Of all the people claiming to wage a war on wokery, Professor Eric Kaufmann has arguably gone the furthest – by setting up an academic faculty dedicated to the pursuit. The Telegraph has the details.
Following a 20-year career at London’s Birkbeck University – of which he says the past five years involved multiple “Twitter mobbings” and investigations with “zero credibility” due to his views – its former Head of Politics last week announced the launch of the brand new Centre for Heterodox Social Science (CHSS), where freedom of expression won’t be “distorted by ideology”, as he believes is the now the case on campuses across the U.K.
Based at the University of Buckingham, its first course, ‘Woke: the Origins, Dynamics and Implications of an Elite Ideology’, will launch as a 15-week online programme open to all in January, with a Master’s degree to follow in September. Access to the course materials will cost £80 (rising to £480 for students who want a 90-minute seminar with Prof Kaufmann), with topics to include the origins of liberalism, the rise of “cultural socialism” in the 1960s, and the “public opinion dynamics” driving groups that “support woke ideas”, such as “putting pressure on J.K. Rowling’s publisher to drop her”. The Master’s will focus on “the intersection between the woke Left and the populist Right”, to be charged at university-set rates of around £7,700 per year.
Prof. Kaufmann believes the institute is the first of its kind in Britain. Over the past two decades, he has become concerned by the fact that “universities have become more monocultural”, where “views lean around nine to one, Left to Right, among academics, and the student body is around six to one Left to Right”. Of that group, there is a small yet “radical” cohort, he adds, “who are intolerant; they’re progressive illiberals – and they can make a lot of trouble. They can really damage the speech climate in a university, by exerting pressure on dissenters and also, to some extent, setting the tone, because others are afraid to stand up to their initiatives.”
The end result of language policing, excessive focus on “microscopic harms” and a trend for “no-platforming (refusing someone an opportunity to talk about their beliefs publicly)”, is creating “a less resilient society”, Prof. Kaufmann says, which is “inducing a kind of fragility and a kind of cultural victimhood, which is disempowering”.
Thus far, his course has received enquiries from people “all over the map… some who’ve got PhDs, some who are in university, some who just seem to be ordinary citizens”. It will appeal, he thinks, to “the curious member of the public who wants to understand this cultural revolution that is sweeping through Western societies”.
Prof. Kaufmann says the CHSS is not about making Right-wing views dominant – he describes himself as a “liberal conservative” – but creating a more balanced environment, where “there isn’t the shame, or there isn’t the embarrassment involved in having the minority viewpoint”. These goals are likely to be echoed at the Peterson Academy, Jordan Peterson’s eponymous online learning platform to soft launch next month, which will feature “revolutionary” courses from professors at the likes of MIT, Stanford and Oxbridge.