I write critically as a former salaried academic and under a pseudonym, since I still teach occasionally and depend on some universities for collegiality and a trickle of income in retirement. After a distance of a few years, however, I can reflect on the state of British universities based on visiting many universities and knowing many academics. I retain respect for some academic colleagues but this is declining. My criticisms of higher education in the UK focus on longstanding problems, on the unwise expansion of universities, on grade inflation and dumbing down, on the undeniable turn to leftist dominance and expulsion of politically incorrect staff, and the semi-cryptic, destructive ‘decolonising’ movement.
Leftist Academics are Lazy and Corrupt
While the formal democratic process (voting for parliamentary representatives) has favoured Conservative governments across decades, undemocratic mechanisms of cultural change – often referred to as cultural Marxism – have been extremely influential institutionally. What the white British majority believes or votes for is often ignored or sidelined (the Brexit referendum was an exceptional opportunity for direct democracy), while the moral supremacists of the left manage to drive mass immigration, sexual revolution and family changes, and new gender constellations, in ways that only a relative minority of the public actually want or condone. Education is but one of the institutions through which these changes are effected. But two of the leftists’ weapons are misdirection and misrepresentation. The left warns of an exaggerated ‘fascist creep’, for example, while denying the real and growing menace of cultural Marxism, and universities have long channelled this latter movement.
We should not ignore the anachronisms, modern follies, irrationality and waste in academia. Many academics will complain about the long hours they work for relatively low pay in today’s repressive, ‘neoliberal university system’. What they don’t tell you is how unaccountable many of them remain as they often work from home, enjoy their long holidays despite protestations of being overworked, and artfully exploit sabbaticals or other ‘study leave’ arrangements. Hard done-by academics exploit the international conferences round for breaks, holidays, hobnobbing and ego gratification. Most conference attendance is unnecessary and costly, does not advance knowledge, and could be scrapped at no real loss to anyone except conference venues and airlines. Cries of ‘invaluable collaboration’ are invariably a smokescreen. I have been at conferences where people flew half way across the world, all on expenses, to present in 20-minute slots comprising utterly mediocre material. Universities are not the sanctuaries they once were for unworldly eccentric thinkers but they still attract their fair share of staff who cannot hack it in the real world and who manage to import their personal and political preoccupations – dubbed research specialisms – into academia. Many academics dislike teaching, many students avoid lectures, which have long been known to be ineffective, and for many disciplines You Tube presentations by subject experts would be or already are preferable.
It is true that jobsworth university administrators demand endless fruitless meetings and bureaucratic obstacle courses that waste time, frustrate everyone and produce nothing useful. Stefan Collini’s Speaking of Universities attacks this managerial culture and argues that such ‘concepts colonise our minds’ but he does not adequately address today’s dominant leftist concepts. Let’s not forget that the bureaucracy required for diversity monitoring and enforcement involves a lot of tickboxes, workshops, meetings and extra staffing. Meanwhile, university vice chancellors have, scandalously, been paid multiples of the Prime Minister’s pay. It is true that some students are very demanding, and that marking piles of dutiful essays can be very boring. It is true that academics are not paid for writing their barely read journal articles, which predatory publishers nonetheless profit from, and that most academic books earn relatively little for their authors. It is true that sometimes universities have decimated departments and terminated contracts quite brutally on economic grounds. But most British academics I have known survive for years teaching quite mediocre and often out of date material and retire on above average pensions. Some even retain their ‘little place’ in France, or villas in Italy or Greece, despite their complaints of poverty. Some of these continue to hang on to and promote their unreconstructed Marxist views despite the embarrassment of their relative personal wealth.
Questions about the purpose of universities have been raised repeatedly for decades, if not centuries. John Henry Newman’s classic The Idea of a University was published in 1852, and his promotion of theology in academia remains problematic. C. P. Snow’s 1959 critique of the separation of the ‘two cultures’, science and humanities, drew attention to our increasing ignorance of science. But the massive growth of social sciences from around the 1960s helped to fuel not only extra or extended departments but the growth of the university sector as a whole. One can chart the drift away from centuries-old elite institutions (Oxford is almost 1,000 years old) through to redbricks; then to new campuses following the Robbins Report in the mid to late 1960s; and the elevation of old polytechnics to university status in the 1990s. This roughly parallels the decline in quality to the present. In other words, quantitative expansion goes hand in hand with qualitative degradation. We now have over 200 institutions of higher education in the UK, over two million students at any one time, and about half a million staff, 31% of whom are not British. Gradually a number of fake colleges have been exposed and terminated. All this adds to the non-indigenous, non-white population and socially fragmented demographic which is partly transient and partly newly installed. High student enrolment also adds to a misrepresentation of unemployment figures.
Although contested, a longstanding decline in general intelligence has been observed, contradicting the optimistic Flynn Effect. This is illustrated by the greater popularity of fiction over non-fiction, by a philistine media culture and online social networks, and by a widespread tendency towards certain genres of music, chronic drug use and tattoos. Academic and communicative decline has not improved since Richard Mitchell’s The Graves of Academe was published in 1981. Decline in higher education is partly related too to weakening attention to science and classics subjects, and with the growth of fascination for psychology, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies. The Frankfurt School influenced American higher education from the 1950s and 60s, when crypto-Marxism started to become the norm for much university culture. 1968 remains the pivotal moment when students wrested power from weak academics and administrators. Academia gradually lost its reputation for erudition and mastery, and became politicised in a neo-Marxist direction and enamoured of postmodernism. Baby boomers or old hippies, it is said, gradually became establishment members but smuggled their 1960s liberal ideals with them into positions of influence.
|We rastafarians represent the future in British Universities|
Britain’s membership of the EU led to an influx of continental academics whose English was not always clear but whose political affiliations were acceptably leftist and whose mastery of postmodern gobbledegook was second to none. The Sokal affair of the 1990s, dubbed a ‘scholarly publishing sting’, exposed pretentiousness and theorrhea passing as serious learnedness. This coup was repeated in spades in 2018 by three American academics in what became known as ‘Sokal squared’, and momentarily embarrassed but did not dent the wordy hubris of those arts, humanities and social sciences staff who have now got away with polluting academia and brainwashing students for decades. Foucault’s influence has hovered unwarrantedly above Western academia for decades. Some who have criticised the peer review process for its declining standards have been silenced, and the climate scientist Peter Ridd suggests that 50% of published scientific findings cannot be replicated.
I personally know a politics student at a renowned university who told me that she and her fellow students were always under pressure to submit essays that confirmed the Marxist bias held by their professors. They found they were marked down for expressing doubts about entrenched leftist ideologies. This is anecdotal but, knowing the university’s ethos, I am sure it is accurate. The American initiative Film Your Marxist Professors shows many leftist and anti-white academics in flagrante. Interestingly, there is a North American website called Rate my Racist Professor which appears to allow SJW students to slur academics at will. Many students have been unhappy with teaching quality and lectures cancelled without compensation when academics go on strike. At Anglia Ruskin University in June 2019, a graduate, Pok Wong, complained about the first-class degree in International Business Strategy she had received, on the basis that the prospectus was dishonest about the university being a ‘renowned centre of excellence’ offering high quality teaching. She was awarded an out of court settlement of over £60,000. She called hers a ‘Mickey Mouse degree’ that employers have not taken seriously. Complaints against universities demonstrate not merely occasional blips but deeply systemic problems.
Suppression of Critical Thought
Leftist condemnations of scientific objectivity crept in decades back. If IQ research so much as hinted that some were more intelligent than others, offence-taking would flare up, and even more so if IQ differences between groups or races were intimated. Suggesting any link between low intelligence and crime, for example, or dependency, outraged many students and academics, as Hans Eysenck found to his cost in the 1970s when he received death threats against himself and his family. Others such as Richard Lynn continue to be viciously targeted by self-styled anti-fascist students in the UK. There is no such thing as race, IQ is meaningless, colonialism had no redeeming features, inequality is always caused by environmental factors or institutional racism — these are now the orthodox views that partly define what can and cannot be researched. Censorship by pervasive politically correct monitoring and threat of vilification is now the norm. Condemnatory letters to the press by faux-offended leftist academics, often with little knowledge of the condemned scholar’s specific field of expertise, are effective career-terminators or long dark clouds at the very least. Ask Bruce Gilley, Nigel Biggar, John Finnis, Noah Carl and many more. These are headline examples, but we do not always hear much about – or know the chilling extent of — the quiet un-personing of anti-PC academics like Stephen Pax Leonard, barred from his fellowship at Durham University in 2018.
Following Jordan Peterson, Ricardo Duchesne at the University of New Brunswick in Canada was one of the latest to have his SJW colleagues turn on him for daring to question the ideology of mass immigration and multiculturalism. The Huffpost published an absurdly unintelligent hatchet job on him, titled ‘The white supremacist professor teaching at a public university’. Peterson was famously in trouble with his employer Toronto University, but Cambridge also withdrew the fellowship it had extended to him. Most universities pay lip service to free speech while bowing to the moral supremacist position of ‘inclusion’: never upset anyone in the protected minority groups. One hears little from the UK’s University and College Union about protecting unpopular right-wing academics, and Student Unions across the country, notoriously leftist, are often behind the sackings of non-PC academics. There are some extremely bright intellectuals and researchers who are forced to exist in obscure fellowships or as unemployed independent scholars, and some salaried academics who withhold views or research results they know would instantly doom them if they spoke out or published. Many academic publishers have become nervous, politically correct gatekeepers who often turn down risky book proposals, or terminate contracts. Huffpost’s attempt to belittle Duchesne by referring to him publishing with ‘an obscure publishing house’ (that is, not an approved, prestigious academic publisher) knowingly disguises the fact that anti-leftist writers now face a formidable lack of receptivity among conventional publishers who have become ever more diversity-entrenched and politically correct.
Roger Scruton, black-listed long-term for daring to openly hold and publish right-wing views, recently suggested a cull of universities, or at least a major restructuring. Increasing criticism suggests that the student loans system was never suitable for the UK, has been mis-sold, and has left millions of graduates in long-term debt alongside a glut of unsuitably qualified graduates facing the unaffordability of housing and poor pensions prospects. Subjects ranging from sociology and media studies through women’s studies, black studies, recreational management, counselling, and so on, have not led to substantial related employment. The demand for nurses to study for previously unnecessary degrees has helped to foster a shortage of British nurses. To remedy this, English language requirements have been relaxed for imported foreign nurses. Tony Blair’s enthusiasm for bulking up the sheer numbers of British graduates has not led to a powerful British economy but to grade inflation, overqualified but under-skilled workers, and perpetual reliance on immigrant workers. Some British universities have had to be cautioned for awarding over 50% of their students first class degrees.
The decline of British industry and engineering should have long ago boosted calls for the appropriate restoration of apprenticeships nationwide but has not. Absurdly, there are now about thirty times more university places annually than apprenticeships. It becomes achingly obvious that universities need to be culled and transformed, and a far greater emphasis placed on education for science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEM). Differential fee structures to facilitate this in the nation’s interests have been called for. Perhaps the restoration of grammar schools, the old technical schools and polytechnics, and better organisation and funding for colleges of further education, is necessary. Britain’s slide from a leader in engineering and industry into its reliance on service sector jobs, transnational companies, and recreational culture, is to be lamented. The end of national service in the early 1960s, and phasing out of grammar schools in favour of large comprehensives in the 1970s, were markers for a loss of discipline and excellence.
‘Decolonizing the Curriculum’
Yet perversely, just as a sea change in education is clearly needed, social justice activists are demanding that ‘diversity’ should overtake academic excellence as the main criterion for student recruitment, and for staff recruitment and promotion. Sadly, the UK has no Heather Mac Donald, whose The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture is a hard-hitting indictment. Positive discrimination to end ‘ethnic disparities’ is called for; we need above all more black (and preferably female) professors as role models. The ‘attainment gap’ can only be explained by institutional racism. Ignore the greater successes of east Asian students. Meritocracy, like objectivity, is a myth, we are told: ‘equal opportunities’ are so yesterday. Older universities are now under pressure to investigate how (not whether) they have profited from the transatlantic slave trade which ended 150 years ago. They must make amends in the form of reparations, renaming buildings, offering BME scholarships, closing the attainment gap (by ‘value-added metrics’) and decolonising the curriculum.
|Stormzy in alliance with Penguin Books: “I am authentically British and a better Musician than Mozart!”|
‘Stormzy rather than Mozart’ was one recent cry. Stormzy is a fashionable, anti-establishment black rapper who is also pushing for major changes in universities via his alliance with Penguin Books. Others demand less Shakespeare and more James Baldwin, diluted philosophy and science, and more ‘epistemologies of the global south’. Kehinde Andrews has claimed that the Enlightenment itself, and Kant in particular, was racist. Historical revisionism is flourishing as Afrocentrism, for example, displays the triumph of credulousness over rigorous scholarship, as classics professor Mary Lefkowitz has shown. Debates are under way in Canada and Australia about the indigenisation of knowledge, or blending modern Western knowledge with primitive epistemologies. Glasgow crumbled to the reparations malarkey very quickly, Cambridge is following, and others too will cravenly declare their fashionable colonial guilt.
Old academics like me have long lamented the loss of the outstanding intellectual: where are today’s Bertrand Russells, for example? (Whether Žižek’s adored ramblings qualify as greatness is a moot point.) Is it a negative fluke that our ‘genius famine’ coincides with the tyrannical myth of egalitarianism? Why has even-handed critical thinking disappeared while uncritically leftist ‘critical theory’ has thrived? Why have we tacitly abandoned the idea of rigorous objective scholarship in favour of partisan theory and assertion? And what can reverse declining standards of English in academia? I once launched a mini-campaign to have university notices proof-read before being posted, as I observed with embarrassment the frequent howlers committed not only by students but by administrators and academic colleagues. But I got nowhere. Academics vary in their pedantry, nerdiness, integrity, self-serving ambitions, and subversive interests. Some colleagues long ago gave up correcting students’ written errors, and plagiarism remains a hit-or-miss object of identification. Martin Luther King’s well-known plagiarism in his 1955 PhD thesis was ignored by Boston University when investigative scholars revealed it, because the greatness of the civil rights leader trumped his extensive plagiarism and other character flaws. Essay mills are now growing in the West. Standards for university admissions have fallen, some of this driven by economic pressures, some by the diktat to recruit more ‘non-traditional’ students, which includes those BME young people whose first language is not English. The high proportion of doctors in the UK from the Indian subcontinent continues alongside ongoing higher complaint levels and poorer performance in exams, while many Asian doctors invariably complain of racism against them, from the training and qualification stage to promotion to senior levels.
Mention any of this and you are ipso facto a racist and you may well be attacked and fired. Books like Gurminder, Bhambra and Nisancioglu’s Decolonising the University now hold sway, calling for white British academics to help ‘dismantle the master’s house’. One ‘academic’ in that book argues that ‘to truly dismantle the master’s house means to overturn and not redeem it’. University College London, a high-ranking institution, houses the project “Dismantling the Master’s House,” which seeks to ‘unpack the legacies’ of ‘imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy’. Naturally the radicals involved would (probably violently) disagree with me, but their demands can be regarded as (a) confirmation that too many academics now obtain and exploit academic positions from which to merely promote their self-serving cultural and political beliefs; and (b) dangerous leftist nonsense that has gone unchecked for much too long and has no place in state-funded education.
|Three African PhDs who “dismantled the hegemony of European knowledge” in England and made way for African “scientific traditions”|
‘Critical race theory’ has no objectivity in it, and its anti-whiteness is overwhelming; simplistic theories of ‘white fragility’ earn wholly unjustified fame for their academic authors. Just one example in ‘Black Studies’ is that such a curriculum entirely overlooks the long history of worldwide slavery, differences between black, Asian and other ethnic achievement, and the views of conservative blacks: only the leftist, indeed Marxist, grievance-centred views of black oppression are represented. As Jonathan Haidt, founder of Heterodox Academy and promoter of viewpoint diversity, has said, universities must urgently decide whether they are primarily institutions for truth-seeking or for social justice. The latter mission has predominated by default. Lukianoff and Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind argues for a turnaround of policies towards wiser, more resilient and truly enquiring young people. In fact, a large American survey published in College Pulse in May 2019 found that a majority of college students, and especially white males, value free speech over diversity and inclusivity but do not feel free to speak honestly on campus, while black students are more sensitive to linguistic nuances. White politeness and fear may be more significant factors than we have realised.
“Whiteness is Terrorism”
Black academics and other activists have learned well how to exploit white guilt and use shame as leverage. In the USA, Angela Davis is an icon of revolutionary beliefs and actions. She was a member of the Black Panthers and involved in arms purchases which led to murder, supported Soviet Union activities for decades, led radical feminist crusades, has opposed the prison system, and so on. Yet Davis was a professor of ethnic studies and feminist studies for many years and remains an Emerita Professor in retirement. By comparison, Richard Lynn’s Emeritus title was removed by the University of Ulster in 2018 following student complaints about his scholarly research on race and IQ. Professor Kehinde Andrews at Birmingham City University refers to the ‘psychosis of Whiteness’ and appears to agitate for every conceivable anti-white and black radical measure. Other black academics, almost invariably sociologists, use their position to push ‘decoloniality’, to allege perpetual institutional racism, and to advance Caribbean and African cultures and causes in the UK. Some now speak of ‘white pathology’ which must be overturned by mechanisms of ‘undoing whiteness’. The UK has not quite reached the dismal level of American professor of sociology Johnny Eric Williams, who pronounced in 2019 that ‘whiteness is terrorism’ (and he went much further). The more radical British universities, however, frequently promote the rhetoric of anti-whiteness, the University of Leeds, for example, accommodating ‘critical whiteness studies’. Most UK universities now run modules or workshops on anti-racism, diversity, inclusion, white privilege and the like, and lucrative training in diversity and unconscious racism no doubt features black academics and their allies. Britain does not yet have the myriad black lesbian intersectional academic-activists and their vacuous jargon that is active in the USA but just give it time.
Of course, there is a place for social science in universities. But it would properly be quite a reduced place in a future ‘great universities’ reform. Freudian and Marxist theories, for example, both unjustifiably promoted as sciences, might finally be consigned to the history of ideas. A balanced form of sociology would drastically de-politicise it, and certain subdisciplinary areas would be boosted. There are neglected bodies of research on the deep roots of tribal behaviour, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict, and these warn us that abrupt and mass immigration of very different groups does not produce harmonious multicultural societies. Increased emphasis on biosociology (hated by leftists) would also show the problems in store in conflicting cultures being forced into the same spaces, with overcrowding, health and illness, and longer-term demographic and genetic changes.
A white sociology research fellow from the University of Warwick, William Barylo, wrote a classic piece of ethnomasochism for the Times Higher Education (19 June, 2019) titled ‘White academics should not shy away from the debate on race’. This article begins with a reference to a 100-day protest occupation by students at Goldsmiths, University of London drawing attention to ‘the worldwide call to fight racism within institutions and to decolonise universities’. It cries out that ‘being a white male puts me somewhere on the pyramid of white supremacy’. Barylo calls himself ‘an agent of a global institution with a tradition of othering’. ‘It is not enough to point out the limitations of Eurocentric theories’. ‘There is a need to collectively distance ourselves from whiteness as a system of exclusion’ and suchlike: the typical required recitation of self-blaming and whites-indicting clichés. Can one beg to differ with Barylo and the white allies of black victimhood? Not without risking your livelihood and reputation, it seems.
The current skew towards socialist ‘science’ presents an unhelpfully one-dimensional picture of society and its optimal trajectory. The former Soviet Union eventually had to recognise the folly of Lysenko’s fake biology as applied to failed agricultural schemes, but we have not yet seen through the corrosive social justice-socialism-sociology complex of our own culture. Similarly, anthropology, if it has much utility, is starkly leftist and unhelpfully biased, indeed aggressively so, as Napoleon Chagnon discovered in his conflict with the American Anthropological Association. Philosophy of religion should be brought to bear on the claims of different religions and how these stack up against each other and against logic; rigorous linguistic analysis should be applied to politically correct bids to cleanse traditional concepts and popular discourse. The general public is largely unaware of the problems of longstanding epistemological bias in universities and even more worryingly in early education.
Brexit-voters are “Dumb Whites”
Most British academics are so uncritically pro-EU that one cannot publicly declare oneself a Brexiter in academia without being coldly ostracised. It is well established that right-wing scholars have very little chance of fair treatment. As I wrote this, The Guardian had just published a pronouncement by Jared Diamond that Brexit was ‘too complicated’ for a referendum. This elitist view may or may not hold a grain of truth but The Guardian portraying Diamond as an expert and historian on the matter is disingenuous. He is an outsider, an American polymath, and like most globetrotting academics has strong leftist sympathies. Brexit-voters are routinely painted as unintelligent (and old) by the leftist media, and as dangerously anti-expert in their attitude, the implication being that most ‘experts’ favour remaining in the EU. British academics will readily blame Brexit for any dip in funding, rankings or recruitment, while anti-elitist and decolonising manoeuvres probably bear more responsibility for the real decline in academic quality.
Few if any academics, however brilliant, are greeted well if they make pro-Brexit or pro-nationalist statements. The historian Niall Ferguson was scorned for changing his view to a pro-Brexit one, for example. Any academic publishing pro-colonial views will be professionally gunned down (his career terminated, that is, not (yet) assassinated by a professional!). Universities UK prioritises continuing access to the EU, immigration, inclusion and diversity in its goals. In the USA, some black academics (e.g. Thomas Sowell, Henry Gates Jnr, Shelby Steele, Glenn Loury, John McWhorter, Jason Hill, Coleman Hughes) have advanced nuanced analyses of the slavery narrative, criticised liberal orthodox views on anti-black racism, victimhood, and white supremacy, or have expressed unashamed pro-American views. They have accordingly been vilified by other blacks as Uncle Toms. Far fewer such figures exist in the UK.
The launch of the Journal of Controversial Ideas, which will allow anonymous or pseudonymous authors, attests to the regrettable fact that many academics have been fired or even received death threats for publishing views and research deemed politically incorrect hate speech. All the trends of progressive authoritarianism run together to undermine traditional scholarly work and high standards of British higher education, and they foster a general decline in intellectual acuity and the diminution of a once great nation. Note that ‘great nation’ and even ‘nation’ will raise instant hackles among today’s decolonising, anti-borders, social justice activists who are ensconced as nominal academics in publicly funded universities that once valued profound thought, objectivity, civil discourse and a positive contribution to British culture and its economy.
White Science is Bigoted and Racist
It seems that few dare to rock this particular boat, however obvious is the damage caused by its revolutionary march through our once envied academia. I have not broached here the topics of extreme feminism and confused sexual identity and associated problems of alleged sexism, rape culture on campus, trigger warnings, de-platforming, and other student demands. All these excesses have resulted in large part from a failure of intelligent analysis and firm learning structures in education at all levels. There are reasons to think that a confluence of neotonous traits, post-war youth culture, novelty-seeking, the snowflake phenomenon, and adults caving in to adolescent dreamworld demands, has resulted in an irresponsible society. I have not broached an analysis of the coincidental feminisation of education (most teachers are women), 1960s-rooted emotivist culture, queer theory activism, and an enfeebled STEM culture. Just as feminist buzzwords like ‘emotional labour’ are privileged, so ‘lived experience’ is elevated among black activists as if self-evidently more authentic and important than objective evidence. As Alessandro Strumia found to his cost at CERN in 2018, it can now be professional suicide to question the affirmative action responsible for shoehorning women into senior physics posts.
Much has been written about the evil marketisation of education, over-regulation, and the university as a ‘site of patriarchal privilege’, most of this by aggrieved leftist agitators presiding over anti-capitalist trends. Decolonising universities is matched by ‘dismantling the patriarchy’: promote more women regardless of comparative ability, and change the curriculum to reflect putative female needs rather than the advancement of knowledge. Yet, consider this paradox. When the University of Leeds proposed the introduction of anonymous modular feedback from students in 2019, staff strenuously objected that ‘we know that women and colleagues with foreign accents tend to get more judgemental feedback than others’. They also mentioned race and disability as factors. This follows similar trends in the USA at Berkeley and elsewhere. But which students are likely to give such negative feedback, and is it fair or bigoted? Do anonymous feedback mechanisms allow for real ‘speaking truth to power’ or bigoted trolling, or both?
There is a huge counter-task awaiting bold politicians willing to confront the need to severely prune, rationalise, de-politicise and make our degraded universities fit for purpose in the 21st century. It is not a case of hankering for a past golden era but building a new, post-dumbed-down, post-profligate, post-politically correct, vigorously future-oriented university. To overturn the current mess, yes, but not so as to convert it into the militant decoloniser’s transparent and shoddy revenge that would take us back to academic dark ages. The decolonisers seek to belittle so-called white cognitive supremacy, a cheap and easy mission based on obsessive grievance. A recent industry in attacking so-called race science has spawned a flow of science-denialism. Angela Saini’s deeply flawed but fashionable book Superior: The Return of Race Science is just one example. By all means publish such works and discuss these ideas in universities – but not without balance. The restoration of free speech in universities is long overdue, and not only for academics. Sebastian Walsh, a student at the University of Central Lancashire, was suspended in 2018 after airing his critical views on Islam, but his status as a student with a right-wing minority viewpoint has no protection. But the political rebalancing of universities, however important, would be only one step.
Real achievement demands the rebirth of great minds and great institutions. What decolonisers call ‘the epistemic arrogance of a dominant West’ Charles Murray, utilising historiometry, has referred to as outstanding human accomplishments that unfortunately happen to be overwhelmingly associated with the Western world. Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilisation strikes a similar note. Westerners should be reminded of such noble roots and reject the relentless shame propaganda constantly imposed on them by SJWs. We have lost the plot recently in our political leaders’ appeasement of the ‘progressive left’, but it is not yet too late to revive a commitment to traditional excellence and future flourishing. It may take more than a few tweaks in academia, however, Lukianoff and Haidt suggesting that a period of employment, national or military service, apprenticeship, or other means of delay in age of entry to university will help to produce more mature, thoughtful and tougher students.
Whether universities can be portrayed as intellectual islands in a sea of ignorance is open to question. Weighing up the various utilities of universities today against their historical residue and ‘luxury aspects’ demands difficult economic and cultural considerations. That meanwhile universities have become degraded hubs of one-sided political indoctrination is hard to dispute. The unmet need for far better, visionary institutions of learning, training and research is beyond doubt. A few attempts have been made to create such institutions, from Hillsdale College in the USA to the UK’s University of Buckingham, but these rare independent projects are often prohibitively expensive. Scholars Frederick Hess and Brendan Bell at the American Enterprise Institute are currently proposing a new conservative university. Imaginative online alternatives may be in the making, and hopefully a new generation of freethinking people will soon be ready to launch the great new enterprises we need.
Meanwhile, Minding the Campus, an American website examining all options, questions whether universities are terminally diseased or ripe for reform. Our current unwillingness to confront aggressive liberal orthodoxy in academia is tantamount to passively allowing the dismantling of centuries of Western ascendancy. Jordan Peterson has recommended avoidance of gender studies and cognate courses but in 2018 Viktor Orban banned gender studies programmes from Hungarian universities on the grounds that these promote ideology rather than science. While leftists have denounced this move as repressive fascism, they show no compunction at all about continuing their own, openly and deviously repressive practices against freethinking, right-wing viewpoints and academics. Should black and postcolonial studies be banned from British universities or balanced by courses in Western civilisation, national identity and the like? The omens are not good. In the present culture wars, the ivory towers are already crumbling.
Winston C. Banks is a pseudonym for an ex-academic whose most recent book is Excessive Immigration and Britain’s Colourful Dystopian Sunset (Arktos, 2019). His forthcoming book is Malignant Diversity: Western Civilisation Subverted by Mass Immigration, Insatiable Feminism and Confused Sexuality.