Politics vs. Politics

«Politics is downstream from Culture.»
Andrew Breitbart
«Culture is downstream from Education.»
James Lindsay

One comment I have heard a lot recently is that this blog is too political — and that being political, when you teach students, is unprofessional.

And yeah, I get that some more activist teachers are confused at the moment, but bear with me.

There is this argument that if you teach, for example, at a university, you should not talk about your political views. Because students might be influenced by it. And frankly, I think that is — on the one hand — an incredibly low view of students. As if they would change their actual views, just because a lecturer thinks a certain way. And — on the other hand — it’s an incredible high view of students. As if they were smart enough to actually manipulate lecturers by faking a specific political position.

But yeah. That’s a rather common view. No matter that as a reviewer, I keep my personal opinion in check when I review papers or theses. I mean, I did review a thesis that promoted eating less meat, while eating beef jerky during the defense. And yeah, not while she was watching, I am not that much of an asshole, but yeah, I have my own position. So has everyone else. It’s kinda like an asshole. The important point is to keep it closed when it matters. And it matters when you judge the merit of a position.

So yeah, I don’t think that having a personal specific political view — if this could even be gauged by a couple of postings — is a problem.

But even more importantly, I don’t think that’s actually the issue. Because I think it would be perfectly fine to be outspoken about political issues, if the person has the right (currently more: the left) political views.

Because let’s be honest. There are a lot of political issues most universities do not have a problem with. Have an LGBT flag on your door? Likely not a problem. Advocate for so-called «vaccinations» against Covid, hell, the mayor and the chancellor exert pressure to «get the jab». They would be hard-pressed to gainsay. Fighting against climate change, no problem. (Short intermezzo: There is this story about an elephant stepping on an anthill. The ants swarm out, craw on the elephant, who notices the ants and shakes itself. All of the ants fall down, except one, who makes it a long way up the elephant. The other ants look up at that ant and shout «Strangle him, Erwin!» And yeah, similar to that joke, some people have delusions of power.). Help Ukraine (21.03.2022), also likely promoted.

But don’t you dare to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy!

Discussion, debate, about topics that actually matter (e.g., those you might not discuss/debate about), yikes.

And yeah, I can understand it in a certain way. After all, if you were to discuss, e.g., same-sex marriages, you’d get the «my life/identity/self is not part of a public discussion». And yeah, I totally agree. You do you. If it works out, it will work out in the long run. I mean, some people leave memes, not genes. And I do not mean the Pepe-the-frog kind of memes. I mean ideas that are conveyed through generations. Good ideas, scientific ideas. And that is a legacy. You do not actually have to have children. At least, not today. Well, if memory holds. After all, people do remember a few 2000+ year ideas. Hopefully, they do remember a few very good ideas of the last centuries.

But you know what «you do you» also implies? I do me. And my freedom is not part of some very, very strange kind of collective freedom. What I believe I believe. And I stand behind.

And yeah, the personal dimension makes abstract principles like «equal opportunities» concrete. Because what «equal opportunities» means is not always as straightforward as what some bureaucrats, even those higher up, think. For example, to use one example where it really did matter in recent months, do «equal opportunities» really take everyone into account? Even those who are — gasp — unvaccinated? And yeah, you might think being vaccinated is better. Congratulations. Now how is this different from having the right religion? The right political view? Oh, it’s science? And we should just follow it? Well, tough luck, science is open to disconfirmation. That is the major advantage of science. And those people who sacrifice it for «easy» research money? Well, I can understand them, but I can also understand putting two bullets in their neck.

Just kidding. Somewhat.

Because I dream. Of the stars. Of becoming more than we were. Of leaving Earth. Of just snapping those ties that bind us.

And looking at what science can do, I have no … understanding, well, yeah, I do understand them, but I have no tolerance for the people who are invested in a deep bureaucracy and go for political opportune positions. Who turn science into an annex for those in power. And making it sterile for anything else.

Science prospers if there are many different views. Left, center, and right. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed. Discipline x, y and z. Everything from so-called «hard-core» science to «but you’re not really science, aren’t you?». To quote Star Trek, when it was actually inspiring (instead of flashy), «Infinite diversity in infinite combinations». And to put it differently, to allow for the cross-fertilization of ideas.

Because that how we actually advance.