The Pathetic Stench of US Corporate Influence in Puerto Rican Academia

    You can always tell apart cat owners, particularly those who live in enclosed apartments.  They throw a party, and you walk in thinking you will have a pleasant time, when that nasty wall of foul odor strikes you in the face.  You try to be a nice guest and pretend it doesn't exist.  You smile. You politely oblige.  After a while, you might even believe it has disappeared.  But when you leave the party and arrive home, you find yourself draping in that foul odor you had only a few moments ago become accustomed to, like the apartment owner.  You quickly jump into the shower and wash your hair a couple of times, just to make sure there is no foul residue that might contaminate your pillow.  Nightmares are better left for midnight sleep than for monday mornings. 

    This is not unlike the influence corporate America is leaving behind in Puerto Rican  academy.  

    Knowing that academia is a place where their influence has traditionally been most vulnerable and uncertain, corporate academia ('corporativists') have actively sought over the years to become embedded into its very grain.  They plot and they affiliate, drawing contour maps of who knows who, what each person believes or where they they stand, and what powerful positions have yet to fall into their hands.  At conferences, the corporativists  might even take put on the ideological masks of their own leftist students, only too fresh in their memory just out of the classroom, for a reenactment before powerful leaders innocently seeking a respite from the extremely stressful world.   Like cat odor, there is no one place one can clearly say "¡AHA!, here is the culprit".  Rather, it is that general lingering atmosphere that sometimes can be glimpsed in the air above--a quiet but persistent odor.  And most annoyingly so.

    There is, of course, nothing wrong with expressing a particular ideology and defending it in a public forum--as is the case with any particular point of view in the forthright discussions of academia.  That is, after all, the role of the university, particularly in the 'soft' humanities and social sciences.  There are those who 'defend' the poor as well as those who 'defend' the sexually aberrant; some take up feminist causes.  To each his own.   Like any market, ideas and opinions which hold little weight are discarded; those which have inherent appeal and truth content 'stick'.  This 'war of words' should only be taken for what it is: a mere metaphor of genuine intellectual inquiry.

    But that is not the approach taken by corporativists.  And it is here where their influence becomes a 'stench' rather than a 'flavor' or a 'perfume'.  

    Genuine and forthright discussion has no 'gringolas'--no predetermined conclusions to whence it should go or where it will end.  It is free and expansive.  That, after all, is the genuine beauty of academia: the ability to create new points of view that previously did not exist before--to create "truth" in the most profound sense of the word. However, in their perceived  need to frenetically influence academia, corporativists do not understand they are undermining the very reason for academia's own existence: the creation of knowledge. Anything that is perceived as contrary to it, of 'insulting' either 'capitalism' or  'corporations', anything that might even suggest the mere whiff of a negative interpretation is subdued and great efforts are undertaken to squash or undermine it.  They act as if academia were a battle: if you are not a friend you are immediately targeted as a foe.  Come again?  One must not mistake the insults of critique for the insights of critical analysis.

    If Puerto Rico is ever to get its feet off the ground and truly become 'developed', it has to draw a very clear line, spiritually and culturally, and prevent all such 'external factors' from unduly influencing the true foundations of democracy and economic development: free speech.

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