Features January 2017
Ideology as a vocation
On the echoes of German intellectual history in today’s academic troubles.
Until the advent of Anglo-American campus illiberalism, the collapse of academic resistance to Hitler in the 1930s appeared almost incomprehensible. It is only now, when the universities of our own time seem sometimes to be intent upon destroying their own raison d’être, that we can begin to understand how the intellectual elites of Germany, the cultural vanguard of the era, could have succumbed to the most monstrous doctrine of modern times. The story of this self-immolation is salutary for us because, though we know how the story of the German university ended, we do not know how far the betrayal of science and the humanities with which we are now confronted almost daily in our own academic institutions may yet have to go. Perhaps only the prospect of the catastrophe that a century ago befell some of the world’s greatest centers of learning—a catastrophe from which they have even now not...
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