Comment

Universities, as a result of the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the decision of the cultural left to take the long march through institutions, have been particularly affected by politically correct ideology and awareness. Such is the dominance of neo-Marxist and postmodern-inspired ideology that center-left academics in a range of subjects dominate departments and faculties across the English-speaking world.

Research by the US-based Heterodox Academy concludes: “Data from three campus constituencies unequivocally show that liberals are significantly overrepresented on university and college campuses. And research on campus climate reveals a decrease in openness to neoliberal viewpoints.

The UK think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, draws a similar conclusion: “Around 50% of the general public support right-wing or conservative parties, compared to less than 12% of academics.”

Historically, university education has centered on liberal education, an education that has its origins in Europe and the UK and dates back to ancient Greece and philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato.

Such an education, as Cardinal John Henry Newman argued in “The Idea of ​​a University,” inculcates a particular habit of mind involving “freedom, fairness, calm, moderation, and wisdom; or what in an earlier talk I dared to call a philosophical habit.

The English poet TS Eliot in “Notes to a Definition of Culture” argues along the same lines when he suggests that universities “should stand for the preservation of learning, the pursuit of truth, and to the extent that men are capable of it, the attainment of wisdom. »

Such has been the destructive impact of the stranglehold of the cultural left.

The concept of a liberal university has changed

Pierre Ryckmans, a sinologist who taught at the Australian National University, argues that the liberal concept of a university no longer exists.

In his 1996 Boyer Lectures, Ryckmans describes a young academic attacking a guest lecturer for his “narrow bourgeois elitism” for daring to discuss the significance of Chinese literati painting.

In addition to rehashing slogans made popular by Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the young academic argued that it was impossible to discriminate or be objective because all value judgments are relative and subjective.

Ryckman’s answer was: “To deny the existence of objective values ​​is to deprive the university of its spiritual means of functioning.”

Such is his disgust and his hostility towards what a university education amounts to. He concluded: “The main problem is not so much that the university as western civilization knew it is now dead, but that its death is hardly registered in the consciousness of the public, and indeed of the majority of scholars themselves”.

Students study on the campus of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, April 6, 2016. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Ryckmans is not alone in summarizing in a pessimistic and disturbing way the impact of leftist cultural ideology and the detrimental impact of critical theory and its more recent descendants.

Merv Bendle, a lecturer in history and communication at James Cook University, also criticized the submission to cultural left theories and Australian academics for their “simplistic default stance of class, gender, race”.

Detailing what he saw as relentless attacks on Western culture caused by “an ideological contagion of shame and self-loathing”, Bendle argued that this “nihilistic worldview is now institutionalized across the globe. western university”.

The degradation of art leads to corrupted values

John Carroll, officially at La Trobe University, presents a similar case when he argues that Australia’s cultural elites, including universities, school curricula, museums and art galleries, are no longer committed to rationality. and objectivity exemplified by “the Western tradition since classical Greece. ”

Carroll argues in “How I Became a Political Conservative” that “the left-wing impulse has been less calmly questioning, more aggressively hostile, seeking to undermine existing authorities without replacing them. Accordingly, art must be shocking; values ​​must be deconstructed; meanings must be exposed as rationalizations for ingrained wealth and privilege.

British art critic and scholar Giles Auty, based in Australia, also denounces the stranglehold of the cultural left on the academy and the pernicious influence of what he describes as postmodernism and political correctness. Auty describes postmodernism as “a profoundly anti-democratic political and cultural movement”.

Auty concludes in “How the West is Really Being Lost” that: “The widespread politicization of culture and the arts in Australia has had a particularly unfortunate effect on all sorts of aesthetic judgements, which are now widely dismissed as elements of ‘an outdated bourgeois western’. Culture.”

Epoch Times Photo
Workers guide a large metal girder as it is lowered by a crane at a construction site of a new building decorated with artwork in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, November 9, 2017. (REUTERS/David Gray)

Awakening as Silent in Universities

American campuses, since the heady days of the late 1960s, have also become victims of the culture wars.

As Alan Bloom noted in “Closing of the American Mind” published in 1987: “The American university of the 1960s experienced the same dismantling of the structure of rational inquiry as the German universities of the 1930s. higher vocation, both gave way to a highly ideologized student population.

Later authors, including Roger Kimball, Dinesh D’Souza and, more recently, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay in “Critical Theories”, have detailed the steady decline of academic fairness and reason as enlightenment became the new orthodoxy stifling all opposition.

What constitutes the purpose of education and a worthwhile curriculum has also been radically redefined in UK universities. Cultural critics, including Roger Scruton, Douglas Murray and Frank Furedi, detail at some length the nature and impact of the left’s long march through institutions.

In “Where Have All The Intellectuals Gone,” Furedi warns of the impact of enlightenment, postmodern relativism, and subjectivity. A radical perspective that denies that knowledge has intrinsic meaning or value, that there are no truths, and that the purpose of education is limited to what is immediately relevant and utilitarian.

The most bizarre example of woke post-colonial ideology concerns the Department of Animal and Plant Science at the University of Sheffield, where British science is condemned as “intrinsically white”.

Woke scholars believe that non-Western scientific perspectives must be embraced because European scientific enlightenment “has been both a fundamental contributor to European imperialism and a major beneficiary of its injustices… It is clear that science cannot not be objective and apolitical”.

The above is an edited extract from “The Dictionary of Woke”, which will be launched by Sky News Australia’s Chris Kenny in Sydney on September 20. Tickets available at https://www.trybooking.com/CCBUP

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.

Kevin Donnelly

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Kevin Donnelly is a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University PM Glynn Institute.