We all know academia is in trouble. In fact, we're not even sure it can be saved. To put it simply, the university is dying. To be sure, it's a strange death, however, because the university is in some sense going back to its roots, returning to being theological seminaries, though in a completely new religion. That religion is the transformative religion of Dialectical Leftism, and its materialist watchword in the 21st century is “Sustainability.” In this New Discourses Podcast series, host James Lindsay takes the listener through a 2022 UNESCO book, Knowledge-driven Actions: Transforming Higher Education for Global Sustainability, that calls upon all “higher education institutions” to transform themselves so that they align, promote, and help complete the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a part of the 2030 Agenda.
In this first episode of the series, Lindsay goes through the preliminary materials, including a foreword that explicitly grounds the entire purpose of the document in the work of the Critical Marxist Herbert Marcuse. “Transformation is the red thread running through all the Sustainable Development Goals,” we're told in the first sentence of the foreword. The goal in this executive summary is clear. The university must be transformed. It must be made into a think tank that services the UN 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals meant to achieve it. All institutions of higher education, colleges, universities, seminaries, and beyond, must be bound and oriented in this one particular Neo-Communist direction. They must abandon their missions and take up the core value of sustainability, on the UN's agenda-driven terms. They must install “sustainability officers” and refuse to engage in any activity that supports “non-sustainable” practices. Join James and be shocked at what the United Nations thinks it can coerce the world's colleges into doing.
In Part 2 of the series, host James Lindsay takes the listener through the first chapter, the introduction, to this manipulative UNESCO document. Sustainability is made out clearly to be a cult-religious concept, a new theological object to bind and orient the university so that the Neo-Communist agenda can be accomplished through it. Sustainability will come to guide how institutions think, operate, research, and teach, and they will serve as beacons for this new faith to the communities around them. Sustainability is to become our “New Sensibility,” just like Herbert Marcuse called for in the second chapter of his 1969 Essay on Liberation. Sustainability as the tyranny of the 21st century is to become the mode and model for all institutions of higher education, including colleges, universities, seminaries, and more. Join James to hear about how the universities are to be transformed into the cathedrals of this new backwards cult religion.
In this third episode of the series, host James Lindsay takes the listener through the second chapter of this manipulative UNESCO document. In this chapter, the concepts of “multidisciplinarity,” “interdisciplinarity,” and “transdisciplinarity” are forwarded with the clear intention of creating a pretext for bringing activists and activism from the arts, humanities, and social sciences into positions of authority over the natural sciences. Science cannot survive this long-sought-after push by activism into its domain, and it will usher in nothing less than a new era of “sustainable” Lysenkoism. Join James to hear about how universities themselves will be turned into the vehicles that ultimately kill science, at least in the West, and to hear a rousing call to scientists and academics that this, in fact, is their hill to die on.
In this fourth and final episode of the series, host James Lindsay takes the listener through the third chapter of this manipulative UNESCO document. (Chapters four and five are left as homework!) This chapter features one of the most dangerous and manipulative concepts to come out of the Woke Marxist movement, not least thanks to the work done by Paulo Freire: other ways of knowing. In this chapter, you can hear how the “ways of knowing” in the natural sciences have to be adjusted, modified, and made pluralistic alongside activism, the arts, humanities, and the social sciences, especially feminism and “Indigeneity” in service to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030. All knowledge must serve the new regime, and all knowing systems have to be redesigned to serve its agendas. This is truly the death of the university in the making, and it is a strange death from within, indeed. Join James to hear about how truth is to be replaced by agenda throughout what used to be deserving of being called universities.
Sources and links
Part 1: The Red Thread
Part 2: A New Sensibility
Part 3: The Strange Death of Science
Part 4: The Strange Death of Knowledge