Toward a new world; The intellectual and the policy maker, part two
If so it wasn't successful I'm going out gaze on Dr. Martin. He then that would be one of the charms of the method that no one could ever tell just when it was effective. Let me now turn to the other side of the coin and try to reconstruct the arguments which the academician might use to explain and defend his butt as a patient in the policy process how does this situation look from Hispania view. He in contrast to what I have just said I can speak a bit more from personal knowledge and experience and a little bit more confidence that what I'm saying is valid but. I would suggest first of all here that participation in policymaking can be seen by the intellectual aunt as an opportunity to discharge his duties as a citizen that he would say to himself that is society's supported his quest for knowledge and that is that society now asks for repayment through contribution to the policy process he cannot do. Secondly I would suspect that this kind of consideration would weigh more heavily in because the academician go to view the process as an opportunity for a new kind of experience which is of value human
design. In fact it's an opportunity for most challenging and exciting new experience and one which can later on in riches teaching and maybe even his research. I remember the argument of some of my Washington friends quote This is where the action is. And of course I have the impression that the kind of excitement I'm talking about was more prevalent in the Kennedy administration than at present but still and there is a fascination to Washington that just can't be duplicated anywhere else in the country you fear even if you're not participating at least you're close to a process that is terribly important. Also Thirdly if I the academician this is an opportunity to participate in the governing process and it provides them with a way to test some of his theories and the temptation to do this I think is particularly great in a field such as ours where theory testing is always a very difficult and sometimes altogether impossible. And finally and not quite Finally let's not overlook either the fact that that
there must be a temptation to try to influence policy. I've said earlier the academician as citizen has his preferences just like everyone else does why shouldn't he. Why shouldn't he then try to implement them if he is given an opportunity particularly if he is confident that he is in so doing he is making a real contribution in national well being the scholar. As a former C is an old tradition which is especially strong in the field of international relations. And finally I would not downgrade overlook the importance of prestige academic life is not known ordinarily for its prestige Aryan Taisha noted for its prestige valuation in terms of rags and title and so forth. After you a full professor with tenure there just aren't very many other places to go except of course academic administration which is not to everyone's liking but to be able to say that one is being consulted on important matters that a man is being asked to submit memo and policy recommendations I don't have to fly to Washington over the weekend either
has received offers of part of Pro time government employment that's a different matter. We have a president of the United States say on national TV as President Kennedy did shortly after he assumed office and one of those programs a day with the president or something like that quote. Let's bring Kissinger down here this week to talk with him about it. You know that's a time for of some sort or another and it sets everybody else to thinking thoughts like why Kissinger if we could have had me. I recall thinking such thoughts. By the way this sort of contact with the government is not only a boost to the individual academicians prestige but also a boost to his institution. It's often a very practical advantage as well in terms of research contracts and other types of support which relieve institutional budgets. And speaking about budgets for the individual all the consultants fees and so forth may make a fair difference in his personal finances as I point out in a moment. The government
doesn't pay exorbitantly Robin X a $50 $100 for a day's work of its best come in handy round up all of what I've said so far. I'm trying to look at the relationship affirmatively from the point of view of both the policy maker and the intellectual sounds good and persuasive and often of course it is good and persuasive. What then are the questions where if any place are the problems are there other sides to the discussion. I think that there I don't think that there as a peer you know in theory asides and I'm very glad that this variety of both thought and practice and would do nothing to reduce that variety but there are those sides. And let me introduce this with a personal recollection. I apologize for bringing this in from time to time it does make it perhaps a little bit more immediate. A. Couple of years ago when I was invited to take a position at one of the universities in the Washington area and I was told that in addition to a reasonable sour him quote You can easily make another three or four thousand dollars a year consulting for the government. We all do. Now you know that sounds very good
but I guess I'm a typical professor. Professors have been defined as quote people who think otherwise. And it was one of my reasons for declining the offer very frankly because I was reasonably sure that I would come to depend on that extra income and always on. And I wasn't as sure as maybe others can be that this being the case I could retain the independence of mind and intellect which I value highly however imperfectly I may implement it. I just envy other people who can be more confident of themselves I'm lucky if I can just manage to be honest with myself. Now let me suggest six major problems in this intellectual policymaker relationships which are not covered by this mutual attraction or by the mutual attractions which are outlined earlier. The first one is whether we know when enough to make a meaningful contribution to policy. Now for some reason that doesn't bother me as much as some of the other other questions do I forgive the typically academic answer an ambiguous Yes and No no no we don't know nearly as much as we should.
Yes we do know enough to make a contribution in our probability we know different things and the harried policy maker dies. I'm reminded of the answers a family gave to the county extension agent who advised him how to improve his copyright. He said I already know how to farm a great deal better than I do and I think we are doing and someone else has said in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. Which may or may not be relevant. Now whether much of the things that we know much of this knowledge is in a form to be transmitted to professionals to nonprofessionals that I don't know because it often seems to me that we no sooner succeed in finding out some pretty important things. Then we enter our findings and hopeless jargon and deadly prose icon a discussion between Professor mid-on of Sweden one of the honorary sponsors of the Institute and Dr. Ralph Bunche of the U.N. which culminated in outburst by Dr Bantu is a very good scholar a past president of the American Political Science Association is that for God's sake what do you mean. We don't talk like that at the
U.N.. And I'm sure they don't talk like that in the typical on off as a State Department either. So I think there is a there's a problem here of translation of some of the things that perhaps we know. That second leave the question of knowledge is I think at least to some degree answer on another question strikes me as somewhat more difficult. Does our academic background and experience and past capable of dealing effectively in the political round particularly in the realm of international politics and pitch considerations of power and or prestige play such a much more significant part than they do with in our own past experience. I spoke to your member about the different goals backgrounds expectations and styles of the policy makers and the intellectuals. And this is really a kind of way fraying of this previous discussion. I'm not trying to suggest that politics are unknown on the campus they have their I am my own experience has been blessedly limited but I know it exists. But I do feel that the environment in which we operate the standards by which we are judged and by
which we judge ourselves and each other are different from those of the policymakers. How many of us for example in our professional lives start out or for that matter and up with a philosophy which Roger Hillsman quotes on the first page of his recent book to move a nation about the Kennedy administration's foreign policy quote that you got to know that there are so and so's and the bird and it's not easy to be should just who they are. But I submit that for all its problems academic life is somewhat different that we're somewhat more protected against the so and so's of this than some other careers among them in government service. Well I previously spoke about responsibility let me briefly come back to that. Also the intellectual tends to deal in abstractions. The policymakers confronted with realities the intellectual may engage in speculation. The policy maker can never bases policies on speculation. Speculation is firmly grounded in reason about fact or logic. At least I would hope so I don't know. But I'm trying to
say is that both the intellectual and the policymaker bear responsibilities but they are of a different kind. One deals with stimulating and enriching the minds of students and with contributing to knowledge the others responsibilities to protect and advance the interests of his constituency and in the case of foreign affairs as by the United States that is some 190 million Americans and asked recently put it in these terms he said the word is decision not opinion not judgment decision and he points to the difference between conclusions unencumbered by official responsibility and conclusions with which the nation as a whole must live. I accept that distinction. I don't accept everything he says about surely except. Now thirdly a related question that may disturb some lies in the fact that to govern is to choose as someone has said or even more to govern is to compromise. The canons of scholarship involve the refusal to compromise if in the process truth will suffer.
And there seems to be a conflict here. To be sure we are have to compromise in our private lives and to some extent in our professional lives but not in our scholarship. But if the intellectual becomes engaged in policy making and he's bound to have to compromise a great deal that he must learn to behave as only one member of a rather large team and something is cheaper which is experience with students may usually stand at one side and they all sit at the other side. Really doesn't prepare him very well they're not terribly good team workers. He must expect to be forced to act on insufficient information. The intellectual can wait till the information is in the policy making and knowledge. You must expect to see is advice disregarded and he must expect even just sometimes have to implement decisions with which he disagrees. Now whether he is able or willing to do this and if so up to what point he feels he can do it without jeopardizing his intellectual honesty or his personal standards this is an intensely personal question and I can't make a general statement on it. But I just can't point out the existence of the problem. Let me then
turn to a more specific and maybe more manageable question. What about our responsibilities to our institutions and our students. We may tend to forget that excellence in teaching cannot be taken for granted everything and at all times and paradoxically it seems to me this threatened at both ends at the UN and at mediocre institutions and jeopardized by the inadequacies and competencies of faculties. At the other end the one we are now talking about it's jeopardized by the value excellence of the faculties which brings them into prominence creates demands by their services on the part of policymakers. It's difficult to escape the impression that there are times and places when the teacher's original concept of service to his students and his discipline suffered because of his preoccupation with other activities such as government work often by trying too hard to combine the two in me would come so heavily engaged so frantically busy so apt part Aryan judge as to jeopardize what Henry Kissinger's called his greatest contribution to society is
creativity. Now on the other hand of course it can be argued that the faculty member learns a great deal from his government experience which he can then use in the future which is teaching and I don't doubt that this is the case. It may be a standoff but there are things to be said on both sides and that takes me to another point which is to question whether the advantage in the intellectual policymaker relationship is entirely unilateral are over the head. Whether And if so how it can be described as two sided. If the intellectual brings certain things to the relationship what precisely does it take a great damage. And under what conditions in this connection I was very much interested in some recent comments by fear to have an end of the book. Brookings Institution a research group which does a great deal of work and a government contractor reported that it took his institution a number of years to establish the principle that government contract work was published even without specific government permission. He said if you persist long enough and if you insist hard enough they are finally agreed to that principle and of course I'm
glad that they did in his case. I'm sure too though that this is a good deal to do with the type of research you're doing at the Brookings Institution which deals primarily with economic and political studies. Can't get government approval for blanket publication of its studies. I'm sure the same thing would not automatically apply to lead as a rag. But the emphasis on military security questions. Now this becomes part of a larger question my 6 and you'll be glad to know my last which I would frame in these terms. What really is the intellectuals function in the political process what does it mean to say that he infuse a special knowledge. Where is it in few. What knowledge are we speaking about. What are the results of the transfer and here the Kissinger again has expressed concern about the framework within which the intellectuals contribution are too often in fact usually take place and he argues that the intellectuals should not refuse to participate in policymaking or to do so would confirm the administrative stagnation I'm quoting now. That he says in cooperating
the intellectual has to law empties to the organization that employs him as well as to the values which transcend the bureaucratic framework and which provide his basic motivation. It is important for him to remember that one of his contributions to the administrative process is his independence. It is essential for him to retain his freedom to deal with a policymaker from a position of independence and to reserve the right to assess the policymakers demands in terms of his own standards. He adds that such an attitude requires an occasional separation from administration. And he suggests that the intellectual must God in his distinctive and particular in this particular context as most crucial qualities the pursuit of knowledge rather than the pursuit of administrative ends. Edward BANFIELD Our colleague of his in jazz at Harvard argues a case in somewhat less elegant terms as well he says no one should tell a professor what to think about a good professor is a bastard perverse
enough to think what he thinks is important not what the government thinks is important. That's making the same point that Gibson jiving tried to make. Now what is suggested here is to maintain just the right balance between involvement and independence and that is not easy to do. On the contrary it's awfully easy to. On one side or the other if you try too hard to be relevant you will be tempted to let the policy makers stipulate the conditions of advice. The questions to be answered and the limits within which they are to be answered. On the other hand if you put too high a premium on absolute independence you are apt to deal with problems which for whatever reason are simply not within the policymakers frame of reference. If you take them on alternative you run the risk of ending up as simply another function distinguishable from your colleagues only by the academic degree after your name. If you take the other road you have an equal risk of becoming at best irrelevant and at worst a professional. Our critic who can become as wrapped up in a
culture of rejection as the activist is in the college of success. I suspect we are no people in both of these categories and in many places in between. Now let me try to maybe add one other thought and then some. I hope I've been able to convey that I feel the intellectual like every other member of his society has responsibilities to the society which is nourished and sustained him. I hope I have also been able to make it clear that it's not easy to say what the best way is for him to discharge those responsibilities. Not about the reciprocal responsibility of society toward him is one way of phrasing society's responsibility toward the professors to leave him alone if that's his preference. There are other ways of phrasing it your goodness. Now Chris Cohen fond of finance depicts the intellectual as wholly irresponsible growing irresponsibility I think that's a fundamentally false picture. It may be true of the thinnest crust of intellectuals.
I remember reading for instance an account of the NIE in the New York Times of the Vietnam discussion among a group of intellectuals in the yacht which I thought the sheer silliness could easily have equal a discussion of book among what I would call the knee jerk Hawks set. But you know that isn't father call us. I believe that when one speaks of the vast majority of intellectuals in America today certainly those in my profession whom I know on one can say that they're conscious of their responsibilities that they don't try to evade them but that they are troubled by finding out about finding the best way of discharging. And here I don't feel that one can reject hold of no account. The alternative which many of them are now taking namely that of questioning challenging criticizing the values and policies of this society this is not outside the American tradition. It is not without use and benefit. It is not a negative stance as it may at first seem. But it's a stance which may have some important
affirmative consequences as well. The only point in this article at which Kristol fleetingly touches on the video as I know it is and the following comment he says tell an American intellectual that he is a disturber of the intellectual peace and he is gratified. Tell him he is a reassuring spokesman for calm and tranquility and think you've made a nasty accusation. Although I'm out of you some are different terms I see in that phrase very briefly in relationship to some reality I know but the point you know can be countered I think by a question. Is this really so bad. I'll be so sure that in foreign policy of our fields we're going in the right direction that our assumptions our techniques our goals are the best which the mind of man can conceive of which the practice of man can implement. Are we sure enough of this to disregard the warnings of those members of society including including very many intellectuals who waste questions. Might this society not benefit by considering some of the questions and by the way also some of the alternative suggestions which are being
advanced. Let me put this question within the larger framework of the role of the intellectual in contemporary American society which is complex and buried because a society is complex and varied but the question is is there room with it for that function which was suggested I think most pertinent claim by an English historian Max B a lot in this book Foreign Policy and the democratic process in which he speaks about this drawing but I think you can speak about social scientists as well. And the other half says he is starring in my case a social scientist he may ignore the challenge by saying that no event can have its history written until the dust of controversy is settled in time as we know it the archives to manageable proportions. If he accepts the challenge and if he deals with his own times temptations of another kind may still assail him. He must consciously remember that it is part of the Hippocratic Oath forward which is part of his professional duty
which should be as meaningful as a Hippocratic Oath for the doctor to probe and inquire into issues which the majority of his fellow citizens regard as closed it is the business of academic communities to see that he retains the freedom to do this even if the product is unpopular and historian of foreign policy who merely writes down what everyone knows and is agreed upon and to differentiate himself on the ordinary practical man only by the number and complexity of his footnotes. But quite an adequately the function for which the society supports him. Unquote. And I think in some ways it's very similar to what John Kennedy once said when he said that the men who create power who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation's greatness. That the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable. Today's protest has often turned out to be tomorrow's policy and the day after tomorrow is going to mention old wisdom at which point we may be sure some new intellectuals were gods to challenge it again.
And there's one additional point which in my judgment tends to be overlooked by protesting this or that policy of the government. In this case especially our Vietnam policy which is being objected to by a very large number of American intellectuals this group does provide the national administration with some headaches to be sure but also a somewhat maneuver that is the point I'd like to make in our probability. The specific solutions which the critics suggest cannot be adopted in their original form. But some maneuvering space is obtained which would otherwise not be there. On this specific issue of Vietnam. Those who object to our policies there provide the president his administration with many irritations but also with some options some alternatives some freedom of action which he might lack if he were entirely cooped up with the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a State Department which seems utterly frozen in its attitudes and reactions. A senator for a senator More us both
from academicians it happens may raise embarrassing and difficult questions. But isn't it better for them to do so thus creating a counterweight to others. Then it would be if our public discussion were left in the hands of such of their colleagues as Senator RUSSELL stands. I'm reminded of our rally in Bandy of The State Department once told me when I objected to him that his department acquiesced too easily and policies that were obvious originated in the Defense Department he said you should see some of the ones we stop. You see we hardly ever see the ones that are stopped. Not a strong notion that those intellectuals who oppose our present policies have hand and still have some important pre-natal about which I really mean a bunch of influences over policy our options which haven't been adopted and won't be. So I think there is a function here. Well to conclude. We as a lecture also cannot nor should we want to escape participation in the events of our time but the type of participation must remain a matter of choice and must not
be allowed to become a matter of coercion however veiled by persuasion about flattering images that may be. There are many levels and many types of meaning for participation in the political process. Consultation and participation in policy making are among them but they are only among others. I'm tempted to say they also serve who only teach or do research. Criticize ongoing policies now but the only end of quotation marks on that. At whatever level it seems to me an individual academician feels he is at his best in contributing as a responsibility to himself to his discipline to his institution and to his society to do it as carefully soberly and responsibly as he can. This is as true of those who contribute by objecting as it is of those who contribute by supporting. If one chooses the policy route but as a patient. It seems to me one needs to do a number of things in addition to providing of course the very best and soundest counsel Richard is within one's capability
to give. One must keep one's avenues back into academic life hope and must keep one's connections contacts with current academic life open so as to know what's going on and also so as to retain the independence which is a precondition for effective participation in policy. I think I must insist that these special qualities which one brings to the task the qualities of scholarly objectivity of openness of intellectual honesty that these must be respected. If one finds that these are not the qualities that are desired. One has to draw the proper conclusions an actor. Buying such an unfortunate outcome. I think one must consciously attempt to communicate some of the most recent findings and concepts and methods. Apt to be honest. Point it with and more likely than not I have to be very skeptical of them simply to contribute what kind of voting as college folk wisdom is not enough. Quite likely the powers the makers have as much of that if not more as the
academician matter contribute something about the results from our increasing the examinations of international processes. This I think is a particularly pressing papa task which the intellectuals can best perform. If one chooses the teaching route but a spacious one also has responsibilities one has a responsibility to subject one's students to teaching which in George Cannon's words as quote stern and I'm compromising founded in your military and renunciation of easy effects excluding that is pollyannish and superficial or rejecting utopianism freeing itself from the tyranny of slogans. Fashionable words and semantic to booze and that is very difficult to do outsell if one shows us research and publication the same high standards obtain prominent among them I'm sure must be the right of the individual researcher to set his own goals to formulate his own standards to make his own judgements on relevance
and about to insist on his right. We need to publish his findings. And finally aim. If one focuses on this sand and criticism I think there's great need to do so with empathy for the policy makers and their problems. Recognizing that in matters of public controversy differences of opinion and judgment are not tantamount to differences and loyalty or dedication or even wisdom. The intellectual community rightly objected when similar assumptions were made the other way around during the McCarthy period in the 1950s on the right the objector and current government officials speak as they sometimes do disparagingly about their critics. But the intellectuals themselves also I think have a heavy responsibility to see to it that they don't fall into the same error with divisions in the country sharpening their tempers becoming increasingly inflamed they bear heavy responsibility for the tone as well as the substance of public discussion. Without jobs and without ever neglecting to spell out their
conclusions clearly open the RTC for everyone to evaluate and challenge the intellectuals can make the vital contribution I believe to American policy. Discussing controversy all subjects thoughtfully reasonably with tolerance for the opinions and judgments of others who differ from them. It's this kind of sane and civilized and purpose for public discussion on which the future of democratic government and the success of its foreign policy may very well be paid. Thank you thank you. You have been listening to the Institute on world affairs a series of lectures and discussions held each year on the San Diego State College campus. At this session the principal speaker was Dr. Fred Sunderman Department of Political
- Toward a new world
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- San Diego State University
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- This program presents the second part of a lecture by Dr. Fred Sondermann, Colorado College.
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- Lectures recorded at San Diego State College's 25th Annual Institute on World Affairs. The Institute brings together world leaders to discuss issues in politics, culture, science, and more.
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Producing Organization: San Diego State University
Speaker: Sondermann, Fred A., 1923-
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