28 August 2013

in awe of the Alphas

Recently I wrote that accusations of institutionalised ideological bias within the BBC are now more taken for granted as being founded on fact than people generally thought, say, five years ago.
Interestingly, the thesis that the same kind of bias is present in some of Britain’s universities is one which not even the blogosphere seems willing to debate.
Practically the only time I have seen the topic broached by a British writer was when Samuel Brittan commented on it, a few years ago.
Equality serves as an ersatz religion for much of the academic left ... My second intimation [of this] came a few years later on a sabbatical at Nuffield College, Oxford where I found almost universal acceptance of some kind of material equality as a goal, which maybe had to be traded off reluctantly against some incentive payments for the sake of economic efficiency.
Nuffield College typifies a certain part of the Oxford intelligentsia, though perhaps not the part most people think of in connection with the University. More ‘modern’ and ‘rationalist’ than the average Oxbridge college, it has a somewhat stiflingly technocratic atmosphere, evidently seeing itself as a locus for issuing pronouncements about the way the world should be run.
Mildly caricaturing, if you take the flavour of a totalitarian dystopia movie and cross it with that of an earnest but yoof‑y New Labour think tank, then you’ve approximately got it.
I believe humour is permitted there, but only if it expresses a suitably enlightened position. Ridiculing conservatives, for example, goes down well.