Eisenhower's Farewell Address: a Warning About the Technological Elite
Interesting take on Eisenhower's farewell address at The American Conservative.
Eisenhower’s Farewell Address At 60
Absent institutional reform, Eisenhower’s appeal to supervise the scientific-technological elite has largely proven ineffective.
JANUARY 16, 2021
... Eisenhower noted the newfound importance, formality, complexity, and costliness of scientific-technological research, all of which encourage the federal government’s interest in and influence over the economy and academy.
... Americans today might add that the rising influence of the scientific-technological elite during the last sixty years is bad because the experts aren’t very good at their professed expertise—at conducting wars on foreign enemies, wars on poverty, wars on drugs, wars on “invisible enemies.” Doubtless we will soon see how adept our experts are at securing victory in the war on systemic racism, structural inequality, and domestic terrorism.
... Eisenhower’s appeal to “statesmanship” to supervise the scientific-technological elite is a bit like trusting the wolves to guard the sheep. Where will these statesmen come from, if not from the best universities and the parts of society under their sway? The success of the Sixties’s “best and brightest” in the conduct of the Vietnam War and the creation of the Great Society speaks for itself.
... And so long as our politicians are elected, having the right person in office at the right time depends on the “alert and knowledgeable citizenry” invoked by Eisenhower. Such a citizenry is less and less in evidence...
In the past year, we have seen that the influence of the scientific-technological elite and their successors is stronger than ever: acutely, such as the big tech platforms’s actions against a sitting president and other wrongthinkers; chronically, such as their celebrity status in debates about foreign policy, national security, and coronavirus policymaking; and culturally, in memes and mantras such as “trust the experts” and “believe the science.” This, despite their repeated and widespread failures as experts; 2020 was the year that experts “failed upwards.”...
Pavlos Papadopoulos is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Wyoming Catholic College.