I like maps.
And now… several pieces related to academia caught my attention last week.
Lindsay Shepherd (I think her name was misspelled here?) was the TA at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, who made waves for secretly recording a meeting with her supervisors in which she was chastised, in true dystopian novel fashion, for playing a clip featuring Jordan Peterson without first making it clear to the class that he’s basically Hitler. (That was essentially the objection.)
But I thought Ace was especially on-point here when he says that progressivism has successfully become the default politics for people who don’t think about politics very much. I’ve said before that some of the people I’ve met in academia seem to me to be “nice people progressives”. They could not give you a detailed political philosophy, but they have bought into the idea that progressivism is the nice side of politics. They want to be nice. Ergo… And that might sound like a mean thing to say (and I do think it would be *better* to have an explicit philosophy), but given that all of us only have so much thought energy to spend, I don’t really blame people too much for spending little of it on politics. I wish we could all spend less.
Lots of stuff in this piece if you want to read the whole thing.
For me, the absence of identity politics in China is liberating. Chinese scholars do not care about my background or ancestors, only my arguments and my evidence. I’m seen as objective.
Worth reading this whole piece too, but two points I wanted to make that people outside of academia might not realize:
- Though the occasional crazy faculty member might make the news, a lot of the crazy stuff you hear about happening in academia is not primarily promoted by faculty. Most faculty are really too busy with teaching and research to spend a lot of time promoting crazy stuff even if they wanted to. It’s promoted by administrators and staff, and especially by people who are hired with part of their actual job being the promotion of crazy stuff. (They probably call it something else in the job description.)
- From a student perspective, the delivery of a lot of crazy stuff happens in residential, and other non-classroom, environments. Ergo if you want your future college student to have to deal with, at least, less of it, one way to reduce their exposure is to send them to a non-residential college, and/or have them live off-campus.
And now some non-academia stuff…
The Gospel Coalition has, for some time now and driven (I suspect) by a couple members of its editorial staff, been drifting into the so-unhelpful identity politics / victimhood framing when it comes to discussion of race. The issue is once again in the limelight as a result of the MLK50 conference sponsored in part by TGC. Many good responses have been written now, here one of them.
If you’re more the listening type, see also about the first hour of James White’s podcast here, where I found this article. James White and Rod Dreher are two (very different!) of the louder Christian voices who have been on-point denouncing this stuff for a long time now.
That’s the heart of it, really. Liberalism is loneliness. The state isn’t our sibling; the market won’t be our mate. And the more either the right or left’s solutions attempt to fill in the gaps — “more markets, for you to attempt to buy back what has been destroyed! More regulations, to protect you when you can’t!” — the more obvious it becomes that the entire concept is flawed. The institution of liberalism is caving in on itself, and we each individually feel the crush.
I have Deneen’s book, still need to read it yet.
I love stories that give you the perspective that is so often lacking in reporting. Golf courses in Michigan use over 30x as much water per year as the much maligned Nestle deal will. Now the situations aren’t entirely symmetric of course – some have pointed out that the golf course water stays somewhat local (although… they lose 5-40% to evaporation apparently), but still certainly adds perspective.
This week brought to you by mostly-sleeping cats.