Do We Need Universities?

Something I noticed yesterday:

Students at a leading London college say the majority of philosophers studied there should be from Africa and Asia, and white thinkers should only be examined “from a critical standpoint” or in a “colonial context”.

Student Union (SU) officials (pictured above) at the world-renowned School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) made the declaration as part of their “Educational Priorities proposed for 2016/17”

And also:

With social justice warriors everywhere still sobbing across the globe after sexist, racist, bigoted, mysognist, anti-semite, satan-worshipping, Putin-puppet (did we miss one?) Donald Trump’s election victory, it appears the special safe-space-seekers may be about to get a win in Britain where universities will be forced to pander to the demands of ‘snowflake’ students if controversial reforms placing student satisfaction at the heart of a new ranking system, are approved.

As “safe space” and “no platform” movements have swept across campuses, The Telegraph reports, the Government faces a cross-party revolt in the Lords this week over proposed reforms to higher education, which include placing student satisfaction at the heart of a new ranking system.

It is feared that this will lead to a “fantastically dangerous” culture where authorities will give in to student demands, however unreasonable they may be.

I suppose I’m interested because I spent some 15 years inside universities, many years ago, as student, postgraduate, and research assistant. I was in one at the time of the 1968 student protests. Somehow or other all universities seem to breed radicals of a variety of different flavours of Marxism. They never seem to be found anywhere else. Where do they all come from?

In my time, there were quite a few radical students, but hardly any radical lecturers or professors. But now it seems that the professors are as radical as the students used to be. Or at least that was the conclusion I drew after watching quite a lot of this video, courtesy of Rhys, of a University of Toronto Free Speech Debate:

For as far as I could see, this crazy debate was entirely conducted among university professors. There was barely a student in sight.

Perhaps what’s happened is that the radical students of the late 1960s became radical teachers a few years later, and then went on to become radical professors in radicalised universities.

In my time, all the student radicals were to be found in the humanities departments, like psychology, sociology, philosophy, economics. There were none whatsoever in science and engineering departments. The students in these science departments had come to study science, and that was what they mostly did. The students in the humanities departments seemed to have only gone to university in order to wave placards and go on protest marches – as if this was a rite of passage that was more important than gaining a degree.

There seem to be a number of radicalised universities. Britain has the University of East Anglia (also known as the University of Easy Access, presumably because it was easy to get into) which was hub of the Climategate scandal. America has Penn State university, which is home to Michael Mann, inventor of the hockey stick graph of global warming. But there are plenty of others. Stanton Glantz is in some California university. Robert Proctor is in another university. There are lots and lots of these radical professors. In my time, Herbert Marcuse was a prominent Marxist Californian professor. French universities seem to produce such people in droves. And if there is any characteristic they seem to share, it is not so much a wish to stimulate debate and discussion, but instead to close down all debate, shout people down, and enforce a single orthodoxy of thought (i.e. Political Correctness). And if they write books, as many of them do, they are usually entirely impenetrable and incomprehensible (a literary style of which Marx was a past master, and learned at the feet of Hegel, as I discovered when I just about managed to hack my way through the dense forests of the first 6 chapters of Capital with a machete).

Do we need such universities? Does anyone benefit from the “education” people get inside them? Since many of them are publicly funded, wouldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere – on houses or roads, for example?

I’m all for free speech and enquiry, but universities now seem to have become the very negation of that. So what’s the point of them anymore? Perhaps most of them should just be closed down?


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20 Responses to Do We Need Universities?

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    I’ve a feeling there about to get a good dose of pulled government funding from trump

  2. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    The 2016 “Free Speech on Campus” audit reviewed freedom of speech and intellectual inquiry at Australian universities. The audit unsurprisingly found intellectual freedom is threatened in the majority of tertiary education institutions, characterised as they are by general ‘dumbing down’. Universities here are now often seen as manufacturers of tractable obedient workers rather than places of intellectual inquiry. This is perhaps one reason why most people appear lacking in the critical faculties necessary to detect the outright lies of the tobacco control tyrants.

  3. Dirk says:

    Useless courses at university leading to a job as a sociologist, gender manager, social project manager, bureaucrat, civil servant of the nanny state….
    And why should white thinkers only be examined “from a critical standpoint” or in a “colonial context”?
    What is so colonial about the categorical imperative of Kant or the philosophy of Epicurus?

  4. nisakiman says:

    My youngest daughter went to SOAS, where she did her BA in Arabic and her MA in International and Human Rights Law. It’s a real hotbed of leftyism there.

    I think it’s only because she has a father like me (‘I used to be a socialist, but then I got mugged by reality’), and we talk a lot (thanks to the likes of Skype, and more often now, Viber, which is even better), that she’s managed to retain a grip on reality.

    Even so, having said that, it certainly influenced her political outlook going there. I quite regularly have to disabuse her of some of the sillier ideological notions she picked up, although having been out and working in the real world, the scales are starting to fall from her eyes with no help from me, thankfully, and pragmatism is tempering the starry-eyed ideology that she left university espousing. But the left-wing indoctrination in universities these days is pernicious and inescapable. It really is very worrying.

    Also from Brietbart:

    “The next world leader is sitting in a classroom today”, he noted, and asserted that teachers’ role of “curating minds” at this time in history “could not be more important”.

    Chilling stuff…

    • legiron says:

      The next world leader is sitting in a classroom today…

      …adding to the nose-goblin collection under their desk and if we’re lucky, paying no attention at all to the lessons.

    • Philip Neal says:

      I should like to believe that the ‘decolonisation’ of SOAS proposed by its student union will mean the introduction of courses on the whole subject of the great philosophers of Asia and Africa (Confucius! Vasubundhu! Algazel!) with a taste of the original texts in the original languages. There are teachers and students with the capacity to do it. Alas, I doubt if that is what is actually intended.

  5. slugbop007 says:

    Public Health does. They churn out PH zealots in the thousands every year. Everywhere across the world.


  6. Vlad says:

    “We are having to work more like a consumer electronics business,” says Kingsley Wheaton, head of next-generation products at BAT. “This has meant we have hired talent from other consumer goods, electronics and pharmaceutical companies.” In addition to new staff, tobacco groups are moving from a straightforward manufacturing process to one heavily reliant on expensive research and development. PMI has invested $3bn-plus on its “reduced risk products” to date, and BAT more than £500m.

    Glad am no longer Big Tobacco’s customer to fund such BS.

  7. Clicky says:

  8. MikeR says:

    They should all be closed. The Marxists made a bee line for education and made it their own, in order to do just what you’re seeing to the young and naive. This has produced sanctimonious generation intolerant crybully. In the UK, Major and Blair set their expansionist (totally unnecessary and financial wasteful) targets for higher education, 40 – 50% of young people must go there, thus delivering more and more immature minds to the Marxist conformity brainwashing factories. In the age of the internet nobody needs to “go” somewhere to learn. The idea of Universities is positively antediluvian now.

    • Frank Davis says:

      In the age of the internet nobody needs to “go” somewhere to learn.

      That’s very true. I was watching a YouTube video of Richard Feynman lecturing on physics a while back, and thinking exactly that.

  9. Rose says:


    Have you got those socks and that hotwater bottle yet, Frank?

    SNOW HELL in 36 HOURS: Whole of UK to be trapped in -10C freezing DOUBLE VORTEX for a week

    “TWO colossal swathes of churning, freezing air will close in on Britain over the next 36 hours triggering snow across the whole of the UK and the worst nationwide freeze for six years.”
    “The entire country is on alert for crippling blizzards, Arctic temperatures and snow to grind transport systems to a standstill and knock out power supplies.

    The Army is on standby to deal with weather-related emergencies over the next few days as Britain braces for the most severe whiteout since 2010.”

    • legiron says:

      Bah. The news goes all Armageddon if there’s as much white stuff on the ground as if someone dropped a bag of flour.

      And -10C isn’t at all unusual for the time of year. Aberdeen’s been a lot colder than that.

      This year has been really mild, I’m surprised it hasn’t brought out the Global Warmists in force. Just a few years ago, we had winter that started freezing in October and thawed out in May, and those winters will be back.

      I’m just enjoying the mild ones whenever I get the chance :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      Socks and hot water bottles are on today’s shopping list. Because if I don’t get them today, I won’t be able to get them until the 6 foot snowdrifts have finally cleared away (probably in August).

  10. legiron says:

    Science is going the same way as the universities. There’s still a lot of good science out there but it rarely makes the news. What makes the news is profiteering bullshit and revelations such as ‘people actually like pubs’. The serious stuff is ignored.

    It’s as if the ‘elitist’ universities and ‘too damn smart for their own good’ scientists are being deliberately destroyed.

    Who would do such a thing?

    • Joe L. says:

      Science is going the same way as the universities. There’s still a lot of good science out there but it rarely makes the news.

      Exactly, and this is because more and more the scientific “experts” of today are recent products of this “progressive” educational institution.

  11. Pingback: Science and books | underdogs bite upwards

  12. waltc says:

    Here’s pretty much what Frank says, with a proposal to reverse it

    Too bad–for the West–what college has become.. Back when I went, it was truly what was called “a broadening experience.” Those of us who’d never’ve otherwise read Plato. Lao Tse, Emerson, Marx, Melville or Sartre got blasted into the wide world–not the narrow groove of groupthink–and a marathon of hot, all-night debates over cigarettes and beers that were not yet verboten to Under -21s. If it ever returns to that, it would again be worthwhile and give us a cosmopolitan civilization. In the interim, maybe kids, looking back at (or forward to) six figure debt spent on dead-end majors, may themselves rethink it. Tho infortunately, not the ones who’ll wind up in The Professions or (worse) in the government.

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