When in 1861 Jacob Bigelow, a physician, "baptized" a new institute as the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology" (MIT), in Boston, he intended through this name "to indicate that the study of science at MIT, rather than being a form of polite learning, would be directed toward practical ends."
If alive today, would Doctor Bigelow agree that among MIT's "practical ends" could be the study and "creation" of armaments for war, that is for the extermination of human life? Who knows; he died in 1897.
To be fair, among the "practical ends" MIT includes disciplines that are beneficial to humanity. Take my field, "soil mechanics", which deals with landslides, quakes, soil liquefaction, (Katrina) dikes, tunnels, bridges, railroads, etc that protect or ameliorate human life.
However, what Bigelow could not envision was that MIT could give "birth" (or better; "manufacture") to an "army" of US-controlled native elites all over the world as "tools" for dominating the planet.
Given that Greece is in the news almost daily, it is interesting to examine the MIT "offspring" that have become ruling-elites in Greece, for the benefit of the US elites.
In my previous ZNet Commentary, "Quakes: Call on Turks and on Greeks", of November 18, 2011, I mentioned: "So, part of the population of northern Greece was forced to inundate Athens and start building… tens of thousands of Le Corbusier 'creations'", that is concrete multi-story apartment buildings.
However, besides the laborers, who actually built the buildings, it was necessary that the buildings be designed by civil engineers. This was done by a part of the Greek engineers of my generation, since the early 1950s.
This is how it was done:
A young engineer from a not well-off family, just out of school and after a two-year compulsory military service, decides to get into the business of building apartment buildings in Athens.
He approaches a family living in an old house. He proposes to tear down the old house and build a new apartment building of, say, seven stories with ten apartments in total. The family will get three apartments and the engineer the remaining seven. This is the very crucial first stage of the whole procedure. It is imperative that the young engineer should gain the trust of the family and have a contract signed. This needs a "talent" that only people with certain "values" posses. The young engineer is broke, yet he has the "talent" to present himself (theatrically) as a serious, energetic, honest, etc., etc., person and thus he secures the contract. This is the "talent" of the ruthless, calculating, cold, entrepreneur in human history.
It takes the young engineer about two days (actually a few hours) to draw the architectural plans of the entire future building and make (official looking) blueprints.
These blueprints are shown to the family that owns the old house and to prospective customers who will buy the finished apartments.
The customers, at that time, were well-off Greeks seeking to invest, numerous Greeks working as crews on the ships of the notorious Greek shipping magnates, farmers that sold their land to buy an apartment, middle class Greeks who could secure a loan from a bank, etc.
The young engineer, using his "talent", persuades one or two customers to pay for the future apartment in advance, which, at that time, many Greeks did enthusiastically.
Now, the young engineer has enough money to start constructing the multi-story building, though he is broke
After paying for the cost of constructing the building (about 20% to 25% of the final worth of the building) and delivering the agreed upon apartments to the family, what is left to the young engineer is about 40% to 45% of the worth of the building, with zero contribution in money by him.
He repeats that "feat" by building dozens of multi-story apartment buildings, for about ten years and amasses a great amount of money (and prestige).
[Parenthesis: For the next four decades all kinds of individuals who had entrepreneurial "talent' similar to that described above, entered this lucrative field and became very rich. More adept were butchers, restaurateurs, lawyers, even doctors and policemen. All they had to do was "buy", for a pittance, the signature of a young civil engineer, just out of school, and do the rest as they saw fit. Even eliminating structural elements.]
The next step for our, by now well-heeled, hero is to get into public works and shipping (with Onasis-type visions). Also, he starts "cultivating" relationships with the Greek political elites in society salons, taverns, etc.
Although, our young engineer (of the early '50s) does not speak English, due to his rather humble origin, he "uses" other Greek US-educated engineers to enter the lucrative engineering market of Arabia; Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, etc.
[Parenthesis: To his surprise, the wealthy "self-made" Greek engineering entrepreneur discovers that the best civil engineers in the Arabian region are expatriate Palestinians turned into refugees by the pious religiosity of Israelis. Parenthesis closed.]
The, not anymore, so young engineer, who economically is very powerful, solves his problem with the English language, for future economic adventures, by sending his son to MIT.
The offspring of our Greek hero returns to Greece with a degree (naturally) in civil engineering, like papa. Of course, the son will never use in the field the knowledge gained at MIT. It takes between five and ten years for a young engineer to feel that he has reached a point of maturity in engineering to be satisfied with himself as an engineer. The young MIT "offspring" does not have time for such frivolity.
Papa has already reached a point that is "enviable". Economic power has opened for him the doors to many an interesting activities. Through his friends in the political elite he has entered the realm of the media, print and "otherwise", and (probably) he has attracted the interest of the US Embassy in Athens. In reality he has reached the pinnacle of "socialite" success. He became a "king-maker" in the Greek society.
So, the intellectual "offspring" of MIT and the physical "offspring" of our hero has become the crown-prince in the "empire" of papa and (most importantly) has become a prominent member of the US-controlled elite in Greece, who carries his MIT diploma as a "badge of (intellectual) royalty" and does his patriotic duty by following the biddings of people like… Hillary!
This has been going on for more than a half century, not only in Greece but also in India, in Pakistan, in Turkey, and even in Italy, in France, in Germany, and so on. And not only through MIT, but mostly through Harvard.
How about the notorious Harvard International Seminars of Kissy (a.k.a. Heinz Alfred Kissinger, or Henry Kissinger), which for example offered the French people Valery Giscard d'Estaign as President of the "Republic" of France?
Now, not all young people that go to MIT or Harvard end up being "crown princes" of their "successful" papas, and in the "employ" of the "benevolent" US. There is an entire "spectrum" of humans that reach the educational summit offered by these institutions.
At one end of the spectrum one finds a mere handful of very bright young people, from all nations, who contribute to the advancement of knowledge, in the fertile ground of MIT. Unfortunately, most of them, as they age, "hide" in academia and do not follow Noam Chomsky's example who, besides contributing to human knowledge, contributed mostly to the relief of human suffering.
The middle of the spectrum is crowded by young people who are either of humble origin, or are children of rather well-off parents. Most of them, whether they stay in the US or return to their home country, live lives of dignity and of honesty. Yet, some of them succumb to the barbarity of the US economic elite and return to their birthplace as proxy-instruments of that elite, in countries like Greece. For example, most mornings, in Greece, we have the good fortune to see on the TV a Greek graduate of MIT who, with arrogance and a smirk on his face, pontificates on the economic situation of Greece, while around him the suffering of ordinary people has reached to an extreme point.
Finally, at the other end of the spectrum there is a small number of the progeny of the US-controlled elite of other countries, as, for example, the engineering hero of the above story, who return from MIT as heirs to the "nobility-title" of their papa, again as "tools" of the US philanthropy (a Greek word composed of 'filo' [to love] and 'anthropos' [human]).
Ignoring Doctor Bigelow's generalization of "practical ends" about MIT, today it is imperative (and utopian?) to ask the people of MIT, as persons, to refuse to build drones for the Obamas. Also, to ridicule the foreign students that are willing to become errand-boys of the US elites.
As always, there is hope. In this case, for example, there is, in the very US, the "Union of Concerned Scientists", which began as a collaboration between students and faculty members at MIT in 1969.
Related to the above is the case of Linda Katechi, Chancellor of the University of California at Davis, who was involved in the notorious events of the pepper-spraying of students.
Katechi was born in Athens in 1954 and graduated from the Polytechnic (or National Technical University of Athens) in 1977. In November 1973 she participated in the student uprising in the Polytechnic against the US-instigated military dictatorship of 1967-1974.
The uprising, in the Polytechnic, lasted three days, from Wednesday to Friday. The majority of the uprisen students, about 4,000, belonged to the Left. The dominant group and the most energetic were the communists; Maoists (split into two or three factions), (pro-Soviet) communists [reluctantly participating in the uprising], (anti-Soviet) communists, (quasi socialists) of the political center, and even some "progressive" rightists. During, Friday, the third day, the students were joined by workers.
Of these, the most "interesting" group was (and is) the student leadership of the (quasi socialist) center which was "used" by the Papandreou family to form a Greek government that has been ruling the country for 30 years, to this date and to the present mess. Some members of that leadership are now milioinairs and the rest are very rich owners of villas, etc. Also, today they participate in a government with…neo-Nazis!
Yet, some of the uprisen young people in the Polytechnic, most of them leftists, have been living, since then, an honest and rather sad life. For example, one of them, a former Maoist, who actually was the one that was instrumental in "forcing" the rest of the students to sustain the uprising as there was a tendency to leave the Polytechnic, after going through the "regular" torture in the US-supervised torture chambers and forming a family, now he has to work all day in the health profession, while he is suffering from an illness, worse than cancer. [Chancellor Katechi probably knows him as she was in the Polytechnic during the uprising and probably present during the decision-making in the general assemblies]. Nikos Raptis (not related to me), a young mathematician, after again going through the regular torture, died at the age of 32, not more than 8 years after the uprising. A small number of the uprisen leftist students, after being deeply disappointed with what was happening around them in post-"revolutionary" Greece, committed suicide.
Given that the majority of the uprisen students were leftists, it is reasonable to suppose that Katechi, also, belonged to the left, at that time. Also, the fact that she grew up on Salamis island, a working-class place, sometimes called the "garbage-dump" for Athens, enforces that assumption.
So, could a person like Katechi treat the "Occupy movement" students on the UC Davis campus in a way so "different" from her Greek experience? This experience is adequately described by the fate of the young Greek from Rhodes who, in my presence, visited the above mentioned health professional that "forced" the Polytechnic uprising, and who was getting blind in both eyes because a pig (a.k.a. policeman) in Rhodes knocked the young man's head on a steel pillar that resulted in a detachment of both his retinas, during a demonstration. Of course, the policemen (a.k.a. pigs) in Davis used the advance technology of "pepper spraying" instead the primitive means of the their Greek counterparts
The answer is, yes! Katechi could do that. History is replete with similar cases.
Finally, there is a trace of irony here: The word "katechi" in Greek means "occupies" (third person singular of the verb "occupy")! Also, Katechi's Greek first name is: "Pisti", which means the "faithful woman". Faithful in religion, in ideology, or what?
This is my second ZNet Commentary on the "Americanization" of a person and the effects of that "mutation". My first one, of June 4, 1999, dealt with the "Americanization" of Ernst Franz Hanfstaengl of Harvard and his consequent efforts for the "Americanization" of his friend Adolf H. the "terrorist", according to Otto Gritschneder's book of 1990.