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January 16, 2005


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PZ Myers

It's good to see I'm not the only one who was dismayed at the tepid and hair-splitting responses to right-wing nonsense over there.


It is dangerous. I agree.

George W.

Why do they want the Academy? What will they do with it? Its already mostly conservative or just passionately irrelevant.

What is the gain of subverting the Academy as well? More conservative books? Better credentials? Less liberals coming out of the classroom? ... The books are already there and coming, conservatives already have no problem with credentials if the message is "radical" enough (see Ann C.), and most students seem to go through college and gain very little in terms of a changed political outlook already (classes in vampires notwithstanding).

Yes it would be nice to make bible study a requirement. And de-queer the classes. And only teach “real” American History. But...is it worth it? Was it the academy that was driving the cultural changes in the first place, or the other way around, with the Academy in deep resistance?

Maybe I am biased on this, but as far as see, much of the current educational doxa of democratic diversity reduces and relativises all systems of thought to being “ideas”, one without more importance and legitimacy than the other, with seemingly nothing between them to warrant a value judgment (Communist, Anarchist, Feminist, whatever…as long as you stick to being PS about it). Things may be wrong, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t coexist together, so it makes it hard (if not impossible) to get people to take action on something. I mean this is what Marcuse was talking about with the turning of oppositional “ideologies” into equivalent “choices”.

So now, when some “real” values are imposed on the classroom, and the sense of a definite right and wrong is resurrected in the students, and an understanding that we must fight for what we believe in, people might just learn to start applying that sort of thinking to social concerns. The evangelicals deserve their due here, as for them abortion is wrong, and they are moving heaven and earth to make it inaccessible for everybody. Something concerns them, they think it is wrong, and they are actively doing something about it. That an actually “activist” spirit that one could only hope to see in those that oppose GMO foods, sex trafficking, or Guatanomo.

Plus, I always imagined that the Academy functioned as a huge piece of fly paper for dangerous radicals, keeping them verbose, jargonistic, irrelevant, defanged, and safely away from the populace. So by making the academy conservative, and hostile to liberals just looking for a safe resting place for their book collections, doesn’t that defeat the whole design? Wont that force those professors who are now busy publishing or perishing, revert to the level of street intellectuals: unsure of their security, joining up with activist organizations and improving their theoretical foundations, talking to the people they meet and thus having a better idea of what moves them, getting really pissed at the system, just like in the 1920s when the University was still not the only place to have ideas? I mean that’s dangerous… Are vampires and queers worth all that? What is Pat thinking?

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