Saturday, September 12, 2009

No evidence of campus bias?

In my last post I made the claim that the left dominates on campus. This seems obvious and uncontroversial to me, but my occasional Marxist reader THR strongly protested. He doesn't see things this way at all. He thinks there is no evidence that the left dominates on campus. He believes the idea that the left dominates is "risible" and a "furphy".

So maybe it's worthwhile going through some evidence.

Voting patterns

There is ample evidence that a large majority of academics in the US are Democrat voters rather than Republicans. So not only are most academics "liberal" in the broader sense of the word, they are more specifically left-liberal. This will be especially true in the arts/humanities faculties.

From 2002:

The Luntz Research Companies, a respected polling company, conducted a survey this spring of the opinions of the liberal arts and social science faculty at Ivy League colleges and universities. The results explain the ideological indoctrination rampant on campuses today ...

* Only 3% identified themselves as Republican, while 57% admitted they are Democrats.

* 64% identified themselves as liberal, 23% as moderate, and only 6% as conservative.

* Here is how they voted in the 2000 election: 61% for Al Gore, 5% for Ralph Nader, 6% for George W. Bush, and 28% either did not vote or refused to answer.


More statistics here:

A new study of the party affiliations of college professors proves a massive gulf between Right and Left. Liberal professors often outnumber conservatives by ten to one and sometimes by more than twenty to one on campus ...

Eli Lehrer, who conducted the study, told Campus Report, "We sent students in each of the colleges to their local Boards of Elections and had them get lists of the faculty members and look up registration cards. Now, this only works in the states where you register by party and where voter records are public.... We tried to get a good sample of colleges."

The study concluded, "Colleges like to characterize themselves as wide-open places where every thought can be thought, where any opinion can be held, where all ideals and principles may be pursued freely. The demonstrable reality, however, is that you will find a much wider-and freer-cross-section of human reasoning and conviction in the aisles of a grocery store or city bus."

Liberals outnumber conservatives 18 to one at Brown University. At Cornell University, the number is even higher, with liberals outnumbering conservatives more than 26 times. Penn State displayed a bit more balance, with the ratio of liberals to conservatives being six to one. Even the smallest disparity, at the University of Houston, had a ratio of three liberals to one conservative.

Of the 166 professors examined at Cornell University, only six were conservatives, with no conservatives at all in the fields of history and sociology. There were likewise no conservatives in these fields at Brown University.

Some of the largest disparities were found in the University of California system. UCLA, for instance, has only nine conservatives for 141 liberals. UC-Santa Barbara had only one conservative professor in the 73 examined. At the four UC schools surveyed, there were only five conservative political science professors compared to 90 liberals.

At UC-Berkeley, only seven of the 66 professors noted were conservatives, with none in the department of sociology.

... the University of Colorado was one of the most liberal schools of those surveyed, with liberal professors outnumbering conservative professors by more than 23 to one. An earlier, more comprehensive study conducted by the Rocky Mountain News found a 31 to one Democrat to Republican imbalance among faculty at the school.


Let me repeat: there is a dominance not just of liberal professors on American campuses but more specifically of left-liberal professors.

Curriculum

Why does it matter that a large majority of university professors are left-liberals?

It matters when a large number of subjects on offer exclude more conservative students, e.g. "Discourses on heteronormativity in colonial racist narratives". It matters when students choose more traditional subjects, e.g. "Renaissance Italy", but are supposed to discuss the subject matter in tutorials in terms of left-wing academic theories (deconstructionism, standpoint theory etc.). It matters when the curriculum itself is radically reorganised to serve the technocratic goals of modern liberalism.

I reported recently that Australia's new national curriculum for high schools was to be organised around three key considerations:

i) indigenous perspectives
ii) a commitment to sustainable patterns of living
iii) the skills, knowledge and understandings related to Asia and Australia's engagement.


The universities aren't far behind. The University of Melbourne has declared that it is no longer an "exclusive knowledge habitat", but an "access point" to serve "society's changing needs". As such, arts students are now required in their first year to choose two of the following "foundation subjects":

Understanding Asia; Globalisation; Australian Indigenous studies; Knowing Nature; From Homer to Hollywood (communication studies); Philosophy, Politics and Economics.


They must also select from these "breadth studies":

100-181 Australian Indigenous Studies
800-175 An Ecological History of Humanity
800-122 Catastrophes, Cultures & the Angry Earth
800-201 Climate Change ll
800-101 Critical Thinking With Data
800-267 Drugs That Shape Society
800-121 Food for a Healthy Planet
800-116 Generating the Wealth of Nations
800-205 Genetics, Health, and Society
800-206 Human Rights and Global Justice
800-150 Internet Meets Society
800-191 Introduction to Climate Change
800-204 Language and Computation
800-203 Learning Cultures: Minds, Ideas, Objects
800-123 Logic: Language and Information
800-166 Poetics of the Body 1
800-266 Poetics of the Body 2
800-366 Poetics of the Body 3
800-100 Seeing: The Whole Picture
200-268 Water for Sustainable Futures


It's not that much different to the high school plan. It's organised around indigenous studies, Asian engagement, the environment plus a number of other subjects that might appeal to the future technocrats of the world.

So the issue is not just the personal political preferences of academics as expressed on voting day. The curriculum and the course structure offered by universities are being increasingly reshaped along liberal modernist lines.

55 comments:

  1. Apologies if you've already commented on these Mark. For those who aren't familiar with them:

    Ed Feser's: Why are Universities Dominated by the Left?
    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=021304A

    Universities and the Left - reply to critics:
    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=022004C

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  2. The Senate Committee Report that THR refers to approvingly did hold that there was no bias at Australian universities. What THR fails to mention is that the Majority Report was drafted by the Committee’s Labor members, who obviously ignored an overwhelming majority of the submissions which supported the thesis that there was indeed strong evidence of bias in the Australian Academe. The PDF of the submissions unfortunately are no longer available online.

    In any case, Senate Committee Hearings mean nothing. They are just vehicles for an unrepresentative political elite to produce a faux-mandate for the promotion of their niche addenda. Another case in point: the overwhelming public opposition to the legalisation of the abortion drug RU486, (which became clear beyond a shadow of a doubt during another Senate Committee Hearing) was disregarded by the Parliamentary femocrat elite, and the drug legalised anyway.

    That’s progressive democracy for you. Deny obvious elite bias, ignore public opinion if it is “incorrect”...

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  3. The evidence here is stronger for the US than here. In the US, you also have some aggressive anti-left movements on campus attempting to shut things down, so merely citing voting patterns won't give you the full picture.

    There's still a paucity of evidence here for the case that Australian unis are inherently biased. Of the list of subjects cited in this post, there are none that strike me as 'left-liberal' (though there are several that strike me as a complete waste of time). Like the Young Libs' submissions to the Senate report, you've taken words like 'Asia', 'the Body', 'Indigenous' et al and assumed that these are evidence of bias. Again, discussing gender or Asia, or being exposed to views you dont like is not evidence of bias. We should also not assume that just because an academic votes a particular way, that he or she is therefore incapable of teaching a discipline in a professional manner. It's no different to believing that barbers or shoemakers do their jobs differently based on political preferences. I'm afraid that the evidence of bias in Auastralian unis is still very light on the ground.

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  4. Sydney Uni looks at slashing intake‎. And they don't regard themselves as an Australian university anymore:

    "The university wants to position itself as a high-end research institution that will attract the brightest researchers internationally and find new ways to identify the most promising students, regardless of background or nationality."

    And the next bit sounds like unlimited university intake = unlimited temporary migration:

    "A green paper on the university's preferred options is to be finalised by early November. Dr Spence is one of the first vice-chancellors to signal a possible dramatic change after the Government's response to the Bradley review into higher education. From 2012 unlimited numbers of students can be enrolled in any course, with the government funding each university directly by the course numbers."

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  5. It's not that much different to the high school plan. It's organised around indigenous studies, Asian engagement, the environment plus a number of other subjects that might appeal to the future technocrats of the world.

    And, of course, this 'progressive' emphasis on "Indigenous perspectives", "engagement with Asia" etc. etc. has come at the expense of other areas of study. Western and British history, for instance, have been completely supplanted by new-age, trendy topics within most university history departments. One can now graduate with a major in history from an Australian university with absolutely no understanding of the roots of the civilisation of which Australia is a part, or without any kind of historical knowledge of the country which not only gave birth to Australia but also shaped the modern world.

    In the case of Australian history, it is now overwhelmingly taught from the "black armband" perspective, which holds that old, pre-1970s Anglo-Celtic Australia was a largely evil place, characterised by racism, hatred, exclusion, genocide, discrimination and exploitation.

    This anti-Western, anti-Anglo, anti-white bias is so pervasive within Arts/Humanities departments that it is considered the 'norm' and thus goes largely unremarked upon and unchallenged.

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  6. Mark,

    One does not need quantitative data for this. A cursory linear analysis will do:

    Campus=Young Students(mostly)+Faculty

    Young Students = Horny, High on hormones, impractically idealistic, hedonistic, rebellious, parent haters(not all). Hence they steer to individualistic, sexually permissible, utopian equality preaching left.

    Faculty= Risk averse, hatred for high wealth owners(as these fellows can never have that), impractically idealistic, religion bashing. These traits also steer them towards left.

    But a campus can turn to right, especially in the case nation is subject to external aggression.

    Hope this helps :)

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  7. 800-116 Generating the Wealth of Nations

    I wonder if IQ and the Wealth of Nations is a required textbook for this particular topic?

    It certainly should be.

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  8. I strongly agree with RD. There is such a strong emphaisis on rebelling and overturning the traditional or mainstream view that sutdents have no idea of what the traditional or mainstream view is. They're left with no option but to go along with it. The mainstream becomes opposition to the mainstream. What the hell does that leave us with? Open to anything that comes along?

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  9. It's no different to believing that barbers or shoemakers do their jobs differently based on political preferences.

    It's massively different. All academics (all people) are biased, and this influences their research and teaching — both what they choose to research and teach, and how they perform at what they've chosen to do. It is foolish to think otherwise. Our biases affect us in ways both clear and subtle, beneath our ability to moderate ourselves.

    This is quite different from a barber, who simply do what someone else asks them to. Hairdressers have no real scope for opinion in their work, because if they put the wrong opinion in, their customer will be angry, probably won't pay, and will never come back again.

    (It's quite similar to artists, including shoemakers; you probably wouldn't find a (traditionalist) conservative designing thongs or shoes in a certain way. There's a difference here though, in that there's enough fashion designers I can easily find clothes that suit me, whereas universities are much more expensive.)

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  10. THR: In the US, you also have some aggressive anti-left movements on campus attempting to shut things down...

    THR, what are you talking about? Names, places, descriptions of incidents would be helpful - as would defining for us exactly what you mean by "shutting things down", since the only incidents I can recall that conform to my notion of "attempting to shut things down" on campus have been perpetrated by the left.

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  11. THR can't see bias because his far-left mindset prevents him from seeing leftist excesses as anything other than, well, normal. This is also the reason why THR-types always see us as te "extremists"... after all, we reject the assumptions on which their worldview is based, and this is intolerable to the preachers of tolerance.

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  12. Faculty= ...hatred for high wealth owners(as these fellows can never have that)...

    Not always true, Bhanu. At my (US) uni many faculty are quite well-off. The benefits packages are lavish, and six-figure incomes are not unusual. Which makes their ranting about "the rich" all the more absurd.

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  13. BTW, if you didn't guess it from Mark's list of course titles, "The Body" seems to be the hot new buzzword these days. I've seen it appearing more and more over the last 2 years or so in all manner of social science & humanities presentations, paper titles, etc.

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  14. For what it's worth, I have studied at two universities in the US (Brown and UCLA) and two in Australia (I'd rather not say which ones for fear of recriminations), and I found the Australian universities distinctly more politically correct, left-liberal, and generally repressive of critical thinking. Here in Australia, we were constantly told how Australian universities taught their students to think, whereas US ones tended to indoctrinate, but when I went to the US I found that this was quite untrue. My experience of of both countries' academics has been (with notable exceptions) that the Americans were truly liberal and tended to have an 'anything goes' attitude, whereas the Australians expect you to toe the party line. This was especially the case in the area of Australian history, where the truth has been aggressively hidden and blatant lies taught.

    I found the US a far more pleasant place to study, and the quality of academic work by staff and students alike was distinctly superior, something Australians have a problem admitting. Brown University had a very left-leaning population, as the statistics suggest, but these people did not stifle other points of view, unlike in Australia where (if you dare speak out) you will face dire consequences. A minor indication can be seen in a comparison of alumni magazines - Brown has articles by conservatives as well as liberals, but my Australian alumni magazines only have articles that are left-liberal and my local campus can't even manage a branch of the Young Liberals (who aren't even conservative) after being hounded and attacked. And I wouldn't want to be a man either - the discrimination against men is blatant and officially-sanctioned.

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  15. ... unlike in Australia where (if you dare speak out) you will face dire consequences.

    Indeed. Let's not forget what happened to former Macquarie University Professor Andrew Fraser when he questioned two of the left's sacred cows - mass immigration and multiculturalism.

    Nor was the Fraser affair without precedent. Geoffrey Blainey, Australia's most famous historian, faced a similar fate back in the 1980s when he was hounded from the University of Melbourne for also daring to express reservations about immigration and multiculturalism.

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  16. I cannot seriously believe that THR would come out with such utter tripe, only a marxist idiot who ignores the bodies of the 100,000,000 people his ideology has murdered could ignore the plain evidence that the majority of academics have a left wing perspective.

    It like saying that the majority of CEOs have a pro-capitalist viewpoint. Its simply common sense.

    If you educate people with left/liberal viewpoints and subjects, then reward those who study the subjects in the most depth and with the most skill to teaching positions that are government funded then its not really a huge leap to say that this economic environment, then house them in the same areas and teach them to read the same newspapers and magazines for their political news and views, THEN add in the atmosphere of bullying and intimidation, as well as exclusion for anyone who diagrees from the party line too strongly, this will inevitably produce a bias.

    The departments with the least bias are those with the most contact with the outside world, humanities simply does not get a look in.

    I ask THR to do the following, go on to a university campus, talk to the faculty [dont tell me you dont know any] and ask them the following questions.

    1. Should the government intervene in the economy to make society more equal?

    2. Is capitalism a bad system?

    3. Should racial preferences be given to "Oppressed" groups?

    4. Should affrimitive action be used to make institutions and businesses more "Diverse"?

    5. Should governments have the right to ban "Hate speech"?

    6. Should Gay rights and the "equality" to wed be enshrined in law and approved by the government?

    7. Are gender, ethnicity and the like the sole result of socialisation or does biology play a part?

    Its like the old arguments I used to have in uni about whether or not the ABC was biased to the left, the debate would go in a few distinct stages as the walls of indoctrinated resistance came down.

    Stage 1. The leftoid refuses to admit that the ABC is biased, you go away, gather overwhelming evidence [I used to keep a file to stop such people denying reality].

    Stage 2. They admit the ABC is biased, but then say that it is justified because otherwise there would be no place to express let wing views in a "Capitalist" dominated society. So then you have to go away and bring back the evidence of left wing views being dominant in the fairfax press, SBS and the equality of time given to left wing views on commercial TV stations and in the News Ltd press.

    Stage 3. After blasting all the arguments the leftoid starts to call you a nazi, racist, fascist or bigot [sometimes all of them].

    Its time to give left wingers the same treatment they give everyone else, dont allow them to debate, dont allow them to talk, dont allow them the dignity of having an opinion, after all if they use their time to deny others the right to speak, why should they be allowed to do so?

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  17. "There's still a paucity of evidence here for the case that Australian unis are inherently biased."

    Yes, probably since the only investigation into the matter was shot down by a senate committee that was dominated by the Labor party.

    The inability of left wingers to see the left wing bias of institutions and to continue in their little fantasy worlds in which they are the noble rebels "Speaking truth to power" is sickening, its something straight out of 1984

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  18. More on the disgraceful treatment of Geoffrey Blainey at Melbourne University by his fellow academics because he broke with the party (left wing) line.

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  19. More on the disgraceful treatment of Geoffrey Blainey at Melbourne University by his fellow academics because he broke with the party (left wing) line.

    A campaign led by none other than Stuart Macintyre, the Anglophobe and 'former' Marxist now in charge of writing Australia's national history curriculum.

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  20. Yeah its good stuff, "we need the ABC to balance out the political bias of the rest". They really believe that.

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  21. Its not just the squeezing out of conservative academics, the rapid promotion of the "keen" left is also evident. I watched for years as the winners of the best teacher awards turned out invariably to be the trendiest of followers, regardless of their actual teaching ability. The solid lecturer who strived to impart understanding was always passed over for the fashionable guy with the easy smile, joking manner and most fashionable of left wing ideas.

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  22. I fear that the only way to break the grip the left holds on academia will be to destroy the universities. This may be one salutary effect of the coming collapse of our society.

    It will be fun to see "critical theorists" reduced to begging in the street - when our current comfortable age comes to an end, and only those who can do shall eat.

    They will get no alms from me. "Say, so you're hungry, professor - haven't eaten in days? Try deconstructing a narrative. Eat that, pal."

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  23. Jesse_7 is right to point out that "It's not just the squeezing out of conservative academics, the rapid promotion of the "keen" left is also evident."

    I saw two of my professors forced to leave the university. Neither was particularly conservative, but both were independent thinkers who believed in truth in scholarship. One, despite having a PhD from Cornell and being foremost in his field, ended up working in a call centre. The other, an excellent teacher but not one to brown-nose, took "early retirement". There was also an element of anti-Americanism as both had studied in the US. The ones promoted were mostly women who specialised in trendy fields that vilified men, Christianity, and Western civilisation.

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  24. Just to clear up a few points, I assume that the 'bias' all of you are so worried about is restricted to humanities departments. That is, a small and rapidly shrinking portion of the university sector.

    There are several claims here that should not go unchallenged. First, this belief that universities are run by leftist cliques promoting their own. Whether this was true in the past, I don't know, but it isn't true now. Academic staff are subject to 'client satisfaction' surveys of students. The people generally making the decisions about staffing are interested in dollars and bums on seats, not ideological football. If any of you actually speak to some academic staff, I think you'll find that this is the case. Unis are a mix of the corporate and the bureaucratic, rather than the doctrinal. This brings its own problems, but leftist bias isn't one of them, as we've seen by repeated failures to conjure any evidence for this.

    The Senate report was about half Coalition, half ALP. It's true that there are some statements in it which disagree with the ALP. They repay closer investigation. One strong advocate of the notion that unis are biased (in this report) is a Dr Rubinstein, for instance. This fellow has written at length on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has an entirely one-sided view of it, to the point where all of the blame, without exception, belongs with Palestine. Of course, it's only natural for him that every other view is 'biased'. He's a crackpot and a shill.

    Secondly, we see in the report that Young Lib students think that a course which teaches 'postmodernism' is biased to the left. They supply no evidence for this, and nor could they, since neither liberals nor leftists have any special affinity with postmodernism, and many explicitly repudiate it. One could just as easily conceive of conservatives deconstructing leftist ideas as the converse. Yet we are supposed to believe that postmodernism is inherently biased.

    This leads to the broader problem, that all of the commenters here seem to be pleading for a kind of conservative Stalinism, in which every intellectual current of the 20th century is airbrushed out of existence so as not to offend your fine feelings. So we mustn't teach feminism, for fear of spreading bias, when this latter is one of the most important political movements of the past century. It actually has a number of currents to it, and I suspect many right-leaning people wouldn't hesitate to affirm rights for women. If you want unis that have nothing to do with feminism, I hear the Saudis are pretty generous with tax breaks.

    Another theme brought up here is colonialism and the Indigenous peoples. It seems you want a bit of Orwellian revisionism here, so that history shows that Aboriginals were treated wonderfully well by the settlers, were given the vote, and stripped of their land and rights, etc. What you're basically asking for, therefore, is not 'balance', but brazen lies. I'm not sure why a conservative view has to be chained to nonsense myth-making, or why acknowledgement of past atrocities is some kind of 'liberal' self-hatred. These are both idiotic views. And, like it or not, the critique of colonialism is one of the most important of the past hundred years, emanating from struggles in Algeria, Vietnam, China, and of course, Australia.

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  25. Finally, I notice a distinct silence about all the academics (such as those at Quadrant) who a prominent members of the right. If any staff or student were treated differently on the basis of their political preferences, there would be grounds for a discrimination claim. I notice that there aren't any.

    I think many of you would be surprised to learn that very few academics, even in the humanities, are socialists of any sort. Most have views that are reflective of their demographic (i.e. they probably share the opinions of most middle-class, urban, educated people). If conservatives cannot compete, they may need to examine the substance of their ideas, rather than posit a ludicrous conspiracy by the international left to prevent them from rewriting a happy history of the Western world.

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  26. THR, Not many people here are interested in your opinions on the subject since you have so clearly shown yourself to be deluded.

    Being on the far left, a group which morally validates itself by fondly imagining that it is the only force in society holding back fascism, you will no doubt be familiar with the concept of "No Platform".

    This is where left wing groups use violence and intimidation to stop members of the "Far right" [usually more far left themselves] from speaking.

    The rational is that such people, by espousing a vile and murderous Ideology have forfieted their right to free speech.

    Your ideology killed 100 million and is still killing more today, by the morality your "Anti-fascist" comrades hold you have no right to speak in the hearing of decent people.

    If you were simply a misled Leftoid interested in deabte, that would be different, but you are scum, murdering genocidal scum. You and your ideology deserve to vanish from the pages of history.

    You already have the universities to spread your poison and indoctrinate the next generation, do you really need to come onto a conservative blog, one of the best such blogs in Australia, and poison the air with the fumes of your insane creed and the clear denial of reality inherent in your worldview?

    Begone foul spirit! Darken not again this door!

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  27. Westieboy,

    Your conduct above is a pretty good example of how conservatives can marginalise themselves. I haven't brought up any far-left ideas on this thread, and you're here blathering on like a lunatic.

    Let's face it - the right in Australia have plenty of footholds in academia. They've got Quadrant, the HR Nichols Society, the IPA and the CIS. In the states, so-called neoconservatives had the ear of the President for 8 years. When I studied the humanities, conservative perspectives were taught in some subjects, and many academics I know are church-goers with no particular beef with capitalism (though by the standards of some here, they probably wouldn't qualify as 'real' conservatives).

    Have a look at various humanities disciplines. Take literary theory, for example. For a long time, conservative, moralising interpretations were the norm. They fell out of favour several decades ago, and not for reasons that were necessarily even political. So what we have is a bunch of fat, lazy, parasitical right-wingers, who refuse to do any of the intellectual heavy-lifting, and actually generate a new idea once a decade or so, preferring instead to soothe their vanity by moaning about alleged bias. What are you proposing, fellas? Affirmative action for intellectually underprivileged conservatives? A 'No Tory Left Behind' policy at every uni, so that creationism can be taught in biology class, and 19th Century race theory can be taught in anthropology?

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  28. On Westieboy's point about the ABC being a necessary counterweight in the eyes of many lefties, the same could be said of their idea of the university.

    The lecturers I noticed would often despair that the students were more interested in getting good marks and jobs then sharing their "passion" for the subject matter. They would have said that they only had a few years to inculcate "liberal" and "humanistic" ideas to the students before they became soulless money chasing automatons in careers. The university was a necessary "moral counterbalance" to the money and success driven career world etc ,etc, etc.

    Hey THR thanks for holding back facism we think you're doing a great job.

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  29. On Westieboy's point about the ABC being a necessary counterweight in the eyes of many lefties, the same could be said of their idea of the university.

    I've heard this argued of the ABC before, but again, the evidence of ABC bias is thin. If anything, the ABC is self-consciously striving for 'balance', and has a 50/50 split of commenters from either side of the fence. Some of its right-wing commenters (like Bolt, Piers, and Hendo on Insiders) are far more strident than the odd leftie you get on there.

    The lecturers I noticed would often despair that the students were more interested in getting good marks and jobs then sharing their "passion" for the subject matter. They would have said that they only had a few years to inculcate "liberal" and "humanistic" ideas to the students before they became soulless money chasing automatons in careers. The university was a necessary "moral counterbalance" to the money and success driven career world etc ,etc, etc.


    It's typical shysterism to conflate 'humanism' with 'liberalism'. The modern university probably wouldn't exist without humanism. It has very little to do with politics. And why wouldn't academics want to share their passion for particular topics? Isn't that their job? They have heavy workloads, and reasonable but unspectacular pay, so they're probably not in it for material gain. Your comment, Jesse, sounds like an attempt to make a virtue of ignorance and intellectual mediocrity. And it's your pal Westie bringing up the fascists here. I'm not sure what they have to do with the price of fish.

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  30. "If anything, the ABC is self-consciously striving for 'balance', and has a 50/50 split of commentators from either side of the fence. Some of its right-wing commentators (like Bolt, Piers, and Hendo on Insiders) are far more strident than the odd leftie you get on there."

    The insiders has one liberal/right wing guy on the panel and 3 who are varying degrees of left wing, including the moderator. So the standard insiders program is the 3 arguing against the right wing guy or maybe 2 arguing while the guy in the middle makes cynical jokes. Hardly balanced is it. That's just the panel its not even the choice of topics brought up by the moderator which are usually all the left wing topics of the day. The right wing guy will usually be more strident because he’s being argued against by the rest of the panel. If he’s not being strident he isn’t bothering to defend his philosophical worldview and just capitulating.

    "It's typical shysterism to conflate 'humanism' with 'liberalism'. The modern university probably wouldn't exist without humanism. It has very little to do with politics."

    I didn't say I conflated the two I said that is how a left liberal lecturer would see and justify their left liberal approach to education. That left liberal ideas pushed in uni are the balance against an otherwise capitalist conservative mainstream professional culture.

    A lecturer’s outlook is political as their motivations will determine whether all the millions of examples of bias, such as left wing subject matter for courses as well as presentation slants, which we've already given more than sufficient example of, take place or not. We’ve given more than enough examples of left liberal bias in unis and shown much more evidence than the slivers you hang your arguments on. There are “some” conservatives somewhere, Quadrant exists (one magazine), HR Nichols a libertarian economic think tank exists, literature interpretation was once right wing years ago…

    I remember one of the feminist lecturers telling of her experiences at the start of her legal career (she called herself feminist by the way so I can‘t be accused of unfairly imputing her politics). On her first day she was asked to get lunch for one of the senior partners. According to the story she was asked to get lunch because of the partner’s patriarchal world view , getting food was women’s work. Of course this story was designed to get a laugh out of the audience, oh what a conservative the partner was, what progress we’ve made since. Lefties are very VERY aware of any bias or unfavourable treatment going their way. There are whole institutions set up to notice and remedy them. But when it comes to themselves, oh no we couldn’t be biased. We’re not all pushing our world view. How dare you say so! This is attempted oppression. We’re intellectuals dammit! When it comes to universities this is the intellectual future of the west and the nation, so yes its important. Maybe more important than who gets the lunch. Maybe you shouldn’t be so keen to completely dismiss the numerous arguments being made here.

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  31. It says something about the modern West that it is a Marxist in this discussion who is playing the role of apologist for the establishment.

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  32. It says something about the modern West that it is a Marxist in this discussion who is playing the role of apologist for the establishment.

    I've defended 'the establishment' from the claim that it's a hotbed of bolshevism. I've also described it as corporate and bureaucratic. These aren't compliments. Also, I don't identify myself solely or primarily as a 'Marxist'. To use a bit of pomo lingo, I assume you and the others here only refer to me as a 'Marxist' as a kind of 'discursive strategy'.

    Maybe the categories here are causing some confusion. Thake the ABC's Insiders, for instance. Are all the conservatives here of the opinion that Bolt, Piers, and Hendo don't count as conservatives? Are they too 'liberal'? If so, then how the hell do Crabbe and Schubert get tarred as lefties? And what would constitute somebody sufficiently rightist?

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  33. "Academic staff are subject to 'client satisfaction' surveys of students. The people generally making the decisions about staffing are interested in dollars and bums on seats, not ideological football"

    In relation to law if you have a course with 30 people in it, lets say its in one of those post-modern courses. The nature of which means the students are usually of the same mind, ideological fellow travellers eager to hear the latest reinterpretative accusations. The class will be small so your students will all be mates by the end of it. Also there will be easy informality due to numbers, easy access to the teacher and lots of feedback on assessment. The teachers reviews will probably read, "Oh this was the best course ever, it really opened my eyes!".

    Now lets compare that to some other lecturer who teaches a course with a full complement of students. Not everyone will be of the same mindset nor will everyone get to know each other. The course will no doubt be something boring, like oh I don’t know, law study, as opposed to something exciting like reinterpretive politics with law attached. Throw in students talking in the back row, others playing solitaire on their laptops and the student review will inevitably be lower. Who's the better teacher on the feedback? The 30 student ideological love in guy or the actual substantive law lecturer? No doubt the former. So these reviews are not a full reflection of what's going on.

    Who knows if the reviews are even listened to? I was involved in publishing student reviews at my uni (we put out our own because the uni's surveys results were never published). There were some lectures whose reviews were so bad we were embarrassed to publish them. Did anything happen to those lecturers? They were there year after year.

    Why isn't more student concern registered in feedbackt? Firstly If the course is really left wing its probably an elective so you don't have to do it(law is broken into electives and compulsories, compulsories are proscribed by the legal profession so there is far less scope for left wing fun). Unis are usually smart enough to have some red meat electives, bankruptcy law for instance. So choice exists on the books. If there wasn't people would no doubt really start to complain. The problem with that is, as you saw with Marks course list, once you ignore the really left wing courses the pickings can be pretty slim. You’d better hope that what’s left isn’t awful and unfortunately whats left often isn‘t that great. “Serious” law areas have started to become intellectual backwaters, often as not taught by people who want easy lives. The good teachers are off reinterpreting communism.

    On the compulsory side if a course has a clear left wing tilt, international law for instance (which as we've said needn't consist of a left wing interetation but invariably does), any complaint on political grounds can be balanced by the lefties who love it. As we know the left liberal upper middle class students (who are happily insulated from the consequences of their own politics) are smarter than the rest aren’t they THR and therefore have no problem with it. The hippies just love it.

    The idea that the market will sort it out isn’t accurate either. Reviews from existing students don’t really count because their bums are already on the seats, they're not going anywhere. Future students can be mollified with the promise that the uni is respected, so the degree will help them land a job. Some of the most long standing and therefore most respected unis are amongst the most left wing. Why? Its in high fashion to be left don’t you know. Just left enough.

    Anyway if the unis really cared about student feedback they'd listen to the reviews of the just graduated students. They uniformly give terrible reviews.

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  35. Why don’t employers and the professions weigh in on this issue or seem to care? The high entrance marks for the top unis means the students at the end of the day will be good almost no matter what. Add that to the fact that there are more students then jobs and there’s still a bell curve so you can just take whoever came out on top. Once you hit work you're expected to be smart enough to pick it up regardless of your preparation ,or lack there of, so you just get hired and have to sort it out in the “real world“.

    Incidentally graduated students give their uni poor reviews because they generally feel substantially underprepared to actually practise law. Amidst all the examination of "hot topics" at uni the actual preparation for real life employment, with very substantial consequences for other people's lives, seems to get only a late look in.

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  36. Incidentally graduated students give their uni poor reviews because they generally feel substantially underprepared to actually practise law. Amidst all the examination of "hot topics" at uni the actual preparation for real life employment, with very substantial consequences for other people's lives, seems to get only a late look in.

    It's a fair point, but, anecdotally, many in other professions feel the same way, particularly in the medical end of things. I mean, theory and labs are one thing, actual crisis situations are another. I don't think any uni can really prepare you for that. Many bright students feel underprepared, but again, I don't think you can point the finger at leftism.

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  37. On the compulsory side if a course has a clear left wing tilt, international law for instance (which as we've said needn't consist of a left wing interetation but invariably does), any complaint on political grounds can be balanced by the lefties who love it. As we know the left liberal upper middle class students (who are happily insulated from the consequences of their own politics) are smarter than the rest aren’t they THR and therefore have no problem with it. The hippies just love it.

    Well, if you have a look at international law, it's enough to make any honest person a leftist. US and Nicaragua in the 1980s are an excellent starting point for that.

    I didn't suggest that rich liberal kids were geniuses, by the way, merely that conservatives hadn't done a whole lot of intellectual 'heavy lifting' in the humanities for the past few decades. If anything, conservatives get over-representation in the media, academia, etc, considering their standing in the rest of society. I mean, if Piers and Bolt are merely pseudo-Tories, then the real ones must be so few as to constitute a miniscule fringe of public discourse. Why then do we need to import more of them?

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  38. THR said: "So we mustn't teach feminism, for fear of spreading bias, when this latter is one of the most important political movements of the past century."

    I don't think anyone is advocating not teaching about feminism. The issue is that it's not taught so much as a subject but as a mandatory approach to all subjects. The university ought to be a place of critical thinking, not indoctrination, but when only feminists are promoted and only feminist interpretations are taught then it's brainwashing, not education. When someone (a woman) uses terms like 'mankind' and the pronoun 'he' to include both men and women, she shouldn't have her essay rejected by her lecturer.

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  39. About the only sense in which you might be able to argue that universities aren't left wing, would be to say that business, science, and law faculties aren't particularly left wing on economic issues.

    In my experience most law and business graduates tend to be centrist or perhaps mildly right wing on economic issues.

    As far as cultural issues go, all university departments are left wing and liberal arts departments are definitely left wing on both cultural and economic issues.

    As a small example from own experience, I was the only student from a group of around 20 students on a history honours course in the late 90s who didn't identify as left wing (I identified as centrist at the time).

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  40. It seems you want a bit of Orwellian revisionism here, so that history shows that Aboriginals were treated wonderfully well by the settlers, were given the vote, and stripped of their land and rights, etc. What you're basically asking for, therefore, is not 'balance', but brazen lies.

    No, we just don't believe that the history of mainstream white, Anglo-Celtic Australia should be treated like a criminal record. We don't believe in teaching a grossly distorted version of Australian history which exaggerates the wrongdoings of the white Australian majority, while completely ignoring their achievements. We don't believe in teaching a version of history which places excessive emphasis on minority perspectives at the expense of the majority's perspective. We don't believe in teaching a version of history characterised by an overly simplistic moral dichotomy between designated 'victims' (Aborigines, other non-European groups) and 'oppressors' (British-descended white Australians). We don't believe in teaching a version of history which depicts the British settlement of Australia as some kind of shameful and wicked act that needs to be rectified immediately. We don't believe in teaching a version of history which is skewed to portray the early settlers as evil, callous, greedy, genocidal maniacs. We don't believe in teaching a version of history which makes generations of Australians feel guilty for merely existing.

    I'm not sure why a conservative view has to be chained to nonsense myth-making, or why acknowledgement of past atrocities is some kind of 'liberal' self-hatred.

    For somebody who fancies themselves as a bit of an intellectual, it astounds me how clueless and puerile you really are.

    Despite what you may claim, most fair-minded conservatives acknowledge that some atrocities did occur during the early colonial period (although not on the scale that some leftists allege). We are not averse to the acknowledgement of past atrocities. What we are averse to, however, is treating Australian history as NOTHING BUT a series of horrendous atrocities.

    And, like it or not, the critique of colonialism is one of the most important of the past hundred years, emanating from struggles in Algeria, Vietnam, China, and of course, Australia.

    Australia, unlike those other countries, is a product of colonialism. It is a nation that evolved out of a series of setter colonies on a continent where no country or civilisation previously existed. The British colonists in Australia were't imposing their will upon the historic majority of an existing nation. Rather, they were creating a new nation from scratch, ex nihilo. The situation in Australia is therefore different to that in Vietnam, China and Algeria, nations which all existed in some coherent form or another prior to the advent and expansion of European colonialism.

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  41. University enrollments are at all time highs. Society is more "educated" than ever. Yet the continual refrain is that educational standards are slipping rather than improving.

    Take one example political speachcraft. Obama is credited as a great modern speaker but his speaches are increadibly vacuous. He just says hope and change and sticks his chin out squits and looks from side to side. That's it. That's your great speaker. He's no Lincoln or Churchill or Kennedy. These people could give a bloody good speach. I get tears when I read some of Churchill's speaches. Bush jr often spoke increadibly poorly and that was one of the basis of his political success, he was "down to earth". (I will grant you I thought Blair spoke quite well).

    I read in another post by Mark about the decline of the novel as a serious literaty form. He said if you want to study good literature you have to do it on your own time, you can't expect to do it in school because of the poor choice of literature presented and highly introspective interpretations. If we have to seemingly educate ourselves on our own time then what the hell is the point of all these educational institutions? What is going on?

    If educational standards are indeed slipping then the educational institutions need an absolute kick in the behind.

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  42. Tsk tsk, Mark.

    It seems that you've been attempting to inflame white resentment.

    In the above-linked post, our resident Marxist makes the comment:

    "The problem for conservatives is that they can't implicate capitalism in their grievances."

    Oh really?

    Did THR not read Mark's recent post in which he lamented the 'Homo Economicus' mindset of our elites?

    As the late American conservative writer Sam Francis put it:

    "Defending capitalism is not really a traditionally conservative issue. Conservatives -- real conservatives, at least, not classical liberals or neoconservatives -- should not be surprised. Capitalism, an economic system driven only, according to its own theory, by the accumulation of profit, is at least as much the enemy of tradition as the NAACP or communism, and those on the "right" who make a fetish of capitalism generally understand this and applaud it. The hostility of capitalism toward tradition is clear enough in its reduction of all social issues to economic ones. Moreover, like communism, capitalism is based on an essential egalitarianism that refuses to distinguish between one consumer's dollar and another. The reductionism and egalitarianism inherent in capitalism explains its destructive impact on social institutions. On the issue of immigration, capitalism is notorious for demanding cheap labor to undercut the cost of native workers. But it is not only in America that it has done so."

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  43. If I may, I'll respond to a couple of points briefly:

    When someone (a woman) uses terms like 'mankind' and the pronoun 'he' to include both men and women, she shouldn't have her essay rejected by her lecturer.


    I've got style guides from the 80s that encourage the use of gender universal language. I don't know of any lecturers who would reject an entire essay on that basis, but I could see people getting mildly irritated. If it's any consolation, French academics often still use masculine pronouns.


    As a small example from own experience, I was the only student from a group of around 20 students on a history honours course in the late 90s who didn't identify as left wing (I identified as centrist at the time).

    I don't think there's any doubt that unis have more leftism among students than other parts of society. It's been that way since at least the 60s, surely.

    We don't believe in teaching a version of history characterised by an overly simplistic moral dichotomy between designated 'victims' (Aborigines, other non-European groups) and 'oppressors' (British-descended white Australians).

    You may be surprised, anon, but lefties and Aboriginal activists don't want that either. There's no benefit to anybody in reducing Aborigines to one-dimensional victims, and to render their past and futue a merely passive one. I don't think it's hard to find examples on 'nice' Europeans, but none of these examples would negate the widespread desctruction of Aboriginal peoples.

    What we are averse to, however, is treating Australian history as NOTHING BUT a series of horrendous atrocities.


    But Australian history is not taught like that. It's only been relatively recently that authorities have conceded that any injustices were suffered by Aborigines. Most Australian history has been taught in the style of rought-and-tumble chest-thumping with obligatory references to Cook, the gold rush, Bradman, bushrangers, Banjo Patterson, and so forth. This 'history' is important to a degree, but it undoubtedly speaks to only a minority of Australians.

    Finally:

    Did THR not read Mark's recent post in which he lamented the 'Homo Economicus' mindset of our elites?


    I take it that you were the anon who left an idiotic comment at my blog earlier. I hadn't read that post of Mark's, but I'm glad to see a critique of 'Homo Economicus', even if its perspective is quite different to mine. I've always been baffled that some conservatives would identify (correctly, IMO) widespread social problems, then, rather than point any blame at the over-arching economic system and its processes, choose instead to atttribute magical powers to feminist academics, or a small grop of African migrants.

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  44. More on the disgraceful treatment of Geoffrey Blainey at Melbourne University by his fellow academics because he broke with the party (left wing) line.

    I notice that that particular article was written by Keith Windschuttle.

    Interestingly, Windschuttle was one of those academics at the forefront of criticising the aforementioned Andrew Fraser (even though, to his credit, he did defend Fraser's right to free speech).

    Read R.J. Stove's article "Who Owns White Australia?" for more on the Windschuttle VS. Fraser spat.

    Although both were maligned, bullied, ostracised and eventually forced out of their jobs by the left-wing academic establishment, it is unfair to compare Fraser to Blainey in terms of their views. Unlike Fraser, Blainey was mild and genteel in his criticisms of immigration and multiculturalism. Moreover, unlike Fraser, Blainey is not a 'racialist' and did not advocate a return to the old so-called 'White Australia' policy.

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  45. "I don't think it's hard to find examples on 'nice' Europeans, but none of these examples would negate the widespread desctruction of Aboriginal peoples.

    'What we are averse to, however, is treating Australian history as NOTHING BUT a series of horrendous atrocities.'


    But Australian history is not taught like that. It's only been relatively recently that authorities have conceded that any injustices were suffered by Aborigines."

    What a load of poppycock, THR! You sound like the aborigines who teach the 'gumnuts to buttons' propaganda in our schools. I had to sit through hours of an ill-educated woman spouting claptrap about how the evil white men on board a certain ship massacred hundreds of aborigines. When I asked her, as a historian who has read the primary sources and concluded that the men in question believed themselves under attack and only shot two aborigines, what happened to the bodies, she told me they had dissolved the bodies in lime! This is exactly how Australian history is taught, and if you think that whites intentionally brought about the widespread destruction of aborigines, then you've fallen for the propaganda.

    The only reason I care about the way history has been taught recently and continues to be taught is that it's NOT TRUE. And that's the biggest issue at hand. The politics of it all hardly matters if the truth is taught - I've known some very good teachers whose political beliefs were quite contrary to mine, but they taught the truth and presented both sides even if they did say which one they favoured - but the truth is currently downtrodden. People like Keith Windshuttle are hounded, while professors who teach blatant lies are promoted. That is plain wrong.

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  46. "Most Australian history has been taught in the style of rought-and-tumble chest-thumping with obligatory references to Cook, the gold rush, Bradman, bushrangers, Banjo Patterson, and so forth. This 'history' is important to a degree, but it undoubtedly speaks to only a minority of Australians."

    What a load of crap.

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  47. He thinks there is no evidence that the left dominates on campus.

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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  48. THR said...

    "It's only been relatively recently that authorities have conceded that any injustices were suffered by Aborigines."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    My god [wipes away tears] thats the funniest thing i have ever read.

    THR, like most marxist morons, cannot seem to tell reality from fantasy. Universities have been teaching black victimhood since the seventies. From there it marched into primary and secondary schools and into the minds of most journalists recruited under the new university system that replaced cadetships.

    THR Said:

    "I don't think there's any doubt that unis have more leftism among students than other parts of society. It's been that way since at least the 60s, surely."

    Ever wonder why? After all uni students have always been a demographic group that embraces radical thought, but the orthodoxy on todays campuses is anything but radical. The students know that in certain matters they must toe the line, the pressure to conform is overwhelming to most 18 year old minds.

    And this agenda, the agenda to conform, is almost entirely led by the attitudes of the faculty.

    If you replaced all the faculty on a university today with conservative faculty instead, then the culture of thought in the student body would change also, these are after all respected mentor figures.

    So if having a conservative faculty would obviously lead to bias, why do left wingers somehow believe that having left wing professors and lecturers would somehow lead to a wonderous chorus of ideas and openess?

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  49. "Well, if you have a look at international law, it's enough to make any honest person a leftist. US and Nicaragua in the 1980s are an excellent starting point for that."

    First we say there's no bias. Then we say the bias is justified ...

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  50. "Well, if you have a look at international law, it's enough to make any honest person a leftist. US and Nicaragua in the 1980s are an excellent starting point for that."

    The regime the US was fighting against in Nicaragua committed mass genocide against the Mesquite Indians because they refused to give up their remote agrarian way of life and become good proles like the Sandinistas wanted them to.

    Strangely enough the remnants of this once flourishing people made up a big chunk of the US aided "Contras".

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  51. Kevin Donnelly on the postmodern approach to history teaching:

    Since the 70s and 80s, as outlined in Why Our Schools are Failing, left-wing academics, education bureaucracies and professional associations have embarked on the long march through the institutions to overthrow more conservative approaches to education.

    The so-called traditional academic curriculum, with its emphasis on initiating students into established disciplines like history and literature, and the belief that education can be impartial have been attacked as misguided, Euro-centric and socially unjust.

    One of the first examples of the new history was the Keating Government inspired national Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) course outline published in 1993. History as a discrete subject disappeared and early drafts of the document were described as “a subject for satire” and “a case of political correctness gone wild”.

    European settlement is described as an invasion, Australia’s Anglo-Celtic heritage is either marginalised or ignored, Indigenous culture is portrayed as beyond reproach and teachers are told they must give priority to gender, multicultural, global, futures and Indigenous perspectives.

    The 1999 Queensland SOSE curriculum is also decidedly new age and one-sided. The values associated with the subject mirror the usual PC suspects, such as social justice, peace and ecological sustainability.

    In line with postmodernism, students are also taught that “knowledge is always tentative”, that they should “deconstruct dominant views of society”, “critique the socially constructed element of text” and “how privilege and marginalisation are created and sustained in society”.

    Forget the ideal of seeking truth and developing a disinterested understanding of the world, students are now told that everything is tentative and shifting and the purpose of education is to criticise mainstream society in terms of gender, ethnicity and class.

    *snip*

    Current approaches to history ask students to uncritically celebrate multiculturalism and cultural diversity without recognising that much of Australia’s economic, political and legal stability relies on a Eurocentric tradition steeped in the Judeo-Christian ethic.

    A commitment to human rights, the rule of law and tolerance does not arise by accident. The reality is that Australian society has proven to be such a successful social experiment because of those very values grounded in Western civilisation that can be traced back thousands of years via England and Europe to early Rome, Greece and biblical Israel.

    Australian teachers are also told that how one interprets history is subjective and relative to one’s culture and place...

    *snip*

    The belief that different versions of the past are of equal value and that each generation has the right to re-interpret history in terms of current values also allows revisionist historians to judge past actions in terms of what is now considered politically correct.

    As a result, today’s historians describe the First Fleet as an invasion even though the Admiralty had given Governor Phillip express orders to co-exist with the Indigenous population and Phillip, after being speared, did not punish those responsible.

    As noted by the Monash University historian, Mark Peel, of greater concern is that generations of students no longer understand or appreciate the grand narrative associated with the rise of Western Civilisation and Australia’s development as a nation.

    Peel states:

    "Students seem anxious about the absence of a story by which to comprehend change, or to understand how the nation and world they are about to inherit came to be …

    Indeed their sense of the world’s history is often based upon intense moments and fragments that have no real momentum or connection … The 20th century is largely composed of snatches, moments that rarely gel into a longer narrative."


    Full article

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  52. John Roskam from the IPA made this point very effectively on Q & A last night.

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  53. "Indigenous culture is portrayed as beyond reproach"

    Doesn't that mean championing rote learning ( there were after all no power point presentations and youtube videos in traditional aboriginal society) and respect for elders, ie, crusty old-school teachers that know what they're talking about?

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  54. this belief that universities are run by leftist cliques promoting their own. Whether this was true in the past, I don't know, but it isn't true now. Academic staff are subject to 'client satisfaction' surveys of students. The people generally making the decisions about staffing are interested in dollars and bums on seats, not ideological football.

    University administrators don't actually care what is taught. Students don't, either - they just want the credential (diploma). So long as enough students attend, and the professors make the classes easy enough so that students pass them without complaint, the administrators are happy if the professors "teach" content-free leftist drivel.

    if you have a look at international law, it's enough to make any honest person a leftist. US and Nicaragua in the 1980s are an excellent starting point for that.

    An "honest" person would really accept the Leftist view and side with the vicious, genocidal Sandinista dictatorship that was Moscow's puppet? I don't think so.

    I don't think there's any doubt that unis have more leftism among students than other parts of society.

    Um, and there's a cause-and-effect relationship there. Those students weren't Leftists when they arrived, chief.

    conservatives hadn't done a whole lot of intellectual 'heavy lifting' in the humanities for the past few decades

    Um, because they're not allowed into the humanities in the first place! Hard to do much intellectual work when you're not hired or promoted in the first place.

    conservatives get over-representation in the media, academia, etc, considering their standing in the rest of society

    ROFLMAO!!!

    very few academics, even in the humanities, are socialists of any sort

    Oh I am sure they wouldn't describe themselves as such. They always say they are "moderates" and "centrists". Yet somehow the moderate centrists always fall in line with the hard-left view on the issues.

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