Are Universities Centers of Higher Education or Higher Indoctrination in Academia? - Qlael Practicalintroduction

Reviewed by : Indrawan Vpp


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Introduction


In the Western World, Universities have been held in high regard as institutes of Higher Education were complex and at times highly controversial ideas could be openly critiqued and studied from the vantage point of neutrality. Yet, proud traditions of open discourse are slowly being eroded by those who do not desire open inquiry and who insist that academia bow to a narrow, pseudoscientific, and flawed view of the world, all without the ability to even dare question its validity. 


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Even once-proud Universities Centers of Higher Education have begun to succumb to this intellectual rot, the giants of education, the University of Oxford which dates to at least 1167 (Oxford, 2018), and the University of Cambridge have discarded their traditions of open inquiry and lay prostrate before destructive ideologies that pit men and women against each other, and drive a wedge deeper between already unstable race relations (Cambridge Equality & Diversity, 2020). Across the United States, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Universities Centers of Higher Education have slowly but surely begun to bow to the intellectually immature rather than uphold freedom of speech, open inquiry, and freedom of thought. The history of open inquiry and free speech in academia has been a centuries-long battle, a battle between those who desire to think and those who desire to tell others what to think. For centuries those who would censor academic inquiry have recycled the same methodologies to intimidate and de-platform those who would not follow the narrative. 


Today, large swathes of academia have already succumbed to the relentless tide of Philistinism. Academia has become the proverbial canary in the coal mine and what happens in Universities Centers is of great importance as they are a microcosm of what is wider Today, the spread of this same dangerous mindset can clearly be seen. Professors are behaving as zealots and activists rather than remaining neutral where possible and acting as facilitators of complex discussions and problem-solving skills. Professors themselves partake in violent demonstrations (Bostock, 2020) and encourage their inexperienced students, not to act with reason, but condone and justify repulsive behaviors in their students. They have forsaken the art of teaching and instead revel in the power and influence that comes with Indoctrination. Instead of providing stimulating and through-provoking lessons, they water down education and create Safe Spaces as if their students were young children that needed mental protection. And yet that is what they are, intellectual children, unable and unwilling to grasp or deal with anything controversial, there is no logic and no reason, merely recycled ideology. These activist professors and students follow the same methods as those in the Third Reich and the USSR, by making concerted efforts to make ad hominem attacks and never once addressing the issues raised, they attempt to have professors expelled from universities for displaying views that they disagree with (Hilu, 2020), they seek to ban literature that critiques their worldview, they attend speeches and attempt to drown out the speakers (Lynskey, 2018), they justify the use of violence for speech they deem to be “offensive”. This cultish behavior that knows no reason or intellect has made itself the judge, jury, and executioner of an anti-intellectual Academic Inquisition. Just as in the Third Reich and USSR, pseudointellectual and pseudoscientific Disciplines that venerate victimhood and activism and which ought never to be questioned, have become well established in many universities Centers.


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Another area to be considered is that of financial incentives provided only to those projects, fields of research, or ideologies that are considered “Orthodox” and the financial strangulation of “Heterodox” thought. Elsner and Lee (2008) note “that influence has left the main mechanisms of reproduction of the mainstream untouched. These are mass teaching, public advising, journal policies, and faculty recruitment. Above that, the last decade has seen something like a “counterattack” to safeguard these mainstream reproduction mechanisms. The means used for this seem to be journal (and publisher) rankings based on purely quantitative citation measures and “impact factors”. These have an obvious cumulative “economies‐of‐scale” effect which triggers a tendency towards reinforcement and collective monopolization of the dominating orientation. Department rankings and individual faculty evaluations are then based on journals rankings.” Orthodoxy in terms of following a narrative in publishing poses in itself a variety of problems. As publishing in many fields is imperative to receiving continued employment, bonuses, or project funding, it becomes necessary to create research that will not be deemed as potentially Heterodox by reviewers, thereby delaying or disqualifying publication. A gatekeeper effect thus develops (Schweitzer & Saks, 2009) which establishes a model of persuasion, and gradually a sense of Orthodoxy is formed, due to the dominating orientation in Higher Education. 


From Ideological Orthodoxy thus arises a concept of monopoly on truth, even when such “truths” are purely philosophical and/or ideological. Campbell (2019) goes on to state that in such an academic climate, Academia is forced to “go along with” or keep differences to themselves, going on to show that this is enforced by pressures in building an academic career because it has a direct correlation to “writing and research, teaching and grading, hiring and firing, and public commentary”. The field of Orthodoxy then become progressively narrower and contradicted. Newly graduated scholars in Academia have no choice but to follow the popular ideology as failure to do so would impede or disqualify them from any progress or position in academia, where the support of superiors and peers is central to creating recognition within the meritocracy. Meritocracy itself then becomes more about who one knows and how much one is willing to follow the trend than actual merit. There is historic precedence. 


Returning to the Third Reich, the idea of defunding to de-platform opposing views was used extensively. An example of this is the field of Prehistoric Archaeology which before the Rise of National Socialism in Germany, did not have extensive funding. The usefulness of this field was seen by the NAZIs to create a national Zeitgeist and build pride and nostalgia in Germany’s past, hence, funding was increased greatly, and Arnold (1990) describes three resulting factions in Academia that resulted, “The Party-Liners”, “the Mitläufer” and “the Opposition”, all of which can be seen in the modern context is a true recreation of Reich-like conditions. The Party-Liners were Academia willing and ready to espouse “politically correct” research. Academia such as Herman Wille, Wilhelm Teudt, and Oswald Menghini helped bolster the Zeitgeist of the NAZI Party with below par, yet for the period “Orthodox” scholarship. The Mitläufer, as the name suggests, are those who “walk with” or “blindly follow” so as to receive funding and keep their position. In Germany, this meant blindly and passively teaching the Orthodox doctrines created by the National Socialists. An imperative part of passive sanctioning of the ideology itself, all for funding. The final group, “The Opposition” are those who did not, or refused to fit the first two categories. Essentially, this Academia was given a choice, follow the politically correct Orthodox views and research or lose funding and positions. Hugo Obermaier stated that he turned down a position as Chair at the University of Berlin because “National Socialists had already taken possession of the field”. Another example is Franz Weidenreich who was forced out as Chair of the University of Frankfurt. This financial undermining of heterodox Academia was the foundation of the next phase of censorship.


Returning once again to the present, consider how the next phase of censorship takes place. Once dissenting and heterodox views have been sufficiently silenced, and once policy takes sides with a particular ideological view, the work of Academia can be attacked. A modern phenomenon is not unlike the past labels used namely “harmful and undesirable” where the morality of a view is called into question and used as justification for the attack. A favorite label in modern times is the label “hate speech” for any view that challenges the Orthodox narrative even when such arguments are based on science or logic. This label of hate speech is then used to argue that the view or thoughts of said Academia causes social or moral decay or that it is emotionally damaging. Activists (often including academics) then demand the removal of funding for the individual targeted by boycotting their lectures or encouraging others to do so as was the case with Professor William Jacobson (Allen, 2020). Another method is the making of false allegations of ethical/ academic/ professional misconduct such as those leveled against Professor Dorian Abbot (Klinghoffer, 2020) and Professor Janice Fiamengo (Robertson, 2016). Another example was the strong Zeitgeist in the attack on Professor Jordan Peterson for refusal of using pronouns (Murphy, 2016) and then again with the University of Cambridge rescinding its offer of visiting fellowship due to pressure from activist students (Marsh, 2019). Then there are the limiting factors that take place when free speech is used, as was the case with Professor Gad Saad of Concordia University whose views have prevented him from climbing the academic ladder and who must be escorted by security for his own safety on campus (Shah, 2019). With the great potential backlash on the professional, Academia, and public front for even tenured professors, there is little wonder that career academics without tenure and new graduate scholars would be vary wary of not following Orthodoxies.


Compare with the Third Reich, Academia de-platforming mobs were also used for those who remained obstinate, as was the case with Gero von Merhart who was defamed, publically maligned, and defamed. Jacob-Friesen bravely spoke out against what he viewed as perversions in research namely the dogma of the superiority of race and culture, he was promptly sent a letter warning him that dissent would not be tolerated. As time progressed, blacklists were created, and works by certain authors and scholars were either banned (and often burned) or severely restricted with only those deemed loyal to the party being permitted to “study the works of the enemy”. Book burning had strong support among professors. Professor of German Philology Hans Naumann and Professor of Art History Eugen Lűthgen actively encouraged students to burn books that could “mislead them”. At Technical University, Professor of German Literature Freidrich Neumann and the Director of the Institute Literature and Theatre Gerhard Fricke led the burning of books and called it a symbol of purification that comes from burning trash. A favorite book to burn was “A History of Germany” by the German author August von Kotzebue who was murdered by a student activist. During all of this, not a single university protested the censorship and all gave their support. Joseph Goebbels had already declared that such writers and Academia, who wished to critique the nation, should be put against a wall and shot (Lewy, 2016).



Conclusion

Extremism and radicalism only flourish like mushrooms in an intellectually dark and unventilated space, the light and ventilation of open critique, free speech, and open inquiry are the only way to prevent such parasitic growths. Professors and students alike must be open to discussing and understanding potentially volatile issues in a civilized, intellectual, and polite manner thereby reaching the core of issues and building intellectual capability. Professors must make earnest efforts to remain as neutral as possible on controversial issues and when giving their own views must clearly state that it is only their view. It is obvious that a balance needs to be regained in academia along with a return to mediocracy. The time in which to stop history repeating is short, the time to save Academia from its own indulgence all the more so. Now is the time to choose between Higher Education or Higher Indoctrination in Academia.


References

  • Imperial Moscow University: 1755-1917: encyclopedic dictionary. Moscow: Russian political encyclopedia (ROSSPEN). A. Andreev, D. Tsygankov. 2010. pp. 226–227. ISBN 978-5-8243-1429-8.
  • Bostock, B. (2020). Video shows the college professor who pretended to be Black attacking the NYPD, accusing it of brutalizing “our” people at BLM protests. [online] Insider. Available at: https://www.insider.com/video-professor-pretend-black-attacks-ny-councilracism-police-blm-2020-9 [Accessed 6 Dec. 2020].
  • Carmon, A., (1976). The Impact of the Nazi Racial Decrees on the University of Heidelberg. Yad Vashem Studies, 11, pp.131-163.
  • Galileo Monument (2010.). Multimedia Catalogue - Glossary - Monumental tomb of Galileo. [online] Available at: http://webarchive.loc.gov/all/20100805135633/ http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/museum/esim.asp?c=100359 [Accessed 4 Dec. 2020].

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