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Nothing less than the battle for western civilisation

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49 comments to Nothing less than the battle for western civilisation

  • James Hargrave

    The modern university is the type of place to make ignorance an attractive alternative. Actually, no. A modern university, if it teaches anything, serves up modish drivel of the worst sort.

  • RRS

    No.

    It is the hierarchal universities of self perpetuating administrators and “faculties” that are dying.

    Valid thinking will have valid expression. Learning (not “education”) will occur.

  • RRS

    Having said that, we may have to acknowledge that Western Civilization (“as we have known it”) is fragmenting; as are the diverse social orders that comprise it.

    What individual liberties, such as “free speech,” may be preserved in which fragments of which social orders remains to be seen.

    The most commonly experienced cultures in the social organizations of the U S social order still indicate that most individual liberties will be preserved – but, it is early days.

    There are those determined to establish other cultural norms based on such things as “diversities;” but the lack of sufficient commonalities amongst those cultures will widen the nascent conflicts currently appearing. Those fragments will likely perish or be reabsorbed.

    Would be interesting to be able to hang around and see how it all develops.

  • In my opinion, the root of the problem is the illusory belief that such institutions, and such cultural practices as free speech and the free exchange of ideas, can be maintained without both the willingness and the ability to resort to violence in their defense.

    Reason and free debate are luxuries which arise solely as byproducts of the capacity for violent struggle. To forget this is to lose one’s civilization to less reasoned, less debating, more violent barbarians.

  • Mr Ed

    It may be news to some but these Arts departments are neither use nor ornament, and have disappeared so far up their own backsides as to be parodies of themselves. Proper learning is STEM, all the rest is just deferred adulthood.

  • Well Ferox, I certainly think the response to someone repeatedly shouting down a speaker should be to have security escort them out, after tazering them if they get violent, and then expelling them.

  • Chip

    As someone with kids in Singapore schools I’ve come to believe that many of these maleducated western students will just be swept away by the rising tide of really smart, dedicated and disciplined kids from Asia.

    Indians already head both Google and Microsoft. Probably just the beginning. The elite western universities are flirting with irrelevance.

  • Thailover

    RRS,
    the “other cultural norms based on such things as “diversities” is nothing short of a bedchamber crock of dung.

    Why?

    Because there are no leftist ideas that don’t end up self-contradicting and proving itself to be shallow drivel.

    For example, leftists don’t really love “diversity”, rather diversity to them is a parlor trick show that highlight just how our differences are all shallow, skin deep trivialities; interesting curiosities at best, like our “opinions” on music and cinema, and that we’re all really cookie-cutter identical under the skin and genitals, hence the perceived need for “equality” since we’re all really identical faceless cogs in the collectivist social machine; you know, Marxism.

    After all, don’t you know that gender, sexual orientation and race are REALLY 100% social constructs? (wink).

    Of course, on the face of things, the pandering PC face of things, the quest, indeed the “NEED” for “diversity” contradicts the leftist notion that race and gender are non-issues and non-relevant.

    The desire to elect the first black president and the desire to elect the first female president because these factors will have real world consequences beyond the philosophic, contradicts the notion that racial and sexual discrimination are BAD. And of course in reality-land, ‘discriminate’ does not mean to treat badly. It means to differentiate based on a certain set of criteria.

    If sexual discrimination is ‘bad’, then to vote for Nurse Ratched for president because VAGINA is therefore bad. If voting for a “corporate whore of the system” is bad, then voting for Nurse Ratched is bad. But of course the leftists would attempt to eat their cake and still have it too.

    Pay no attention to that Marxist behind the curtain.

  • Well Ferox, I certainly think the response to someone repeatedly shouting down a speaker should be to have security escort them out, after tazering them if they get violent, and then expelling them.

    I think a paradigm shift, prompted by some tremendous shock to our culture, will be required before we see that sort of spine from Western educators (or politicians, for that matter) again.

  • Thailover

    Perry wrote,

    “…the response to someone repeatedly shouting down a speaker…”

    The University authorities (weasels) are busy pretending to not understand that the quashing of free speech with non-informational noise, is not itself free speech. Noise is not an exchange of information or “speech” in any sense of the word.

    And they’re also pretending to not understand that having the right of free speech does not mean being guaranteed a platform, by one’s opponent nor anyone else. The supposed need for “equal” platforming is simply the weaselly attempt to force people to offer a platform for speech that attempts to undermine their own. It’s an intimidation tactic of course, which the left are experts at.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of “conservatives” either but except for the theocrats, they tend to not be as evil as the self-termed “progressives”.

  • John Galt III

    Chip,

    That is what no one in the US talks about. It will way too late when they figure it out.

    Que Sera, que sera.

  • gongcult

    If you desire to stop rational discourse in the the lecture hall you should be sprayed with fire wxtinguishers and bopped on the head with the emptycm cylinders until you desist ! You have natural right to a university education, rather what toy have is a privilege to follow in the path(of primarily Western scholarship).The universitu exist cor the free clow of ideas in service of knowlegr-alter that and it’s thr end of progress, rationality, truth and Classical Liberalism!

  • gongcult

    Sorry for the typos-you can probably grasp rhe meaning…arthritis with a phone keyboard creates many errors..

  • Eric

    The University authorities (weasels) are busy pretending to not understand that the quashing of free speech with non-informational noise, is not itself free speech.

    In the US, at least, if you dig into any campus shouty group you’ll find it being directed by administrators and professors reliving their ’60s “smash the system” youth. Taxpayers and parents are really going to have to get involved before any of this gets better.

  • John Galt III

    Still some colleges in US that allow free speech

    Grove City
    Thomas Aquinas
    Hillsdale
    Some others also not well known.

    At the U of Wisconsin in the early 1970’s I had two profs who were proud Communists waiting for the glorious day when USSR finally crushed the US. They were pathetic individuals only equipped to be in the cloister of a 3rd rate State University. George Orwell would have laughed in their face.

  • Dom

    I’m a conspirazoid, so here’s what I think …

    A few decades ago, the educational system, starting in K and going right through college, decided to miseducate an entire generation. The goal was to make them “debt vessels”, empty containers through which loans could be passed from banks to the educators themselves. They raised the cost of education, then demanded that the government guarantee the loans, since, they said, no society could function with and uneducated population. The debt vessels are not capable of seeing what a bad deal they are getting. You even hear them saying — because they have been taught to say — that education is not about finding employment. They were never taught basic mathematics so that they will not be able to see how long it will take hem to pay back these loans.

    Meanwhile, the educators have created whole new courses to keep the vessels in school and in debt. These are the “studies” — queer studies, women’s studies, gender studies, and so on. There is no scholarship in these courses — they exist only to keep the vessels empty, uneducated, miseducated, and in debt, such debts to be passed along as tuition. That is there purpose, the debt vessels, why they exist, why they were miseducated — to pay tuition.

  • lucklucky

    Media and Education the biggest problems of Western World.

  • RRS

    Where is the PMO on all this commentary?

  • RRS

    Thailover-

    You left out:

    Social Justice

    But then, our “crocks” runneth over.

  • Watchman

    Any of these comments written from anyone involved in a good western University? Doesn’t read like it – free speech is still fine at my place (and the idiots who want to close it down tend to get mocked a lot); indeed, our resident left-wing idiots are more concerned with their right to protest (which isn’t threatened but still) than their right to stop others protesting – maybe they’re behind the curve. That said, there are clearly illiberal idiots in a lot of universities making a lot of noise.

    What is happening is that universities are shifting away from being where the important debates in social sciences (sorry folks, but this is a social science forum – politics, economics and sociology all the way, with bits of real science thrown in (thanks Dale) to give us an intellectual cover) take place, with the internet being the major beneficary. This is a good thing, with wider involvement and less professional expertise required. The same is increasingly happening now with the humanities and even the sciences. So universities are becoming more about training (which in the UK they generally do without noticable indocrtination) and paid research, with the actual big questions moving out into wider society.

    Because the universities are no longer important towards the development of the intellectual position, despite what they might think (and many who were at university in the last century assuming the same importance remains), then it becomes easier for backwards-looking groups to seize control of the fora and close down opposition views, simply because hardly anyone cares. So where no platform or whatever arises, it is most likely because it is insignificant – people can hear the forbidden views online or at a meeting elsewhere (the very reasonable view universities take not to police religious meetings…), so are happy to ignore those who would ban things.

  • sorry folks, but this is a social science forum

    Why would I think that is a bad thing? After all, I studied the ‘dismal science‘ at uni (or even dismal ‘science’ if you prefer 😛 ).

  • QET

    RRS wrote: It is the hierarchal universities of self perpetuating administrators and “faculties” that are dying.

    I disagree with this statement. As I see it, in the US anyway, what is occurring in colleges and universities is precisely that they have become so bureaucratized, so filled with overwhelming numbers of administrative staff, that their institutional imperative is now the preservation of the host organisms for their continued feeding. All other functions are subordinated to this one, as are individual administrators (even university chancellors/presidents are sometimes sacrificed). A certain type of faculty has allied itself with the administrative parasites: all of the various ____ Studies faculty, and also many faculty in social sciences departments. The so-called research these faculty perform is risible, but it is remunerative, and these faculty survive and displace more traditional faculty because their mission sustains and even calls for an ever-growing administrative apparatus.

    The US has a large number of colleges and universities and not all will be able to sustain this development indefinitely, but the colonization of the more prestigious institutions will likely persist for a long time unless specific actions are taken to restore the qualities that made these places attractive for takeover in the first place.

  • Watchman

    Perry,

    I was wondering whether I could wind up one or two of the less tolerant commentators to be honest – as a self-confessed metropolitan liberal (and an intelligent human being, which might be more important) I would not put it past you to even admit there is value to sociology.

  • Watchman

    QET,

    Universities are obviously committed to their own existence – they don’t work well as anything otherwise. The only other argument might be they are an arm of government, but the French experience has probably proven that is a mistake, as they are now reassembling their universities and giving them autonomy. In this universities are no different from almost any other organisation on the planet.

    The bureaucratic model (which was a reaction to an academic independence driven model) is common, but it is on the way out – more and more universities are becoming more focussed on competition. It might result in different bureaucracies driving the universities, but it does tend to close out a lot of the excesses.

    Incidentally, if research done by a X-studies department is renumerative, then universities will keep it going because it is doing its job. That is a sign of a good university – and if it is renumerative,then you can’t say the research is risible (other than as a personal opinion), as it is clearly worthwhile for someone, even if it is political and ideological in its results. We can disagree with it, but someone is prepared to fund it…

  • John Galt III

    Watchman,

    Sociology and many of these “soft sciences” have been so politicized and corrupted that they are useless. In Montana, in my county, the local newspaper listed the top 150 students from the (5) local secondary schools with a total of about 1,250 or so graduating.

    We have two state universities: The U of Montana in Missoula that concentrates on the following majors: sociology, psychology, public school education degrees and so forth.

    The other is Montana State in Bozeman/a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) school. Of those top 150, 125 or so remained in state for college, and roughly 90% of those chose the STEM school. They know where the jobs are, they are talented and they want to pay back their loans quickly.

    I have talked to the schools here and they tell me if you do poorly in school and should probably be in trade school, then Missoula is the place for you. This is occurring all over the US. The marginal students are attracted to the big state universities where the courses are easier, you graduate after 5 or 6 years, are unemployable in a useless degree and have huge student loans. The faculties are 99% left wing and similarly not every bright: think Low Information/ Cultural Marxist teachers trying to educate low information students.

    Sociology? Smart students know to stay far away from an utterly useless degree.

    S

  • Watchman

    JG III,

    Sociology is not the problem. The biases of a large number of its practioners are…

    As a professional thing, I have to know something of the US higher education system, and I’d agree with you about the standard of some state universities. I would suggest however that a focus on STEM is ridiculous – if all the good thinkers are trained as engineers, they’re going to be sceptical of the poor thinkers who are proposing political solutions but not able to debate with them. If some good thinkers do sociology or whatever (and in the UK you get as good a job from a degree like that from a good institution) then the game is not rigged – all it takes is a small minority who know the field to point out the biases and flaws.

    The subject of the degree is incidentally fairly irrelevant – possession of a degree should show you can think and research to a certain level, and can learn to do a job – we are not in the world of learnt technical skills anymore (I learnt to handle and build computers as part of a history degree after all). I am not sure if the Univeristy of Montana produces that education (never had to look into them), but there are plenty of universities that do. I know several sociology lecturers I would trust to give a good education, one of whom I drink with quite regularly, so I have no reason to suspect their students are any less skilled than anyone else.

    Frankly, I would probably go for a sociology student from a good UK university over an engineering student from Montana State for most things that did not require specific engineering skills, so long as they displayed aptitude for new tasks. And as the world develops, there are more and more things that do not require engineering skills (or at least engineering skills taught at university).

  • QET

    Watchman:

    By “remunerative,” I mean remunerative to the faculty, in the sense that they preserve their jobs and advance their “careers” which amount only to a recurrent cycle of publishing their dreck in specialty academic journals whose only readers are other academics who read them so that their dreck, too will be read, and attending conferences whose audience is only other academics who listen to them so that they, too, will be listened too when its their turn to be on a panel. There is no competitive market at work by which their careers can be taken as evidence of a good valued by society. Insofar as the continued presence of these faculty sustain the administrative bloat, then it is also remunerative to the administration indirectly.

    And like I said in my original post, lower-tier US universities and colleges may find it necessary to change this dynamic, but not top-tier institutions. And as far as being an arm of the government, the history of the past 5 years indicates that US institutions are becoming just that, whatever may be going on in France. All of the social sciences and ____ Studies faculty are necessary to supply the “data” and “research” on which expanding government relies for its encroachments on freedom.

  • Watchman

    QET,

    The tyranny of tenure there? Once someone is in place it is hard to move them… Another nice point in the UK is that we have started to move towards a model where academic staff are assessed on outcomes (that caused some upset…), which whilst still including publications, also include funding obtained. I would note however that from the point of view of a university business model government funding is perfectly valid (despite the risks of overdependence) – hence the fact so many UK universities came out for staying in the EU. I would not blame the universities for this (they have to keep going) but rather the tendency of government to pay for justifications for its own expansion, which seems more prevalent in the US (oddly, considering those involved tend to see their oponents as anti-intellectual, they then seek intellectual justification).

    State colleges in the US are often literally branches of government (my favourite being the university that can’t do a joint programme because it has to get state senate approval for the changes…). However, at the moment none are as bad as the French approach which was to treat them as effectively departments of a single ministry, and to divide existing institutions into multiple small centres around one subject (hence Paris 7 or Rouen 2 as university names…), with strong central control. And also hence the total absence of French universities from the top 250 (from memory) in the world, a list the US still dominates (perhaps because the really good US universities might be horribly liberal, but they are also independent).

  • Watchman, there *is* value in sociology. I can think of no better path into stand up comedy 😉

  • Watchman

    Nah – they take it too seriously to joke about it – it’s the social anthropologists who are the comics…

    It’s a valid academic discipline (understanding how societies work – some of its outcomes are useful for filling in the gaps in history as well (or at least providing a better guess)), but a lot of the output is very poor because of the pre-existing biases of those in the field (and that wonderful academic thing where shared biases aren’t recognised in review of papers or funding applications because obviously your political beliefs are right and don’t need to be questioned, yah?). It seems unfair on a subject to damn it simply because most of its practioners can’t question their own assumptions – and they are beginning to do so.

  • RRS

    QET

    We probably are NOT at odds on our views; possibly not even at odds on our articulations of what we perceive.

    We may differ as to “causative factors;” or, their relative weighting.

    We probably do not differ on certain results.

    Societies establish Facilities for Learning to meet particular needs of the society.
    These have ranged from the rural one-room school house to the assembly of Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge and the
    U S “educational” system.

    The functions of many of those (predominant) facilities have been altered and amended from Learning to forms of “training” with the objective of certification.

    The political determinations (which are not exclusively governmental)of the purposes of the certifications have led to the interposition of “third” (and sometimes more) parties (and their objectives) into what had been the relationships of the learning processes, between the those who had been “learners” and those who would have been their guides.

    Facilities of learning have now become, or largely encompass, education systems which have processes for certification that foster relationships within those systems that create hierarchal structures (which QET and others may prefer to regard simply as bureaucracies).

    Gordon Tullock’s Bureaucracy [Vol 6 Selected Works of Gordon Tullock- Liberty Fund 2005] may have tilted my views, but the structures of bureaucracies and the factors giving rise to those particular structures need to be examined if we are to understand their effects.

    In that connection, at the risk of repetition, I will post separately Quigley’s view on the morphology of social facilities, such as those for learning.

  • RRS

    Carroll Quigley (1910-1977)

    Used the term Social Instruments to describe facilities established to meet real social needs.

    He found an explanation for the disintegration of social orders
    in the gradual transformation of social instruments into institutions, that is, transformation of social arrangements functioning to meet real social needs into social institutions serving their own purposes regardless of real social needs. [From the introduction to the work cited]

    Quigley identified categories of human “needs” in the development of “levels of cultures ‘ that make up social orders.

    He posits:

    To satisfy these needs, there come into existence on each level social organizations seeking to achieve these. These organizations, consisting largely of personal relationships, we shall call “instruments” as long as they achieve the purpose of the [cultural development] level with relative effectiveness. But every such social instrument tends to become an “institution.” This means that it takes on a life and purposes of its own distinct from the purposes of the level; in consequence, the purpose of that level is achieved with decreasing effectiveness. In fact it can be stated as a rule of history that “all social instruments tend to become institutions.”

    An instrument is a social organization that is fulfilling effectively the purpose for which it arose. An institution is an instrument that has taken on activities and purposes of its own, separate from and different from the purposes for which it was intended. As a consequence an institution achieves its original purposes with decreasing effectiveness. Every instrument consists of people organized in relationships to one another. As the instruments become an institution, these relationships become ends in themselves to the detriment of the ends of the whole organization.

    [pp. 101-102 Op. cited]

    The Evolution of Civilizations by Carroll Quigley 1961; Liberty Fund reprint 1979 Still available in print.

  • RRS

    PdeH

    Does it not “all depend?”

    Where would you place the scholarships of Pareto, Raymond Aron – or Weber?

    Perhaps even Hayek?

  • QET

    RRS:

    I feel it is no accident that the names you chose worked 50-130 years ago. In the last 50 years, the practice of academic sociology/social science has changed radically, at least in US institutions. Or at least that is how I see it. Those you mention (along with Durkheim and Mannheim, and I’d even add Pierre Bourdieu to the list) were thinkers, who synthesized the results of their research into discursive form, offering ideas, theories and conclusions that are remembered to this day. Ideas you could agree with, disagree with, argue, debate, discuss. Very few footnotes in their works. Contrast to today, where citation to as many current academics as possible is de rigeur for career maintenance purposes, and where the MO has been refined to the point where sociology as practiced today, at least in American institutions, is paint-by-numbers, designed for quantity, not quality, relying on technical jargon and absolutely discouraging the independent development of ideas in favor of a rote and highly circumscribed form of empiricism.

    Who is today’s Max Weber? Who is today’s Talcott Parsons?

  • PdeH: Does it not “all depend?”

    Wut?

  • RRS

    PdeH

    Does the *value* not all depend on what is intended by the term sociology.

    Apologies for the terse.

  • RRS

    QET

    Without cavil about current academic instruction or curricula contents, the observations and examinations of human inter-actions with one another and their surroundings (including those they create) have value as fields of study under the label sociology .

    For Weber we have Emmanuel Todd.
    We have Alan Macfarlane.
    We have Jonathan Haidt.

    Perhaps even McCloskey.

    Sorry if my references to the past were affected by my learning cycle (a work in progress) which, as I close in on 92 goes back over those 70 years.

    I especially recommend reading Todd if you can lay hands on his work. Haidt might blow your head off – you should read his heterodoxy.

    h/t Brian Mick;lethwait

  • QET

    RRS, I bow to your sapience in longevity. I have read some of Haidt’s writings. He’s on the right side, but I still have my head.

  • RRS

    There is no “sapience” in longevity (for me, anyway). No Knowledge; there are only exposure and information. Some sticks, some slides away. With longevity, more slides away.

    Be of good cheer.

  • Laird

    QET, a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to spend a few hours conversing with RRS. And by “conversing” I mean mostly he talked while I listened and tried to keep up (not always successfully). It was quite an experience. The breadth of his knowledge (he would modestly call it “information”) is staggering.

  • Alisa

    What Laird said.

  • QET

    Well I do not doubt it for one instant. It would be pointless to conduct discussions of the sort that go on here with ignorant people. The topic in this comment thread–social science and the relative value thereof–is one that is particularly important to me and I would greatly enjoy the chance to converse on it at length with one who has long considered it. And “sapience in longevity” is not sarcasm. Granted that neither RRS nor any of us may ever attain true knowledge, still it is a goal, and one who has pursued it with seriousness for a longer time may justly be said to closer to that goal even if it remains an infinite distance away.

  • RRS

    QET

    If it is of any comfort, true knowledge is probably asymptotic to any, or all, the information any of us accumulates.

    There is an old saying (I made up):

    Information is not Knowledge.
    Knowledge is not Wisdom.
    Wisdom is not Understanding.

    Only to find later:

    Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

    T. S. Eliot

  • QET

    I agree, although certain people’s distance–yours, perhaps?–from the asymptote could be infinitesimal.

    Here is a modern variant of your saying, courtesy of Frank Zappa:

    Information is not knowledge.
    Knowledge is not wisdom.
    Wisdom is not truth.
    Truth is not beauty.
    Beauty is not love.
    Love is not music.
    Music is THE BEST.

  • Laird

    Frank Zappa was the most profound philosopher of our time.

  • Paul Marks

    This has been a long time developing.

    Even the “academic freedom” campaign of Richard Ely (a century ago) was really about destroying academic freedom.

    Progressives must be allowed to teach at any university was the message of the “academic freedom” campaign.

    But when did Richard Ely (or the organisations he helped create) ever come to the aid of a CONSERVATIVE seeking an academic post?

    Never.

    Because the Progressive movement is, and has always been, about POWER.

    Making all universities “open” to the left – and then controlled by the left.

    No conservative universities allowed – no real choice, no actual “diversity”.

    This is not recent – this is at least a century old.

    As the late W.H. Hutt said about Keynesianism when asked how the Keynesians “won the debate”.

    “There was no debate – the Keynesians allowed no debate. They just gained control of the appointment of lecturers and the setting and marking of examinations – and that was that”.

    That is academia – and believe me I know.

    So perhaps these latest leftists are BETTER.

    At least they do not pretend to accept free speech and diversity of opinion.

    The leftists never really tolerated dissent – so perhaps it is better than they no longer pretend to.

    Universities are leftist playpens – cut off taxpayer funds (including government backed “student loans”).

    .

  • QET

    Paul Marks,

    Amen! I have been saying the same thing for a long time. A great deal of time and effort are being expended on trying to persuade campus leftists–students, faculty, administrators–in writings and appeals all across the Internet, of the value of free speech and thought, of debate, openness, ideas, blah blah blah. This suits them just fine, as they merely further entrench themselves while the right wastes time in hortatory exercises. The left is not going to be argued out of its entrenchments on university campuses. I agree completely that the only practical way of undoing the damage is to drastically reduce state and state-supported funding, and specifically funding directed to or expended on the left’s chief fortifications–administrators and ______ Studies departments.