As a LSE alumnus, I find this a difficult column to pen. Fortunately, my association with the School took the form of post-doctoral studies at the feet of great scholars such as A.W. Phillips, R.D.C. Allen, Peter Bauer and Basil Yamey, and not the Marxist members of the LSE faculty. Serendipitously, I completed my doctorate in economics at The University of Nottingham, and not at the now badly-tarnished LSE. My fortune was good, because it now appears that the London School of Economics has entered into the business of putting up its doctorates for sale to the families and sycophants of Middle Eastern dictators.
“Professor Sir Karl Popper, the great philosopher, argued that knowledge, science and freedom all depend on the ability to distinguish between an open society and its enemies. The London School of Economics and Political Science, where Popper taught, has shown itself incapable of making this distinction. Or to understanding its importance.” Editorial, ‘Academic Deficit: Questionable dealings with the Gaddafi family threaten LSE’s credibility.” The Times, March 3, 2011
“Urging the LSE ‘not to disown Gaddafi’, Desai somehow found it necessary to defend the LSE, stating that there’s ‘nothing wrong for the LSE to be ashamed of. Academic research needs money – Rockefeller was a robber baron once but we take his money.” Lord Desai told me this morning. The economist and Labour peer founded the Global Governance Unit, beneficiary of the Gaddafi donation. ‘I left in 2003 but I said to them, if the money has no strings attached, take it.’” Wikipedia, March 3, 2011
Strings tend to have a long reach. In 2008, BaronMeghnad Desai, Professor Emeritus at LSE, and an unreconstructed Marxist economist to boot, was one of the two examiners of the 429-page thesis by Saif -al-Islam Gaddifi, the blood-thirsty son of Colonel Gaddafi. The title of that dissertation was: ‘The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From Soft Power to Collective Decision-Making’.
In the wake of the civil war in Libya, information strongly indicates that Gaddafi’s dissertation may have been ghost-written. Evidence certainly confirms that the dissertation contains significant plagiarism of other scholars’ writings. Somehow, Baron Desai (who was appointed to the peerage by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1991) managed to ignore both problems, even though rumors flooded LSE at the time of the examination. No doubt, his glowing examiner’s report helped to support Saif Gaddafi in securing a contract with Oxford University Press to publish the dissertation as a forthcoming scholarly book.
Shortly after Saif Gaddafi’s graduation, The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation pledged a donation of 1.5 million pounds sterling to the LSE. The Chairman of that Foundation – surprise, surprise - is no other than Saif Gaddafi. The grant was welcomed with open arms by Sir Howard Davies, the Director of The London School of Economics. The grant went to the Institute founded by Meghnad Desai at the LSE.
In the wake of these revelations, the LSE is now under close press scrutiny. And the sun shines in some extremely unwelcome locations. It turns out that the School has secured an additional one million pound deal from the Gaddafi family to provide a training program for the dictatorship’s future elite. The LSE Director was personally involved in securing this lucrative contract from Saif Gaddafi. No doubt all the Marxist political scientists on the School’s faculty were salivating at this opportunity to encourage an anti-capitalist business climate across North Africa.
And that is far from the end of an unfolding story. The Times discloses (March 3, 2011) that similar programs have been provided by the LSE to other ‘emerging economies’, including Kazakhstan and Vietnam. The world’s academies await further disclosures of the decline and fall of the London School of Economics with bated breath. Like the Jasmine Revolution across North Africa and the Middle East – which now reaches out to threaten as far to the East as the People’s Republic of China – one does not know where such disclosures will take us. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Chicago? Who knows where all this tainted ‘academic’ money has wended its corruptive way.