harvard is a hedge fund with a university in its portfolio.

Take these platitudes seriously for a moment, in their combination. It helps to be specific. A McDonald’s in Saigon needed an F-4 Phantom. And hedge funds need collection agents, too. Before 1947 these were usually the USMC. Ajax and PBSuccess were the style of the 1950s. FUBELT was the name given to the CIA’s operation on behalf of ITT et al. University students were a disproportionate target of the first wave since they formed the potential cadre in support of the Allende government. In fact, at least two academic economists from North America were successfully marginalized for the rest of their careers just because they supported the new government and not the Rockefeller economics of the University of Chicago. Not only is there no academic freedom under capitalism there is unlimited vindictiveness toward those who violate the free market. We do not know what the cryptonyms for the current counter-insurgency operations are. However, it is important to see their true origins.

While there is no doubt as to the smell of cordite and the hands upon which the powder stains can be found, a more fundamental force is at work, that of the hedge fund. The world’s leading hedge fund and the paramount of this criminal tribe is BlackRock, known also through the peculiar person of one Mr Laurence Douglas Fink, where students of his alma mater have recently been attacked by SA-like gangs for protesting against the mass murder perpetrated by the armed forces of the state occupying Palestine, is reported to have more than USD 10 trillion (billion in continental terms) of “assets under management”. There are diagrams that illustrate the degree to which just this hedge fund has penetrated the world economy, both private and private-public. There is no reason to doubt that the hubris of this graduate of the First Boston school of financial engineering (aka as legalized securities fraud) reflects the asset class to which he belongs.

It may help to diverge for a moment to explain a few basics of the formal corporate and municipal debt business. Gustavus Meyer’ History of the Great American Fortunes (written before he, like Ida Turbell in the matter of Standard Oil, was persuaded to write with more sympathy) explains in lay vocabulary how the bond and stock market actually function. Corporate finance is taught at business schools like typing is taught at vocational schools. However once one has obtained a proper degree in finance or business from one of the gateway institutions—or through viciousness has worked his or her way up after graduation from a less prestigious school — the process begins by which one learns the work of hard selling, usury, stock watering, legislative influence, tax and accounting fraud and deployment of ratings agencies. In short, an investment banking apprenticeship is a course in how — in Adam Smith’s terms — one meets to collude, fix prices and manipulate markets. Cigars only available to those who can evade the general embargo beyond the Strait of Florida or the narcotics beyond the substance control by the CIA/DEA lubricate the Rolex and Patek Philippe adorned wrists.

These cardinals and bishops, prelates of finance capital, sell financial salvation to unwitting penitents and their pastors. They must protect the faith in their product, the belief in the sin for which these sacraments, indulgences and penance are sold. They must retain the value of the derivative instruments for which universities (and other tax dodges) have been established. At the height of the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition together with whatever massed mercenary forces and police power the rabbinical papacy could command, from Brazil to Wittenberg, from Rome to Lima, from Milan to Manila, perpetrated every conceivable and heinous violence against ordinary humans to preserve the credit rating, to secure the value of discounted cash flows.

And so it is today. What we witness at US universities, especially those financed for the benefit of tax dodging hedge fund operators, is command performance. These are not merely the punishment ordered by some barbarian of Polish descent leading a settler-colonial regime in Palestine. These are the acts of the apostles. Acts of the apostles of the holy hedge funds who have succeeded the Latin Church — although consensually — to deliver truly catholic salvation. Salvation that is wealth for the quick and the grave for the dead.

The post Hell in a Very Small Place first appeared on Dissident Voice.

This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by T.P. Wilkinson.

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