Decline of the West at Australia’s universities

Caption: The barbarians aren’t just at the gates, they’re in the ivory towers

Whatever intellectual fashion you can think of, you can be sure there?s a ?Studies Centre? for it in one of Australia?s major universities. China studies, Islam studies, Women?s studies, Queer studies, all get a ?centre? to grace them with a veneer of academic respectability and a platform to influence public policy.

But Western civilisation is apparently beyond the bounds of ?intellectual? acceptance. Quote:

The Australian National University?s decision to refuse millions of dollars of funding from the Ramsay Centre for the study of Western civilisation is a pivotal moment in modern Australian history.

It reveals the narrow, anti-Western orthodoxy that now rules the humanities of our universities and it also dramatically changes the politics of the situation. End of quote.

Billionaire philanthropist John Ramsay set aside a staggering bequest, the biggest in the history of education in Australia. Millions were earmarked for a study centre and scholarships in a proposed Bachelor of Western Civilisation. While university administrators were initially attracted to the money, once the academic?s and student?s got whiff of it, the deal was off. ?Racism!? they screamed. ?White supremacy!? Quote:

The Ramsay Centre [is] chaired by former prime minister John Howard?[who said] ?I am very disappointed that having got so far, because of internal pressure, the ANU has backed off. It was absolutely clear that we had achieved agreement on curriculum and methodology. On recruitment and staff it was to allow the Ramsay Centre input but the final say remained with the university,?? he said. End of quote.

The spoilers are making self-righteous noises about ?academic integrity?, but those are mere smoke-screens. The claim that a Quadrant article by former prime minister Tony Abbott ?implies that the Ramsay Centre would wield considerable influence over staffing and curriculum decisions? is bunkum. Abbott?s article indicated nothing more controversial than the usual university selection process. The ANU currently accepts millions in funding from the governments of Turkey, Dubai and Iran. Representatives of Dubai?s government sit on ANU boards.

The real reason academics and students are so trenchantly opposed to the study of Western civilisation is soon laid bare. Quote:

The National Tertiary Education Union and the ANU ?students? association objected to a recent article in Quadrant in which Tony Abbott, a Ramsay board member, said the degrees it sponsored would not be just about Western civilisation but in favour of Western civilisation. End of quote.

One must ask: just what is wrong with being in favour of Western civilisation? After all, which civilisation gifted the world with democracy, science, free thought, human rights, and so much more? Not to mention the globalised economy that has lifted more human beings out of poverty, in a shorter time, than ever before in history?

Certainly, the West has not been without its faults, but its faults were never unique. On the other hand, its virtues often were.

Unfortunately, Western civilisation also made possible the very weapons with which the contemporary left seek to attack and demean it. The very ideas of rational critical analysis and human rights are Western inventions. Quote:

No one suggests a course on Western civilisation should be uncritical. The critical tradition, and countless contesting critical insights, are a central part of the Western tradition itself. But everyone knows you can teach a course like that in a way that demonises the Western civilisation inheritance or in a way that explores and even celebrates that inheritance. End of quote.

Anyone who has suffered through an Arts degree in a contemporary university knows that the former is almost always the case. Marxist nonsense rules the roost in academe. The unique contribution of the West is routinely derided as ?racism? and ?colonialism? (the massive and brutal colonialism of Islam, on the other hand, is rarely mentioned). The negligible contributions of ?Others? are trumpeted and given unmerited prominence. Quote:

Even if a course is sponsored with a title such as ?The development of political liberalism in medieval Europe?, it could well end up having an effective subtitle like: ?Critical theory insights into demonising the other in the Christo-authoritarian patriarchy of racist medieval Europe?. End of quote.

The West isn?t perfect, but the West is the best. Millions of migrants from the non-West demonstrate that fact with their feet, year in, year out. Quote:

This moment is a pivot point in our history not just because it demonstrates what has happened to our universities?the ANU case demonstrates once more how deeply illiberal our universities have become End of quote.

As Niall Ferguson says, the left has been openly undermining Western civilisation for decades. The ?Long March through the institutions? is the literal strategy, coined in the late 1960s by Marxist theorists, of infiltrating and white-anting the institutions of the West. It has been extraordinarily successful in the Humanities especially. Up to 20% of some disciplines openly identify as Marxists. Many more identify as ?activists? and ?radicals?. Almost none as ?conservative?. Quote:

Ramsay has a model that would work in a different time and context from Australia today. It should bite the bullet and set up its own institution. Liberal arts colleges devoted to the great books of Western civilisation are a treasured and prestigious part of the US landscape.

Alternatively, it could support smaller institutions that won?t have the prestige of the sandstone universities but are actually committed to Western civilisation. What it must not do is flush its money down the drain of the grossly illiberal and stifling orthodoxy that rules so much of the cultural life of our existing big universities. End of quote.