Claudio Veliz on our universities

A piece from the IPA Review, Feb 1988, posted in John Roskam’s weekly newsletter. The 20 universities refers to the pre-Dawkins era.

‘The Closing of the Australian Mind?’

[Australia has] one of the least diversified higher education systems of any major western democracy; her 20 universities are administered largely in the same manner, using comparable salary scales, similar career structures, and with most other internal administrative and academic arrangements standardized or modified in consultation with the central authorities. It is only a gentle exaggeration to say that Australia has one huge university with 20 campuses strewn over her vast territory.

It is now possible for an intelligent and diligent Australian student to enter university almost totally ignorant of the European cultural antecedents of his own thoughts, the temper of his time, or the formative experience of his country.

The phrase `totally ignorant’ is not used frivolously. I have had the sobering experience of encountering clever students, triumphant holders of HSC credentials, who believed that `Eureka’ was the Aboriginal name for the site of the stockade; had never heard of Pericles, Cervantes or Balzac; did not know what the Book of Job was or where it could be found; knew something about Hamlet (‘It’s a play, isn’t it?’), but not about Homer, Figaro, Faust, Don Juan or Othello.

These students can proceed to complete with brilliance any number of degree courses on a diversity of specialisms, none of which will do anything to rectify the awesome deficiency. They can thus be disgorged into the world armed with impeccable professional knowledge and accreditation, ready in due course to advise governments, opine about higher morality, teach in schools and universities, intervene in the administration of institutions, and otherwise influence the lives of others in important ways.

Successful on the surface, but in reality, incomplete human beings, all the more pitiful and dangerous because ignorant even of their crippling disability.

UPDATE. Conversation with Heather MacDonald, culture warrior.

This entry was posted in Education, Rafe, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Claudio Veliz on our universities

  1. Jimf

    As a graduate back in the stone age when when it meant something , the tertiary sector today has become a stinking carcass of same-same . To add insult to the funding of this make-believe world , the many made-up “degrees” are dragging taxpayers money away from technical/TAFE trade institutions that actually need it . We have a massive skill shortage in Aus of trades. It’s why in the cities we are paying plumbers eye watering money .
    Not her alone , but Gillard accelerated the Marxist rot when her “govt” (sic) made policy that encouraged (paid) the tertiary to Hoover up as many deadbeat high school leavers as they could . Coz you know, “ historical elitism has meant that some don’t get a shot at O week and the chance the waste 3-4 years of their formative lives doing shit courses that will never get them a job.”
    For Jules and her berry band of eunuchs it’s a good thing kids who aren’t academically inclined at all get to accrue HECS debts and end up pulling beers and coffees. Of course there’s the rub of trades and unionism on this country but on balance it couldn’t be any worse than right now .

  2. Jimf

    And obviously Shorten’s a useless cynical xunt but at least he mentioned the raping of the TAFE sector in his budget reply. He won’t do anything about it of course , but Mal and co can’t even see it to pretend about doing something. Birmingham is myopically focussed on placating the atrophying uni sector.

  3. Norman Church

    The outcomes described by the author represent a veritable triumph of cultural Marxism and ‘Diversity’ (ed. note – ironic sigh) which all right minded people celebrate. Not that anybody actually has any choice in the matter.

  4. pbw

    I’ve just been looking back a further 20 years, to that watershed year of 1968. There were two startlingly prophetic voices in that year. One, that of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae; the other Enoch Powell in his so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech, given on the 20th of April, 1968.

  5. None

    I’m not Catholic but I first read Hunanae Vitae a few years ago and my first thpugjt was wow, was that prophetic. Sadder: most Catholics wouldn’t know that exists and those that do -collpsed western catholics – poo poo it

  6. I would have thought it was a “crippling disability” to know nothing of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, economics etc. Socrates, Pericles, Cervantes, Shakespeare etc., is just hobbyist stuff.

  7. Mundi

    Although there is a lack of education in morality and human action, I agree.

    We are meant to believe an engineer won’t be useful or able to vote intelligently because he hasn’t read and learned from ancient texts mostly filled with religious fantasies.

  8. Entropy

    It isn’t the religious fantasies on the surface, it is the value and judgement system that comes with it. And at university level being taught it is to give the capability of teaching those values to younglings one day destined to be engineers, or garbos for that matter. It filters through society.

  9. Louis Hissink

    1988 ?

    Hell, about a decade after I completed by degrees, (Bachelor and Masters in science).

    The mid 1970’s I recall as the start of the, not so subtle, change in attitude in the universities – the start of the march into society’s institutions.

    Those ignorant of the past are destined to repeat it.

  10. And the TAFE sector has been encouraged to get into the degree business. Which gave me the opportunity to work with students doing teaching degrees who were not only ignorant of western civilisation and values but did not have adequate literacy or numeracy skills, let alone the ability to write a coherent essay or construct an argument. I taught grade 6 children in the early 70’s who could have done a far better job of it.
    We have sunk to appalling lows and it doesn’t seem to matter except to an ever shrinking minority who recognise what’s been lost.

  11. DrBeauGan

    That wae thirty years ago. Graduates of those days are now in charge of government. And those who did science and engineering are not among them. Reap what ye sow.

  12. I would have thought it was a “crippling disability” to know nothing of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, economics etc. Socrates, Pericles, Cervantes, Shakespeare etc., is just hobbyist stuff.

    If you know only something of mathematics or chemistry you’re nothing more than an amateur. This is true of any field of study. But if you have attended university and still not heard of let alone read Cervantes or Shakespeare or Homer or Plotinus you’re hardly an educated human being.

    We are meant to believe an engineer won’t be useful or able to vote intelligently because he hasn’t read and learned from ancient texts mostly filled with religious fantasies.

    An engineer may certainly be useful as an engineer, and he may even be a good human being if he was raised in a good community with fine parents, but he isn’t an educated one if he’s so ignorant of his patrimony as never to have heard of Aristotle or Plotinus, Homer or Ovid, Job or St. Paul, and so on. And I’m inclined to think he is likely to be largely indifferent to the destruction of this patrimony having himself no familiarity with or affection for it.

  13. manalive

    ‘Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, economics etc … ‘ all have a history.
    For instance the history of science and mathematics would give students of tertiary technical subjects an introduction to the development of deductive and inductive reasoning that is sadly lacking in economics, soft sciences (including CC™ ‘science’) and of course politics nowadays.
    Education should enrich lives but not just materially, an historical context would also by provide a framework for a broader appreciation of cultural developments.

  14. candy

    And obviously Shorten’s a useless cynical xunt but at least he mentioned the raping of the TAFE sector in his budget reply.

    True. TAFE’s best relevant courses have been brutalised and very expensive, so people go to uni for an education as no up-front $4,000 needed, and end up studying something worthless, thinking they will become job ready (apart from the traditional professions – medicine etc).

  15. Tel

    All human beings are incomplete, that’s why we have division of labour, and also why there’s never going to be central planning committee trustworthy to run our lives.

    However, if you have to abandon History and Literature in order to advance in Math, Computing and Science then this is a trade off that currently gives a lot of advantages. Personally I think there’s still time for the average person to pick up a reasonable smattering of History and Literature later in life, and it’s a lot easier to do when you have a good job, own your home, have a nice armchair and a glass of dark rum. History and Literature are both big, sprawling subjects and it’s impossible to read everything so just read what interests you and don’t feel shy about admitting there’s a lot of stuff you don’t give a shit about, because life’s too short.

    Of course, if no one else can be bothered learning History and you are the only one, this gives something of a market advantage, in terms of limited supply… but if you take a quick scan of the WWW on any historical topic you can think of, there’s a lot of good articles out there being written. I don’t see any evidence of an overall shortage.

  16. Roger

    Never mind Shakespeare, Perciles or the derivation of eureka, the average university graduate dullard these days cannot get the cultural references in Seinfeld or The Simpsons. I’m given to understand that in QLD access to university can be gained without even passing high school English.

  17. Tel

    That wae thirty years ago. Graduates of those days are now in charge of government. And those who did science and engineering are not among them. Reap what ye sow.

    But that’s it though … the Parliament is mostly full of lawyers because you need to be a lawyer to have the ability to work the system, cover your back, and get that far. There’s also a certain number of people get in there because they follow the party line, not because they know anything (I’m thinking Greatest Treasurer Evah as an example) … indeed if you are putting someone into power for reasons of loyalty then the less they know the better, because people who think for themselves can be unpredictable.

  18. Tel, we’re not talking about educated human beings needing to be experts across all fields but about them being at least familiar with their intellectual and moral patrimony.

  19. max

    Australia’s universities are bloated with money, intellectually corrupt, and totally unable to prepare kids for today’s world.

    Maxwell Newton, “The Failure of Education,” Australian Penthouse, March 1980, pp. 44-52.

    http://economics.org.au/2014/05/maxwell-newton-measures-bullshit-tertiary-schooling/

    The lies they teach our children: Vipers in the nation’s classrooms

    All around the country, teachers are giving our children a diet of intellectual poison.
    Greg Sheridan, The Weekend Australian, February 2-3, 1985, p. 1, 12.

    http://economics.org.au/2013/05/greg-sheridan-the-lies-they-teach-our-children/

    Peter Farrell compares Australian universities to nursing homes

    Peter C. Farrell, “Australian universities: A critique,”
    Engineers Australia, August 24, 1984, pp. 42-47.
    http://economics.org.au/2015/01/peter-farrell-compares-australian-universities-to-nursing-homes/

  20. max

    pbw
    #2731842, posted on June 8, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    “I’ve just been looking back a further 20 years, to that watershed year of 1968. There were two startlingly prophetic voices in that year. the other Enoch Powell in his so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech, given on the 20th of April, 1968.”

    Then he said this: “In this country in fifteen or twenty years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”
    According to the latest figures, 87% of Great Britain is white or white/British. About 3% is black. About 7% is Asian.
    As in the United States, which is about 12% black, there are postal codes that are mostly black. These neighborhoods have higher rates of poverty and crime than the average neighborhoods do. This is no secret in either the United States or Great Britain. These statistical and sociological facts do not receive much discussion in the white-dominated media, but the public knows this to be the case, especially the residents in these postal codes.
    Blacks do not hold the whip over whites in Great Britain. Whatever influence over policy that certain politically well-organized black minorities have gained in the British government has been due to the whites who control Parliament. This is equally true in the United States, except for this: the white-dominated courts have greater policy-making influence than Congress possesses.
    Therefore, in both Great Britain and the United States, whites hold the political whip. They cannot legitimately evade the responsibility associated with bad decisions of the political-judicial order.

    The demographic evidence does not sustain his prediction – not today, and surely not in 1985.

    One of the tenets of conservatism in the broadest sense is the emphasis on localism. Conservatism historically has resisted nationalization, let alone internationalization. This goes back to medieval culture.
    Powell’s speech did not hold up in 1968. It surely was not validated by what has happened since then.
    The two major problems in Great Britain in 1968 were the decline of Christianity and the triumph of the welfare state. Powell was part of the first problem. While a member of the Church of England, he rejected its fundamental tenets. He denied the crucifixion of Christ.
    These same two problems afflict Great Britain. Salvation by law – specifically, civil law – has replaced salvation by grace. The state has replaced the church. This is Great Britain’s crucial problem. Powell did not see this in 1968. The voters do not see it today.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/17972.cfm

Comments are closed.