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11-26-07, 06:43 PM
Criminal Accessories - The Suits and Lab Coats Behind the Front Lines (http://www.ersarts.com/cgi-bin/pikie/ersarts/ersarts.py?CriminalAccessories)

The History of Dirty Work

Pharaohs did not build the pyramids with their own hands. No generals dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Kissinger did not personally murder Salvador Allende nor did Nixon napalm kids in Vietnam.

What distinguishes these types of 'great' leaders is their ability to get dirty jobs done by getting others to do the job for them. History's dirty work has always been done by others, like the slaves who hewed stones for Egyptian mausoleums. But the overbearing will of 'great' leaders and the manipulation of mass labor does not explain how monumental tasks, especially monumentally dirty tasks, get done. For pharaohs, like contemporary presidents and prime ministers, not only did not build their own edifices, they lacked the basic talents to do the work themselves. 'Leaders' typically have no specific 'know-how', just wealth, the luck of birth, the confidence of con men, and the psychopathology necessary to dominate others. Pharaohs, like the leaders of today's world, employed engineers, managers, social architects, scholars, designers and craftsmen -- skilled professionals who did the technical and creative work before anything of historical proportion could be undertaken.

It is no different in our own times. Our age's 'historical monuments' are a mixed bag of good, bad and indifferent. Nevertheless, some of our more remarkable 'accomplishments' - aerial bombardment, - shock and awe, - Little Boy and Fat Man, ICBM launch silos, stealth avionics, nuclear reactors, aircraft carriers, Los Alamos, depleted uranium munitions, psychological torture, mass media propaganda, Enron, disaster capitalism, chemical and biological warfare agents, digital eavesdropping, computerized data mining, transgenic hybridization of species, retina scans, and satellite guided missiles - are more the brainchildren of our professional classes than of our own pharaonic leaders. Indeed, without professional accomplices, most of the more heinous acts perpetrated in the past two centuries could not have been thinkable, let alone possible.

The Crossroads of Power and the Professions

This is not an indictment of science or technology or of the professions, nor is this a Luddite's lament. There is much that is positive in our world due to the real progress of science. We simply recognize that no oligarchy in any hierarchical society can stand except on the foundation stones laid by that society's knowledgeable professionals.

There is no such thing as 'pure science,' any more than there is 'art for art's sake" or an idealized "rule of law." All "professional" human endeavors - especially science, technology, economics, law and medicine - intersect with politics or commerce, and usually both simultaneously. Sometimes the connection is only dimly perceived; typically, today, the intersection is blatant, immediate and inseparable.

We already know about the attorneys who split hairs over the definition of torture, who plead for indefinite detention without charge or trial, who argue for retroactive immunity for those who illegally monitored our communications, or who plead "state secrets" as a bar to the redress of government crimes. These lawyers (and the judges who approve their specious arguments) might themselves be accessories to crime. It is not a defense to argue that every party is entitled to zealous representation when that misguided zeal facilitates the crime itself.

We already know about the so-called doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists who help keep kidnapped captives "alive" so that they can be tortured and interrogated again and again. These are not health care professionals but accessories to crime. They have not sworn a Hippocratic Oath, but a Hypocritical Oath, and they should be held accountable.

We already know about the economists and the money managers who boost profits by devising schemes to break unions, curtail jobs, cut wages, cut benefits and "externalize" the detritus of private enterprise. These professionals, as criminal enablers, share the responsibility for the death and pollution and despair caused by their principals.

We rarely think, however, about the other professional facilitators, the ones in white lab coats, that is, the engineers, medical researchers and scientists. They have a special responsibility for their work because what they do can affect especially large numbers of people in particularly horrific ways. Those who design nuclear, chemical or thermobaric weapons; those who weaponize diseases; those who conduct genetic engineering for profit; and those who develop machines for the remote delivery of war, are not mere employees, not just intellectual workers - they are accessories to some of humanity's most horrific acts of criminality.

I champion the pursuit of knowledge. I applaud that which makes dreams real. But not since Einstein scribbled equations in his spare time at the Swiss patent office has there been any solitary "scientific research" conducted purely for science's sake. Today, nearly all "science" is conducted in only three environments: the university, the corporate or the government research laboratory. In all three, with few exceptions, directly or indirectly, the funding for the research comes from or serves the interests of the military, big business or homeland security. And because he who pays the piper calls the tune, directly or indirectly, the scientific research that makes dreams real also makes nightmares real.