For it is plain, that every word we speak is, in some degree, a diminution of our lungs by corrosion; and consequently contributes to the shortening of our lives.And so, too, every word we type is a diminution of our fingers by corrosion, and the vice of blogging, in truth, contributes if not to the shortening of life, at least to its squandering. Still—squander we must, squander we must.
— Lemuel Gulliver, Works, Vol. IV, Book III.
Mencius is in favour—pardon, in favor—of abolishing universities: 'the university, which was established as a refuge whose purpose was to pursue truth without regard for the opinions of the world, has become a power center whose purpose is to impose its own opinions on the world. As such it has no more use for independent thought than a dog has for beets'. He further claims that 'universities are directly responsible for almost all the violence in the world today'. His post is full of stories about academic ill-practice. And so Mencius wants the 'Henry VIII treatment—unconditional abolition and confiscation'. And he's in good company, as his readers snap and bite with gusto at the dripping, dishevelled limbs of Academia.
One wonders, though—if this terrible plan were executed, if the universities were abolished and their inhabitants scattered to the winds—who would be left to defend the world against racism, sexism, and homophobia? Who would remain to combat the statist and imperialist marches of the Bush dynasty? Who would be there to show us the truth about Hegel (liberal), Shakespeare (subversive) or even Plutarch (bigot)? Who would be called upon to fill up television shows with their opinions on Seurat and/or Rodrigo Rato?
And moreover, what haven would there be for cloudminded codicophiles and functionshirkers like myself? The cold city does not beckon. The dim looming of pixels and cordless mouses, of bonds and pensions, conservative suits, readers of Alain de Botton—of a life without dust, vellum and hot air, without glorious idling—less glorious than of old, granted, but glorious a little nonetheless, and all at the expense of others—without impressionable acolytes to be scorned and inspired on alternate days, without that charming community of men and women who genuinely believe they're doing something useful, brings out the shudders in me, and all the terrors of tenure and theory and undergraduate apathy fade into utter insignificance by comparison.