How our universities became sheep factories

Jan 14, 2022 by

by Arif Ahmed, UnHerd:

A joke about education in Soviet Russia:

– My wife has been going to cooking school for three years.
– She must really cook well by now!
– No, they’ve only reached the part about the Twentieth Communist Party Congress so far…

Maybe it’s not so much funny as telling; but what it is telling of is the hijacking of a non-political activity — cookery, but it may as well be biology or history or maths — for a political end.

That end was not (or not only) to stuff your mind with state-approved facts (“facts”); it was to fashion a new man. Enthusiastic about “progressive” causes, responsive to peer pressure and ready to join in exerting it, and completely self-righteous, Homo Sovieticus would be the raw material of the Marxist New Jerusalem. As Stalin put it when toasting tame writers: “The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks.”

Communism has passed away. But the production of souls, or rather their engineering, survives in the capitalist Anglosphere. In our Higher Education sector it doesn’t just survive — it thrives, in the form of political indoctrination passed off as “training” or “mission statements”, specifically on the Thirty-nine Articles de nos jours: racism, unconscious bias, transphobia and the rest of it.

St Andrew’s, for instance, insists that students pass a “diversity” module in order to matriculate. Questions include: “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias. Do you agree or disagree?” The only permitted answer is “agree”. But what if you don’t feel, and don’t want to accept, personal guilt for anything? What if you think (like Nietzsche) that guilt itself is counterproductive? As one student aptly commented, “Such issues are never binary and the time would be better spent discussing the issue, rather than taking a test on it.”

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