Saturday, March 05, 2011

Academic affairs

He's not the first and no doubt not the last,

It’s evidence of a towering intellect at work – an aspect of Saif’s personality we know escaped people who met him and even tried to teach him.
And the odd million quid made no difference at all, obviously. The tangled morality drama continues with revelations about Anthony Giddens' jolly to Libya, the fruits of which you can read here.* He won't be the only one cringing at the moment, Benjamin Barber's "recipe for peace and partnership" will be a piece he will regret for ever more.

This is much more than a story about gullibility, it reflects the difficulties faced by universities as they are driven to find funding from ever more dubious sources and an associated abandoning of an academic ethic in favour of a commercial one. The dilemmas are often real enough, would I have turned down that sort of money for adult education? Mind you, I doubt if the proceeds of the systematic looting of a nation would ever be offered to anything so humble and this points to something else.

The use of prestigious educational institutions to enhance the reputations of dodgy regimes is a lot cheaper, and far more respectable, than buying a football club and is an opportunity made more available by the amoral temptations inherent in unpredictable and inadequate funding. But this is not all. These deals only come to those at the top of the system and are grasped often as a way of keeping the elite in the elite. I can't see a queue of Russian oligarchs and Gulf State potentates lining up to buy Swinton Rugby League Club. Morals are being abandoned to hold on to status as much as to maintain financial viability. After all, status and power are such comfortable bedfellows.

At least one leader has fallen, yet the main one clings on and no PR company will help him, only Western dithering and available fire-power matters here.

*And if you think that is embarrassing try reading The Third Way.

No comments: