Sunday, January 12, 2020

Ross Douthat: "The Academic Apocalypse"

   The obvious hypothesis is that the universities in general and the humanities in particular have brought much of the crisis upon themselves. Universities in general and the humanities in particular have abandoned any semblance of institutional neutrality with respect to politics.*  They have become "social justice" re-education camps. And "social justice" doesn't mean what it means. That is: its actual use ergo actual meaning can't be determined compositionally. It actually means, roughly: a particular, extremist, left-wing conception of a just society.* I don't blame students and their parents for avoiding the epicenter of this madness, i.e. the humanities. I don't blame the remaining sane administrators for de-emphasizing them. And I certainly don't blame lawmakers for cutting funding. If the Klan had taken over universities, and was insidiously pumping its loony ideology into them...and especially if that was seeping out to infect all other nodes of the cultural superstructure, then we would be justified in starving universities, hoping the bad parts would die off first. (Maybe the analogy is chemotherapy: do something with some chance of killing off the bad shit before it kills off the good.)
   It's not that there isn't an independent threat from the right. An element (libertarian? neoliberal?) of the right always seems to want to turn us all into vo-tech job training kiosks. That element isn't friendly to the humanities either. But that's a different rant for a different day.

* Same footnote both times: we have all sorts of climate hysteria built into the institution--even right into the curriculum. Students are encouraged to leave class for such protests on Hair-On-Fire Fridays or WTF ever. Imagine I encouraged them to leave class and go to Richmond for the pro-Second-Amendment rally. It would be a scandal. It's not impossible that I would be sanctioned--probably on the grounds that some student didn't feel "safe" (which now means: didn't like my political views.)


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