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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I may be the only person on the face of the earth who has read, cover to cover, Immanuel Kant's Inaugural Dissertation, Karl Marx's doctoral dissertation, and Newt Gingrich's doctoral dissertation. I do not think this is sufficient to qualify me as a scholar, but with luck it might get me invited to a dinner party.

[Incidentally, I find it somewhat disorienting to have to refer to the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, third in line to the Presidency, as "Newt." Do you suppose he has a sister nicknamed "Eft?"]

Since I am known as a student of the thought of both Kant and Marx, it will not come as a surprise that I have read the first two documents, but Gingrich's doctoral dissertation? What is that about? Well, I have had some unkind things to say about Newt on this blog -- about his pompous, self-inflating bloviating, his appallingly inappropriate self-satisfaction, the sheer vacuity of his utterances. All by himself, he has given self-esteem a bad name. But then I thought to myself: "Gingrich presents himself to the world as an academic. He has a Ph. D., or so I have heard. He even had a college teaching job. I owe it to him as, in a manner of speaking, a colleague to take a look at his dissertation and see what it has to say."

In the old days, a daunting task, but not in the age of digitization. Wikipedia informed me that Gingrich did his graduate work in the Tulane history department; the Tulane website took me to the university's library catalogue; the Duke University Reference Librarian talked me through the download process over the phone [never easy for old guys like me], and there it was: "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960 A Dissertation Submitted on the Sixth Day of May, 1971 to the Department of History of the Graduate School of Tulane University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Newton Leroy Gingrich." Two hundred eighty-three pages of text, typed and double-spaced in standard dissertation format, five pages of tables, five pages of "selected bibliography" and a one-page biographical sketch of the author indicating that he was awarded a B.A. by Emory University.

Since it would appear that we are going to have Newt to kick around for a while, I decided to read the entire blasted thing, which I did yesterday, from Introduction to Bibliography. It may be some while before anyone else undertakes this task, so I think I owe it to my faithful blog-readers and to the wider cyberspace audience to give a reasonably detailed description of the document. I do not imagine it will sway many votes, one way or another, but it may be, in the immortal words of W. S. Gilbert in The Mikado, a "source of innocent merriment."

Why on earth Belgian educational policy in the Congo? Newt was studying Modern European History, to be sure, but the topic seems rather obscure. The dissertation lacks the typical page of acknowledgements that might offer a clue, but a bit more surfing of the web reveals that the dissertation director, Professor Pierre Henri Laurent, whose name appears on the signature page, was the son of "an eminent Belgian historian, who died during the Resistance; his mother was a distinguished teacher and linguist. Pierre and his older sister were brought as children to the United States by their mother when the Second World War broke out." Mystery solved.

I will have more to say about the dissertation [I must wring some benefit from the hours spent reading it, after all], but you will want to know right away whether this bit of juvenilia, as it were, shows signs of the mature Newt in full bellow, bombastic, pleased to the point of ecstasy by the sound of his own voice, a Larry Summers without the becoming modesty, if I may put it that way.

Not a bit of it! The dissertation is written in a pedantic, serviceable prose, giving no evidence of the Newt that was to emerge as a fully formed Toad. Although the dissertation is written entirely in English, the footnotes give evidence that Gingrich had a quite adequate command of written French. [The only word in the entire dissertation not in English or French is misspelled -- Weltanschauung with only one "u" -- page 205, line 2] Gingrich relies heavily on secondary sources, with especial attention to the work of Ruth Slade and Roger Anstey. However, he has clearly made extensive use of Belgian public documents, including reports of Parliamentary debates. There is no evidence in the text that he traveled either to Belgium or to the Congo, and he seems not to have interviewed any of the principal actors, Belgian or Congolese, even though the dissertation was written only a handful of years after the departure of the Belgians from the Congo.

The structure of the dissertation is straightforward: an Introduction, three chapters on the political and historical background of Belgium's colonization of the Congo, nine chapters on various aspects of the educational institutions introduced by the Belgians into the Congo -- religious education, secular education for the Congolese, secular education for Belgians living in the Congo, education for women, agricultural education, technical education, higher education for the Congolese, etc. -- and a Conclusion.

The political or ideological orientation of the dissertation, if I may put it this way, is roughly that of a Cold War member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Colonization is seen almost entirely from the perspective of the colonial power, not from that of the indigenous population. The rule of King Leopold II, who literally owned the colony as his private property until, at his death, he willed it to Belgium, is widely understood to have been the most horrifyingly brutal colonial regime in Africa. Gingrich acknowledges this fact once in the dissertation. Speaking of the financial pressures placed by the Congo on King Leopold's coffers, Gingrich reports that a "state official told a missionary in 1899 that each time a corporal 'goes out to get rubber he is given cartridges. He must return all those that are not used; and for every one used he must bring back a right hand.'" [p. 15]

But with this sole exception, Gingrich's picture of the Belgian colonial administration is reasonably favorable. As I read his account of the struggles by dedicated Belgian colonial administrators to provide some measure of formal education to the Congolese, in the face of a generally uninterested and neglectful government in Brussels, I was reminded of nothing so much as the writings of John Stuart Mill on India, and the responsibility of cultivated, enlightened Englishmen to bear the heavy burden of stewardship until the non-European peoples are ready for self-rule.

As I have observed, the dissertation is written entirely in English, with quotations from French writers or documentary courses translated in the text, but there is one exception, "évolué," which appears dozens of times in the dissertation. évolué is the past participle of the French verb évoluer, "to evolve." It is the term that was used by the Belgians to refer to those Congolese who learned French, adopted Western dress and styles of social behavior, and became Europeanized. There are several occasions in the dissertation where Gingrich refers to events or statements as "ironic," but he seems not to have been aware of any tingle of irony in his own use of évolué.

Although he makes no effort at all to consult the colonized and give voice to their view of the Belgian rule, Gingrich does at one point, rather surprisingly, quote Father Placide Tempels quite favorably and at some length. [pages 100-101.] Tempels was a missionary priest who wrote an important book called Bantu Philosophy. It is the first acknowledgement by a European author that the indigenous peoples of Africa have complex, philosophically sophisticated conceptions of the world and their place in it. I confess that I was surprised and impressed to see Tempels put in an appearance in Gingrich's dissertation. I was a good deal less pleased by Gingrich's reliance on the always questionable Colin Turnbull.

Gingrich's summary evaluation of the Belgian colonial performance is quite positive, on the whole, and I cannot help but wonder whether this reflects the point of view of his Belgian dissertation director. To give you some sense of Gingrich's perspective, here is a paragraph from the short Concluding chapter:

"The Belgian colonial record left no one guilty and no one innocent. The Belgian leaders had virtually absolute power. By 20th century standards they used it benevolently although without foresight. The Belgian public had abandoned a responsibility which it did not desire in the first place and which had to compete for attention with pressing and far more obvious domestic problems. The only people who suffered were the Congolese and they had suffered far more under Leopold II (and their neighbors still suffer far more under Portuguese and South African rule). That guilt which the Belgians bear is for neglect, oversight, and relatively mild exploitation. If the Congo was not the model colony Belgian publicists pretended, neither was it the disaster news reports from 1960 to 1965 suggested. To have developed a semi-modernized, semi-educated but politically innocent colony was one of the Twentieth Century's lesser sins." [p. 283]

In the academic year in which he submitted his dissertation, Gingrich took a teaching job as an Assistant Professor in the History Department at West Georgia College. I have been unable to find any scholarly publications coming from his dissertation, but my ability to search the databases on the web is rather rudimentary, and someone more skilled may be able to enlighten me. While teaching at West Georgia, Gingrich ran unsuccessfully for the U. S. House of Representatives in the 6th district, first in 1974 and again in 1976. Finally, having been denied tenure at West Georgia, he won the seat in 1978.

The rest, as they say, is farce.


Unknown said...

Listing Kant, Marx, and Gingrich together immediately made me think of those SAT questions in which students are given a list of items and have to select the one that doesn't belong with the rest.

rodii said...

Speaking of misspellings... I think you mean "juvenilia," not the Roman games, instituted by Nero known as Juvenalia (sorry, it's a pet peeve). Ptherwise, terrific post.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Whoops. Thank you.

rodii said...

And I see I wrote "Ptherwise." Muphry's Law [sic] at work. :)

Unknown said...

You might find these links interesting:

Conrad Decker said...

It is always amusing to watch Newt interviewed by Ali G.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I actually found the first of those links. I will take a look at the second one.

Don Schneier said...

Logicians can find Gingrich's rise in the polls encouraging. For, plainly the hitherto under-appreciated Disjunctive Syllogism is gaining wider acceptance--(not a Mormon) & (not a gaffer) & (not a harasser) & (not a loony) & . . . ., therefore, Gingrich.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

(Correcting some notation from my deleted post.)

Don, as a logician, I have to object: we need to include a

~[(Charlatan_x) v (Bigot_x) v (Overplayed_x) v (Plutocrat_x)]


I'd hope this would rule out Gingrich, except I think that, if you erase the negation in the front, you get a decent description of what the current Republican is looking for.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled across your blog while doing some light "research" on Newt Gingrich's academic history (such as it is) for my youtube site ("incitebytes," a not-very-lofty exercise in partisan "juvenilia"). Finding your blog was not unlike finding momentary relief from a particularly annoying hemorrhoidal itch (aka the usual internet blather, to which I sometimes proudly contribute). You're the erudite, witty guy I envisioned myself being lo those decades ago as an English major, except, lacking the foundational smarts/talent, I ended up practicing law. The good news is that I'm semi-retired now and get to spend my later years thinking up snarky word-bubbles for political dipshits, which eerily (and somewhat disturbingly) resembles what I used to do to my 7th-grade history book.

Seriously, thanks for the respite. As The Arnold once so eloquently put it, "I'll be back."


Robert Paul Wolff said...

Hi, Jim,

What a nice way to say hello. Welcome to the Philosopher's Stone. I will check out incitebytes, if I can figure out how to [I am rather dim about these things].

smnadler said...

I wonder whether it is possible to write a dissertation on Belgian colonialism without a knowledge of Flemish (Dutch). Were all the primary Belgian documents and secondary literature in French and English?

Anonymous said...

Did you run it through for a plagiarism check?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Well, the primary and secondary documents that Gingrich referenced were in French or English, but I have no idea what that omits. Remember, also, that there is simply no reference at all to anything written by the original inhabitants of the Congo. They are the object of his discourse, but not the subject [as we say]. I.e., the voices of the Africans are never heard.

Bennett said...

While Newt wrote his dissertation long before the publication of Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Folly," Hochschild out into context what was already known because it had been one of the biggest journalistic exposes of modern times: that the Belgians were murdering millions of Congolese and working millions more to death in rubber production. There were hundreds of newspaper articles from pre-WWI that Newt could have consulted at least for perspective, and Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was also of course a famous account of Belgian colonialism. Newt's work was on the post-war period, but how could he not have considered the destruction of traditional society & genocide of 11 million persons in evaluating what the Belgians were doing? In the 60's, defending pre-independence Congo was also a matter of delegitimating leftwing insurrection in the Congo.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Exactly right. I don't suppose all of this will matter if he gets the nomination, but it does give us a window into his mind. Thank you for the helpful comment. Adam is an old friend of mine, from our time in Harvard/Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid.

Bogolov said...

@smnadler: As I understand it, the French speaking Belgians, the Walloons, rather dominated government and culture in the first half of the 20th Century. The Dutch speakers, the Flemings, were somewhat 2nd class citizens. It is therefore entirely probable that all the relevant Belgian documents were in French.

Eric Schliesser said...

Ca 1990 I took an undergraduate course with Professor Pierre Henri Laurent on European Diplomatic History at Tufts University. (My grade was a C+!) Professor Laurent was very proud of being Newt's supervisor, and he did not relish being corrected. I wouldn't be surprised if the intellectual orientation of the dissertation reflect Laurent's worldview. I think a more Newt's more authentic views, if any, are probably to be found in his later embrace of various neo-neo-Marxist forms of techno-happy futurology. So maybe you can report on those.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Eric, thanks for the comment. I am curious -- since you ae a philosopher, did you study at all with my old friend Hugo Bedau? I think perhaps I have read as much of Gingrich as I want to. Life is too short.

Waldo Noodleman said...

Is the young Newt prone to any ideology other than trumpeting the views of his Professor Overlord?

Eric Schliesser said...

I came to know (and admire Hugo) at Tufts, but (dummy that I am) never took a class with him! (I decided on becoming a philosophy major rather late in my college year, so had to scramble to complete the degree requirements.)

Jonathan Keller said...

Do we know why he was denied tenure?

Jonathan Keller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Paul Wolff said...

I could not find any indication, but I did search for evidences of academic publication, and found none. Maybe he was a lousy teacher. That was a time when getting tenure was not hard, since the public higher education sector was expanding rapidly. At UMass at that time [UMass being a far superior institution] virtually every junior faculty person got tenure.

texasinafrica said...

I'm another of the few who have read Gingrich's dissertation (because I research education provision in DRC) and agree largely with your comments. Thanks for the post.

The key issue in my view is that Gingrich was dealing not so much with the effects of Belgian education policy on the Congolese but rather with the success/failure of Belgian policy itself in terms of the colonial experiment. Still, he reaches some rather alarming conclusions about how hard the Belgians tried. The Belgian education system in DRC was atrocious; it allowed only 4th-6th grade educations for the vast majority of citizens and left the country completely unprepared for post-colonial success.

My understanding is that Gingrich was denied tenure due to spending too much time focusing on electoral politics and not enough time on publications and teaching.

At any rate, god forbid that any of us be judged on the basis of our dissertations!

-Laura Seay

Aldwin said...

Just a note to address two points raised by previous comments:

1/ French was the official language of the Belgian Congo. Knowledge of Flemish would have opened up additional secondary literature and (especially) missionary sources, but Gingrich's knowledge of French was quite adequate to cover the official side of things

2/ I don't get the Hochschild references. Gingrich's dissertation is about educational policy after 1945, King Leopold's Congo Free State ceased to exist in 1908.

It would have been more frustrating (from an examiner's perspective, for example) had he included irrelevant filler about the horrors of the Leopoldian system in a study about a completely different topic (all he needed to mention was the near absence of an educational policy in the CFS).

'Heart of Darkness' and 'King Leopold's Ghost' are not relevant to everything that ever happened in the Congo. Something I wish more writers would realize.

Jon Coifman said...

Surprised that nobody has yet put this in context with Dr. Gingrich's attack last year on President Obama's "anti-colonial" world view.

That would seem to make this reading much more relevant to present questions than Wolff gives himself credit for.

(The Gingrich quote, lauding D'Souza's extended remarks in Forbes, appeared in the National Review: "Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a 'stunning insight' into Obama’s behavior — the 'most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.'

'What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?' Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.'”

Full remarks are here:

Bennett said...

Re "unknown's" comment: since there is not a single thing I like about Gingrich, I'm not letting him off the hook. The topic here is not the DRC but Gingrich. No one suggested he put filler in his dissertation or even that it would have made sense for him to write about Leopold or Conrad. They weren't his topic. The issue is that it seems from what is said about his dissertation that he did not recognize the relationship of education as a system of reproduction to the ideology that governed it. In fact everything in DRC is related to the colonization in some recognizable degree, just as a great deal of what we experience in this country is related to, say, the Civil War & the conflicts that led to it. Did DRC's history begin in 1945? If only the problem really were that too many "writers" think that colonization past & present is a problem in the world today. Gingrich is an influence-peddler, a mail-order scam artist, a megalomaniac, and a heartless bastard, so it is not too much to point out that he didn't consider the slaughter of 11million Congolese as sufficiently large crime for him to recognize while exculpating the Belgians.

frankly speaking said...

Conversely, Columbia University won't release Pres Obama's MA thesis on nuclear disarmament. Obama's lawyers have fought release of his thesis, LSAT scores, and grades. Neither Bush nor Gore had a problem with release of grades. As President of Harvard Law Review, he has the distinction of not publishing a single article under his own name. By all accounts, his one unsigned article on abortion is not impressive - even has some verb antecedent noun problems. As a guest lecturer for twelve years or as he calls it "Constitutional Law Professor" at the Un of Chicago Law School, he did not write one single article for a professional journal. Unlike Pres Obama, Gingrich has not constructed a legal firewall around his academic writing. For this, he should be praised. I'd like to see you take on the Obama "smartest man in the room" myth next.

frankly speaking said...

Conversely, President Obama has fought against any release of his academic writings, SAT or LSAT scores, or grades with a team of lawyers. Columbia University won't release his MA thesis on nuclear disarmament. Clinton, Bush, Gore, McCain, and Kerry released their GPA's and SAT scores, as well as their academic transcripts. Pres Obama as President of the Harvard Law Review has the distinction of being one of the only, if not the only, HLR Pres to not write an article under his own name. He did write one unsigned article on abortion rights, noted for its verb antecedent noun errors. Additionally, during his twelve year tenure as a "Constitutional Law Professor" (his description) or visiting lecturer (more accurate description), he did not wrote a single legal journal article. I might also add that Pres Obama did not author a single bill in the US Senate. At least Newt Gingrich has not created a legal firewall around his academic writing, has produced a wealth of books on public policy, as well as a public record of producing legislation. I'd like to see you take on the Obama "smartest man in the room myth" next.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I am a trifle puzzled by your comment. I am no expert on Obama's life, but the account on Wikipedia makes no mention of graduate work at Columbia, and gives a time line of his successive jobs and activities that seems to leave no room for him to have enrolled as a graduate student and then completed an MA thesis. What is more, in my experience in academic life, it is unusual for someone to write an MA thesis in a field like Political Science. Can you tell me where I can find some information about his graduate work at Columbia?

John Emerson said...

I remember Bedau from Reed College around 1965-67. At one point he was one of the few (2 or 3) faculty members to come out publicly against the Vietnam war. Contrary to its reputation, Reed discourages faculty political involvement, and Bedau may have left for that reason.

Jon said...

Here's the explanation:

John Emerson said...

Obama's masters thesis seems to be a standard internet hoax. He did write a senior paper for one course, but it was not filed with the university and neither Obama nor the teacher of the class has a copy. It was just an ambition undergrad paper.

"Frankly speaking" seems to be patrolling the internet with an "Obama thesis" Google search and depositing his disinformation wherever he can, like a dog marking territory.

Paul Rosenberg said...

Thanks for taking on this thankless task & reporting on it. I did read his entire online course transcript back in 1995, and even published an opinion piece about a tiny sliver of it in the LA Times (Newt's total inversion of Edwards Demming's philosophy, whom he claimed as a mentor). It was a good deal more entertaining than his disseration, I'm sure, in an Ed Wood kind of way.

I have no proof, but I believe a constributing factor in his not getting tenure was his general disinterest in doing his job. Not only was he always running for office, he also kept teaching futurology courses--which I don't believe he ever had any academic training for. In short, he lacked discipline and he lacked interest in his discipline.

LFC said...

The (relatively few) university libraries with which I am reasonably familiar do not, as far as I know, allow one to download an unpublished dissertation listed in their catalogs. (I.e., they have not put them into downloadable form or, if they have, they don't advertise the fact.) I had been under the impression that to read an unpublished dissertation generally required either going in person to the library/archive in question, or possibly doing an interlibrary loan, or buying a copy of the diss. from ProQuest/UMI. (That is, isn't it?, one of the ways in which ProQuest makes money, though I'm sure most of its money is made in other ways.) I am therefore a bit surprised that you were able to download the thing from the Tulane website (with the help, as you say, of the Duke librarian). Either Tulane is unusual in this respect or I am wrong about what the standard procedures are for unpublished dissertations.

Aldwin said...

@Bennett: I have no opinion on Gingrich one way or the other (not being a US citizen I can afford to ignore him).

The only point I wanted to make is that Gingrich's PhD is a fairly standard piece of work. The language used or conclusions reached are not out of line with other academic publications of the time. Though it wouldn't cause a stir, a PhD thesis like this would probably pass today as well (at least at some universities).

I've only skimmed through the thesis, but I don't find that it exculpates the Belgians from colonialism per se (he didn't need to voice an opinion on this), merely that the post-war education system was well-intended though ultimately misguided.

(I don't know why I came up as 'unknown')

Robert Paul Wolff said...

LFC, I do not have any experience trying to download dissertations, so I cannot say whether the Tulane practice is unusual, but the reference librarian at Duke did not comment on it, so I assumed it was now a pretty standard thing.

frankly speaking said...

The vulgar comment was uncalled for. I was incorrect about the MA thesis, even though the site referenced a Time mag article. Mistakes happen, that's one of the purposes of dialogue. However, the rest of the comments citing the lack of openness about President Obama's academic record, SAT/LSAT scores, grades, etc. has been widely covered in the mainstream media. One error doesn't discount the weight of the other facts.

frankly speaking said...

The vulgar comment was uncalled for. I was incorrect about the MA thesis, even though the site referenced a Time mag article. Mistakes happen, that's one of the purposes of dialogue. However, the rest of the comments citing the lack of openness about President Obama's academic record, SAT/LSAT scores, grades, etc. has been widely covered in the mainstream media. One error doesn't discount the weight of the other facts.

Bennett said...

The thread is old, & hijacked; but I thought it worth noting that Newt tells reporters that "Political change was also the theme of his Ph.D. thesis" (

Anonymous said...

Have you uploaded Newt's dissertation to any site, like Scribd? If not, would you be kind enough to permeit me to have a copy of Newt's dissertation so that I might do so.


rodii said...

Hmm, were someone to upload my doctoral dissertation to Scribd without my permission, as if it were de facto public property, I think I would be extremely pissed.

Lots of us have written dissertations that, at later stages of our careers, we are not especially fond of. As Dr. Wolff notes, they are in a sense juvenilia, and not something we should really be judged by unless we've taken the trouble to revise and submit for real publication ("publication" in the University Microfilms sense is pretty much pro forma only). Now, since Newt sometimes tries to make hay with his, maybe it's fair game. But taking it out of context by posting on Scribd for the internets to point and laugh at is dirty pool, I would think.

Anonymous said...

rodii, I agree, copyright has a statutory and constitutional basis, and is an essential set of quite enforceable rights. I benefit from it. Perhaps you might consider passing along your concerns to the Tulane Library in an official complaint. They have, in actuality, violated Gingo's rights. Me, I'm merely suggesting we just say "What the hell, it's Gingo, an unprincipled serial liar and bag of wind. Let's just go ahead and, for the catharsis of it, violate his damn copyright."

Another thing: I'm quite sure that Gingo would long ago have monetized the diss. if he could have. He's certainly quite a monetizer, wouldn't you agree? So, my guess is that the diss. is something he's a bit nervous about releasing for possible close scrutiny. (My second guess is, he is, as a dishonest lout, concerned that there just might be some long-forgotten plagiarizing within . . .)

As for the persistence of juvenalia, well, Gingo qua Gingo is gleeful when calling out his opponents on statements they may have made, or may not have made as, for example, pre-schoolers. And he holds them to those statements. Also, he speaks quite proudly of his earlier works, as in, "You ought to purchase my book on . . ." So, put concerns to rest, he's into juvenalia and anything he writes or says anytime, anywhere, on any subject, presumably including the Belgian's educational policy coincident with their killing thousands of Africans.

Finally, dissertations as "juvenalia"? Oh really? Then perhaps PhD's need not be as well-regarded as they are. Universities, however, seem to still believe that dissertations are major writings. Maybe PhD's ought to be withheld for, let's suggest, ten years while the “dissertatee” revises up his or her earlier “juvenalia” to maturity. Could you get behind that? I've got my (our?) idea ready for the Ivory Tower Academy suggestion box.

Of course you are correct in an important sense: one may - ought to - re-jigger one's earlier dissertation or scholarly articles at a future time in light of new information, but to call the early work that helped earn a PhD. "juvenalia" is a stretch. Given that Gingo has neither revised nor disavowed his "juvenilia," I think we can safely label it “Gingo in full,” and treat it as a mature work (or as mature as Gingo ever got in the early '70s). As for Gingo's academic articles during his eight year non-tenure tenure (as in “taking up space for awhile”) at Georgia Southern College, well, that's an easy one: he produced not a single article. In my book, that means “no revisions necessary.”

P.S. Oh, and why do you believe his dissertation would be laughed at if released into the wilds of the Internet? I believe it would more likely be the source of true Homeric sadness.

P.P.S. And where's Gingo's original birth certificate? Now that's juvenalia. Has that been revised?! He's older now. He's had time to think it through.

rodii said...

I don't actually disagree with any of that, except, and I'm sorry to repeat myself, IT'S "JUVENILIA" PEOPLE!! Not "juvenalia" (that's different).

Anonymous said...

Let us now speak frankly of frankly speaking, Part One:

First, as Paul Krugman said recently, Gingo is a “stupid person's idea of a smart person.”

Second, as John Emerson points out above, your report of an Obama Master's degree thesis is utterly false. Everything else you assert is pure unresearched balderdash you've heard from the insane rantings of talk radio hosts.

Here are some facts inconvenient to your many half-witted “exposés.”

1. The Master's degree on "nuclear disarmament" you assert Obama earned is incorrect, as in it does not exsist. What you cite is a paper Obama produced for a Bachelor's degree honors seminar in American Foreign Policy. By the way, he received an "A" in the course, and the paper was discarded by the professor years ago, and Obama did not himself keep a copy. Perhaps you kept all your high school term papers? If so, please submit them for analysis since you may yet become President, particularly in this era where the likes of Gingo, Perry, and Bachmann are in the running.

2. Obama, by the way, never sought a Master's degree in anything.

3. Your comments about his presidency of Harvard Law Review shows your misunderstanding of law reviews, in general, and Harvard (aka, "the Law School"), in particular. Let's put it this way, Obama's election to the presidency at HLR was, then, the equivalent of a rabbi being elected President of Iran, i.e. an unprecedented event, which, due to its “first ever” aspect, was nationally reported. Also, it is not unusual or shame-worthy for a law review editor-in-chief to choose not write an article for the review. As for Obama, he had been awarded a book contract in his second year, and that took precedence. Finally, if he had indeed written a HLR piece, you would've pissed all over it, as you well know.

4. You also understand nothing regarding Obama's tenure at U. of Chicago Law School, nor the concept of law professor “tenured” positions. There, he was for all that time both adjunct and a lecturer. He was not on a tenure-track. Adjuncts, though considered by U of CLS to be "professors," are not required to write law review articles.

Here are the facts, courtesy of U. of Chicago LS:

"[Obama] was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."

Anonymous said...

Let us now speak frankly of frankly speaking. Part Two, thankfully, of only two parts:


5. You also know nothing about President Obama's Senate record. "Pres Obama did not author a single bill in the US Senate." Quite to the contrary. He introduced many bills. Here are some of them:

the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007;
the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007;
the Fuel Economy Reform Act; and
the Higher Education Opportunity Through Pell Grant Expansion Act.

In addition, President Obama was then a freshman senator. Freshmen senators do not routinely author many bills; it's part of the informal code of Senate etiquette.

6. You write: "At least Newt Gingrich has not created a legal firewall around his academic writing, has produced a wealth of books on public policy, as well as a public record of producing legislation." Give us all a break here! Gingrich has no "academic writing" whatever other than his dissertation. At Georgia Southern College he was a well-known slacker who spent his time running for Congress, and teaching his own brand of "futurism" classes that were not within the GSC History department for which he “worked.” At GSC he was, therefore, a resoundingly failed academic. I suggest you compare that with our President's record at U. of CLS.

Moreover, having written dozens of books on what you call “public policy” does not carry with it any gold crown. First, many of “his” books are co-written, which in English means "Newt did not write them." Second, having written a "wealth" of books is meaningless, it's the contents of the books that matters. I suppose we might differ here, but having read some of his pulp fiction and nonfiction, I consider them a preposterous pile of undereducated, uninformed, and ego-maniacal bullshit. And so do most professional reviewers. As I say, perhaps we differ here. Can we agree to do so?

7. Gingo's record of legislation is equally embarrassing to defend if you're the kind of person who seeks fairness, decency, cooperation, and concern for others in public policy. But, here, may we also agree to disagree?

8. I feel quite saf in my belief that you have not the slightest idea of what you mean by "verb antecedent noun errors." Does you?

9. Finally, through your baseless attacks on the President, you have proved you are, like Gingo, a slacker who, like most of your anti-Obama cabal, have no taste for real factual research, i.e. hard work. You are good listeners, I'll grant you that, but listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Gingo, Coulter, Cain, Perry, Bachmann, O'Reilly, and those other moronic mooks is not a “research methodology,” it's for those lazy right wingers who find it eminently easier live in a fact-free world where every problem is the proverbial nail. In addition, I'm utterly exhausted with you utterly selfish Ayn Randies, and your completely undereducated and ill-informed viral stupidity that has infected this land for decades, especially during the last few years. I think that the Democratic party - primarily wimps who are afraid of the likes of you - has let you get away with it for too long. But not here, not now.

Oh, another “finally,” I cannot wait for President Obama to slice and dice your mentor Gingo in debate. I'm praying that you folks pick Gingo, that mendacious half-wit bag of wind as your nominee. Hey, even you might agree with this: his debate experience has been against a group who are, but or Romney and Huntsman, a bunch of carnival clowns. Gingo's utterly unprepared for the likes of a sitting president of high intelligence, oratorical skill, and years at the actual helm, not the imagined helm Gingo believes is in his hands. As Dubya said, “Bring 'em on!”

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes . . . I was thinking of "genatalia." Dreadfully sorry. Haven't used "juvenilia" since I was a tyke in short pants.

Anonymous said...

Oh hell . . . I was thinking of "juvenalia," not "genitalia." Dreadfully sorry. Haven't used "genitalia" since my sixth marriage.

Amato said...

Looks like your buddy, Adam Hochschild, had something to say about Newt's doctoral dissertation also:

Unknown said...

Hmm. 1971. As Newt Gingrich turned out, it doesn't seem that scholarship was his main interest at all. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the year in which he finished his dissertation was that remaining embedded in university was, at that time, a good way to avoid the draft. What an unfounded comment. I should know better! I actually think that Gingrich, however he bloviates, is often worth the time to pay attention, for several reasons.

(1) his ideas seem novel to me

(2) occasionally they appear to be workable, though not liberal

(3) I wish we had the old New York Herald Tribune to vet his ideas. I would like to read a critical examination of the policies he has proposed.

And I would love a debate between Obama and Gingrich that did not degenerate in name-calling or bringing up an unchangeable past.

I also read him as outside of the Boehner box, as a former Speaker of the House in more cordial times.

Doctor Two (or PhD^2)

Karl from Flanders said...

I'm Flemish, and born in 1942. That means that I was 18 years old in 1960... (I have a Ph.D. in mathematical physics, so the math came easily). Never had anything to do with the colony, except that I escaped by three months being parachuted into Katanga. But this is what I remember: (1) the colonial administration was French. (2) The lay people who went and worked in the Congo formed a rather closed caste with which the rest of the population had little or nothing to do - and knew little or nothing about. (3) The church sent thousands of its best and brightest (vast majority: Flemish) who did marvelous work. I remember Father Haazen who composed the Missa Luba. They got a holiday back home every 10 years. The rather cheesy movie "The nuns story" gives a rather accurate description - for all I know. (4) I was a member of Chiro, a Flemish and catholic youth movement that ran a Congolese branch. I volunteered to go to Congo for them, a plan that was (wisely?) vetoed by my parents. We had a leader from Ruanda, Evarist Nunkinwanza (certaily misspelled), who was incredibly popular and - I think - became a minister in independent Ruanda.
What a super Belgian francophone professor may have imparted on his innocent US students - I shudder at the thought (but I'm a Flemish nationalist, so I'm definitely biased). And what Newt may have made of this - I don't want to go there...

Anonymous said...

"I also read him as outside of the Boehner box, as a former Speaker of the House in more cordial times."

Maybe I don't understand your comment above, but Gingo was one of the more controversial, dishonest, ethics-disabled, and irascible Speakers in our history. Boehner, by contrast, is a political eunuch. And the times then were, when judged by the prevailing "heat" of the era, were every bit as uncordial as today's. In act, those times, and Gingo'sart in them, made today's poisonous GOP possible.

Newt's ideas are, in general and in particular, almost always nonsensical, particularly when viewed in economic terms. Have a look at his recent "brainstorm" to put kids to work, for pay, at public schools in "poor neighborhoods." Do you believe for a moment that Gingo would suggest that school districts pay these kids the minimum wage? Moreover, the janitorial staff that would be replaced by children would, of course, be unemployed, and their unions weakened.

In all, whether he's serious or not about this, the afect on labor would be to reduce employment and incomes (by driving down the wages paid for janitorial work) of the very parents of these "poor kids" Gingo seems to care so much about. (Hint, he does not care a whit.) Additionally, Gingo's "idea" suggests that janitorial work is nothing more than sweeping and polishing, something a child can do. Having done no physical work for pay in his own life, he can sit back and imagine what work entails.

For anyone to take advice about working from Newt is absurd; by most accounts (even by his campaign staff, such ass it is) he is a lazy bum of a guy who, without politics, would likely still be living at home and refusing to take out the garbage.

Unknown said...

"I also read him as outside of the Boehner box, as a former Speaker of the House in more cordial times."
Mike isolated this comment of mine, and then made my point, that Gingrich is not Boehner. Stylistically, they are very different. The times -- the mid 1990s -- were very different. More prosperous, for one thing.

Most Speakers are bare-knuckle fighters in the political trenches. Boehner is not, because he cannot go bare knuckles against his own party.

I think there are four or five levels of Newt Gingrich -- none of them that laudable, all of them interesting. The best thing, from my POV as a watcher who has no intention of voting for him, is that he came up with the Contract for America and got some of it passed.

If we are largely academics, dishing on politicians, can we not take a slightly more "academic" or neutral point of view on this person? By "academic" I mean the logical observation that Newt Gingrich is not Mormon, not a gaffer, not a loon, rich enough to afford a campaign, rich enough to offend the OWS 99%, and keeps stirring the pot with ideas, rather than with slogans.

Anonymous said...

I am not an academic. For example, I recognize argument as not sloganeering.

You understand little of congressional politics, history, or Gingo. I spent more than 30 years on Capitol Hill working among these folks in senipor positions. Gingrich was a failed Speaker in nearly any sense. (See Peolsi's threat today to discuss the Ethics Committee charges against him should he be the GOP candidate.) Read the facts. As you're an academic, perhaps Wikipedia will be something you're familiar with.

Gingo will have no better chance, as candidate or president, influencing his own party today than Boehner does. Gingo would have been flummoxed by the Tea party as well. Today,there exists an entirely different congressional delegation than in the 1990's from the POV of ideology and political strength.
It's ironic, as I wrote, Gingo himself was among the more responsible individual's for creating this toxic GOP.

I'm yelling because I see the threat to our country that these GOP morons, like Bachmann, etc. represent. I've seen much - Nixon, etc., but this time, it's different. Just look at what the GOP would enacvt into law if they had the Senate secure. Gingo is among the worst among them. For God's sake, he's serious about reducing the federal protections of the child labor laws and encouraging the states to do likewise.

It is utterly irrelevant how much one might have admired Gingo in the past. What's relevant is what he proposes today. Forgert the "Contract With America," it was all but uniformly rejected by the American public. The bum, yesterday, kneeled before Donald Trump, for God's sake. orget yesterday. If you support the goals of the GOP, then say so. Fine. You're likely voting against yoour own interests, or, more importantly, the interests your children, neices, or nephews, but, ine, you believe in Ayn Randian solutions. Just do not come here defending the past of Gingo, an individual who is as bad - worse - a human being than ever before. And he's a legitimate GOP candidate for the nomination for Presidnet!

I'm not even going to spell czech this one.

Anonymous said...

See, "Presidnet" THAT'S wwhat happens when one does not spell ckech.

marinagp said...

Enjoyed very much reading some comments.

ZED said...

@ Mike,

I just salivate over such blindly obsessed liberals such as yourself. You let your ideology completely blind you from comparison. You state that every single Republican is stupid, it is what you insinuate, or state, but yet with absolutely not one shred of evidence, which has become quite a constancy with this president and his defenders you state him practically a genius. Let me guess, you are going to reply and debate me stating you calling him a genius - go ahead. The satisfaction your musings cause me is reason itself to celebrate. A debate, between "Gingo", nice name-calling, and the president, and your genius will prevail? How? Is he going to prove to "Gingo" how his trillion dollar porkulus bill "saved" our economy and created jobs, or just that it saved jobs . . . . somehow? I's am sure he will also inform "Gingo" that he will be doubling-down on the Solnydra debacle as well, right? Saw how many great-paying jobs that created for so few rich people. Why not just cut out the beaurocratic BS and just take the money right from the republicans, I mean rich people's bank accounts and give it in direct deposits to the liberals, I mean poor people. They would actually probably fare much better under this arrangement. Or is he going to explain to "Gingo" how green energy is the way of the future, speaking of futurolgy, and that although "Gingo" [laugh-laugh] apparently cannot see into the future with his intellect, of course the president can? Here is a debate topic must - tell "Gingo" how the cap & trade would have helped our economy right now if it would only have been eneacted through the dem-controlled congress. OOPS! P.S. Debate topic must: obamascare! The shining, perfect, and inherently simple and transparent program. I think you will agree with me on this one, reason being I must be right is because he must be saving it for the 2012 debates. Oddly enough for a crowning achievement that will save our country, he has yet to talk about it or bring it up at all yet. I am sure he will discuss it at length in the Lincoln-style debates "Gingo" will challenge him with. Of course.

ZED said...

@ Mike


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WEP said...

Your name is appropriate. Your post is embarrassing

DEK said...

Thank you Dr. Wolff for creating this blog. Great discussion! Laughed so hard, nearly fell off the couch after reading John Emerson's post (vulgar or not)! Nice rebuttals Mike, keep up the good work!

DJProf said...

The tragic disaster of decolonization in the Congo, leading to the assassination of Lumumba, the protracted Congo Crisis of 1963, and the rise of the kleptocrat Mobutu, was largely due to the lack of higher education opportunities for Congolese under the Belgians. There were something like 6 Congolese (including Lumumba) who had the equivalent of post high school training in 1960. Try appointing ministers and a cabinet with no training. The Belgian policy of such restricted educational opportunities ensured an on-going European presence. When Lumumba got rid of the Belgians, they (with CIA help) assassinated him, and dissolved his corpse in acid to prevent him from becoming a martyr.

Does any of this figure in Newt's dissertation? On the other hand, maybe if the newt had gotten tenure, the world would be a safer place.

Mark said...

I'm no scholar, but given what I have seen of Gingrich's personality problems I am wondering if he actually wrote that dissertation himself...ALL of his subsequent published works have been "co-authored".
I am still amazed that anyone defends Newt at all, let alone as a potential President...the very idea of that, to me, is an insult to the US.

Thank you for this blog. I will frequent it.


Anonymous said...

ZED, haven't checked in for a long time . . . I stopped readinmg your 12/09/2011 posting at:

"Is he going to prove to "Gingo" how his trillion dollar porkulus bill 'saved' our economy and created jobs, or just that it saved jobs . . . . somehow?"

At that point you proved the point that, as you put it, "every Republican is stupid." I don't recall writing that. Some of my smartest and best friends are Republicans. You, a rightwing reactionary, however, seem, if not stupid, then enormously misinformed and fact-averse.

Thanks for the portion of your comment that I read.


ZED said...

And thank you Mike for proving that liberals just can't get by the world of facts, and ALWAYS rely on name-calling. You don't recall saying that, of course not! That wouldn't fit into your diatribe. And your reply proves another thing, that supposedly uber-educated people such as yourself are all bleeding heart drpping liberal anti-Americans. Enjoy your discussion with the rest of your "republican" friends. Let me guess, those republican friends of your probably think Romney is a right-winger too! Whatever! For all of your dissecting of colonialism and minute details to the 10th degree, you sure can't argue a simple point. Later.

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The Rebel in Disguise said...

That’s quite impressive! Having read dissertations of three prominent people in the history from cover to cover is indeed overwhelming! I bet you’ve really looked up to these people. No wonder you consider yourself a Marxist as well. However, you talked more about Gingrich in this blog. I must agree; he’s got a kind of a weird name. Perhaps, that also goes with being an intellectual himself.

Virgie Armstrong

Unknown said...

Years ago in the 1990s, when I was in graduate school myself, someone mentioned that Newt had committed plagiarism in his dissertation. From what I remember of the story, while he didn't go to Congo, he did spend some time in Belgium digging through archives. According the account, he plagiarized French language secondary sources into English and passed them off as his own. I have never taken the time to confirm this, but that was the accusation, for what it's worth.

Life Member, Disabled American Veterans, Ph.D. said...

Son of a career military man, Newt probably got good advice to avoid service. It is obvious that Newt, as with so many Ph.D.s in the late 60s/early 70s, entered or remained in academia for draft avoidance purposes. And it being the times, academic life wasn't all that bad, lots of colleges being built and lots of colleges becoming universities. Newtie just wanted to avoid serving, so he let his dissertation advisor point him toward a subject no one would check on and no one would care about (the Belgian Congo no longer existed, post-colonialism no one cared, no-bod-ee). He would earn his degree from a then solid school, get a job, and move on - no fuss, no muss, no service. Later he becomes a chicken hawk like Five-deferment Dick Cheney (I'd love to see a photo of Lt. Hannity saluting Capt. Levin saluting Maj. O'Reilly saluting LTC Limbaugh saluting Col. Cheney while Air Cadet George W. "Drunken George" Bush flew a barrel roll overhead on his way to another roadhouse).

Andy said...

Newt popping back into the spotlight got me thinking about that phd, and happened to come across this blog. The comments about trump is very much a reminder how Fall we have fallen. Should have seen it coming, eh?

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Anonymous said...

Interesting that several times people have mentioned that there were no Congolese interviewed or listed in Gingrich's thesis. So far, I have found very few, though from second hand information. No parents are named, and none were students at the time of the quote or recollecting the same. The others might be Congolese clergy.

Pg 138 “This growth of dissenting thought among the "evolues" coincided with the development of new opportunities for them to express themselves. They formed study circles and began editing journals.”

“That day three of the natives complained that the Catholic school system in the province offered more opportunities for education than its Protestant counterpart. They asserted that it was difficult for non-believers to send their children to a missionary school. The explicitly absolved the missionaries of discrimination … However, they argued that psychologically it is very difficult for a non-believing parents [to send their child to such a school].”


Pg 139 M. Mudingayi [a Congolese name] argued that ‘education is one thing and religion is another.’ … One Catholic Priest … commented that he was astonished to see missionary trained "evolues" attacking Church—based education. [Later professor Abbe P. Mukuna in the Congo?] Abbe Mukuna reassured him that these criticisms did not represent the majority of the natives.


So far that is about it so far. A professor in Nigeria gives a general account regarding the political situation. Otherwise, one is dealing with caucasians. An oversight, but not as much as presented here. There are no in depth interviews, no real interviews at all, just a few unspecific second hand quotes.

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Anonymous said...

I am not an academic but attempting navigate the current world I am finding it the most helpful to shut off the television and read the source material for these players. I have been making my way through many books that I am sure are common to you.

I have always known neoconservatives to center around greed, war, and suppression so I have been reading kant and marx for the first time trying to understand their connection. Someone online said newt's plan for the American people (and how to advance the role of the church) is best seen in his thesis. So I was in the process of doing exactly what you did, reading all three of those thesis from beginning to end. I was assuming he is equating the American people to the Congolese. I will have to add that history to the list also but my general understanding is it is seeped in brutality. Would you be willing to do another blog post specifically with these three documents against the current political environment and your thoughts? I am not sure how relevant newt still is even though his mistress was just ambassador to the vatican. Either way, I find the topic very interesting.

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