Outside the Classroom

One of the questions about “ethical pedagogy” that I keep circling around, as long-time readers of this blog know, is what kinds of teaching or engagement faculty should pursue with students beyond formal courses. It is a cliche to say that learning mostly happens “outside the classroom”, but as far as residential undergraduate colleges go, it’s a vitally necessary declaration. Of all the things that bothered me about Benjamin Ginsberg’s self-gratifying attack on all things administrative in higher education, The Fall of the Faculty, it was his scorn for “learning outside the classroom” that annoyed me the most. Because the disdain of faculty for anything outside of the formal classroom is yet another way that we are paving the road to adjunctification and MOOCification.

The problem, both ethical and practical, is how to carry out deliberate pedagogy inside the life of a residential college community. If my classroom pedagogy is built around eliciting and honing the widest variety of modes of interpretation and expression for my students, about exploration and freedom, my teaching in community has to be as well. There are no grades to hand out, no assignments to mark up. But another thing that’s different is that in community what students and colleagues say and do has a direct impact on my own life as a professional. The classroom is a bounded space: a student’s explorations of the content can hit the walls around the course hard but that’s still a learning experience that the student and I can almost always recuperate positively. A college community is a much bigger space–and its boundaries stretch out into the world. Even if there weren’t a pedagogical dimension, faculty have to care about how their community is perceived, about what it does in the world.

The stakes are different than inside a class, and yet in a way they’re not different at all.

Some years ago, I was speaking with several students I knew and liked about this problem. They told me that they felt frustrated that faculty largely ignored students who were involved in activism, or if they paid attention to them, they did so as passive cheerleaders. Real decision-making, they complained, was inaccessible to them.

I wrestled a bit with a feeling of irritation, because I’d had the conversation before. I’ve had it since. I wrestled a bit with a feeling of chagrin, because I’d been one of the students who’d said just this sort of thing to faculty in the 1980s. I wrestled with a feeling of weariness, knowing how I would have taken it then if a 45-year old had told me he’d been one of the students who’d said this sort of thing back in his salad days yadda yadda yadda. Which of course is the first reason we don’t have these conversations more often: a sense of futility, a sense that all this has happened before and will happen again, a sense that we can’t help but be assholes in some way if we get involved in the discussion. Which is in so many ways counter to the ethos of education, which rests always on the belief that we can somehow find a way to teach what we ourselves couldn’t learn nearly so well under the same circumstances before.

So I couldn’t just walk away.

I tried to make a few points. That for one how an institution decides anything is opaque to everyone not because secrets are hidden but because deciding and changing and acting are particles and waves all at once: here in some unpredictable meeting or moment, a decision is made by a few people or even just one person; over there in some diffuse, fuzzy way a hundred people wake up and every morning edge towards doing something in a different way. That a person who the flow charts say has all the authority in the world can find it impossible to simply make something happen, and there a thousand people can think they’re grasping a nettle and find instead that they’re dancing with the wind.

This is very zen.

I also pointed out that the students in question hadn’t really bothered to ask some basic questions about how things worked and they still weren’t asking them–I was sitting right there ready to answer, but they’d rather complain and demand instead of being curious and asking open-ended or basic questions. One student countered that this was, essentially, above their pay grade–that they should be able to propose and someone (faculty, administration, “Swarthmore” in the abstract) should then dispose. Which really did nettle me as much as it would if a student skipped four or five class sessions and then asked me what was on the test. I’ve been pointing out for almost two decades that most of what students want to know about things work is readily knowable, but they have to put the work in–and when they’re given indirect answers accept that sometimes that’s because the way things work is indirect, when they involve confidentiality it’s because there’s something that probably should be confidential. For all of the invocations of democracy, consultation and consensus, I find that students harbor the belief that when it’s something they want, there should be a quicker and more authoritarian way of making it happen, that all it takes is a declaration, a policy, an order. Or that there are no costs, conversely, to turning every decision into a massively consultative and communal process, as if no one will have to actually work on that process.

We ran over a few other points. That students, no matter how passionate they are about the college, have a different and more short-term interest in it than faculty, staff, alumni or trustees do. That a decision that will have consequences for the next forty years affects other groups much more than it affects them. That maybe there are a few things yet that they don’t know about Swarthmore, the world or themselves, that the position of a student–and of any scholar–ought to involve a measure of humility by design.

I explained why I didn’t agree with these students on the specific issue of the moment that concerned them. We had a good discussion on the particulars, and I gave them a few ideas about where they could push further with some hope of gaining ground if they were serious about the issue. And then these folks went back a week later to demanding what they demanded and complaining that no one was listening to them. Now this, I have to say, I didn’t do back when I was a student: I was actually much more drawn to the faculty who were doubtful about South African divestment first because I learned things about the issue from them (they tended to be the people who knew something about the issue) and because it was much more useful for sharpening my own advocacy than talking to someone who patted me on the head and told me to keep fighting the good fight. And they were vastly better than the administrators whose job it was to placate and defer us, or the faculty who frankly thought they could manipulate us into serving as foot soldiers in their own intramural conflicts with colleagues. But even in the case of administrators and trustees, I understood very well that they were doing work in meeting with us and listening to us, that we were asking for time and attention in an environment where both were scarce. I appreciated what we got in that respect even when I didn’t agree with the outcomes. Now, mind you, the faculty I gravitated to were being good teachers in challenging me–they didn’t treat me as they would a serious professional enemy, which would have been terrifying. But the more there is a high emotional and political cost to that kind of engagement on the faculty side because students regard it as impossible or insulting that there should even be a challenge, the less it will happen.

—-

Which brings me to the instance of the moment that has me thinking in these circles again. The college has invited our alumnus Robert Zoellick to be one of the honorary degree recipients at graduation this year, and some students have argued in terms that invite no dissent that this is absolutely unacceptable: that Zoellick is a key “architect of the Iraq War” and that his association with the World Bank, Goldman-Sachs and the Republican Party make him moral anathema regardless of whether there are highly specific decisions or initiatives for which he bears the primary blame that warrant such condemnation.

And I read the discussion and thought, “Is there even a point to entering it? Would I be welcome at all? Would this just be The Man sticking his nose in?” But then of course if no one does, that just feeds this sense that no one is listening and no one cares. More importantly, it leaves this particular viewpoint a free space to define what the wider community thinks and believes. And if I’m thinking pedagogically, even the students who question the invitation could make their case more effectively, because right now they’re making a case that is disturbingly broad and rather careless with evidence.

I teach a class where one of my possible “teaching outcomes” is to help students who come in with a critique of the World Bank and development institutions to refine, strengthen and extend that critique. I’m personally a very strong critic of the Bank’s history and many of its current policies and a strong critic of the history of development institutions and the idea of development as a whole. I agree with Matt Taibbi’s description of Goldman-Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. I think George W. Bush’s two administrations were a major political calamity. I think the Iraq War was an extraordinary failure, a violation, and that many people who should face serious professional consequences for their role in it have escaped very lightly.

But I don’t think there’s evidence that Zoellick played any particularly important or central role in that war and I think it’s troubling that students have implied that he did. I don’t think working at Goldman-Sachs should make someone absolute anathema. I think Zoellick did a considerably better job at the World Bank than his predecessor and that the Bank’s influence and actions demand serious consideration and nuanced evaluation. All of which and more can be a subject for considerable disagreement between political allies–or political opponents.

None of which affects how I think of my own students past, present and future, and the students of this college who came well before I ever taught here. It would take an extraordinary act of specific malice and evil before I would think to disown a student, an alumni, from this imagined community. Because the central value of a liberal arts education, as I see it, is that we exert no mastery or ownership over what our students will become, and love them all for what they are and will be. If there were time enough, I’d invite every damn one of them to get an honorary degree and give a speech some day, so I can hear about what they’ve done and thought and become.

I heard an extraordinarily moving thing from a colleague at a recent panel on the future of the liberal arts. She decided to speak on behalf of what her students had told her they valued about the liberal arts, and the first thing they said was, “freedom”. Sure, there are distribution requirements and major requirements, they agreed, but otherwise they felt that they were free now and forevermore to develop their interests, passions, skills and aspirations as they saw fit and that the college believed deeply in that freedom. You cannot believe deeply in that freedom and then tell me that a person as accomplished in his professional life as Robert Zoellick isn’t a worthy part of this college’s legacy. You can’t tell me that there is only a narrow band of acceptable political and social commitments possible from a “Swarthmore education”, that if if a student idly confessed that he might want to work for Goldman-Sachs that we should grab his ear, march him down to the Dean’s Office and expel him right there and then for conduct unbecoming of a social justice crusader. You can’t tell me that we’re about pluralism and diversity and then set a standard that more or less says “Republicans and bankers need not apply”. This isn’t neutrality or dispassion: it’s the deepest passion possible, for freedom and empowerment through education. This is what it means to have that politics: that you not just tolerate but embrace the many ways that students will go forth into life and make some use of what they’ve known and done and learned in their education. You exercise no veto over them: not now, not then, not tomorrow or the next day.

You can’t even tell me that somehow the fix is in, that this is just favoring the 1% or whatever. That’s where a student who complains ought to do himself or herself a favor and ask, “So how do these invitations go out anyway?” And here’s how: first, Swarthmore has a tradition of strongly favoring its own alumni when it comes to honorary degrees, which is a tradition I love even as it risks a certain insularity. Second, it’s open to anyone–even students–to make a suggestion at the beginning of the academic year, keeping in mind the preference for alumni. Third, it’s a sleepy, pleasant little committee that looks at the suggestions each year, and gently tries to get a list down to a manageable size of people who might be available and who might say yes, looking for pluralism and also for who might be comfortable giving the kind of speech that works in that setting. (Which, no matter who we’ve invited, has almost never been sharply political or score-settling, because our speakers generally choose to be more welcoming and inspirational to the entirety of the community gathered that day: families, faculty, students, alumni, staff, people from town.) Fourth, that same process has year after year after year in all the years I’ve taught at Swarthmore brought extraordinary crusaders for social justice, committed left-wing activists, dedicated philanthropists, remarkable researchers and scientists, poets and dreamers all to the graduation. There’s nothing more bad faith than criticizing the process the one time out of fifty that it produces an outcome that you don’t care for when the other forty-nine times you wouldn’t dream of complaining.

So is this teaching or scolding? I don’t know: both, I suppose, but that line gets crossed in the classroom too sometimes. Is it welcome? Is it helpful? Does it move things ahead or shut them down? I don’t know: but I know that what’s at stake is both more and less than the education of students this year–and all years.

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17 Responses to Outside the Classroom

  1. Withywindle says:

    I wanted Zoellick to get an honorary degree a decade ago; I’m glad it’s finally happening.

    (He has, or had, one of the better pencil-thin mustaches to grace the front pages of the Times; this is no small qualification.)

    You make me want to write various irritable things about Swatties of a protesting inclination. It never changes.

  2. Some things never change! I didn’t learn why the IMF (that some of my friends got arrested for protesting) wasn’t all evil until I went to graduate school and TA’d an undergraduate macro class. There’s a why to their actions, even though they wish they could do better (specifically: they only have leverage when countries are desperate, which is unfortunately the worst time to implement their directives).

    I’m an economist and I teach a class on government. I spent a great deal of effort getting people to understand how their actions and superficial beliefs don’t necessarily reflect their core beliefs. I’m in a red state, so in addition to the occasional bleeding heart liberal, I have a lot of cold-hearted libertarians. We spend a lot of time showing both groups how their desired actions can have unintended negative consequences and can end up leading to exactly the opposite of what they want. (For example, not funding food programs for poor kids, who, incidentally, do not have moral hazard because they’re not making the household decisions, means that you end up having to spend more money on prisons and other facilities later on– a libertarian justification for feeding the needy. In the other direction, some protection laws can keep companies from hiring the people they’re supposed to protect– a liberal reason to limit government intervention, or at least to pass really long laws with lots of fine print.)

    For the most part, if policy decisions were easy, we’d have made the easy decision.

    Swarthmore should probably be teaching students more of the greys. But should that be in the class or outside, I can’t say. All my outside the class interactions at my SLAC were with the math department and we discussed nerdy things. I didn’t go to the econ dept stuff because it was all pre-business and dull (and generally alcohol fueled).

  3. Chris says:

    I do think it is hard to figure out the appropriate role for faculty during moments of student activism. I teach at Oberlin and in my 20-odd years here there have been several tumultuous such moments, which have convulsed the campus (one was just last month, gleefully related in much of the media). And one of the enjoyable aspects to having a child just starting this year at Swarthmore is trying to figure out the subtle (or not so subtle) differences in student activist culture.

    For myself, I tended to insert myself into these activist moments, and see myself as having “expert” knowledge, more earlier in my time as a faculty member than I do now. I’m warier of finger wagging at students and explaining the deficiencies of their modes of action or formulation of demands than I once was. In part that is because I think collective action can only really be learned by doing; there is almost a natural cycle to protest movements independent of the specific knowledge of the participants. And in part it is because I become frustrated with faculty who are critical of student activism for its supposed immaturity without ever being activist themselves. There is a common line of attack here at Oberlin in which faculty who were once student activists take the current students to task for failing to understand how social justice movements ought to operate. But of course those same faculty are rarely active in social justice movements outside the classroom themselves. This is not a criticism of your comments about Zoellick, Tim, which seem well-reasoned and smart. It is just a way of explaining why I have become less critical of student activism here than I once was.

    In my narrow corner of the world, I see the faculty role in campus activism as two-fold. First, engaging directly with issues in which we have professional expertise. In my case that is labor issues, where I am quite comfortable intervening in student actions where I think they are wrong-headed (though more often the problem is getting students to care about labor issues!). Second, after the mobilizational peak is over, becoming involved in the more reflective processing of the activist moment. I have found students eager, once the passions subside, to talk through with faculty what happened, what worked and what did not. Those are the moments when I find that faculty can have some useful impact.

  4. Timothy Burke says:

    I hear you. But two things occur to me further on these points. The first is that I think there’s a baleful historical tendency among progressives to do authenticity checks at the gate to political action–to ask for someone’s struggle credentials before they’re permitted to critique. (And in some cases, of course, the act of critique is then seen as disqualifying evidence of those credentials.) The biggest problem with this tendency is that it sees all the people who might have joined a struggle or action if it were framed or described differently as weak, cowardly or apathetic–e.g., the credentialling takes as a given that the critique is meant as a excuse rather than a statement of possibility. Those who respond that the people sitting on the sidelines are letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, or are just trying to dominate the struggle are curiously absolving themselves of the possibility that that’s as much a problem of the people inside the struggle as outside of it.

    The second point is something I’ve wrestled with before. We say, “Well, you learn by doing, and have to be allowed to make your mistakes”. This I think is completely true–and a moment where pedagogy inside and outside the classroom are perfectly aligned. But if we say, “I will never critique you, or try to describe to you why what you just did is a strategic mistake”, then in a sense an important part of “making mistakes” drops out of the picture. It’s what I think the students I mention were complaining about–out of reluctance to be too bossy, faculty are silent or form a kind of soft, shapeless marshmallow sort of surrounding for activism. So if student activists are actually alienating or angering faculty or staff who might support them under other circumstances but no one ever says so, then the lessons that might be learned go unlearned until after those students graduate and discover what it’s like when the people who are critical of your action don’t hesitate to criticize, or how costly it can be to alienate a local base of possible supporters. A while back, one group of students at Swarthmore were pushing a policy change and no one on the faculty challenged them or advised them about some of the issues with their idea, so when they went into a meeting with board members and had to answer very tough, skeptical questions they were completely unready. If there’s a pedagogy in community life, critique has to be in the mix somewhere. If I can avoid hectoring or finger-wagging when I grade papers, maybe I can outside the classroom, though it’s much harder. A student paper isn’t going to change my disciplinary practice; a student action might change my community.

  5. Withywindle says:

    Tim: Zoellick is gone now. I find this dispiriting and maddening. Is there any chance you will condemn the students responsible?–in those measured words which I probably cannot summon myself.

  6. Timothy Burke says:

    I’m dismayed by it. Trying to think about what to do or say next. There’s a mean and ill-spirited mood around the campus this spring.

  7. Chris says:

    Zoellick withdrew, and remarkably quickly after the campus debate began. Should students not have criticized him for fear he would withdraw? I guess what I’m asking is what is the line between students legitimately raising questions about the political history of a speaker, and whatever happened here? I personally wouldn’t have objected to his invitation, but I’m hard-pressed to argue that students shouldn’t be permitted, even encouraged, to research the backgrounds of campus speakers?

    Is it that Zoellick is so mainstream that the protest was inappropriate (and a John Bolton, or Karl Rove, or whoever might have been OK), or that he is an alum, or that protest over speech is itself a problem? What is the precise concern in this case?

  8. Nord says:

    Everyone wins, Zoellick can claim he was sent packing by intolerant leftists and the left can claim victory that he wouldn’t stand by whatever public reaction was going to occur.

    During my time at Swat, the Swattie guy from the Nation was the speaker. While I remember being somewhat off put at his nomination, the actual speech was pretty good, like all good speakers, and certainly nothing that rubbed dirt in the noses of me and the half dozen other students who could ‘be offended’.

    Unfotunately, in my day, all we had was Lexis/Nexis – today, I see too many students, sadly even Swarthmore students, using Google as a substitute for critical thinking, let alone using it to determine facts.

  9. Chris:

    One issue is that a small number of anonymous commenters with a few named students ended up being the institution’s voice and making a decision on our behalf.

    Which to me is made a bit worse by what Nord points to: that at least some of them either voiced their opposition to the choice in breathtakingly sweeping terms, declaring that mere association with the World Bank or mere membership in the political leadership of the Republican Party is sufficiently malevolent to justify opposition or in terms that the opponents even conceded were exaggerated or inaccurate when challenged. “Will L”, for example, admitted that calling Zoellick a key architect of the Iraq War wasn’t accurate, but justified that on the grounds that he only had a short time to make his case and he needed something dramatic that “started the conversation”. This really bugs me: it’s anti-intellectual and really counter to the entire purpose of the institution. If the students opposing Zoellick had done even a bit of decent research, they would have found out that Tea Party conservatives were already gearing up last summer to oppose his possible appointment in a Romney Administration on the grounds that Zoellick is too associated with negotiation and diplomacy.

    But it’s not really about Zoellick. I think it’s fine to criticize a person and as I’ve said, I would be critical of Zoellick and some of the institutions he’s worked with. The point is that Swarthmore has historically used commencement invitations largely to honor the accomplishments and experiences of its own alumni. The issue is, “What’s the standard that the students are proposing to set here for such an invitation?” The standard could be: no one who is at all political or has anything in their experience which could be criticized, which would disqualify most of our alumni and indeed most distinguished people in general and be boring besides. Or that standard could be, “No bankers, no Republicans, no development experts, no rich people, etc.” Which is a complete betrayal of all of our language about diversity and pluralism. Or it’s “we are not proposing a standard, we just don’t like this one invitation.” Which is incoherent. In all those cases, I’m really unhappy with something as ill-educated and ill-spirited becoming the de facto opinion of the entire community, which it has in this case.

  10. Chris says:

    Fair enough. I’m quite prepared to believe that the standards for an alumni commencement speaker are somewhat different from other those for speakers in other categories. And I’m also uncomfortable with the sweeping nature of the condemnation (and the hurried and incomplete nature of the research done on Zoellick).

    I’m viewing this in part through a different prism, which is a kerfuffle we had at Oberlin a few years back over an invitation to Karl Rove, an invitation which was more or less explicitly designed by conservative students as a provocation, and which came accompanied by limits put on the usual ability of the campus to peacefully protest, and the audience to ask questions. Zoellick is a different case.

    But the thing I come back to is that the logic of the concern that I’m reading is that students, unless they know they are a majority, shouldn’t protest a speaker for fear that the speaker will choose to withdraw. That doesn’t strike me as a fair expectation, and it encourages silence (don’t criticize the company or maybe it will re-locate and take our jobs to the third world!). The minority of students didn’t make a decision on Swat’s behalf; Zoellick did. If a handful of students chose to peacefully protest when Zoellick showed up, would that be so bad? As Nord says, Zoellick chose to use the protest to demonstrate the intolerance of student activists. I don’t think it had to go down this way.

  11. JG '12 says:

    Thank you, Prof. Burke, for perfectly articulating what I as a very recent Swarthmore alum feel about this who situation. Like you, I have concerns with Zoelick’s politics and institutional affiliations, and yet have been very uncomfortable with the acerbic and intellectually dishonest manner in which some students brought their concerns to the forefront. Thank you for helping me flesche out why it makes me so uncomfortable.

  12. Ken says:

    “The point is that Swarthmore has historically used commencement invitations largely to honor the accomplishments and experiences of its own alumni.”

    ———-

    I think the problem is that, by inviting Zoellick as a commencement speaker, the school is implicitly holding him up to the student body as the kind of Swarthmore graduate whom the students ought to emulate. But it seems like he is singled out for this honor because he became rich and powerful, and for that reason, I think it’s reasonable for people to balk at the invitation. What kind of accomplishment is it to become rich and powerful?

    It seems to me that someone with interesting experiences but without compelling accomplishments should be invited to campus to give a talk, not to receive an honor.

  13. Look, you can critique the institutions he’s worked with and if you like specific initiatives or actions he’s taken (though very little of the student criticism has focused on the specifics), but Zoellick’s career has mostly involved public service. If you want to say, “President of the World Bank, various posts in the US government, those aren’t accomplishments”, you have an incredibly narrow and partisan definition of accomplishment and aspiration–and a rather privileged, even elitist, definition too, if I may say so. Should we means-test our speakers and disqualify anyone who makes more than $150,000 a year? Establish a benchmark for “power” and disqualify anyone who is in any sense “powerful”? Over the last ten years, either or both of those tests would have disqualified many of our alumni speakers: Frank Easterbrook is a powerful judge, David Bradley is a powerful and wealthy businessman and philanthropist, Iqbal Quadir is a wealthy and successful entrepreneur and professor, etc. By some standards almost all of our speakers, including academics, humanitarians and activists are “powerful” since most of them are or have been serving in leadership roles in influential organizations.

    A commencement speaker is not held up as an unvarnished object of adulation but in Swarthmore’s tradition of favoring alumni is an example of a life lived following on a Swarthmore education, or in the case of non-alums, just an interesting life and an interesting person who can say a few things to the students as they leave here. That is a role that really has to cover a wide range of the accomplishments, careers and contributions that people might have and experiences that may come their way. You would be entitled to sit in the audience and think, “No matter what, I’m not going to live Zoellick’s life”. (And you might not be the first person in the world to be completely wrong about what you think you’re going to be doing in thirty or forty years, which is a frequent theme of commencement speeches.) But even that experience (“I’m not going to be that person”) is a valuable thing. What you are suggesting is that any student who is sitting in the audience thinking “President of the World Bank, now that would be an amazing challenge, I wonder if I could ever do that” isn’t entitled to think that, isn’t entitled to hear that, doesn’t really belong in the audience or only belongs on the condition that they understand their marginality and illegitimacy to the “real” values of the institution. Which is a complete violation of what I understand the real values of the institution to be. That student at that moment is as entitled to the possibility of hearing a person who inspires his or her aspirations as anyone else.

  14. Lisa says:

    My answer to activists (my fellow students) who want to enact X change at Swarthmore is, first and foremost, to check if there’s a relevant committee. Do you want more faculty for your major department, with XYZ reasons? Hey, maybe you should apply for CEP, where you would participate in such decisions within the necessary college-wide context of competing demands for finite resources.

    My second answer, which usually ends the conversation because it’s inevitably a dead end, is that real change can–and often SHOULD–take more than a year to implement. I feel in the extreme minority as a current student who is OK with 10-year plans to fix Sharples, to fix blah blah blah that’s so terrible about Swarthmore. Could Swat’s consensus process move faster and be more efficient–probably. But I’d rather put my effort into advocating for additional long-term changes that I’d like to see happen, and doing so within the existing infrastructure.

    Wrt the Zoellick debacle, I’m not on campus right now to overhear the spontaneous discussions, but I didn’t even bother reading the Facebook discussions. The whole situation exemplifies what I most dislike about activism as I’ve encountered it at Swarthmore: such-and-such is condemned as a matter of morality, of ethics, of social justice. But business and commerce–of the everyday, non-divested kind, even–is not inherently evil, and I resent being pushed to think that it is.

  15. W.P. McNeill says:

    In your position I’d want to ask the students whether their opposition to Robert Zoellick was because of his specific policy actions or a kind of generalized blow against all Republican bankers. And does it ever work the other way: people who would generally amenable to a social justice activist at Swarthmore be nevertheless disqualified because of specific acts? (“We’d like to call it the ‘John F. Kennedy Auditorium’, but we just can’t forgive the arrogant disregard for Cuban sovereignty.”)

  16. Patrick Bond says:

    Tim, aren’t you going to dig a bit deeper into Zoellick’s history? It would be quite rewarding given your interest in details surrounding ‘development’ and ‘public service’. Here’s a first cut a few years ago, for self-evident reasons: http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/03/19/what-will-robert-zoellick-break-next/
    Cheers,
    Patrick (’83)

  17. Nord says:

    Patrick,

    Sorry, your Counterpunch is almost not worthy of responding to, a slap dash of random facts thrown together with boogie monster words, but lets take a few for fun:

    “However, as Board member of the third firm, Alliance, Zoellick was party to late 1990s oversight of Alliance Capital’s investments in Enron which led to multiple fraud lawsuits and vast losses for Alliance’s clients, including the state of Florida.”

    OK, Zoellick served on a board of a mutual fund company that owned stock in Enron. He had no role in selecting stocks in their mutual funds, the managers did. But let’s see – Swarthmore owned stock in Enron, so did any investor who owned an S&P 500 index mutual fund, so I suppose Robert Reich also was party to Enron’s accounting fraud – which, wait, I forgot, what does Enron have to do with Zoellick? Right, nothing.

    Alliance also owned stock in Apple – can Zoellick take credit for the iPad and iPhone?

    “Zoellick served as [Baker's] main assistant in the notorious December 2000 presidential vote recount in Florida, so destructive of those last vestiges of US democracy, thanks to the open racism and right-wing bullying of Zoellick’s thugs”.

    If you think open racism in 2000 destroyed the last vestiges of US democracy, I guess you think the Reagan era was the peak of US democracy, or do you go back to Kennedy when there was (but no longer today!) wide-spread disenfranchisement of citizens in the US? Considering your low view of democracy in South Africa, I am not surprised you seem skeptical of it elsewhere too.
    As for South Africa, I do appreciate your work down there. Does calling the ANC corrupt, but blaming the corruption on Americans or Japanese (or BRICs) go far down there? I guess that is why democracy is better than the

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