What’s “liberal” about NYU?

New York University: A center of militarism, mass surveillance and censorship

Part 1: NYU and the preparations of US imperialism for world war

By the IYSSE at NYU
19 March 2018

This is the first in a three-part series.

As thousands of high school students tour the country looking at prospective colleges to attend in the fall semester, many remain unaware of the transformation of numerous academic institutions into centers for military research and training.

New York University (NYU), one of the most prestigious and expensive institutions in the United States, likes to present itself as liberal and “diverse,” and as an “institution without walls.” Many of the school’s departments, including history, sociology or anthropology, count leading representatives of postmodernism and identity politics among their faculty, and the promotion of race and gender as having primacy over class is, in many ways, the official school ideology.

However, behind this surface of “diversity” lie extensive ties to big business, the Democratic Party and the military. As this series will demonstrate, NYU is now closely integrated into the preparations for war against both Russia and China, and, along with that, in the efforts of both the state and the major corporations to conduct mass surveillance and censor free speech on the Internet.

Part 1: NYU and the preparations of US imperialism for world war

NYU was one of the earliest universities to embrace the deepening collaboration between higher education and the US state in the “war on terror.” In 2004, the university was one of the founding members of the Homeland Security-Homeland Defense Education Consortium (HSDECA), run by US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), established under the Bush administration to provide military support to police within the United States.

In a question and answer session held in April 2004, the HSDECA deputy of education and training, Stan Supinski, explained that the role of the consortium was to promote programs related to homeland security and to tap into academia to help “level the playing field for homeland security and homeland defense the same way it leveled the field during the Cold War.”

NYU as a Cold War University

NYU’s ties to the state go back to the Cold War, in which it helped US imperialism fight against the Soviet Union. The university played an exceptional role as an ideological base for liberal anti-communism.

During this period, NYU developed deep and lasting ties to the Ford Foundation. Established in 1936 through a donation from the founding family of the Ford Motor Company, the Ford Foundation has been known for decades for its close collaboration with the US state and military. Frances Stonor Saunders, a British historian of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), wrote in The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters that the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were “conscious instruments of covert US policy, with directors and officers who were closely connected to, or even members of American intelligence.”

Both the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations were key instruments in establishing the so called “Cold War University,” in which academics, especially in the departments of physics, mathematics, politics and history, and the newly emerging field of international relations, placed their work at the disposal of the American state.

According to historian Udi Greenberg, “…the Cold War became an enduring presence on US campuses. Rather than demobilizing after World War II, professors, philanthropists, and state officials only tightened their cooperation. The US government forcefully encouraged this mission, pouring millions into new teaching programs, language training, and academic research agendas. Intellectuals and scholars who produced policy-relevant knowledge gained access to enormous funding, classified information, and open government positions. The global struggle with communism solidified universities’ new role as engines for domestic mobilization, government service, and assertive diplomacy.” (Udi Greenberg, The Weimar Century: German Emigres and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War, Princeton University Press 2014, p. 56)

NYU was no exception to this development.


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