Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism?

February 23, 2011 at 18:11 (Middle East, Resistance) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts.

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By Jerome E. Roos

Right when you’d think it couldn’t get any more embarrassing for the LSE, online activists have dug up evidence suggesting that Saif al-Gaddafi‘s PhD supervisors and examiners (including Professor Held and Lord Desai) may have — consciously or unconsciously — overlooked over a dozen blatant instances of plagiarism in Gaddafi’s thesis just two years before accepting his £1.5 million grant.

Earlier, student activists who occupied the LSE’s Senior Commons room on Tuesday demanded that the School revoke Gaddafi’s PhD title. The LSE administration refused, responding in a public statement that “an LSE degree may only be revoked if there are substantiated concerns about the manner in which it was attained in the first place – for example if there is a later discovery of plagiarism.”

This statement subsequently resulted in a makeshift scrambling of online activists seeking to unearth evidence of plagiarism in Gaddafi’s PhD thesis, titled “The Role Of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-Making?” On Wikia.com, volunteers have already identified 14 instances of plagiarism, with more likely to be discovered as time passes.

Once again, this is a major embarrassment for the cosmopolitan liberals at the London School of Economics. Lord Desai, for example, who served on Gaddafi’s thesis examination board, ridiculed himself on Tuesday by stating that “I grilled [Gaddafi] for two hours on it — there was no suggestion he hadn’t written it himself. We were struck by how idealistic it was. We said it was not realistic and needed some realpolitik in it.”

Well, Lord Desai certainly got his realpolitik — in the form of split skulls, torn-off limbs, mass graves and hundreds of green body bags. In fact, it seems that Gaddafi took his examiner’s Machiavellian suggestions at heart long before the crackdown started.

Oh, and speaking of Lord Desai: more disgusting words have sprung from this man’s mouth than a healthy set of ears should have to endure within a day, but I’ll share it anyway. Urging the LSE “not to disown Gaddafi“, Desai somehow found it necessary to defend the School’s inexcusable hypocrisy, stating that there’s “nothing 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.”

I must admit, dear Meghnad, I liked you better as a Marxist. The socialist epithet also kinda suited your hairdo better. But to be serious here, and I’ve written this time and again over the past couple of days, such is the Great Liberal Betrayal. All these cosmopolitan crackpots, above all those associated with LSE Global Governance,  are tragically ending up on the wrong side of history.

Of course, what Desai should have said, is that the marketization and commodification of education is the root of all evil. Especially a university like the LSE, which has been playing with the idea of going private, is extremely vulnerable to corporate and/or political subversion. The moment you rely on private sources of funding, your very academic integrity is potentially at stake.

This should make us wonder — rationally, and without falling prey to mindless conspiracy theory — to what extent Gaddafi’s alleged plagiarism and his blood money may be connected.

Over the past couple of days, plenty of commentators have observed the irony (or absurdity) of Gaddafi’s thesis within the Rawlsian tradition of liberalism and his LSE donation to promote democratization and the development of civil society, just a few years before threatening pro-democracy civil society representatives that he would “eradicate them all.

But it all seems to make sense now that we know he didn’t actually write the thesis himself!

Finally, before I sign off for today, here’s another interesting factoid: in 2009, the Times and the Telegraph revealed that Gaddafi used corporate consultants and spies to help him complete his PhD thesis. Yup — right when you’d think it couldn’t get any more absurd!

Also read:

LSE Director Quits over Gaddafi Ties
After 11 days of one reputation-wrecking embarrassment after another, the embattled dictator director of the Libyan London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, has finally stepped down over his emphatic toadying to the Gaddafi regime.

Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism?
A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts.

Plot Thickens in LSE-Gaddafi Connection
Not just David Held and Howard Davies cuddled up to the Gaddafi regime. Anthony Giddens, former LSE Director and advisor to Tony Blair, also publicly defended the Libyan dictator back in 2007.

Gaddafi and the LSE: On the Wrong Side of History Once Again
The LSE’s cozy relationship with the Gaddafi regime is but one instance of a much larger problem: the systematic failure of Western liberals to practice what they preach. Whence this bizarre hypocrisy?

LSE Students Occupy Senior Commons Room
LSE students have occupied the senior commons room to demand the immediate restitution of Gaddafi’s blood money to the Libyan people.

Call upon LSE Students to Demand the Restitution of Gaddafi’s Blood Money
This is a plea to all LSE students and alumni to occupy the Old Theater and not to leave until the Center for Global Governance returns Saif al-Gaddafi’s £1.5 million donation to the Libyan people.

Personal Statement by David Held on Gaddafi’s LSE Donation
Professor David Held just sent an email with a public statement on Saif al-Gaddafi’s donation of £1.5 million to LSE Global Governance.

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18 Comments

  1. Gadafi on Demand | Hottweet.info said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi's PhD … [...]

  2. Plot Thickens in LSE-Gaddafi Connection « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism? « Reflections … said, [...]

  3. Call upon LSE Students to Demand the Restitution of Gaddafi’s Blood Money « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism? A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts. [...]

  4. The emperor has no footnotes said,

    [...] Jerome E. Roos at Reflections on a [...]

  5. astonished said,

    I looked through those plagiarised cases and, how can I say, anyone with a bit of academic common sense would notice those sentences must come from somewhere. Like this ‘Rubens Ricupero notes that in this context…’, anyone with academic common sense would immediate ask ‘how did the author know about this?’

  6. On the Origin of Theses: Political hack division | eats shoots 'n leaves said,

    [...] Jerome E. Roos at Reflections on a Revolution comes this about the young Gaddafi’s London School of Economics thesis: Right when you’d think it [...]

  7. Gerry said,

    Based on his recent TV appearances, it is hard to believe that Saif al-Gaddafi does not have sufficient ability in English, time or background to have written this PhD thesis. I understand that he also has a MSc awarded on the basis of a thesis from LSE. If so. I suspect that this was also written by others. This should be investigated, not least because he would not have been accepted onto a PhD programme without this MSc. However, if his MSc was earned by examination, this shows that he has ability.. The MSc is the test case.

  8. (Old) Call upon LSE Students to Demand the Restitution of Gaddafi’s Blood Money « ISM-UK said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism? A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts. [...]

  9. Paul Marks said,

    John D. Rockefeller was not perfect (far from it – although he was vastly better than the useless David or Nelson or the present David Rockefeller), but he was not a “robber”.

    What people like Lord Desai are actually doing is as follows……

    “I do not produce what men like John D. produced, so I am not as rich as them – but rather than admit that they were better men than me (men who served their customers on scale never seen before), I am going to pretend that they stole their money. And I am going to use that as an excuse for my own corruption”.

    For it is corrupt to give a doctorate for a plagiarised thesis – in return for money.

  10. saul zadka said,

    Only naive people would assume that he wrote the thesis himself….One should look into Desai himself. Why was he chosed to be the examiner of this thug? Surely it was a PhD for blood money. But what about previous British goverments that let his father get away with murders on a massive scale?

    And I, myself, organize the residents of Hampstaed, where he bought a house, not to let him come back, just next ddor to us…

  11. Zahra Shikara said,

    Excellent article Jerome, [sigh] the wonders of hard cash… will be e-mailing Mr Davies shortly…

  12. Plagiarism checking by crowd sourcing « DrBadgr said,

    [...] had a quick look at this story (most of the original accusations appear to be in the FT but that’s behind a paywall). [...]

  13. judith said,

    The celebrated author of Atonement said it was ‘not plagiarism’ to repeat without quote marks several paragraphs if not pages a published autobiography of a nurse. He said it was ‘mere reportage’. But he asked permission to reprint and identify several lines of the dead male poet Yeats. Fictional writers dont even recognise plagiarism. They are the macho creative writers, whereas lifting of published non fiction is mere reportage . The ‘great creative’ writer was given headline coverage on the Guardian to argue his case. The son of Gadaffi should use the same defence if social science is mere reportage to the Glitteratti.
    My non fiction has been similarly plagiarised by a glitteratti wife of one or our celebrated ‘creative ‘ writers and hailed as her own work.

  14. Bucklemyshoe said,

    This is Racism and Jealousy…

    mean mindedness to find fault in someone’s earned PhD!

    Shame on the volunteers.

  15. LSE Director Quits over Gaddafi Ties « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism? A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts. [...]

  16. Students Occupy LSE to Protest Gaddafi Link « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] Did David Held, Lord Desai and the LSE Overlook Gaddafi’s PhD Plagiarism? A careful Wiki-study of Saif al-Gaddafi’s PhD thesis at the London School of Economics yields an astonishing amount of suspicious, non-cited similarities to other texts. [...]

  17. An Apologist for Tyranny: Barber on Gaddafi « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] this explains his failure to substantiate his unfounded statement that Saif al-Gaddafi did not plagiarize his PhD thesis: FP: Are they [the accusers of [...]

  18. Diktatorens venner på venstrefløjen — Magt og Marked said,

    [...] fra 2008—som Held altså åbenbart ikke opdagede.  Måske fordi man ikke ville læse den for kritisk?  Eller måske fordi den var så fantastisk god?  Selve skriveriet var nemlig angiveligt begået [...]

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