The Jesuits claimed that 7 years was long enough to build solid Foundations. Modern educators prove that just three is enough - to build an outdoor brick shyzenhaus on top. That's efficiency for you.
Times have changed when it comes to developing intellectual strengths and capacities in young people. Here in the Tavern we start'em young with the finest Milk of Human Kindness.
But in our Universities things are going downhill fast. A breed of academics raised on liquid shyte now take our older young and agitprop them into an oblivion as deep as any LSD party could achieve.
|Melbourne University- Built by Englishmen, now populated by Goblins.|
A fine Gentleman, Keith, was in the P&B telling us of the woes and the differences.
I took a liberal arts degree a long time ago but still remember it very well. At the University of Sydney in 1966 my course in history made me read Gibbon, Macaulay, Carlyle, Maitland and Tocqueville. In English literature our reading list came from Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Austen, Dickens, Yeats and Beckett. In philosophy it was Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Armstrong and Smart, plus two demanding sub-courses in scientific method and logic—and all of this was just first year. It was the most exciting and exhausting year I had ever spent.
Your host recalls his 'first year' too. It was as if a bright light had been switched on. Everyday brought not just demanding work but astonishment.
Not only was I required to read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—which I still think the greatest work of prose ever written—but had lecturers telling me what to look for and what not to miss. I could hardly believe my luck.
In those days, professors and heads of departments were not consumed by administration but made a point of giving lectures to first-year classes. David Armstrong did this in philosophy and Sam Goldberg did it in English. In history, we had a visiting professor from Oxford no less, the great John McManners. You couldn’t find an experience like this anywhere but in the university. We were enormously privileged.
Today, liberal arts students are not so lucky. At the University of Sydney most finish their courses largely ignorant of the great canon of Western literature that once formed the bedrock of academic degrees.
Instead, they are indoctrinated in left-wing, anti-Western theory from the gurus of cultural studies, critical theory, radical feminism, neo-Marxism, postcolonialism, postmodernism, hermeneutics, literary theory or whatever else happens to be the latest intellectual fashion.
The university’s current Deputy Vice-Chancellor and long-time Dean of Arts and Professor of History, Stephen Garton, built his career by emulating the studies of madness and sexuality written by French post-structuralist, anti-humanist and gay theorist Michel Foucault.
At the University of Melbourne things are much the same. The former Dean of Arts and long-standing head of the school of history, Stuart Macintyre, is a Marxist who wrote the authorised history of the Communist Party of Australia. The following passage from his Concise History of Australia (third edition, page 149), gives a good idea of the kind of anti-Australian, neo-feminist theoretical guff that now passes for scholarship in liberal arts education.
On Federation, Macintyre writes:
The Australian nation was shaped by the fear of invasion and concern for the purity of the race. These anxieties converged on the female body as nationalist men returned obsessively to the safety of their women from alien molestation, while doctrines of racial purity, no matter how scientific, rested ultimately on feminine chastity. Women participated in this preoccupation with their own materialist concept of citizenship, which took emancipation from masculine tyranny as a necessary condition of their vital contribution to the nation-state. A woman’s personal and bodily integrity thus served as a further condition of her admission to civic status.
Only a damned fool or an evil menace could say that. Only a fool would praise it.
For this plodding yet impenetrable prose, Macintyre is praised to the skies by other history professors. Alan Atkinson of the University of New England says on the cover blurb: “It’s a splendid piece of work and it belongs to a noble tradition … It conveys throughout a joy in writing history—a joy especially in struggling with the soul of the country.”
But enough of my cynical comments, Read ALL of what Keith had to say:
It is well worth five minutes. Keith is far better than most in exposing cant.
So many of our Universities are populated by professors who shirk real intellectual work. They have 'gained' their positions through 'new boy and new girl' networks intent on 'engineering' our society and taking as much from the taxpayers' pockets as they can.
OK, a few more sips from Keith's cup:
How could what was, indeed, a once noble tradition sink so low? In the 1970s and 1980s, the Left captured most of the liberal arts faculties of the public universities and have been running them down ever since. In some cases they succeeded by ruthless politicking. At Melbourne, Macintyre and his colleagues drove from office the former Dean of Arts and Australia’s greatest historian, Geoffrey Blainey, by a sustained campaign involving student protests, denunciation in the media and sending him to Coventry.
Elsewhere, the most successful tactic was to capture faculty appointment committees. This way, the Left could gain control of whole departments by appointing a majority of people exactly like themselves or, at the very least, by vetoing appointment of anyone likely to actively oppose them.
Once their numbers reached a critical mass, the Left consolidated their power by promoting their own members to faculty deans and funding newly concocted fields such as gender studies, media studies, genocide studies and Sydney’s anti-Semitic Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. They could even topple their old governing bodies.
It is not just history professors and literature theory critics. It is not unknown for professors of Psychology to have never done a degree in psychology in their life but instead specialised in pottery, teaching and womyn in succession. But hey, a Feminist, female or male gets 'helped' along and up, and up, and up. They join a long line of fast-moving charlatans intent on, and successful in, ruining young minds. The female ones lift their skirts for - and often of - their 'superiors just as well as any Hollywood starlet and for a lot less:- a citation in a third-rate Journal examining Derrida and a Conference Poster.
A POX on them. But no, be a kindly Tavern-Keeper, I remind myself. I wish them a long, long life so that as they age and their oversold and under-developed faculties decay they can reap the 'benefits' of the efforts of the people whose minds they shape. And maybe have the time to repent and make restitution for their intellectual carnage.
The underhand campaign by the Labor-stacked Senate of the University of Sydney to depose Leonie Kramer as Chancellor, discussed in Greg Haines’s review of Kramer’s memoirs in this edition, was not isolated but only the most public of these machinations.I will keep pressing the point with almost every drink that gets served in the Tavern's various bars that there is a 'Source' of good sustenance and relief, if only people would seek it. Ask for it.
The Fundamental Questions do not change.
What then is to be done? I don’t believe there is any hope in the foreseeable future of changing this situation. The Left dominance of the liberal arts is not confined to Australia and indeed is probably worse in the United States, where the same tactic of staff capture has long prevailed. In the globalised higher education industry, it is not possible to take on the world.
I agree with Peter Coleman’s review of Luciano Boschiero’s book that, within Australia, the best hope lies with small Christian colleges offering their own degree programs. This is partly because, thanks to John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement, the Christian tradition contains the best articulation of the true ideals of a university, as they have been held from the medieval to the modern era. Any college with these ideals in its mission statement will not be easily diverted from them, provided it remains small enough for the founders to monitor the content of the curriculum and the performance of the teaching staff. But the bigger they get, the more they will be tempted to diversify their courses to attract greater student numbers.
I drink to the continued good health of Keith and his small group at the Quadrant. Drink with him. Send him a small subscription.