Decay of Humanities in Anglo-Saxon World
Science sans conscience n’est que ruine de l'âme.
Science without conscience is but ruin of the soul.
Each year a list of the best universities in the world is created by various institutions in order to inform the masses of future students about the best place to get the piece of paper, known as a bachelor’s degree, which will allow them to enter the neo-liberal job market, its wage slavery and its programmed destruction of human dignity. Since its takeover by the corporate world the university has become an extension of this obscene farce and has, as a consequence, sold its very soul. Any honest academic in the West knows now fully well that those lists are but a lie and that universities in the Anglo-Saxon world are no longer the harbour of knowledge they once used to be when it comes to Humanities. New disciplines have appeared in Western academia that in the past would have been taught in the context on a vocational college or an apprenticeship. If I told you that you can nowadays get a PhD in accounting from the university of Oxford you would probably laugh at the very thought of it before being shocked at what is, unfortunately the reality of the situation. In other words the merchants of Athen’s fish market have not only taken over the school of Plato, they are now telling him what to teach. One cannot think of a worse state of affairs than this one. Given that a university diploma is now perceived as a necessary condition to get even the most menial of jobs these days, such as being a barista at Starbucks, and that politicians have to satisfy the desires of the market for servile wage slaves, the entrance standards for universities have been lowered to such a point that it is now safe to say that the majority of the students in Western universities do not meet the standards required for a healthy functioning of a decent academic institution. If I told you that I had to deal with students who in their third year did not know the meaning of the word “negation” or if I told you that most of my students never heard the names of let alone read the works of Plato, Aquinas, Victor Hugo, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky you would probably not believe me but such is unfortunately the case. Is it possible under such conditions to really do our work as academics when our students do not even understand the words and references we use? If academics in the world of humanities are no longer able to do their job as far as teaching and supervising is concerned why are there still departments teaching Humanities? A closer look at the humanities in the Anglo-Saxon world nowadays and more and more so in other countries will demonstrate that these departments fulfil an ideological purpose not a scholarly one.
I do not dispute the fact that there are still brilliant scholars supervising talented students doing doctoral research in the fields of history, religious studies, philosophy or literature. What I am suggesting is not only that these scholars are becoming rare but also that they are being replaced by a cynical and desperate generation of young academics whose function is to satisfy the ideological demands of the neo-liberal paradigm in exchange for job security in an extremely precarious work sector. In this they do not differ much from the political officers from the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Fragile one to two year contracts for young academics tasked with dealing with hordes of half literate science students with no real humanistic culture, the constant worry about their future, ideological pressures and the very harsh reality of the obscenely enormous student loans that need to be paid back forces young academics to forsake their academic integrity for the sake of the demands of the market.
Anglo-Saxon universities are instruments of power through which entire generations of citizens are transformed into de facto slaves through the imposition of exorbitant tuition fees that force most students to take student loans they will have to pay back. The lowering of standards for entrance into universities means several things for both teachers and students. It means that teachers have to dumb down the content of their courses in order for it to be accessible to most students. Many professors face the situation where most of their undergraduate students are unable to understand the text books that are on the curriculum. The students themselves the victims of a cynical and obscene system that dumbed primary and secondary school education on purpose in order not to give them the tools for their own intellectual independence. This probably explains why most talented students in the Anglo-Saxon system are actually foreigners coming most of the time from the former USSR or Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran or Syria where the primary and secondary school system is still rigorous and imparts a good general culture.
In specialized departments such as the departments of religions or Islamic studies it will still be possible to do an in-depth study of 18th century Sufi treatises on Mystical wandering with a competent supervisor but your work will most likely be promoted if you work on “The Homoerotic Dimension on Ashura Rituals”, “The Rise in Non-Marital Relations in Upper Class Tehran” or “The Presence of Sikhs and Hindus in Ashura Rituals in Delhi and Lucknow.” The aim of these studies is to promote the two main ideological paradigms that now dominate the humanities namely: gender studies/feminism and multiculturalism. The open claim of these paradigms within the realm of academia is no longer to promote scholarly research but rather to question traditional ways of living that have shaped human societies for centuries and that constitute the last barrier against the totalitarian neo-liberal takeover of the human being. This is only made possible with the systematic dumbing down of the primary and secondary education systems through reforms promoting the idea of universal entrance to university as a right and replacing meritocracy. A crucial moment in this reform process was the marginalization of Latin and Greek in secondary school curricula. This deprived students from not only the necessary basis to understand the cultural framework of much of the Western cultural references but also from an exceptional method of training the mind in sharp analytical skills. New education methods now gently invite students to discover rules for themselves and the result is there for anyone to see: the majority of students in the Anglo-Saxon world not only have problems reading and writing English but lack the minimal culture that was once necessary to enter university. As I said, this was planned carefully by those wanting to shape education into an ideological tool of neo-liberalism. Now that I have explained how this all happened let me get into the very root of this decay. France is now falling victim to this Anglo-Saxon influence and its education system and its humanities are now almost a thing of the past.
Let me take you to the great gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe. These elegant poems made of glass and stone often displayed rose windows with Christ in the middle as the Logos surrounded by smaller logoi who derived their status precisely due to their relation to Him. Likewise when displaying the organization of the sciences theology was invariably displayed at the center of the rose window surrounded by the other sciences. These sciences only made sense in relation to the study of the divine logos. Let me now take you a few centuries closer to us with Raphael’s School of Athens. The fresco represents a group of people meant to represent famous thinkers of the past who sought after the first cause. Plato and Aristotle are represented in the middle of the fresco while other famous thinkers surround them. When contrasting this fresco with the rose windows of the medieval gothic cathedrals one notices straight away who is missing: the Logos. While it is true that Raphael’s fresco is at the Vatican and hence endowed with a suggested reference to Christ the Logos it is still quite notable that He, who according to the Gospel of John is the Logos and source of all things, is absent from the fresco. Let me now take you even closer to our contemporary period. The cover of the 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s album of the Beatles represents Liverpool’s famous pop band surrounded by a range of personalities that include philosophers, Indian gurus, occultists like Crowley, scientists and artists. It is in a sense a parody of the rose window of the cathedrals where the Logos has been replaced by the idols of the neo-liberal entertainment industry, an industry whose task is to deliver the ideological messages of consented slavery of the neo-liberal world where all traditional ties of religion, family and culture have been made obsolete thanks to the promotion of the sexual revolution, the dictatorship of pleasure, the separation of the individual from all traditional bonds and finally its enslavement by neo-liberalism. This album cover is probably the best representation of the university by neo-liberalism: the post-modern end of the great narratives, Plato shares the same platform as Lady Gaga. Neo-liberalism has replaced Christ the Logos at the center of the rose window, the corrupt politicians, fish merchants, jousters, prostitutes and charlatans have invaded Raphael’s School of Athens and are now ordering Plato to teach accounting and gender studies.
What then is the remedy to all this? In other words what lead Heidegger’s translator and of the greatest minds of the 20th century to spend 6 months each year in Iran until his death in 1978? Henry Corbin had correctly identified the problems of the modern West and its consequences on academia. He attempted to seek a cure in ancient Iran, a world that still knows a living sapiential tradition with the divine logos at its center. Unbeknownst to most, the heirs flew to Iran when Byzantine Emperor Justinian shut down Plato's Academy in 529. This lineage of Platonic scholarship not only thrived under the protection of the Sassanian kings but was eventually absorbed by Islamic civilisation. It can be said without exaggeration that great mystical philosophers like Shaykh Javadi Amoli and Shaykh Hasanzadeh Amoli teaching today in the holy city of Qom in Iran can trace their intellectual lineage all the way back to Plato. Shaykh Javadi Amoli recently opened up a new school in Qom: the School of Occidental and Islamic Studies. The traditionalist institution seeks to build bridges between Islam's wisdom traditions and the great mystics of the Christian tradition who are also heirs of Athens.
The cure to the disease of neo-liberalism is the defence of the Logos. The growing number of Christian schools teaching the trivium in America is no doubt a reason for hope. An alliance with Jewish and Muslim educational institutions would give this movement even more strength. The great Sir Roger Scruton's dialogue with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in 2018 at Zaytuna College is an indication that traditional Christians and Muslims not only can, but should come together in order to give back to the Divine Logos the only place it deserves in our educational institutions: the centre of all things. Zaytuna College in Berkeley has been offering a curriculum that combines the trivium with the traditional Islamic sciences and is an example of how authentic Muslim institutions in the West should be.
It is a matter of great concern to me that a great number of academics in the Muslim world still idolize the Anglo-American system and seek to imitate it. They somehow feel they are behind the so-called achievements of that system without realizing that this same idolization is the reason why they are lagging behind. If their aim is to be foot soldiers of the destructive forces of modernity they will always find themselves to be a step behind the avant-garde of modernity. If they wished to care for the hidden treasures of their own civilization instead of indulging in abject submission to an inferior and poisonous system they would be able to offer the world an alternative to the idol they so cherish and accomplish their true duty as servants of true knowledge. As long as they chose to remain in such mental slavery they will not only keep on being behind a model they cannot possibly outrun but they will also be the allies of the hordes that are at war with their own civilisation. A growing number of academics from the Muslim world, who mostly come from upper classes, trained in the post-modern cult of perpetual resentment and victimhood in Anglo-Saxon universities have returned to their home countries and have for a decade launched a systematic program of destruction of their own civilisation creating more chaos in societies in survival mode in dire need of stability. By importing intersectional identity politics to Muslim countries they are skilfully hiding the ruthless exploitation of the conservative working class by the upper class through a plethora of causes borne out of the gender studies departments of Anglo-Saxon universities. Why fight for the rights of the working class who lack access to clean water, electricity, proper education, security, health care and decent wages when you can instead teach to your upper class university students that what matters is fighting for their upper class right to explore their sexuality and to challenge the patriarchy (I.e. the working class)?
The decay of the Humanities in the Anglo-Saxon world affects the whole world and demands a global struggle.
Traditionalists of the world unite!