We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

As a teenager, I saw old-stone American university buildings on TV, and was enthralled by their dignified appearance. Later, I came across a book in my hometown that explained that the American university was a special place, unlike its Chinese counterpart, as devoted to the cultivation of the enduring longings of the human soul. To assist in man’s hunger to know, to understand, and to seek truth, is its highest mission.

The longing for a spot in one of those buildings tormented me for decades. I longed to meet great minds and curious souls and explore the essential ideas with them. How could one not yearn for a place where students were challenged to think the unthinkable, to question convention, and to debate each other on ideas, when she had been imprisoned for years in the Chinese classroom where all subjects were stripped of all elements of beauty and imagination and left with only naked utility?

Two decades later, I sit in one of those buildings, having claimed my spot only to find that thinking is discouraged, dissent suppressed, and ideological loyalty is the prerequisite for flourishing in the institution of higher learning.

Habi Zhang

9 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    There is a difference – the form of Marxism that dominates American universities (and Western institutions generally – including in the United Kingdom) is Frankfurt School “Woke” Marxism – which is not the same as the form of Marxism taught in China (although the form of Marxism taught in China has departed from the Classical Marxism of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels AND Mao).

    However, the point of the person is valid – American universities (and Western universities generally) are generally HOSTILE to dissent now, they are about indoctrination of students and they punish dissent – whether the dissent is from students or from academics (tenure is no real defence against charges of “racism”, “sexism”, “homophobia”, “transphobia” and the rest of the “capitalist power structure of exploitation and oppression).

    There are exceptions – generally speaking these few American universities that reject government backed STUDENT LOANS are still free of domination by Frankfurt School “Woke” Marxism.

    It should be remembered that the Federal bureaucracy has, for many years, been supportive of the extermination of liberty – for example under the Obama Administration it was declared that universities had a duty (supposedly under the Civil Rights Act) to suppress speech (and writings – academic work) that would “harm” students from certain groups.

    Note the weasel word “harm” (which can mean anything) – thank you J.S. Mill you “great defender of liberty”.

  • Paul Marks

    The point about J.S. Mill should remind people that this stuff did not start with the Frankfurt School Marxists.

    Indeed Richard Ely (friend of both “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) and his (Orwellian named) academic “freedom” campaign was working for the crushing of dissent in American universities in the early 1900s. The “freedom” they wanted was to push statism – OPPOSING statism did not get the same freedom.

    But back then there was more push back – for example when the American Economics Association, founded by Richard Ely, refused to launch a campaign to get rid of all free market supporting economists from education – Richard Ely resigned from his own organisation, because it would not support the tyranny he craved.

    If only Richard Ely had thought of the Frankfurt School trick of calling every pro liberty person a “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, “transphobe”, “Islamophobe” – then he would have swept the board and got the tyranny he wanted, which is what is happening now.

    “But Paul the Frankfurt School Woke Marxists are not sincere” – of course they are not sincere, for example they could not give a damn about black people, the bodies of murdered black people are piling up in Chicago and other American cities – and the “Woke” could not care less. This has always been a TACTIC – to exterminate liberty, the “Woke” do not really care about “racism” and so on.

    As for the “conservatives” in Western countries who give in to the Woke Marxists (the whole exterminate liberty “Diversity and Inclusion”, which means uniformity and exclusion, agenda) – there is nothing polite to say about them.

  • lucklucky

    Marxism is basically a mechanism to get power based on virtue manufactured from the creation and exploitation of opressor-victim pair.

  • Paul Marks

    J.S. Mill – “the theory of value is settled”.

    What about the people who oppose the Labour Theory of Value of David Ricardo and your father James Mill – oh well let us pretend they do-not-exist. That is so much easier than refuting Samuel Bailey, Richard Whately and-so-on.

    J.S. Mill – “everyone agrees that….” local government should do X,Y,Z. That led to the Disraeli Act of 1875 (a couple of years after Mill’s death) which laid down about 40 things that local government MUST do – regardless of what local taxpayers wanted or did not want.

    Again do not refute dissenters – pretend they do-not-exist.

    Those very different people, Ayn Rand and Maurice Cowling, were correct – Mr Mill pretended to be a friend of liberty, but he was not.

    To give another pre Frankfurt School example……

    In 19th century America the main works on psychology (a word invented by Ralph Cudworth back in the 17th century) were by James McCosh and Noah Porter.

    Both the works of McCosh and Porter are in the “Common Sense” philosophical tradition which accepts human agency (free will). So how did William James refute James McCosh and Noah Porter and establish an “assumption of determinism” in psychology?

    Easy – the Harvard psychology work of William James (1890 I think) does not mention McCosh and Porter at all, it pretends that their books did not exist.

    I am reminded of the late economist W.H. Hutt being asked “How did the Keynesians win the debate?”.

    Hutt replied “there was no debate – the Keynesians did not want debate, they just took control of the appointment of academic staff, and the setting and marking of examinations, and that-was-that”.

    These days the only job someone like W.H. Hutt could get in a university is cleaning the toilets – and the author of the “Economics of the Colour Bar” (the first great economic attack on Apartheid South Africa) would be denounced as a “racist”.

    The Maoist practice of making dissenters wear a insulting costumes and give grovelling public apologies whilst being ritually abused, will arrive soon.

    Indeed many of the “liberal” elite are open admirers of Mao – perhaps the largest scale mass murderer in human history.

    Including the Mao badge wearing Classical scholar Mary Beard who would have us believe there were black people all over the Roman Empire – when, at that time, the Bantu tribes were really largely in Central Africa. They had not even really reached Roman North Africa in the Roman period – let alone Britain (sorry BBC).

    Supporting Mao, the murderer of tens of millions of human beings, is fine – but pointing out “racist” facts is not allowed.

  • Paul Marks

    lucklucky – agreed.

    And now Marxism has gone from pretending to care about the “Working Class”, to pretending to care about black and brown people, and women and homosexuals (and so on).

    It is fake – it has always been fake. It is all about an excuse for power – unlimited power, tyranny.

  • The correct response to any advocate of ‘Critical Theory’ (racial or otherwise) begins with one man’s very courageous reply to his Stalinist interrogators:

    “That is a lie and you know it well.”

    It continues with what he would have pointed out if time and circumstances had allowed:

    “Worse, you don’t care that it is a lie, because you also know well that your doctrine and your power cannot survive free unintimidated debate.”

    Burke forbade lying in debate but permitted (sometimes, as a choice between evils)

    “a certain economy of the truth; a man speaks the truth by measure that he be allowed to speak it longer.”

    I believe that, more often than fear would have us think, my quote above shows the way to go: refuse to debate the propaganda instead of the essence. It will be safer than trying to reason with people who know they cannot win if they allow reason in the argument.

    However, Burke’s prudence will be the lesser of two evils at other times. There are genuine dupes and semi-genuine semi-dupes. The ability to debate economically (as, if and when you yourself choose to) is not valueless.

    At all times, we have to watch out lest our fears make us pursue the second when it is time for the first.

    And at all times, one can only guess and do one’s best when, sometimes with little warning, a particular challenge comes.

  • lucklucky

    “And now Marxism has gone from pretending to care about the “Working Class”, to pretending to care about black and brown people, and women and homosexuals (and so on).

    It is fake – it has always been fake. It is all about an excuse for power – unlimited power, tyranny.”

    Yes, Marxism is a return of primitive power. The Human evolution to civilization has been a dolorous path towards: Limits to Own Power over others . Limit to discretionary of suzerain.
    Marxism work against that evolution. There are no concept of Limit to Own Power in Marxism. It is primitive.

  • lucklucky

    Marxism is inherently a Social Supremacist ideology. Starting obviously with the desire and actions to exterminate entire social classes.

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Niall and agreed lucklucky.

    Nothing to add.