Is academic thinking dead?
No, but it has been infected by the same sophistry that killed journalism, and unless fresh new ideas are allowed to be incubated in those rigid halls, it will suffer the same fate as journalism.
I have a lot to say about this topic, but I am going to start with an unlikely publication and person.
RT has an article by “cultural philospher” Slavoj Zizek whose sophistry-filled article is interesting in its absolute blindness that is becoming increasingly frequent among the scholarly set.
Academia used to be the place to foster bold and new radical paradigms of thinking: not just content, but also structure.
But there was always a subtextual understanding that this was not The One Rule That Explains Everything (TORTEE), and that the next generation would find flaws, and then push forward.
Yet over time, scripts and ego began to pollute the profession the way it did for journalism. Once upon a time, you had media critics writing about journalism’s misses. I did, for instance, even as I worked as a journalist.
But then journalists didn’t want to do any work or ever admit they were flawed, and that fell out of favour to their ruin.
The same is happening to scholarly thought.
You would think that by now, the binary Left-Right would have been acknowledged to be a failure, and that we need to find new structures of opinion-based thought.
No dice. Politics is a mere football game where people mindlessly cheer for one side or another.
Zizek’s article is such a case of an alleged intellectual being binary:
Steve Bannon's Brussels plans threaten Europe's liberal legacy
A “liberal legacy.” How cute. An old and archaic mode of thought, and I wouldn’t exactly call any nation in Europe “liberal.” It is the same patriarchal and patronizing script with no flexibility. No new ideas are being generated over there; so if that is the legacy Zizek is referring to in his piece, that is not a very good one to have.
But if the Western Europe’s old school whitebread model of “liberalism” was so hot, you wouldn’t have millions of people abandoning it because it is not working for them. You wouldn’t have Steve Bannon going over there to court an already established Right-wing base. The premise is absurd.
So, here is an academic who makes a big assumption (that Liberalism is the gold standard that cannot be questioned nor its results scrutinized), doesn’t question why someone like Bannon is wasting time and money to go there (because there is already an established base), and then his solution is for Liberals to align with the Radical Left.
If I do not like food that is a little spicy, you are not going to win me over with food that is extremely spicy if I do not like your spice. You are creating factions and setting a continent up for war, and given Europe’s perpetual explosive temper tantrums, that is a very bad idea.
Worse, radical leftism has been tried and has failed. Why?
Because it doesn’t work.
So Zizek’s solution is for somewhat wrong-headed people to go with completely wrong-headed people. That will merely make matters worse.
What he is actually suggesting is that a church (and politics is a church without a god), become an extremist cult. That’s just cracking.
But in all this scheming and conniving, we have someone who is educated doing nothing that resembles thinking. It has no basis in reality.
Because if it did, the question should have been what is flawed with our current political structure and are the other ways of conducting that are more constructive and unifying?
Of course there is. Politics in its current form is patriarchal.
What it needs is a matriarchal structure.
Matriarchal is a web with a nucleus at its core. It is flexible and isn’t binary or one-dimensional, and and current political thought is one dimensional.
That is as one dimensional as you can possibly get.
And it is all tit-for-tat tweaking where people abandon sensible ideas just because they want to pretend that are completely different from people who hold a different worldview. It breeds immaturity and competitiveness, after all, you have a scholar suggest to go to the extreme opposite just because he doesn’t like the other side.
Binary patriarchal political thought is by the numbers and confines thought. It deifies the in-group as it demonizes an out-group. It is bigoted and prejudicial by its very nature. It creates ideological othering and intolerance for everyone on the Right and on the Left.
Because they both use the same structure of thought, meaning they are alike, but just vying for power and to force people with different worldviews into submission.
But scholars should know this dilemma by now, but instead of doing something constructive about it, they picked a side and are trying to rig the outcome instead of finding the solution where everyone can benefit from it.
The answer is not to go more extreme or push toward the fringe. Neither extreme Left nor extreme Right have any sense of reality. They are the tyrants who must be dealt with before bloodshed happens.
The solution is to foster not a centrist approach, but a radical centrist approach where we finally break the cycle of one-dimensional thinking and start creating a multi-dimensional matrix of thought where we do not virtue-signal, create pecking orders, or are reduced to the primitivism of Us Versus Them.
Because there is no Them. There is only Us Versus Us.
That was the job of academics who gloriously blew it and hedged their bets on the Left who are rapidly losing ground and becoming just as unhinged as their ideological rivals. Pride makes individuals and collectives unteachable, and when you become insensitive and selfish, you lose even more in the bargain.
But the trouble is, people become so spiteful and petty, they will willingly give up all of their rights and freedoms if it means people they disagree with all lost them all, too.
That will be academia’s legacy: that they passively stuck to scripts instead of actively came up with new structures of thinking.
Academia isn’t dead, but it has become infected with a very bad disease.
And if it is left untreated, they will become irrelevant…