Friday, March 11, 2016

Universities and Moronnials—Voltaire's Antipodes

It's a hideous historical irony that sizeable pockets of "millennials" are, along with Muslims and the media, the locus of totalitarianism in the modern world. University students in particular, even more than their state-worshipping tutors, are at the forefront of the war on free speech. Millennia ago when I was at university it wasn't this way at all. Universities the world over took very seriously their role of exemplars of untrammeled debate where every school of thought could freely contend. At the one I attended, Victoria in Wellington, every Wednesday lunchtime there was an event called The Forum in the Student Union Building common room, where hundreds of idealistic youngsters would gather for a debate-fest, an intellectual free-for-all in which no opinion and no topic was taboo. Those who didn't take part directly were free to jeer and cheer the speakers as the spirit moved them. As intense as the fiery clashes of opinion that occurred on matters of real substance, was a commitment to the underlying premise that free speech mattered, that the contest of ideas was urgently important. Separate from my own participation in the Forum (as a Marxist who believed Russia and China had got it wrong and were practising "state capitalism"!!) I helped organise debates on campus on matters of the moment—for example, an altercation on apartheid between Matt Rata, MP, and an elegant fellow named Mitchell who, next to the South African Consul-General, was the most public apologist for apartheid at the time in New Zealand. Nowadays, of course, that simply couldn't happen. Racists would not be allowed to purvey their views on campus. Worse, non-racists would be deemed by the reigning PC Thought Police to be racist and wouldn't be allowed to purvey their views on campus either. What would mark them out as racist according to the Thought Police? Why, their choice of words, of course. Words such as "black" and "white" might seem innocent on the surface, but their use is a ruse designed to camouflage a White Supremacist agenda. You doubt that? Then you too are a shill for that agenda. In such a climate, of course, all discussion is shut down—the exact intent of the PC Thought Police (PCTP henceforth).

1 comment:

  1. A little correction: Nelson actually said "... the Frogs and the Spaniards". He was very meticulous in naval and lingustic matters.