First They Came…

I’m sure everyone within our so-called “profession” has by now heard the news concerning what occurred in Louvain with the firing of Stéphane Mercier.

Over at the DailyNous, at present there is only one post on the topic. Leiter hasn’t even touched it. Compare that to the amount of coverage DailyNous and Leiter devoted to the Cheryl Abbate affair, which consisted largely of rushing to her defense. For sane philosophers to sit idly by in the hopes that it won’t get worse isn’t going to work anymore. Do you really think for a second that the hordes of chaos have any intention of letting up? Yes, they suffered an embarrassment when the Ludlow job blew up in their face. No matter: they’ll still proceed full steam ahead.

If you disagree, consider what we have all been conditioned to tolerate as par for the course, and what no one in the profession is still willing to criticize openly:

Yale just hired a narcissist for being confused about her gender, while Louvain fired Mercier for standing up for the lives of the unborn. That, I would say, summarizes the pathetic state of the modern University today.

This is a sick and dying profession, and all the moral cowards who sat by for years and said and did nothing, just hoping it would magically go away, well, there’s no escaping reality now. You didn’t want to risk your job, and now, because of your cowardice, you very well might have it taken from you anyway.

The fact is that you reap what you sow, and the chickens have come home to roost.

If you do somehow manage to end up making it safely to retirement by not fighting back, well, good for you, but the price may well be your soul.

That Single Individual

Striving to be set apart from the shrewdness of today's world of academic philosophy, That Single Individual does philosophy in the hope that his work might stir others to faith in Jesus. This flippant disregard for career idolatry has made him unpopular in certain circles, a fact he only considers cause for thanksgiving, since it means he knows something the placement directors and esteemed chairs won't admit to anyone, especially themselves: there are in fact fates worse than never becoming an assistant professor!

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  1. CRD, sorry to see that your previous comment was eaten. i I did see it, so let me address it.

    For those who didn’t see it, CRD raised the fair question: am I not being hypocritical by saying here anonymously that we should openly oppose these agendas?

    I thought about addressing that objection in the post itself, but ultimately I decided to leave it to the comments where it would inevitably arise. There are a few things to say, I think.

    First, I’m glad to see that people including Leiter are beginning to openly speak up about the Ludlow imbroglio. We need more of that. But this is one narrow issue, and too many are still scared to take on any of the issues I alluded to in my post.

    Second, I didn’t mean that everyone needs to take to the blogs and openly criticize behavior and trends they think are bad. What I meant (and I could have put this more clearly) is that everyone, regardless of his station in the profession, has an obligation to speak the truth and oppose the evils that are sweeping our profession and the society more generally to the extent he can. What do I mean?

    Suppose you are a graduate student attending your department’s annual placement meeting, and the placement officers are going through their usual spiel about how the market is just so bad, and that it will help your chances to publish and get letters from influential people, etc. What do you do? I’m suggesting that, if you are in that position, rather than sitting there silently fuming about their hypocrisy and lies, you ask them in front of everyone else why they are giving bad advice and not reporting the facts that women and others have a statistical advantage of being hired. See what they say. They will probably hate you, and they will probably make a point of stabbing you in the back down the road. So be it. Don’t let people in our profession perpetuate lies and agendas unchallenged; speak against it to the extent you can in situations in which you have the opportunity.

    Suppose you are a senior professor on a hiring committee. I am not, so I don’t know how these things exactly work, but because human nature is what it is, I can imagine how they probably work. Don’t just roll over and decide to go with the flow. Say what you really think, speak the truth, and do what you can to shame your pushy colleagues who are trying to bully everyone else to do the wrong thing. They might still go ahead with the affirmative action hire, and they’ll probably blacklist you from the department and elsewhere, but you will have a clean conscience, and you’ll have done the right thing. So be it.

    My point, then, is that each of us will find himself in situations where he knows that he can speak the truth, but if we do not, things will only continue to get worse. Being the silent majority has not done anything for us. The vocal minority has simply gone ahead and taken over.

    Third, I should say that I’ve personally done what I can to take my own advice. For what it is worth, I have payed the price big time in a variety of ways. I don’t say that to complain or brag; I say so only because I want you to know that I feel comfortable writing what I did in my post knowing that I’ve fulfilled my own obedience, and that I plan to continue to do so.

    The point of the blog (or at last my own reason for contributing to it) is not to somehow directly change the profession. I post to spread information I think is important, and I try to exhort others to take action in their own individual lives. I don’t think we can take back the profession through blogs; but I think we can use the blogs as a place to encourage each other to walk morally upright lives when we step away from our keyboards. If just one person reads this post and is stirred to take action within his own sphere of influence, then I consider this post a success.

    Hang tough everyone! Be patient and kind, but also be brave. Remember that God is going to bring our lives into judgment one day, so we need to be true!


    So if you defend the magisterium of the Catholic Church at a “Catholic university” you get sacked?

  3. I agree with your views here, yet I think you hiding behind a pseudonym is a case of the tea kettle calling the pot black. You’re certainly no bill valicella or jordan peterson by maintaining your anonymity on some obscure right-wing blog.

    • The question of hypocrisy seems complicated. Vallicella doesn’t depend financially on a university and Peterson has tenure. The author may be an impoverished junior professor or adjunct or grad student, so the comparison with these other guys might be unfair. It’s not hypocritical to ask others to do what you would do if you were in their situation.

      If you’re a right winger or just a classical liberal, you’re a dissident. What are your moral obligations? What each person is obligated to do will depend on their situation. I have kids who depend on me, and my position is very insecure; my obligations are weaker than those of a tenured person with no kids.

      Two things we should do unless our situation is very rare and extreme:

      (1) Refuse to go along with the lies and policies of the system to the extent that’s possible without incurring serious losses or harms to ourselves or our dependents. There’s still a lot we can do (or refrain from doing) in this respect. For example, at the very least people can be _silent_ when some PC bullshit comes up rather than pretending to agree.

      (2) Argue against the most important general principles and values of the system within existing professional or legal or social constraints. For example, depending on your situation you might lose everything if you argue in public that abortion is wrong or that some races lack the natural intellectual abilities of others. But you still can (probably, in most places) present very rigorous arguments for _skepticism_ about prevailing dogmas and taboos. Explore the question of why diversity is supposed to be good or better than homogeneity, presenting killer arguments for skepticism but leaving it unclear (or plausibly deniable) that you actually are skeptical. Knock down the shoddy autonomy arguments for abortion rights–this is just an exercise in logic and critical thinking. Doing this will definitely raise real doubts in the minds of students who are educable and interested, and you can talk outside of class more honestly. Or in faculty meetings raise pointed questions; you don’t have to show that your answer is the ‘bad’ one, but just raising questions seriously may do some good.

      Pathetically, many tenured people who know the score don’t even do (1) and (2). And _that_ seems wrong and despicable.

      I don’t think most people are obligated to destroy themselves by arguing for what is actually true about these things (and admitting they know the truth). People have to be realistic in figuring out how likely it is they’ll be destroyed. But if every dissident had been doing just (1) and (2) for the past 30 years, this degeneracy would probably be much less advanced now and easier to attack directly.

    • What are you talking about, Tom? No one here wanted to be anonymous. No one can take credit for any post. There is no glory. No money. No pat on the back. No compensation. Just a love for philosophy (the real thing and not social activism), a desire for a better profession, and a willingness to do one’s small part to create an avenue for alternative views.

      The pot calling the kettle black would be us complaining about the anonymity of the feminist philosophers website, etc. But I do not recall anyone doing that.

  4. “This is a sick and dying profession, and all the moral cowards who sat by for years and said and did nothing, just hoping it would magically go away, well, there’s no escaping reality now. You didn’t want to risk your job, and now, because of your cowardice, you very well might have it taken from you anyway.”

    The leftists and careerists in academia aren’t going to have their jobs taken away. But you seem to think that the people who are now in jeopardy are “moral cowards” who didn’t stand up and fight earlier. But that would mean the moral cowards are the (the small number of) right-wing philosophers. Are they really the ones we should be focusing the blame upon? Did they really ever have a chance to fight back in a meaningful way that would have stopped the current state of affairs from manifesting?

    • Schopenhammer,

      I would disagree with the idea that leftists and careerists aren’t going to have their jobs taken away, too. That is exactly what happened to Ludlow, and that explains why so many people are finally coming to his aid, but still ignoring someone like Mercier who is not a leftist. What happened to Ludlow hit too close to home. It was a wake-up call for many in the profession that no one is immune from Great Purge.

      So, my post was not directed exclusively or even primarily at “right-wingers” who have said nothing over the last twenty or thirty years as this plague was growing. It is addressed mainly to the leftist careerists who have largely done nothing to speak out against what has happened to our profession, because they were too afraid to face the consequences, and wanted to believe that it wouldn’t concern them anyway, because they are leftists. My point is that their decision to keep quiet didn’t work, because now we’re facing a state of affairs where people have been and will continue to be fired anyway. And no one is immune.

      We are, as Hellie wrote, living in a climate of fear.

      My simple advice is that everyone should face that fear and overcome it by speaking the truth when and where it’s appropriate in their own daily life during the business of the profession.

    • TSI, it is true that _some_ leftists will lose their jobs due to man-hating sexual behavior policies. But the language of your post suggests that now these people are in serious danger. They’re not. Leftists and careerists can almost all truly say “it probably won’t happen to me”. In comparison, it’s _more_ risky to push back. Doing that will almost certainly get you enemies, tarnish your reputation in the field, and, depending upon your institution, jeopardize your job. In contrast, the risk of getting taken out by the left’s own policies is low.

  5. I agree with Jacques when he says, “The question of hypocrisy seems complicated. Vallicella doesn’t depend financially on a university . . . .”

    No one should imagine that I am a paragon of civil courage. I’ve made mine and have no need for a job. It takes a little civil courage for me to speak the untimely truth, but not much. This is why I would never criticize TSI or any of you who are not yet established or retired for using pseudonyms.

    You should be cautious and never underestimate how vile and vicious leftists can be.

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