Education, Politics, Universities

Propping Up Bad Ideas

Thursday, 25th February 2021

Yet another attempt by far right Florida Republicans to not let the market speak for itself, but try to predetermine what people should take in university based on a BS idea of what leads to jobs and what doesn’t. This is just attempted thought control, brought on by the fact that Republicans can’t win the war of ideas so they have to resort to minimizing those ideas and disincentivizing those who might be interested in them. What they want, as I’ve said many times, is the mall of ideas, not the marketplace of ideas. They want the store shelves stocked with the stuff they like, and they want the shoppers to buy those ideas as if there were no others that were better.

Standard disclaimers – no not every idea from conservatives is bad. But any of these categories in the US, like “conservative”, “liberal”, even “socialist”, is highly malleable and dependent on the time and place. For these people, “conservative” basically means “ideas we and our people like and what pisses off liberals”, while “liberal” means “stuff we don’t like”.

So, if we just look at what these reactionaries do, rather than what they say, we can see what they stand for, or rather, what they stand against, which is the same thing. They stand for what they think will make people lots of money (whether it will or not is another question) and, equally importantly, keep them docile and prone to consume.

Their idea of the university is literally just a job training depot. All the complex problems of the modern world should not be solved by careful examination and research, by bringing the best minds into conversation, by interdisciplinary teams, but by the market. This market fundamentalism is not defended, nor can it be. It is an evangelical faith, revealed by…someone, Ayn Rand maybe, or some other dimly understood, overly simplified philosopher or economist. Like I say, it’s not that many conservative ideas are not considered, it is that they have been considered and found wanting. They appeal only to their own literature and their own faith basis. And so, they need to be propped up politically.

That’s what this is – propping up a version of education that can’t stand up to real scrutiny and real research. Where’s the research that says we should only train people in something that leads to a job? How do we know this? How do we know the jobs of the future? Is it any job, or an approved list of jobs? What about people with multiple skill areas? What about a Steve Jobs, who was as much a design and art person as he was a technology person? This is a vacuous plan, made by resentful, small people who can’t win their arguments by reason. This is Republicanism today.

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