University of Sydney staff opposed to the possibility of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation setting up there (CMM yesterday) are moving the dispute to ground of their choice.
“Many academics who oppose the centre and all it stands for have a tendency to believe that, faced with the prospect of another major ideological fight, abstention is the only smart attitude. Let’s oppose Ramsay on academic freedom, not on the ‘western canon’, they urge,” This is “wholly mistaken,” Nick Riemer, writes in a manifesto published yesterday in the Sydney Review of Books.
“No study of the cultural legacies of the European and English-speaking worlds can be predicated on their necessary exemplification of some ‘western’ essence, however hybrid, still less on their distinctive excellence in comparison to other global traditions or – the unspoken but obvious corollary – their manifest destiny to conquer the global landscape of ideas,” Dr Riemer writes.
This is smart politics, a move to less discredit than dismiss as irrelevant any case university management might make that the Ramsay Centre can be accommodated on campus without eroding academic standards and university autonomy. Instead Dr Reimer argues it is just does make the academic grade.
“Of course, conservatives have a place in the university – to do academic work applying academic standards, not to front a scholarly cash for comment scheme.”