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The death of education

Well what would a dyslexic swine like me know about education? I can not even spell and my knowledge of grammar is revoltingly poor. As for my knowledge of languages (ancient or modern) this is confined to my (somewhat limited) knowledge of English. Oh, by the way, my knowledge both of mathematics and the natural sciences is rather limited as well.

However, I am going to comment about one recent incident which I believe shows (yet again) the decline of the classical vision of education (education in moral principles and general good conduct).

Last Thursday evening the Cambridge University Union held a debate on the motion:

“This House would gag the bad”.

By ‘House’ they (of course) did not mean someone’s home, they meant the Union (acting like a legislature) would, if it could, use the threat of violence to prevent people it regarded as bad expressing opinions by voice or in print.

As a publicity stunt the Union invited the French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to be one of the speakers against the motion. Various young people then expressed their ‘antifascism’ by smashing up Mr Le Pen’s car.

In the debate itself over 200 students voted in favour of the motion and 12 voted against the motion.

In short in the whole of the University of Cambridge only 12 students exist who have the decency and courage to come and vote against even such an obscene violation of liberty. The rest of “the House” did not even have the wit to understand that the power they wished to have to gag those with whom they not agree could also be used against themselves (some future government could regard them as bad).

As for the 12 just students, will they be part of the ‘saving remnant’ once written about by such writers as Irvine Babbitt and Paul Elmer More? It would be nice to think so, but it is more likely that these students (because of their unfashionable decency and courage) will be forced out of the intellectual and cultural world into dead end jobs where their impact (short or long term) on life will be close to nil.

“Oh well, we are just talking about a mob of students – they will change their opinions when they leave university”. It is true that many people become more ‘moderate’ when they leave university (i.e. they make compromises between their abstract principles and the situations they find themselves in), but it is not true that most people adopt new basic principles once they leave university.

If someone has not learnt decent moral principles by his early 20′s it is quite likely (although not inevitable) that he never will.

17 comments to The death of education

  • Andy Duncan

    That’s it. I think I’m going insane. Do they teach history in state schools any more? I had a wonderful teacher at my brainwashing factory, in Carlisle, (now, alas, a “failing school”) who taught me all about Bismarck and Hitler, particularly the book burning episode in Berlin. I suspect her lessons have now been replaced by the social history of oppressed Peruvian basket weavers.

    I used to have automatic respect for Cambridge, and its students, until round about ten minutes ago. No longer.

    We must free the education system and certainly replace all the teachers who’ve taught these dangerous pinkoe fascists that liberty means you’re free to smash up the private property of anyone the liberal establishment disagrees with.

    The Stone Age is closer than we think.

  • Andy

    I could not agree more. As far as I can tell a modern British University education equips its graduates for street-protests and little else.

    I greatly fear that the marxoid education establishment has executed its remit to a tee and nurtured (if that’s the right word) a generation of violent, hindbrained, ignorant moral cripples.

    I would dearly love to be proved wrong.

  • In 1933 the Oxford Union voted that “this House would not fight for King and Country.” Hitler saw the vote as proof of British decadence. However most of them did fight when the crisis came.

    I only hope that there may be a parallel.

  • Matt

    And these are the people who’ll be running the country in a few years. Is anybody else as scared as I am?

  • I was at Cambridge in the 80s. Sadly, I’m not running the country (!) but instead doing things like translate mechanical-engineering documents out of Hungarian in East-European backwaters for a living, but the above story doesn’t surprise me too much.

    My contemporaries were seriously unable to accept Margaret Thatcher as less worse (never mind better) than the fascists running Argentina, for example. My friends’ narrowmindedness tired me.

    I am hoping that the Cambridge Union organisers at least took responsibility and bought that nasty ex-paratrooper a new car. Least they could do.

    In the long term I don’t actually think it means they need remain rabid Stalinists. But we do need a new kind of debate – perhaps with three values instead of two. As long as the third position isn’t anything stupid like “neither of the above”.
    -

  • veryretired

    I am an anglophile in just about every way, and I truly believe that future historians will note the profound difference between the legacy of the British Empire, several functioning democracies including the US, Canada, Australia, and India, and that of the French, Dutch, or Spanish. That having been said, it has always been a great disapointment to observe the unflagging fascination of the British intelligientsia with marxism. No matter what happens in the real world, ignoring all the evidence of the utter disaster that these ideas have been for several different cultures and peoples, British and other western intellectuals and academics continue to perpetuate these bankrupt and immoral theoris as being of value. It is tragic to think that if a Pol Pot or other extreme leftist had appeared instead of Le Pen, he would have been welcomed with open arms and kisses all around, even after he had all the students with glasses taken out and killed.

  • matt

    Well, the infantile language of the proposal and the intolerant conclusion of the vote doesn’t reflect well on the students involved but is it really significant?

    The reports I’ve read over the years concerning the ludicrous topics and guests featuring in the Union debates led me to believe that the seemingly honourable tradition of fierce intellectual debate was all but dead and the remnant nothing more than a lame variety show. The inclusion of Le Pen suggests that the organisers were desperately seeking to whip up exactly the kind of reaction they got, doubtless for their own petty motives.

    I wonder how significant in forming political views and basic values University education actually is? My values and beliefs were well founded prior to Uni and, whilst not static, there was little that went on in Student politicking or Undergraduate yammering that impacted strongly on my core value system.

    I don’t attach a great importance to student politics or debating chambers, the smart cookies are doing their debating in the pub, leaving the pillocks to smash up cars in the car park.

    Still, after the results of this farcical debate at least the next motion writes itself, I propose:

    ‘This House should Gag itself’

    Anyone second?

  • T. Hartin

    Seconded

  • All those in favor say Aye; hearing no Nays, the motion carries.

    The Chair now appoints Paul Marks to deliver said mtion to the group, with all rights and powers to enforce said submission as the only acceptable question for debate!

  • Jacob

    Paul, when going to deliver that motion, take a cab.

  • Clay

    I’ll never regret not attending an institution of higher education. Thanks.

  • “In short in the whole of the University of Cambridge only 12 students exist who have the decency and courage to come and vote against even such an obscene violation of liberty.”

    It may be worse than that. How many of those 12 would, if they were in the majority, vote for a motion to gag a socialist speaker? I’ll bet at least some of them would.

  • Clay

    I’ll never regret not attending an institution of higher education. Thanks.

  • back40

    “… it has always been a great disapointment to observe the unflagging fascination of the British intelligientsia with marxism. No matter what happens in the real world, ignoring all the evidence of the utter disaster that these ideas have been for several different cultures and peoples, British and other western intellectuals and academics continue to perpetuate these bankrupt and immoral theoris as being of value.”

    I suspect that this is related to class war. The British, and other Europeans, have maintained much more powerful class divisions than the colonies. It is not just the upper classes defending their powers, it is the lower classes defending their culture too. Rather than embracing social mobility many working class types would rather see the triumph of workers. Marxian analysis fits this world view, derived from this world view, and so endures among youthful ideologues and those, such as university staff, that have not had real world experience.

  • David Gillies

    You don’t really need to be terribly bright to get into University these days, even Oxbridge. These are children, remember. They’re mostly late teens/early twenties, and with secondary education in the state it’s in, one can hardly expect them to have nuanced, well-formed views at that age. In the fifteen or so years since I started my University career, my opinions have changed and become refined to an extent I would not have thought possible. Very little of what I know now was imparted to me from on high – anyone with any pretensions to education must be an auto-didact, and that takes time and diligence.

    I do think it’s high time the voting age was raised to 25 or 30, however.

  • “Well what would a dyslexic swine like me know about education?”

    Clearly very little. The result of the debate was actually 200 AGAINST the motion, with only 12 people voting to gag the bad – the exact opposite of what you report…

    I’m glad to see that so many of you feel as passionately about free speech as the members of the Cambridge Union do, but perhaps you should swallow all the bile you’ve spilled out onto these pages until you’ve checked the facts.

    With best wishes,

    Stephen Parkinson
    Senior Officer, the Cambridge Union

  • Paul Marks.

    I apologize Mr Parkinson. After all I have said in the past about the media I treated a media report (a local television report) as if it was holy writ.

    Again I am very sorry for not checking my facts.

    Paul Marks.