Since the 1960’s in the United States, the historically contentious relationship between business and the humanities has been especially intense to the extent that this relationship might seem to be closer to a war rather than simply fodder for a good conversation. Before the 1960’s business dominance seemed taken for granted. One of the enduring remarks in American business, credited to the then CEO of General Motors, Erwin Wilson, speaking before Congress in 1953, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” The remark endures because it neatly sums up the centrality and high regard for business in the American culture, a regard very apparent lately in the government of President George W. Bush and in much of the civil society of the U.S. This high regard for business was and still is often accompanied by a low regard for the humanities. By the 1960’s in some areas of the United States, the term “humanist” combined with “secular” became used as an insult, partly because humanism supposedly contains both anti-religious and anti-business and therefore anti-American ideas and values. In response, and most intensely since the 1960’s, some explicators and defenders of the humanities express their distrust and contempt for capitalism, business and “business values,” insisting on the intrinsic value of the humanities and resisting any impulse to arguments to bolster the humanities by saying that they are “useful” to business because, for example, workers with a humanistic education are able to think more logically, behave more ethically, or express themselves more clearly.
|Keywords:||Humanities, Business, Activist/Scholar, Secular Humanist, Capitalism, Diversity, Values, Business Ethics, Education, Experiential Learning, Culture Wars|
Professor of English, English Department, Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
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