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How universities entered Cloud Cuckoo Land Aristophanes anticipated the cult capture of our institutions

Welcome to The Clouds. Credit: Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Welcome to The Clouds. Credit: Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency/Getty


January 11, 2023   6 mins

What explains the recent, alarmingly broad and rapid capture of cultural, political, and economic institutions by neo-Marxist identity politics and liberation ideologies? Writing in Tablet, Russell Jacoby argues that the end of the rapid expansion of universities in the late Nineties meant that PhDs in subjects such as “critical pedagogy, insurgent sociology, gender studies, [and] radical anthropology” could no longer find employment in the professoriate. Ideas that for years were confined to the halls of academe spilled forth like seeds from a bursting pod and are now bearing noxious fruit in the larger culture.

In the United States, the results of this process (which, after more than two decades, is still ongoing) have been both ridiculous and tragic. It’s laughable that someone celebrated as “history-making” for being “the first openly genderfluid senior government official” steals ladies’ luggage to supplement his wardrobe. It’s disgraceful that high schools are abandoning advanced placement courses in the name of equity. It’s horrific that violent crimes in minority communities have spiked in the wake of the nationwide push to defund police departments and eliminate cash bail for felonies.

Yet in a deep sense, this is old news. None of these developments would have surprised the ancient Athenian playwright Aristophanes, a brilliant cultural critic who, with the ideologically-driven cancellation of classics, is little studied today and even less understood. Law-breaking, cross-dressing men? Check out his Thesmophoriazusae. Levelling to achieve equality? Read his Assemblywomen, where communistic female rulers infantilise male citizens, and young men must first satisfy the oldest and ugliest women before they are allowed to have sex with their girlfriends. Utopian ideologues who cannibalise the populations they are supposed to serve? Welcome to The Birds’ Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Written during the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes’s make-love-not-war comedies enjoyed a broad resurgence in the era of Vietnam, not least because they resonated with the women’s liberation movement. In Lysistrata — named for its heroine, Dissolver of Armies — the wives and mothers of Athens and Sparta conspire to stop the war by going on a sex strike. Sometime in the late Sixties, my mother took me and my brother to a performance of the play by students at the University of Chicago. The male characters were all walking around with broomsticks poking up under their togas. One of the women announced: “If he won’t come by the hand, take him by the handle”, and then proceeded to drag some hapless fellow off the stage in just this manner. I was about ten years old, and the scene made a great impression on me.

Aristophanes anticipated not only the rebellious and carnivalesque ethos of the Sixties, but the nihilistic cultural repudiation of the 2020s, a nihilism in which the romantic fantasies of late modernity seem inevitably to issue. Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons and Dostoevsky’s Demons observe this phenomenon by showing how the old Russian liberals of the 1840s, who celebrated “the beautiful and lofty”, spawned the young radicals of the 1860s, who regarded their fathers as decadents and hypocrites and excoriated their ideas as sentimental bourgeois slop. (A related example is the transition, in little over a decade, from Star Trek’s utopian future to the cynicism of gritty sci-fi films like Blade Runner and Outland in the early Eighties.)

Aristophanes’ understanding of the relationship between gauzy utopianism and nihilism is grounded in his deep insight into human nature. He saw that our erotic and aggressive instincts are separated by a hair’s breadth, and that indiscriminate compassion is apt to decay, like some radioactive element, into tyranny. He would have regarded the cult of Charles Manson as a predictable consequence of the psychological and political anarchy of the Sixties. He doubtless appreciated Euripides’s characterisation of Dionysus, the theatrical god of intoxication whom the tragedian portrays in the Bacchae as a psychopath, as “most terrible, and yet most gentle to human beings”.

Where do universities fit into this picture? It is in The Clouds, a send-up of the philosopher Socrates, that Aristophanes prophecies the socially destructive effects of contemporary higher education. The play, which debuted in 423 BC, is the first work I know of that occupies itself with the strange new phenomenon of academic cults, and that explores the perennially fraught relationship between schools of radically counter-cultural thinkers and the larger society.

In The Clouds, a family is destroyed by the twisted education a young man receives at the ancient equivalent of a university. Wanting to wriggle out of debts incurred by his son Pheidippides’s excessive spending on horses, a rustic Athenian named Strepsiades proposes to send him to Socrates’s school, the Thinkery, to learn the art of unjust speech. (The historical Socrates in fact had no school, although the Pythagoreans, a contemporaneous philosophical sect, did establish a cloistered academic community.) Strepsiades has heard only confused rumours about what goes on in the Thinkery, but he is strongly impressed by the ability of the “wise souls” who live there to persuade people of patent absurdities, for example, that “the heaven is a stove
 and we are charcoals”. This is Aristophanes’s caricature of the speculations of early Greek physicists.

Pheidippides, a sun-tanned jock who is interested only in racing horses, adamantly refuses his father’s request. He is disgusted by Socrates’s impoverished companions, whom he regards as “boasters, pale, shoeless
[and] miserably unhappy men”. His instinctive reaction is anti-intellectual, perhaps, but nevertheless proves just. And for the many disillusioned students who find that life in graduate school is (to borrow from Hobbes) solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, it rings true today.

Deciding to attend the Thinkery himself, Strepsiades is astonished to find Socrates suspended in a raised basket, looking down, as it seems to him, on the gods of the city. Were it not so spot-on, Socrates’s lofty disdain for religious and civic tradition would be a funny take on the meaning of “higher education” today. When Strepsiades swears by the gods to pay his tuition, Socrates explains that “we don’t credit gods” — literally, “the gods are not current coinage for us”. This remark implies that the Thinkery is its own separate community or polis (city), and that, just as every city mints its own coins, so, too, it mints its own gods. The gods of the Thinkery are Vortex, Aether, and Tongue — in other words, language, which is implicitly assumed not to represent reality but to shape it. In his relativism, atheism, and denial of objective truth, Socrates is the original postmodernist.

Yet Socrates insists that Strepsiades undergo a quasi-religious ceremony of initiation into the ways of the Thinkery, and here Aristophanes strikingly foreshadows the cultish character of contemporary intellectual schools and ideological movements. Socrates makes Strepsiades sit on a “sacred couch” and places a crown on his head, in a parody of the secret religious rites known as the Mysteries, which were supposed to ensure happiness in the afterlife. Tellingly, Strepsiades fears that he is about to be sacrificed. Read today, this episode brings to mind the implicitly pagan character of identity politics and related ideologies. These ideologies, all of which offer a secularised version of salvation through the ritual purgation of ethical and political sin, betray their Marxist roots in imagining a future earthly paradise of equality and justice that is in fact predicated on the sacrificial victimisation of some disfavoured group.

In the Thinkery everything is upside-down. Strepsiades encounters shockingly malnourished students who are doubled over, looking under the earth while their anuses study astronomy. Their education is literally preposterous, backside-in-front. Socrates investigates inane matters, like how far fleas can jump in flea-feet, which requires delicately fitting them with little wax booties. The things between the heavens and the underworld, the great celestial spheres and the tiniest insects, hold little interest for him. Socrates lectures Strepsiades on the proper formation of masculine and feminine nouns, but human life and well-being are for the most part studiously ignored in the Thinkery. The exception is a debate in which Unjust Speech vanquishes Just Speech by observing that the Athenians are “buggered” — universally and hopelessly corrupt. With cheerless students, pointless research, and a curriculum that involves exposing pervasive injustice, the Thinkery looks a lot like a 21st-century university.

Expelled because he is forgetful and dull, Strepsiades finally compels Pheidippides, who has no interest in anything but horse-racing, to enter the Thinkery. When he comes home from school, he quickly defeats his father’s creditors in argument. Strepsiades rejoices, yet, like all-too-many parents welcoming their sons and daughters home from university for the holidays, he is soon horrified to discover that Pheidippides has learned to repudiate his entire cultural inheritance. “How pleasant it is,” the young man declares, “to consort with novel and shrewd matters, and to be able to look down on the established laws and customs.” He berates his father’s old-fashioned ideas, beats him, and, to add insult to injury, uses sophistical arguments to make him admit that his behaviour is just. But when he threatens to beat his mother, Strepsiades is driven to burn down the Thinkery.

Like all great comedians, Aristophanes makes us laugh at things that might otherwise make us cry. His surviving corpus of 11 comedies is a distant but revealing mirror of our current ideological insanity, and this is especially true of The Clouds. For almost a millennium, universities served society by preserving, extending, and transmitting hard-won knowledge. They were rewarded for their essential role as cultural custodians and incubators of innovation with generous government support.

Perversely, they began to abandon that role just as the share of college graduates in the population exploded (increasing in the United States from less than 8% to more than 37% between 1960 and 2020). Particularly in the humanities and social sciences, advanced educational attainment has come to mean having suffered what Aristophanes suggests is a kind of intellectual buggery. The proliferation of Thinkeries in higher education would be of less concern were uninformed citizens not still rushing their doors in hopes of gaining admission for their children. As Aristophanes understood, it’s not the people who have entered our universities that are torching our society. It’s the ones who’ve left.


Jacob Howland is Provost and Dean of the Intellectual Foundations Program at the University of Austin.


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Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Lovely article – and very illuminating. However, I suspect the explanation for the ills affecting our universities is rather more prosaic than suggested.

I studied politics at a provincial university in the late seventies. Most of the academics who taught me were barely older than I was. None had any experience of life outside the education system. I was bemused even then by their unquestioning acceptance of absurdities that anyone with an adult’s experience of the wider world would find laughable. The Labour Theory of Value, for example, which was almost an article of faith amongst my teachers.

The dogmatism and hostility to debate that we see now was present then too.

That was forty years ago, before the great New Labour expansion of higher education and the dumbing down that came with it. So I’ suggest that it’s not so much that the lunatics have taken over the asylum, but that the children have.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Problem is that it is impossible to have challenging university education for 50% of the population.
I recall reading that proper university courses and then many professions requires IQ of at least 115.
Which means it is statistically impossible to create university level education for 50% of population without dumbing down.
Hence proliferation of courses in “soft” subjects.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

More like 80% of the population. 60% is within one standard deviation and 115 is around the upper bound of that. 40% left and half of that would be below. 60% + 40%/2 = 80%.
And the real tragedy is that there are many fairly and often quite well paying professions in the skilled trades that don’t require nearly as much in the way of IQ, but kids have been taught that working with your hands is somehow demeaning. No more shop classes in high school. Few vocational schools left, and most of those are making or repairing circuit boards. We need carpenters and plumbers and electricians and welders and machinists and mechanics. We need people to repair our refrigerators and stoves and air conditioners. We need those who do Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs”.
One requirement I’d put in even further down is a final test to get a high school diploma. The GED, which is an equivalence alternate for those who didn’t graduate but need to prove that they could have if whatever life threw at them made them quit early hadn’t happened and that they learned in the real world what they would have had to learn to graduate “properly”. It’s only a 10th grade equivalent, so a 12th grader who has learned what they should have learned should have no trouble passing it. But I’d almost guarantee that almost 50% of those getting that piece of paper saying they graduated high school wouldn’t be able to pass it.
They are getting a high school diploma while being functionally illiterate and innumerate. But they *think* they actually know what that piece of paper says they do and find it doesn’t get what it used to get in the way of jobs out in the real world. Then they think that the world is against them somehow because look, I graduated high school just like everyone else, so why can’t I get the same jobs as everyone else?
Most colleges will admit (if you ask the right person), that the first year (or sometimes two) of college is mostly spent learning things that they should have learned in high school. Then add the dumbing down on top of all that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Diane Merriam
Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Slightly disappointed no-one has referenced George Carlin’s observation on ‘the average American’. Amusing (as ever) and observably true…

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

More like 80% of the population. 60% is within one standard deviation and 115 is around the upper bound of that. 40% left and half of that would be below. 60% + 40%/2 = 80%.
And the real tragedy is that there are many fairly and often quite well paying professions in the skilled trades that don’t require nearly as much in the way of IQ, but kids have been taught that working with your hands is somehow demeaning. No more shop classes in high school. Few vocational schools left, and most of those are making or repairing circuit boards. We need carpenters and plumbers and electricians and welders and machinists and mechanics. We need people to repair our refrigerators and stoves and air conditioners. We need those who do Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs”.
One requirement I’d put in even further down is a final test to get a high school diploma. The GED, which is an equivalence alternate for those who didn’t graduate but need to prove that they could have if whatever life threw at them made them quit early hadn’t happened and that they learned in the real world what they would have had to learn to graduate “properly”. It’s only a 10th grade equivalent, so a 12th grader who has learned what they should have learned should have no trouble passing it. But I’d almost guarantee that almost 50% of those getting that piece of paper saying they graduated high school wouldn’t be able to pass it.
They are getting a high school diploma while being functionally illiterate and innumerate. But they *think* they actually know what that piece of paper says they do and find it doesn’t get what it used to get in the way of jobs out in the real world. Then they think that the world is against them somehow because look, I graduated high school just like everyone else, so why can’t I get the same jobs as everyone else?
Most colleges will admit (if you ask the right person), that the first year (or sometimes two) of college is mostly spent learning things that they should have learned in high school. Then add the dumbing down on top of all that.

Last edited 1 year ago by Diane Merriam
Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Slightly disappointed no-one has referenced George Carlin’s observation on ‘the average American’. Amusing (as ever) and observably true…

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed. Heinlein demolished the “Labour Theory of Value” in a couple of lines ……

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Heinlein demolished almost the entire progressive ideology with a few well placed lines here and there. Often repeated in different words, over and over again. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long should be required reading. 🙂

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  ben arnulfssen

Heinlein demolished almost the entire progressive ideology with a few well placed lines here and there. Often repeated in different words, over and over again. The Notebooks of Lazarus Long should be required reading. 🙂

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Problem is that it is impossible to have challenging university education for 50% of the population.
I recall reading that proper university courses and then many professions requires IQ of at least 115.
Which means it is statistically impossible to create university level education for 50% of population without dumbing down.
Hence proliferation of courses in “soft” subjects.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed. Heinlein demolished the “Labour Theory of Value” in a couple of lines ……

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Lovely article – and very illuminating. However, I suspect the explanation for the ills affecting our universities is rather more prosaic than suggested.

I studied politics at a provincial university in the late seventies. Most of the academics who taught me were barely older than I was. None had any experience of life outside the education system. I was bemused even then by their unquestioning acceptance of absurdities that anyone with an adult’s experience of the wider world would find laughable. The Labour Theory of Value, for example, which was almost an article of faith amongst my teachers.

The dogmatism and hostility to debate that we see now was present then too.

That was forty years ago, before the great New Labour expansion of higher education and the dumbing down that came with it. So I’ suggest that it’s not so much that the lunatics have taken over the asylum, but that the children have.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago

Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat which has roots in ancient Greece Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad’

But better, and more appropriate to today, post-modernism, Neo-Marxism, and hard left liberalism is

‘An early version of the phrase Whom the gods would destroy… appears in verses 620–623 of Sophocles’ play Antigone: “τ᜞ ÎșαÎș᜞Μ ÎŽÎżÎșÎ”áż–Îœ Ï€ÎżÏ„áŸœ ጐσΞλ᜞Μ Ï„áż·ÎŽáŸœ ጔΌΌΔΜ’ áœ…Ï„áżł φρέΜας ΞΔ᜞ς áŒ„ÎłÎ”Îč πρ᜞ς ጄταΜ” to mean that “evil appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction”.’

And this is exactly the problem. This is not foolishness – it is evil which is destroying the West. It comes from situational ethics, relative morality, flexible codes of honour, Utilitarianism, and atheism, and mostly from not accepting an Ultimate Exists, thus nothing can be Good and Evil, merely correct and incorrect, and those are subjective. In a word, postmodernism and critical theory.

Classic Liberalism – like the ones who brought us the USA Constitution, and thus freedom and rule of law, they are gone, dying out… maybe the collapse of the global economy, which is likely coming fast, will bring back strength that fat times have eroded away.

Military history is a great interest of mine. It is all about Politics, And real life horrors, War; but as light can only exist in the presence of dark, everything needs contrast to show (pardon my Manichaeist analogy) War is the thing which brings us Self Sacrifice, Honor, Duty, Nobility, Charity, Courage, it brings out the best; as adversity does, best and worst…. Fat times bring out self centered decadence, as one’s better instincts are not called for. Everyone has what they need – you need not worry about others, just your own interests.

There is no good, or happiness, in that. As we have no need to do good, we look for things to tear down, because we are just not made for self interest in fat times. Idle Hand are the Devils Workshop. Coming hard times may be vital for our young – these fat times are not bringing out their best.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

A phrase made famous more recently by another classicist, Enoch Powell, in a rather well-known speech.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

War is the father of all things (Îż Ï€ÏŒÎ»Î”ÎŒÎżÏ‚ Î”ÎŻÎœÎ±Îč Ï„Îż Ï€ÏÏŽÏ„Îż όλωΜ τωΜ Ï€ÏÎ±ÎłÎŒÎŹÏ„Ï‰Îœ) as ‘you know who’ put it so perfectly.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago

There have been some — German, I believe, but I can’t track down any quotes — who considered war a healthy cleansing of destructive, negative preoccupations in a society that had lost its moral compass. There may be something to that — as in America’s WWII mobilization of a people battered by the Great Depression — but I suspect it won’t apply to all wars.

Last edited 1 year ago by Wim de Vriend
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

Did I get this correctly? If you don’t believe in a God (an Ultimate) then you can’t distinguish between good and evil, and therefore evil will win over. And War is good because it brings out the best in people.

What a sick person you are!

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The point is not that war is good. The point is that war tends to remind us what life essentially is in all its joy and terror. The virtues discussed come as a response to war but also the threat of war. There is always the threat of war, of evil taking charge, no matter who you are or where you live. The cultivation of those virtues is necessary and good, not because war is ‘good’ but because life is what it is. Those who say it doesn’t have to be that way, that we can reach human perfection at a societal or species level, are rebelling against reality, the truth of who we are. This, of course, is a politically conservative view. Progressives would definitely not agree.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The point is not that war is good. The point is that war tends to remind us what life essentially is in all its joy and terror. The virtues discussed come as a response to war but also the threat of war. There is always the threat of war, of evil taking charge, no matter who you are or where you live. The cultivation of those virtues is necessary and good, not because war is ‘good’ but because life is what it is. Those who say it doesn’t have to be that way, that we can reach human perfection at a societal or species level, are rebelling against reality, the truth of who we are. This, of course, is a politically conservative view. Progressives would definitely not agree.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

On that basis I presume you’d view the desperation of the Ukraine war as forging benefits for that nation? I certainly do. But then you’d have expected the same outcome for ‘blitz spirit’ postwar Britain, and we turned out to be quite weak in that period.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes I lived in Ukraine and it was culturally divided between a ‘soviet’ and ‘western’ mindset, a ‘big brother – little brother’ relationship with Russia and a partial obsession (which is dominant in Russia) of constantly replaying the big USSR victory – WW2. These divisions were a source of conflict within Ukraine and allowed for/gave an excuse for Russian interference. The war, horrific and regrettable though it is, has also been a forge for a united Ukrainian consciousness and given them a shared story of national birth. Long term, on a psychological rather than material level, Ukraine will benefit and win; while Russia will fall deeper into darkness and pessimism.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes I lived in Ukraine and it was culturally divided between a ‘soviet’ and ‘western’ mindset, a ‘big brother – little brother’ relationship with Russia and a partial obsession (which is dominant in Russia) of constantly replaying the big USSR victory – WW2. These divisions were a source of conflict within Ukraine and allowed for/gave an excuse for Russian interference. The war, horrific and regrettable though it is, has also been a forge for a united Ukrainian consciousness and given them a shared story of national birth. Long term, on a psychological rather than material level, Ukraine will benefit and win; while Russia will fall deeper into darkness and pessimism.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
1 year ago

Why was my post removed? Did I say something wrong?

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago

Tell the former residents of Bucha and Mariupol and Izium and Kherson and many other cities and towns about how war brings out the best in man. Tell the victims of the Nazis. Tell the villagers of My Lai. Tell those who lived through almost any war. Yes, it can bring you closer to those you share a trench with, and it makes for great propaganda to “unify” a people to “sacrifice” for our men under arms. But it doesn’t take long for anyone under fire to want to do back what was done to them, even those ostensibly on the side of the angels.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
1 year ago

A phrase made famous more recently by another classicist, Enoch Powell, in a rather well-known speech.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

War is the father of all things (Îż Ï€ÏŒÎ»Î”ÎŒÎżÏ‚ Î”ÎŻÎœÎ±Îč Ï„Îż Ï€ÏÏŽÏ„Îż όλωΜ τωΜ Ï€ÏÎ±ÎłÎŒÎŹÏ„Ï‰Îœ) as ‘you know who’ put it so perfectly.

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago

There have been some — German, I believe, but I can’t track down any quotes — who considered war a healthy cleansing of destructive, negative preoccupations in a society that had lost its moral compass. There may be something to that — as in America’s WWII mobilization of a people battered by the Great Depression — but I suspect it won’t apply to all wars.

Last edited 1 year ago by Wim de Vriend
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

Did I get this correctly? If you don’t believe in a God (an Ultimate) then you can’t distinguish between good and evil, and therefore evil will win over. And War is good because it brings out the best in people.

What a sick person you are!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

On that basis I presume you’d view the desperation of the Ukraine war as forging benefits for that nation? I certainly do. But then you’d have expected the same outcome for ‘blitz spirit’ postwar Britain, and we turned out to be quite weak in that period.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
1 year ago

Why was my post removed? Did I say something wrong?

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago

Tell the former residents of Bucha and Mariupol and Izium and Kherson and many other cities and towns about how war brings out the best in man. Tell the victims of the Nazis. Tell the villagers of My Lai. Tell those who lived through almost any war. Yes, it can bring you closer to those you share a trench with, and it makes for great propaganda to “unify” a people to “sacrifice” for our men under arms. But it doesn’t take long for anyone under fire to want to do back what was done to them, even those ostensibly on the side of the angels.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago

Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat which has roots in ancient Greece Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad’

But better, and more appropriate to today, post-modernism, Neo-Marxism, and hard left liberalism is

‘An early version of the phrase Whom the gods would destroy… appears in verses 620–623 of Sophocles’ play Antigone: “τ᜞ ÎșαÎș᜞Μ ÎŽÎżÎșÎ”áż–Îœ Ï€ÎżÏ„áŸœ ጐσΞλ᜞Μ Ï„áż·ÎŽáŸœ ጔΌΌΔΜ’ áœ…Ï„áżł φρέΜας ΞΔ᜞ς áŒ„ÎłÎ”Îč πρ᜞ς ጄταΜ” to mean that “evil appears as good in the minds of those whom god leads to destruction”.’

And this is exactly the problem. This is not foolishness – it is evil which is destroying the West. It comes from situational ethics, relative morality, flexible codes of honour, Utilitarianism, and atheism, and mostly from not accepting an Ultimate Exists, thus nothing can be Good and Evil, merely correct and incorrect, and those are subjective. In a word, postmodernism and critical theory.

Classic Liberalism – like the ones who brought us the USA Constitution, and thus freedom and rule of law, they are gone, dying out… maybe the collapse of the global economy, which is likely coming fast, will bring back strength that fat times have eroded away.

Military history is a great interest of mine. It is all about Politics, And real life horrors, War; but as light can only exist in the presence of dark, everything needs contrast to show (pardon my Manichaeist analogy) War is the thing which brings us Self Sacrifice, Honor, Duty, Nobility, Charity, Courage, it brings out the best; as adversity does, best and worst…. Fat times bring out self centered decadence, as one’s better instincts are not called for. Everyone has what they need – you need not worry about others, just your own interests.

There is no good, or happiness, in that. As we have no need to do good, we look for things to tear down, because we are just not made for self interest in fat times. Idle Hand are the Devils Workshop. Coming hard times may be vital for our young – these fat times are not bringing out their best.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Isn’t the problem rather more prosaic? Too many stupid people at universities? See my old blog from 2012:
https://universityswindle.blogspot.com/
I’ve long thought that religious instincts are as much biological as theological; and when, for reasons for cultural fashion, established religions fall out of favour, that instinct will manifest itself in secular religions. These days, that’s mainly in the new churches of sectional anti-sexism and sectional anti-racism and transgender. In the 60s and 70s, with the likes of King and Greer in the ascendancy, combatting racism and sexism was done via argument .
Nowadays, in either, instead of rationality and calls for concrete (i.e., legislative) change, there is the mass reprising of the religious doctrine of original (congenital) sin; or blood guilt.
It’s standard stuff nowadays to assert that men are ineluctably sexist and that whites are intrinsically racist; and that an individual bloke or white person is sexist or racist *even when they individually might not be so*. To preserve the purity of the ideology that “all whites / all men are bad”, there are 3 standard ways to deem you as racist or sexist even when such epithets might reasonably be news to you:
1. Even if you’ve never had a racist thought or carried out a racist deed, you’re still racist because you personally haven’t done enough to prevent other people from being racist or sexist.
2. In any event, your view that you are not racist or sexist is a conceit deriving from your ignorance. You’re being sexist and racist all the time, because no man can empathise with women’s experiences and no white can empathise with black people’s experience. Meaningful empathy is an impossibility; and you’re in reality pretty sexist and racist; and, to boot, are too dumb to realise the true extent of your various iniquities.
It’s that well-known quote from the late MA film maker, Albert Maysles — ‘Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance’.  It’s not in my view possible to engage constructively with modern feminists in 2023. Nuance, accommodation, doubt – all off the agenda, permanently. They shelter behind a mental construct which admits no doubt or nuance. You’re in or out. We’re right and they’re wrong. We alone have the truth. Anyone who disagrees with us hasn’t seen the light; false consciousness, privilege etc. 
Such minds are ill-suited to college.
I disagree that colleges were always as hysterically intolerant of divergent opinions as they are now.
They were not.
I read English and law at college 1984 – 1989, and I recall frequently writing head-wreck essays with alternative and contradictory endings, in both subjects.
Throughout school and uni, my teachers and tutors, people of wildly varying approaches and philosophies (God rest them), nonetheless had one shared lodestone, namely a constant belittling of didacticism, which was viewed, correctly, as the hallmark of a f***ing idiot. 
*You were rated on how well you argued. Your conclusion was secondary.*
Nowadays, it’s the opposite. There is no debate. Just weak-minded bores, high on their own priggish rectitude-cum-identity, shouting other peoples’ slogans at each other, fingers permanently in their ears.
Reality is that there now are many weak minds at colleges. They’re not intellectuals, like e.g. Greer. I disagree deeply with Greer about lots of stuff; but I still always warmed to her as a human being, regardless. I felt she liked men and disliked sexism and was a woman of principle. The modern lot, I feel they just dislike men (and chant vapid slogans as if they were rosaries).
I’m not quite as pessimistic about race. There are plenty of idiots arguing, for instance, that black people cannot be racist, even if they don’t like whites. Straight out of the 4th wave feminism mental playbook. However, class alone will ensure a far greater diversity of black voices. Modern feminism is largely young, educated white westerners.
The notion of collective guilt is just the old original sin stuff wearing secular clothes. It was mental tyranny from churches then, and mind-games it remains; and, aging as I am, I still spit on such secular superstitions.
Incidentally, I’m not entirely convinced that the modern mania for certainty aka anti-intellectualism can be laid at the feet of Marxism. Wokeism often seems like a middle-class scam by well-heeled thickos to distract attention away from class, and to demonise working class people for not knowing the approved middle-class terminology. Social class, that old refugee from real politics, is the elephant in the hip atomised identity politics room. God forbid that, for instance, a poor bloke would ever have anything in common with a poor woman.
Class discrimination is rampant nowadays, worse than ever; but, because its inclusive implications sit uneasily inside the “narcissism of small differences” that afflicts modern crackpot identity politics, class politics nowadays never gets a mention.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Your dates are interesting. The mid 1980s is when any academics with experience of combat in WW2 would have retired. By the early 90s those who had undertaken National Service in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya or Oman would have retired A don at Durham said the advanatge of NS was that someone had experienceand were worth listening to. They had experience of working with people from different backgrounds in dangerous if not deadly, arduous conditions. They had been tempered and tested by adversity . The Cultural Marxist Middle Class are dogmatic because they are brittle, frail, rigid and fragile because their minds and bodies have not been first tempered then tested by adversity. Tempering turns the cast iron pot which breaks when falls on a stone floor to a sword which is brittle so it cuts but ductile so it does not break.
When Clakson made his documentary on the St Nazaire Raid he interviewed some of the Commando survivors. Maj Gen Corran Purdon said “They came from all walks of life Oxford dons and criminals, wealthy and poor.” Dr Tiger Watson said ” We were a band of brothers ” Micky Burn said ” Discipline was not important , self-discipline was and the success of mission may depend upon the actions of single man, perhaps a private ”
The Cultural Marxists are largely affluent effete impractical types from comfortable suburban backgrounds who have never mixed with disimilar people, let alone earned the respect of tough practical types on the rugby field or undertaking dangerous work in arduous conditions.
Feminists are correct ” The personal is the political”. It is the character of the personnel which determines politcs.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Well said by a man from the city that built the ‘Titanic’, (amongst other things.)

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Your dates are interesting. The mid 1980s is when any academics with experience of combat in WW2 would have retired. By the early 90s those who had undertaken National Service in Palestine, Malaya, Kenya or Oman would have retired A don at Durham said the advanatge of NS was that someone had experienceand were worth listening to. They had experience of working with people from different backgrounds in dangerous if not deadly, arduous conditions. They had been tempered and tested by adversity . The Cultural Marxist Middle Class are dogmatic because they are brittle, frail, rigid and fragile because their minds and bodies have not been first tempered then tested by adversity. Tempering turns the cast iron pot which breaks when falls on a stone floor to a sword which is brittle so it cuts but ductile so it does not break.
When Clakson made his documentary on the St Nazaire Raid he interviewed some of the Commando survivors. Maj Gen Corran Purdon said “They came from all walks of life Oxford dons and criminals, wealthy and poor.” Dr Tiger Watson said ” We were a band of brothers ” Micky Burn said ” Discipline was not important , self-discipline was and the success of mission may depend upon the actions of single man, perhaps a private ”
The Cultural Marxists are largely affluent effete impractical types from comfortable suburban backgrounds who have never mixed with disimilar people, let alone earned the respect of tough practical types on the rugby field or undertaking dangerous work in arduous conditions.
Feminists are correct ” The personal is the political”. It is the character of the personnel which determines politcs.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Well said by a man from the city that built the ‘Titanic’, (amongst other things.)

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Isn’t the problem rather more prosaic? Too many stupid people at universities? See my old blog from 2012:
https://universityswindle.blogspot.com/
I’ve long thought that religious instincts are as much biological as theological; and when, for reasons for cultural fashion, established religions fall out of favour, that instinct will manifest itself in secular religions. These days, that’s mainly in the new churches of sectional anti-sexism and sectional anti-racism and transgender. In the 60s and 70s, with the likes of King and Greer in the ascendancy, combatting racism and sexism was done via argument .
Nowadays, in either, instead of rationality and calls for concrete (i.e., legislative) change, there is the mass reprising of the religious doctrine of original (congenital) sin; or blood guilt.
It’s standard stuff nowadays to assert that men are ineluctably sexist and that whites are intrinsically racist; and that an individual bloke or white person is sexist or racist *even when they individually might not be so*. To preserve the purity of the ideology that “all whites / all men are bad”, there are 3 standard ways to deem you as racist or sexist even when such epithets might reasonably be news to you:
1. Even if you’ve never had a racist thought or carried out a racist deed, you’re still racist because you personally haven’t done enough to prevent other people from being racist or sexist.
2. In any event, your view that you are not racist or sexist is a conceit deriving from your ignorance. You’re being sexist and racist all the time, because no man can empathise with women’s experiences and no white can empathise with black people’s experience. Meaningful empathy is an impossibility; and you’re in reality pretty sexist and racist; and, to boot, are too dumb to realise the true extent of your various iniquities.
It’s that well-known quote from the late MA film maker, Albert Maysles — ‘Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance’.  It’s not in my view possible to engage constructively with modern feminists in 2023. Nuance, accommodation, doubt – all off the agenda, permanently. They shelter behind a mental construct which admits no doubt or nuance. You’re in or out. We’re right and they’re wrong. We alone have the truth. Anyone who disagrees with us hasn’t seen the light; false consciousness, privilege etc. 
Such minds are ill-suited to college.
I disagree that colleges were always as hysterically intolerant of divergent opinions as they are now.
They were not.
I read English and law at college 1984 – 1989, and I recall frequently writing head-wreck essays with alternative and contradictory endings, in both subjects.
Throughout school and uni, my teachers and tutors, people of wildly varying approaches and philosophies (God rest them), nonetheless had one shared lodestone, namely a constant belittling of didacticism, which was viewed, correctly, as the hallmark of a f***ing idiot. 
*You were rated on how well you argued. Your conclusion was secondary.*
Nowadays, it’s the opposite. There is no debate. Just weak-minded bores, high on their own priggish rectitude-cum-identity, shouting other peoples’ slogans at each other, fingers permanently in their ears.
Reality is that there now are many weak minds at colleges. They’re not intellectuals, like e.g. Greer. I disagree deeply with Greer about lots of stuff; but I still always warmed to her as a human being, regardless. I felt she liked men and disliked sexism and was a woman of principle. The modern lot, I feel they just dislike men (and chant vapid slogans as if they were rosaries).
I’m not quite as pessimistic about race. There are plenty of idiots arguing, for instance, that black people cannot be racist, even if they don’t like whites. Straight out of the 4th wave feminism mental playbook. However, class alone will ensure a far greater diversity of black voices. Modern feminism is largely young, educated white westerners.
The notion of collective guilt is just the old original sin stuff wearing secular clothes. It was mental tyranny from churches then, and mind-games it remains; and, aging as I am, I still spit on such secular superstitions.
Incidentally, I’m not entirely convinced that the modern mania for certainty aka anti-intellectualism can be laid at the feet of Marxism. Wokeism often seems like a middle-class scam by well-heeled thickos to distract attention away from class, and to demonise working class people for not knowing the approved middle-class terminology. Social class, that old refugee from real politics, is the elephant in the hip atomised identity politics room. God forbid that, for instance, a poor bloke would ever have anything in common with a poor woman.
Class discrimination is rampant nowadays, worse than ever; but, because its inclusive implications sit uneasily inside the “narcissism of small differences” that afflicts modern crackpot identity politics, class politics nowadays never gets a mention.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

An interesting article. No wonder the study of Classics is shunned in modern universities; could the progressives bear to read a play such as The Clouds (assuming there are still scholars left who understand it)?
I wonder what, if anything, the Classics teach us about how to combat the lunacy in modern universities? Would Aristophanes tell us we’re in the end-stage of our civilization? Would he offer hope?

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A good writer, should be used again…

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I wonder if combating the lunacy requires no more than mulish resistance as the lunacy will collapse or reverse under its own weight.
The difficulty is that the collapse will still take some time… a substantial proportion of a lifetime perhaps? And yet we have been groomed to expect ‘change’ to be nearly instantaneous rather than the long drawn out process history shows us.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I agree. As history repeats itself over and over again, we sometimes fail to understand that it happens over centuries and not just during our meager lifetimes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Warren Trees
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I agree. As history repeats itself over and over again, we sometimes fail to understand that it happens over centuries and not just during our meager lifetimes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Warren Trees
John Williams
John Williams
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The aim of life is not to be in the majority but to avoid joining the ranks of the insane.
Marcus Aurelius

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

He would tell us the barbarians (foreigners) are coming.

Ian Burns
Ian Burns
1 year ago

Indeed, whilst commanding at the most cosmopolitan point in the Empire’s history

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Burns
Ian Burns
Ian Burns
1 year ago

Indeed, whilst commanding at the most cosmopolitan point in the Empire’s history

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Burns
Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A good writer, should be used again…

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I wonder if combating the lunacy requires no more than mulish resistance as the lunacy will collapse or reverse under its own weight.
The difficulty is that the collapse will still take some time… a substantial proportion of a lifetime perhaps? And yet we have been groomed to expect ‘change’ to be nearly instantaneous rather than the long drawn out process history shows us.

John Williams
John Williams
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The aim of life is not to be in the majority but to avoid joining the ranks of the insane.
Marcus Aurelius

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

He would tell us the barbarians (foreigners) are coming.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

An interesting article. No wonder the study of Classics is shunned in modern universities; could the progressives bear to read a play such as The Clouds (assuming there are still scholars left who understand it)?
I wonder what, if anything, the Classics teach us about how to combat the lunacy in modern universities? Would Aristophanes tell us we’re in the end-stage of our civilization? Would he offer hope?

Last edited 1 year ago by J Bryant
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I read somewhere yesterday this apt characterization: It used to be that we wondered if we were smart enough to go to college. Now we wonder if we’re stupid enough to go to college.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

I read somewhere yesterday this apt characterization: It used to be that we wondered if we were smart enough to go to college. Now we wonder if we’re stupid enough to go to college.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

And the truly horrifying thing is that we all know it’s happening. It’s playing out in real time right in front of us and has been for years, but we’re only now admitting (some of us, others are taking their kids to drag queen strip shows) the need to put a stop to this toxic nonsense. It may well be too late.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

And the truly horrifying thing is that we all know it’s happening. It’s playing out in real time right in front of us and has been for years, but we’re only now admitting (some of us, others are taking their kids to drag queen strip shows) the need to put a stop to this toxic nonsense. It may well be too late.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago

Fascinating article. Thankyou.

N Forster
N Forster
1 year ago

Fascinating article. Thankyou.

Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 year ago

Strictly speaking the need to attend a university is relevant for a very few professions and for advanced level transfer of knowledge for experienced people to enhance their capacity to perform to a higher standard in more senior roles. For many graduates in the more general disciplines the experience is a waste of time as the same personal development is learnt whilst living a productive life. I speak from having the experience of the latter element. I don’t know what the appropriate percentages (of total populations) are and these may be debated at length (by others). Having said that I think the real determinate should be about the need for specific skills within society, rather than concepts of fairness and equity which are not readily measurable. Need more engineers? Then train more, and so on.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mackay

Far too many jobs state a university degree is required. If they said four years work experience was required- they would get the same results.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Which is why the requirement. It’s more than high school, but for too many, not all that much more. It does prove that a person can at least finish what they started.
STEM subjects pretty much require college, although one of the first practical engineers I worked with made the point that college at least taught us where to look for the answers if we didn’t know them. I looked at my collection of various handbooks and had to agree.
When it comes to the “soft” sciences, you can find someone saying anything that you want to find someone saying. Arts and Crafts is advanced playing with lots of practice.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Which is why the requirement. It’s more than high school, but for too many, not all that much more. It does prove that a person can at least finish what they started.
STEM subjects pretty much require college, although one of the first practical engineers I worked with made the point that college at least taught us where to look for the answers if we didn’t know them. I looked at my collection of various handbooks and had to agree.
When it comes to the “soft” sciences, you can find someone saying anything that you want to find someone saying. Arts and Crafts is advanced playing with lots of practice.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Mackay

Far too many jobs state a university degree is required. If they said four years work experience was required- they would get the same results.

Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 year ago

Strictly speaking the need to attend a university is relevant for a very few professions and for advanced level transfer of knowledge for experienced people to enhance their capacity to perform to a higher standard in more senior roles. For many graduates in the more general disciplines the experience is a waste of time as the same personal development is learnt whilst living a productive life. I speak from having the experience of the latter element. I don’t know what the appropriate percentages (of total populations) are and these may be debated at length (by others). Having said that I think the real determinate should be about the need for specific skills within society, rather than concepts of fairness and equity which are not readily measurable. Need more engineers? Then train more, and so on.

F Hugh Eveleigh
F Hugh Eveleigh
1 year ago

Thank you Mr Howland for the article/essay and in particular for taking us back a couple of thousand years for examples eerily familiar to what I read is happening in so-called ‘acadaemia’ these days.

F Hugh Eveleigh
F Hugh Eveleigh
1 year ago

Thank you Mr Howland for the article/essay and in particular for taking us back a couple of thousand years for examples eerily familiar to what I read is happening in so-called ‘acadaemia’ these days.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

The author seems to accept the playwright’s mocking characterization of Socrates. In my non-specialist reading of Plato (in the Benjamin Jowett and other translations) Socrates reveals great skepticism concerning human ability to know truth, but not a denial of objective truth itself. His greatest student surely ascribes a belief in ideal or transcendent realities to him, or at least expresses his own such views through the “central character” of The Dialogues.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well it did at least aspire to it, unlike Christianity which was nonsense from Day 1.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

A select few aspired to it. So did a select few Christian from earlier centuries, like Isaac Newton, one of the chief architects of the Age of Reason.
When Gibbon quipped that Antiquity descended into “Christianity, stupidity, and ignorance” he could very well have implicated the Roman Patheon too. Or maybe Julius Caesar should have just listened to better Augurs.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“When Gibbon quipped that Antiquity descended into “Christianity, stupidity, and ignorance” he could very well have implicated the Roman Pa(n)theon too”

But he didn’t, surely that is the point?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Aye, because he idealized and romanticized (groaner pun intended) the Antique world. That’s my point.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

And to ponder where we would be today without Christianity! Who would have built the great universities and hospitals? And who would have shown the world a life where love mattered most?

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

A different religion would have arisen anyway. Most people seem to need one and if they can’t find one, they invent it themselves, even if on ostensibly secular terms.

Diane Merriam
Diane Merriam
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

A different religion would have arisen anyway. Most people seem to need one and if they can’t find one, they invent it themselves, even if on ostensibly secular terms.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Early Christian theology reviled the physical which undermined the competence required to run any organisation. Many Christians became hermits in the desert.
Also many of the Equites who ran the Empire were keen to become bishops and bureaucrats and not officers defending the borders.
Gibbon may have been partly correct but it was one of many factors.
However, it was the Irish Celtic monks living in isolated communities which kept Christianity and Latin alive after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 410 AD. They then introduced Christianity and Latin literacy back into Western Europe post 450 AD through missionary work.
It was the clergy who kept literacy and communication going in Western Europe post 410 AD.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Aye, because he idealized and romanticized (groaner pun intended) the Antique world. That’s my point.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

And to ponder where we would be today without Christianity! Who would have built the great universities and hospitals? And who would have shown the world a life where love mattered most?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Early Christian theology reviled the physical which undermined the competence required to run any organisation. Many Christians became hermits in the desert.
Also many of the Equites who ran the Empire were keen to become bishops and bureaucrats and not officers defending the borders.
Gibbon may have been partly correct but it was one of many factors.
However, it was the Irish Celtic monks living in isolated communities which kept Christianity and Latin alive after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 410 AD. They then introduced Christianity and Latin literacy back into Western Europe post 450 AD through missionary work.
It was the clergy who kept literacy and communication going in Western Europe post 410 AD.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“When Gibbon quipped that Antiquity descended into “Christianity, stupidity, and ignorance” he could very well have implicated the Roman Pa(n)theon too”

But he didn’t, surely that is the point?

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 year ago

That didn’t go down well Charles…… maybe stick to the pretentious comments with which you excel?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Oh dear Valentine have I upset you? Can’t you be more constructive or is snide all you do?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Snide impertinence from Mr Valentine. The sign of a man disappointed in the size of his ‘hermetic cudgel’.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Snide impertinence from Mr Valentine. The sign of a man disappointed in the size of his ‘hermetic cudgel’.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Oh dear Valentine have I upset you? Can’t you be more constructive or is snide all you do?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

A select few aspired to it. So did a select few Christian from earlier centuries, like Isaac Newton, one of the chief architects of the Age of Reason.
When Gibbon quipped that Antiquity descended into “Christianity, stupidity, and ignorance” he could very well have implicated the Roman Patheon too. Or maybe Julius Caesar should have just listened to better Augurs.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 year ago

That didn’t go down well Charles…… maybe stick to the pretentious comments with which you excel?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Didn’t Socrates sum up his lifetime’s work with the quip”I know nothing “. Only one steeped in ‘logos’ could make such a remark.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I agree. But to make Socrates or Marcus Aurelius a stand-in for the average, or even “normal-range extraordinary” Ancient citizen is just absurd to me.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well I would thought those seven words scratched on Forum floor at Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi,
sum up how the ‘average’ citizen viewed the Pax Romana.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Why don’t you share your Classical learning instead of wielding it like a hermetic cudgel?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

O I’m so sorry, I thought a man of your erudition would have immediately ‘picked up’ on it!

Anyway here it is:-
VENARI
LAVARI
LUDERE
RIDERE
OCC EST VIVERE.

To Hunt
To Bathe
To Play
To Laugh
THAT IS TO LIVE!

Thamugadi incidentally is in the AurĂšs/Atlas Mts, in modern day Algeria.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

A classic pagan outlook! Thank you, Charles.
Sincerely,
AJ Autodidacticus

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Hermetic cudgel” a great expression! Thank you.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Hermetic cudgel” a great expression! Thank you.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

A classic pagan outlook! Thank you, Charles.
Sincerely,
AJ Autodidacticus

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You should know by now that this is Charles’ standard approach, often accompanied by a snide comment about the knowledge of other commenters. It’s rather amusing to watch.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Duplication due to slovenly censorship.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Thank you. Praise indeed Mr Stewart!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Duplication due to slovenly censorship.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Thank you. Praise indeed Mr Stewart!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

O I’m so sorry, I thought a man of your erudition would have immediately ‘picked up’ on it!

Anyway here it is:-
VENARI
LAVARI
LUDERE
RIDERE
OCC EST VIVERE.

To Hunt
To Bathe
To Play
To Laugh
THAT IS TO LIVE!

Thamugadi incidentally is in the AurĂšs/Atlas Mts, in modern day Algeria.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You should know by now that this is Charles’ standard approach, often accompanied by a snide comment about the knowledge of other commenters. It’s rather amusing to watch.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Why don’t you share your Classical learning instead of wielding it like a hermetic cudgel?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well I would thought those seven words scratched on Forum floor at Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi,
sum up how the ‘average’ citizen viewed the Pax Romana.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Obviously not a captain of a ship as they must understand the capacity of the vessel a and crew to weather storms. As Athens wealth and power depended upon the maritime trade, Socrates was being rather foolish, if not hubristic. Did hubris undo Socrates?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I agree. But to make Socrates or Marcus Aurelius a stand-in for the average, or even “normal-range extraordinary” Ancient citizen is just absurd to me.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Obviously not a captain of a ship as they must understand the capacity of the vessel a and crew to weather storms. As Athens wealth and power depended upon the maritime trade, Socrates was being rather foolish, if not hubristic. Did hubris undo Socrates?

Neil Stanworth
Neil Stanworth
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I studied the Clouds at A Level., having studied the Birds at O Level (at a 70’s state school, by the way) so I became something of a fan of a true comic genius, and subsequently read all 11 of his plays at University.
ï»żOn his mocking of Socrates, Aristophanes was I think mocking philosophy in general, and rather gently poking fun at Socrates (whom he knew and I think respected) in order to do so. Plato returned the compliment in his Symposium, which features an inebriated Aristophanes debating the nature of love with Socrates.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Stanworth

Thanks for the perspective. I read the play in translation and found it to contain some satirical incisiveness and some infantile raillery or gross-out humor. I’ll re-read it and see whether I can detect any respect or nuance there.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I must confess that the school-boyish gross-out humour rather put me off Aristophanes, but I still appreciate his incisive depiction of 5th century Athenian society.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I must confess that the school-boyish gross-out humour rather put me off Aristophanes, but I still appreciate his incisive depiction of 5th century Athenian society.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Stanworth

Some maintain that this ‘mocking’ may have provoked the capital sentence later imposed on Socrates, which was unfortunate.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Stanworth

Thanks for the perspective. I read the play in translation and found it to contain some satirical incisiveness and some infantile raillery or gross-out humor. I’ll re-read it and see whether I can detect any respect or nuance there.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Stanworth

Some maintain that this ‘mocking’ may have provoked the capital sentence later imposed on Socrates, which was unfortunate.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s not necessary to accept Aristophanes portrayal of Socrates to make the comparisons that the author makes, although I do agree with you that the Socrates of Plato’s works is nothing like the man in The Clouds. For a start, Socrates (according to Plato) was absolutely against the Sophists whom he accused of making the wrong seem right, and the Socates in The Clouds is made to be a Sophist, or at least engage in their form of argument.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Excellent points.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Excellent points.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well it did at least aspire to it, unlike Christianity which was nonsense from Day 1.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Didn’t Socrates sum up his lifetime’s work with the quip”I know nothing “. Only one steeped in ‘logos’ could make such a remark.

Neil Stanworth
Neil Stanworth
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I studied the Clouds at A Level., having studied the Birds at O Level (at a 70’s state school, by the way) so I became something of a fan of a true comic genius, and subsequently read all 11 of his plays at University.
ï»żOn his mocking of Socrates, Aristophanes was I think mocking philosophy in general, and rather gently poking fun at Socrates (whom he knew and I think respected) in order to do so. Plato returned the compliment in his Symposium, which features an inebriated Aristophanes debating the nature of love with Socrates.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It’s not necessary to accept Aristophanes portrayal of Socrates to make the comparisons that the author makes, although I do agree with you that the Socrates of Plato’s works is nothing like the man in The Clouds. For a start, Socrates (according to Plato) was absolutely against the Sophists whom he accused of making the wrong seem right, and the Socates in The Clouds is made to be a Sophist, or at least engage in their form of argument.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

The author seems to accept the playwright’s mocking characterization of Socrates. In my non-specialist reading of Plato (in the Benjamin Jowett and other translations) Socrates reveals great skepticism concerning human ability to know truth, but not a denial of objective truth itself. His greatest student surely ascribes a belief in ideal or transcendent realities to him, or at least expresses his own such views through the “central character” of The Dialogues.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

What is missing in todays society is that people are not being tempered and tested by adversity such as provided by nature. Shackleton’s expeditopn to South Georgia, T E Lawrencess march on Aquaba Freddie Spencer Chapman’s survival in the jungle ” The Jungle is Neutral “are where people pit themselves against naturor working on an upland farm in winter.
Since the Industrial Revolution there has been an increasing number of affluent, effete and impractical people. Modern arts degrees at universities are just a sign of 150 year decline in the physical and mental toughness of the West.The days when a upper midle class mind received an Athenian education and the body a Spartan one, are long gone. Much of modern universities art departments are populatesd with people similar to those in Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century ; affluent, effete, impractical, conceited and contemptuous of the tough, practical and technically skilled people who create and maintain the infrastructure of modern civilisation.
One can see the decline in university arts departments once they no longer required Greek and Latin for entry; intellectual rigour was lost. By reducing rigour it increased employment of inferior academics. It is said that if one takes from Peter to give to Paul, one will get Paul’s vote. If only Peter passed selection but after lowering standards, Paul passed, you will get his vote.
Anthony Sampson in ” Anatomy of Britin in 1982* reports how many Vice Chancellors at new universities realised by the late 1970s many academics recruited in the late 1960s were not good enough.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

What is missing in todays society is that people are not being tempered and tested by adversity such as provided by nature. Shackleton’s expeditopn to South Georgia, T E Lawrencess march on Aquaba Freddie Spencer Chapman’s survival in the jungle ” The Jungle is Neutral “are where people pit themselves against naturor working on an upland farm in winter.
Since the Industrial Revolution there has been an increasing number of affluent, effete and impractical people. Modern arts degrees at universities are just a sign of 150 year decline in the physical and mental toughness of the West.The days when a upper midle class mind received an Athenian education and the body a Spartan one, are long gone. Much of modern universities art departments are populatesd with people similar to those in Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century ; affluent, effete, impractical, conceited and contemptuous of the tough, practical and technically skilled people who create and maintain the infrastructure of modern civilisation.
One can see the decline in university arts departments once they no longer required Greek and Latin for entry; intellectual rigour was lost. By reducing rigour it increased employment of inferior academics. It is said that if one takes from Peter to give to Paul, one will get Paul’s vote. If only Peter passed selection but after lowering standards, Paul passed, you will get his vote.
Anthony Sampson in ” Anatomy of Britin in 1982* reports how many Vice Chancellors at new universities realised by the late 1970s many academics recruited in the late 1960s were not good enough.

John Hicks
John Hicks
1 year ago

So interesting and well told. Many thanks; and for the quality of scholarship going on at UATX.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Hicks

That’s what i found refreshing about this essay. I’d no idea such depth of interest and erudition with regard to the Ancient World still existed in such places.
Might i also suggest though, that we should be wary of drawing too close an analogy between that world and the 21st Century. Human nature will, i suspect, have changed very little if at all, but the conditions within which it either flourishes or falters differs greatly in complexity. I find the essay works in a descriptive way, but not prescriptive. We are, i believe, in completely uncharted territory.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  John Hicks

That’s what i found refreshing about this essay. I’d no idea such depth of interest and erudition with regard to the Ancient World still existed in such places.
Might i also suggest though, that we should be wary of drawing too close an analogy between that world and the 21st Century. Human nature will, i suspect, have changed very little if at all, but the conditions within which it either flourishes or falters differs greatly in complexity. I find the essay works in a descriptive way, but not prescriptive. We are, i believe, in completely uncharted territory.

John Hicks
John Hicks
1 year ago

So interesting and well told. Many thanks; and for the quality of scholarship going on at UATX.

William Freed
William Freed
1 year ago

I ordered a copy of Aristophanes’ plays after reading this article, and, in the meantime, began reading The Clouds in an online version. Whenever we wonder how best to combat the idiocy of today’s anti-historical academy, it’s clear we need look no further than the classics themselves. The answers are already out there.
Oh, and Aristophanes’ humor is wickedly funny and exceptionally contemporary.

William Freed
William Freed
1 year ago

I ordered a copy of Aristophanes’ plays after reading this article, and, in the meantime, began reading The Clouds in an online version. Whenever we wonder how best to combat the idiocy of today’s anti-historical academy, it’s clear we need look no further than the classics themselves. The answers are already out there.
Oh, and Aristophanes’ humor is wickedly funny and exceptionally contemporary.

Cindy Jarvis
Cindy Jarvis
1 year ago

Intellectual buggery is the best description of the abuse being inflicted by universities & their disciples. Thank you for introducing me to this particular play. In times past it might have been explored & performed by a university drama group but no chance of that in these times. I’d love to see it. A satirical tv series based on it set in contemporary times would be incredibly successful I’m sure, if only there were a media company brave enough to do it.

Cindy Jarvis
Cindy Jarvis
1 year ago

Intellectual buggery is the best description of the abuse being inflicted by universities & their disciples. Thank you for introducing me to this particular play. In times past it might have been explored & performed by a university drama group but no chance of that in these times. I’d love to see it. A satirical tv series based on it set in contemporary times would be incredibly successful I’m sure, if only there were a media company brave enough to do it.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Very, very good essay. Congratulations.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 year ago

Very, very good essay. Congratulations.

Peter Spurrier
Peter Spurrier
1 year ago

I would question whether the comparison with Socrates is apt. I thought that Socrates encouraged people to question ideas and to think rationally. That seems desirable to me. ‘Woke’ culture in contemporary universities seems to be trying to supress those very same things.

Peter Spurrier
Peter Spurrier
1 year ago

I would question whether the comparison with Socrates is apt. I thought that Socrates encouraged people to question ideas and to think rationally. That seems desirable to me. ‘Woke’ culture in contemporary universities seems to be trying to supress those very same things.

Bromley Man
Bromley Man
1 year ago

I’m sceptical

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Bromley Man

Just in general?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Bromley Man

Just in general?

Bromley Man
Bromley Man
1 year ago

I’m sceptical

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

“Aristophanes, a brilliant cultural critic who, with the ideologically-driven cancellation of classics, is little studied today and even less understood.”
He wrote a very funny diIdo play

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Craven
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

“Aristophanes, a brilliant cultural critic who, with the ideologically-driven cancellation of classics, is little studied today and even less understood.”
He wrote a very funny diIdo play

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard Craven
ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

A key aspect of Blair’s expansion of Higher Education was the complete absence of control exerted over it. People who could secure the necessary favour were permitted to promote themselves as far as they could manage, and pay themselves as much as they could vote themselves in the process.

We know about Blair’s attitudes to ideology from his requirents for conformity from those seeking promotion to the Bench and judiciary.

The Blairite expansion of Higher Education also allowed the erosion of security of tenure and pay, leading to a strict stifling of dissent and freedom of speech or opinion amongst an under-paid, casualised academic workforce

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
1 year ago

A key aspect of Blair’s expansion of Higher Education was the complete absence of control exerted over it. People who could secure the necessary favour were permitted to promote themselves as far as they could manage, and pay themselves as much as they could vote themselves in the process.

We know about Blair’s attitudes to ideology from his requirents for conformity from those seeking promotion to the Bench and judiciary.

The Blairite expansion of Higher Education also allowed the erosion of security of tenure and pay, leading to a strict stifling of dissent and freedom of speech or opinion amongst an under-paid, casualised academic workforce

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

The bathroom humor in Aristophanes was obviously popular at the time – as it clearly is in a certain stratum of Hollywood output in modern times. His genius strikes me in his way of using it as a tool to keep an audience engaged while going far beyond it thematically. A pity Hollywood missed that part and remains bound up in the bathroom.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

The bathroom humor in Aristophanes was obviously popular at the time – as it clearly is in a certain stratum of Hollywood output in modern times. His genius strikes me in his way of using it as a tool to keep an audience engaged while going far beyond it thematically. A pity Hollywood missed that part and remains bound up in the bathroom.

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 year ago

Still, plenty of people exercise their free will and manage to become educated at university, yes even in humanities. We do need to weed out the woke though. Its grip is far disproportionate to the number of its actual adherents.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
1 year ago

In an anti-kingdom long, long ago and far, far away I was a General Studies baccalaureate who, long story short, turned to the profession of carpentry to feed our children.
My next degree was awarded by the School of Hard Knocks, but I got through it.
My wife, a developmental psych major, went back to school and acquired a VID (very important degree) in Nursing, when our youngest-of-three started in middle school.
So our life testimony is that, if you are smart enough to imbibe the education that pop culture assigns to you, you can eventually tack on the education that will assure that your status is not pauperish.
Furthermore, this worthless English major did manage to write four novels, after the infamous mid-life crisis.
No regrets. The benefits of Education are that I can be sufficiently educated enough to enjoy reading UNHERD because when I was younger I managed to jump through all the hoops of acadame and then when real-life wrote me a reality check I was smart enough to cash it.
Thank God.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

“For almost a millennium, universities served society by preserving, extending, and transmitting hard-won knowledge”.
Yes, but sadly always through the miasma of Christianity.

The Classical World based on REASON (logos) is completely incompatible with the Christian World based on FAITH.*

(* Belief in the unbelievable.)

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

And often with servile deference to the monarch or potentate of the moment. Learnedness notwithstanding, your idealization of the Classical World as a realm of REASON is quite over the top, as if pathos and superstition were absent from Athens, let alone Rome. I think even Edward Gibbon would say to tone it down a bit.

David Adams
David Adams
1 year ago

The whole problem is people thinking they are purely guided by reason, when irrationality is an essential and inescapable part of the human condition. It’s unlikely a coincidence that distain for the classical world has been on the rise at the same time as distain for traditional religion.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  David Adams

And when emotions or passions are regarded as totally inimical to good sense, the orphaned rational faculty may go in a cruel direction, rather than a balanced or Enlightened one.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  David Adams

Perhaps Bertrand Russell put it best when he said:
“Most people would rather die than think and MOST do.”

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  David Adams

And when emotions or passions are regarded as totally inimical to good sense, the orphaned rational faculty may go in a cruel direction, rather than a balanced or Enlightened one.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  David Adams

Perhaps Bertrand Russell put it best when he said:
“Most people would rather die than think and MOST do.”

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Ouch. Lots of over zealous Christian down votes for you Mr Stanhope. I thought it a good point.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Thank you.
“One can but try”, as they say!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Yes quite, good effort 🙂 ironically I think the number of down votes well demonstrates how far we have moved away from reason perhaps?
The university situation seems pretty bad too, a lot worse than I understood it to be.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Yes, the Universities are beyond redemption in my humble opinion.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Think I’m actually glad I stuck to electrics in hindsight.
Well your opinion is much better informed than mine, this is the cheapest classics tution I’ve ever had 🙂 Seems we do rather need something major. Education is broken. The government is broken. The world order is breaking. What a time to be alive!

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

It could be worse!
Imagine living in Britannia (UK) twenty years after the Fall of the Roman Empire!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Oh yes I quite agree. I consider my little outpost in rural England positively the best place to be to ride out the turbulence. That perhaps came across a bit fatalistic.
I’m thinking we need a bit of a kick up the arse in general to be honest. I think it will all be very interesting, change is good at this point, in my humble opinion. Many things seem to have the reaced the point they need a big old shake up.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

A Labour government could be a big old shake up – or do you mean something bigger – maybe the Chinese takeover?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I mean stuff like this
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/2023-Expect-A-Financial-Crash-And-Major-Changes-In-Global-Energy-Markets.html

Any government is going to have its hands tied to an extent for at least the next few years.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Ah maybe the article in Unherd today on nuclear power addresses this risk?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes, certainly, it needs building up a bit more first though, hydrogen is on the way fast too from what I have read anyway. Hopefully the government will get its arse in gear and start building nuclear plants, we were supposed to be having eight new stations in eight years. That sounds rather optimistic but who knows. Its perhaps a possibility there might be a lag between reduced fossil fuels and those things being ready to replace them. I make no assertions though, it’s a pretty complex business and I’m an amateur 🙂

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes, certainly, it needs building up a bit more first though, hydrogen is on the way fast too from what I have read anyway. Hopefully the government will get its arse in gear and start building nuclear plants, we were supposed to be having eight new stations in eight years. That sounds rather optimistic but who knows. Its perhaps a possibility there might be a lag between reduced fossil fuels and those things being ready to replace them. I make no assertions though, it’s a pretty complex business and I’m an amateur 🙂

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Ah maybe the article in Unherd today on nuclear power addresses this risk?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I mean stuff like this
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/2023-Expect-A-Financial-Crash-And-Major-Changes-In-Global-Energy-Markets.html

Any government is going to have its hands tied to an extent for at least the next few years.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

A Labour government could be a big old shake up – or do you mean something bigger – maybe the Chinese takeover?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Oh yes I quite agree. I consider my little outpost in rural England positively the best place to be to ride out the turbulence. That perhaps came across a bit fatalistic.
I’m thinking we need a bit of a kick up the arse in general to be honest. I think it will all be very interesting, change is good at this point, in my humble opinion. Many things seem to have the reaced the point they need a big old shake up.

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

“The world order is broken” presumes current state is against nature/history and has arisen out of nowhere, a “nothing to do with me, mate’ assertion. As with decline in institutional Christianity is it not claims to monopoly and hypocritical application of its core teachings that are being challenged by using the very same values as weapons?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

No I’m talking about the china/russia/us axis. The east is pretty pissed off atm..

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

No I’m talking about the china/russia/us axis. The east is pretty pissed off atm..

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

It could be worse!
Imagine living in Britannia (UK) twenty years after the Fall of the Roman Empire!

Christine Thomas
Christine Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

“The world order is broken” presumes current state is against nature/history and has arisen out of nowhere, a “nothing to do with me, mate’ assertion. As with decline in institutional Christianity is it not claims to monopoly and hypocritical application of its core teachings that are being challenged by using the very same values as weapons?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Think I’m actually glad I stuck to electrics in hindsight.
Well your opinion is much better informed than mine, this is the cheapest classics tution I’ve ever had 🙂 Seems we do rather need something major. Education is broken. The government is broken. The world order is breaking. What a time to be alive!

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Yes, the Universities are beyond redemption in my humble opinion.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Yes quite, good effort 🙂 ironically I think the number of down votes well demonstrates how far we have moved away from reason perhaps?
The university situation seems pretty bad too, a lot worse than I understood it to be.

monicasilva999
monicasilva999
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

They are dime a dozen on these pages.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

Please translate.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Is monica referring to “Christian downvotes”?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’ve no idea. I don’t speak Swahili!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’ve no idea. I don’t speak Swahili!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Is monica referring to “Christian downvotes”?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  monicasilva999

Please translate.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Same here.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Thank you.
“One can but try”, as they say!

monicasilva999
monicasilva999
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

They are dime a dozen on these pages.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Same here.

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
1 year ago

Perhaps Charles you could run for us a short exercise in counter-factual history: an alternative time-line in which modernity developed from the foundation of Greco-Roman paganism? The ‘miasma’ you speak of made it possible to think of individuals as sacred, with intrinsic dignity qua humanity; generated many of the taken for granted civic impulses regarding the care of the poor and infirm; invented what became central institutions of modern life – schools, hospitals. Christianity had an enormous hand in the emergence of modern science. And what you rather naively ascribe to logos, doesn’t eliminate the religious impulse or the need for meaning. Militant secularism killed 100million people in the 20th century; and it is the same hubris at work in our woke universities today. I’m not confronted with reason or logos at work, but a cultish religion. The choice is not between faith and reason but between good and bad religion. Choose well

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Thank you for that kind suggestion but I am too old!

What you naively ascribe to Christianity, schools, hospitals and even science were in fact all well established in the Classical World, as I am convinced you must know?

If not try looking up Hero*of Alexandria. Had Vespasian wished it, the Industrial Revolution would have started in the first century of the Christian Era. Fortunately he didn’t.

(* Sometimes referred to as Heron).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

You refer to steam power. There was not enough wood. For the Industrial Revolution to occur, coal needed to be turned into coke( Darby III) , canals constructed to move coal cheaply( Brindley), precision cutting of steel ( Wilkinson) efficient steam power ( Boulton and Watt ).
It was the mathematics of Newton which underpinned the Industrial Revolution

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’m afraid your knowledge is showing up to be pretty poor, I can’t help but have a go back at you on this, the Greeks, Romans and ancient Chinese (who also utilised natural gas pretty early on) were all aware of coal. So theoretically, on that basis your argument doesn’t stand. In theory they had coal. Quote to save myself waffling:

Some awareness of coal appeared in the western world around 375 BCE. The Greek naturalist philosopher, Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle’s, wrote about stones found in north Italy, which kindled, burned and were used by smiths. At this time and in this part of the world, however, a demand for coal had not yet arisen; wood was available as a primary fuel and energy source.

Coal, or its residue, has been found among the ruins of ancient Roman sites in Britain near the nation’s coalfields. Following their invasion of Britain after 43 CE, Romans discovered British coal and

gradually began making use of it. As had the ancient Chinese a few thousand years earlier, ancient Romans also integrated coal into their fashion, adorning themselves with coal carved into beguiling jewellery pieces called gagates or jet. Pieces of the exotic coal mineral made their way back to Rome for ornamental purposes.

Upon discovering that coal offered superior heat over wood and charcoal, Roman soldiers began to burn coal to melt and shape iron for weaponry as they advanced and defended the Roman Empire. Coal was also used by some

Romans as a fuel for heating their baths and houses in Britain. Coal acquired religious significance around 100 CE when Roman priests began burning Britain’s coal to honour Minerva, their goddess of wisdom and military success, at her perpetual fire in Bath, west of present-day London, England. As recorded by the ancient Roman writer Solinus, in his third century book Collection of Things Memorable, a distinct material burned in the fires devoted to Minerva in the temple at Bath:

Source: http://history.alberta.ca/energyheritage/coal/early-coal-history-to-1900/unearthing-ancient-mysteries/ancient-romans-in-britain.aspx#page-1

Canals – you might want to look up xerxes canal, fifth century bce, a hell of a feat. As one example. So they could have done canals.

The ancient world was pretty good at metal work and even making metal alloys. That is obvious to anyone with the smallest amount of knowledge on the subject. Mr Stanhope mentions the antikythera mechanism, a very good example of precision engineering.
It might have looked slightly different, but your argument that they had none of the things required for some form of industrial revolution simply doesn’t stand up to much.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’m afraid your knowledge is showing up to be pretty poor, I can’t help but have a go back at you on this, the Greeks, Romans and ancient Chinese (who also utilised natural gas pretty early on) were all aware of coal. So theoretically, on that basis your argument doesn’t stand. In theory they had coal. Quote to save myself waffling:

Some awareness of coal appeared in the western world around 375 BCE. The Greek naturalist philosopher, Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle’s, wrote about stones found in north Italy, which kindled, burned and were used by smiths. At this time and in this part of the world, however, a demand for coal had not yet arisen; wood was available as a primary fuel and energy source.

Coal, or its residue, has been found among the ruins of ancient Roman sites in Britain near the nation’s coalfields. Following their invasion of Britain after 43 CE, Romans discovered British coal and

gradually began making use of it. As had the ancient Chinese a few thousand years earlier, ancient Romans also integrated coal into their fashion, adorning themselves with coal carved into beguiling jewellery pieces called gagates or jet. Pieces of the exotic coal mineral made their way back to Rome for ornamental purposes.

Upon discovering that coal offered superior heat over wood and charcoal, Roman soldiers began to burn coal to melt and shape iron for weaponry as they advanced and defended the Roman Empire. Coal was also used by some

Romans as a fuel for heating their baths and houses in Britain. Coal acquired religious significance around 100 CE when Roman priests began burning Britain’s coal to honour Minerva, their goddess of wisdom and military success, at her perpetual fire in Bath, west of present-day London, England. As recorded by the ancient Roman writer Solinus, in his third century book Collection of Things Memorable, a distinct material burned in the fires devoted to Minerva in the temple at Bath:

Source: http://history.alberta.ca/energyheritage/coal/early-coal-history-to-1900/unearthing-ancient-mysteries/ancient-romans-in-britain.aspx#page-1

Canals – you might want to look up xerxes canal, fifth century bce, a hell of a feat. As one example. So they could have done canals.

The ancient world was pretty good at metal work and even making metal alloys. That is obvious to anyone with the smallest amount of knowledge on the subject. Mr Stanhope mentions the antikythera mechanism, a very good example of precision engineering.
It might have looked slightly different, but your argument that they had none of the things required for some form of industrial revolution simply doesn’t stand up to much.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

You refer to steam power. There was not enough wood. For the Industrial Revolution to occur, coal needed to be turned into coke( Darby III) , canals constructed to move coal cheaply( Brindley), precision cutting of steel ( Wilkinson) efficient steam power ( Boulton and Watt ).
It was the mathematics of Newton which underpinned the Industrial Revolution

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Thank you for that kind suggestion but I am too old!

What you naively ascribe to Christianity, schools, hospitals and even science were in fact all well established in the Classical World, as I am convinced you must know?

If not try looking up Hero*of Alexandria. Had Vespasian wished it, the Industrial Revolution would have started in the first century of the Christian Era. Fortunately he didn’t.

(* Sometimes referred to as Heron).

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

I respectfully disagree here. It was the Mediaeval Church that founded the great universities of Europe, and it was the desire of Churchmen to understand the God-created universe that fired the investigation into the workings of the universe, It was the need for accurate time-keeping to regulate the Divine Offices that spurred the research into developing time-pieces, it was monasteries that preserved much of Latin literature (ok not all). What can be said of the Mediaeval philosophers, generally, was that they were too fixated on Aristotelian causes, thus we get the ludicrous idea of trans-substantiation. As a final thought, is not all learning/knowledge seen through some “miasma” (as you put it)? It’s just a matter of what “miasma” you hold to yourself.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

I am sorry but I shall also have to respectfully disagree.

The Medieval Church and its Universities are all part of that tired old calumny that goes something like this :-“Christianity saved the World”! It didn’t and this is why.

Universities or shall we call them places of advanced learning, abounded all over the Classical World, but particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not only do we have Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lyceum, and Hadrian’s Athenaeum (two of them), but also the great Museums* at Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Tarsus, Athens and off course Alexandria. Then there were the great Legal Schools most notably in Berytus.

To attend a Medieval University you had to be a ‘believer’ which was not a good start, and was diametrically opposed to any idea of freedom of thought. Thus ‘their’ ideas about “the workings of the universe” were frankly puny compared to those of the Classical World. I take your point about medieval clocks but do they really measure up to something like the Antikythera Mechanism?

Yes we all are see things through a miasma of sorts, but some are much denser than others.

(* As in the original meaning of the word.)

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

But Ancient World died because of barbarians and not because of Christianity.
Yes, medieval universities were akin to communist ones and you had to follow dogma to be accepted.
But what was the real alternative to early Christianity?
Islam?
Are you suggesting that non Christian Europe would stop Muslim invasion and the retake Iberian peninsula?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew F
Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

But Ancient World died because of barbarians and not because of Christianity.
Yes, medieval universities were akin to communist ones and you had to follow dogma to be accepted.
But what was the real alternative to early Christianity?
Islam?
Are you suggesting that non Christian Europe would stop Muslim invasion and the retake Iberian peninsula?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew F
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

I largely agree: give the Devil his due.
But the “militant secularism” mentioned further up is a paradoxical coupling in that they
are quite orthogonal – independent variables. That kind of militancy is older than the likes of Genghis Khan, Atilla, or even Empress Wu, not some new feature of secularism. Likewise Christian history is awash with blood and horrors that moderns really have no stomach for any more. Interesting book Just picked up, “The Faber Book of Reportage.” A large collection of eye witness accounts throughout human history. Christian morality didn’t seem in evidence among the Spanish Christians according to Bartolomeo de Las Casas in the early 1500’s, for example. Or during the Spanish sack of Antwerp in 1576 according to George Gascoigne. What should one call these kinds of affairs, really too numerous to enumerate? “militant Christianity”? Better to be more realistic about the range of human nature irregardless of all it’s forms of mass hysteria, group think and magical thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

I am sorry but I shall also have to respectfully disagree.

The Medieval Church and its Universities are all part of that tired old calumny that goes something like this :-“Christianity saved the World”! It didn’t and this is why.

Universities or shall we call them places of advanced learning, abounded all over the Classical World, but particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean. Not only do we have Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lyceum, and Hadrian’s Athenaeum (two of them), but also the great Museums* at Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Tarsus, Athens and off course Alexandria. Then there were the great Legal Schools most notably in Berytus.

To attend a Medieval University you had to be a ‘believer’ which was not a good start, and was diametrically opposed to any idea of freedom of thought. Thus ‘their’ ideas about “the workings of the universe” were frankly puny compared to those of the Classical World. I take your point about medieval clocks but do they really measure up to something like the Antikythera Mechanism?

Yes we all are see things through a miasma of sorts, but some are much denser than others.

(* As in the original meaning of the word.)

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

I largely agree: give the Devil his due.
But the “militant secularism” mentioned further up is a paradoxical coupling in that they
are quite orthogonal – independent variables. That kind of militancy is older than the likes of Genghis Khan, Atilla, or even Empress Wu, not some new feature of secularism. Likewise Christian history is awash with blood and horrors that moderns really have no stomach for any more. Interesting book Just picked up, “The Faber Book of Reportage.” A large collection of eye witness accounts throughout human history. Christian morality didn’t seem in evidence among the Spanish Christians according to Bartolomeo de Las Casas in the early 1500’s, for example. Or during the Spanish sack of Antwerp in 1576 according to George Gascoigne. What should one call these kinds of affairs, really too numerous to enumerate? “militant Christianity”? Better to be more realistic about the range of human nature irregardless of all it’s forms of mass hysteria, group think and magical thinking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Cunningham
Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 year ago

Just as all societies discover a depressant to lower anxiety they also discover the soothing effects of a belief system, not reason, that lessens the dismal elements of human life and provides an optimistic outlook for us all. Except for Bertrand Russell as you rightly point out below. You might like to bang your head against a wall over it but Einstein had a suggestion to make about the efficacy of that.

Scott McArthur
Scott McArthur
1 year ago

If Christianity was such a dead weight we would be in the Utopia by now. Instead all the atheist have to show, from 1789 to today, is degradation and decline. Now the West finds itself on the edge of death eternal. 
And yet you guys refuse to see it or if you do glimpse it darkly you refuse to act, paralysed by your monumental error and the error of your school of thought.
Atheism is cringe Bro.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McArthur

I am NOT an Atheist but am an Agnostic

there is a difference!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McArthur

The error lies not in atheism per se, but in the human reaction to the loss of a belief system. In other words, the reaction itself may be misguided but not the need to disabuse ourselves of false beliefs.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Nevermind the impossibility of talking oneself into thinking magically once Mr Wizard’s current has come open.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Nevermind the impossibility of talking oneself into thinking magically once Mr Wizard’s current has come open.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McArthur

Christianity had a fair chance to save us. You guys can’t even agree if there’s one god or a trinity, how shiney your churches should be, whether you need to fully attempt drowning in holy water or if just a light sprinkling will do, whether you need to actually eat god and drink him in the form of bread and wine or if actually that’s entirely unnecessary, you lot are as confused as the rest of us….. Baptists and Methodists and Quakers and Catholics and protestants etcetc. There was three different versions of church in my village! We had c of e, Methodist and a baptist church. Now the Catholic vs protestant malarkey caused quite a stir didn’t it bro?
I don’t know what I am I’m still investigating, but Christianity as far as I’m aware (corrections welcome) is just a big old muddle of many many other things that came before it utilised by Constantine to create one empire under one god. Like America, One nation under God. How’s that working out for you?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Spot on, well done Ms Emery!

Constantine needed a ‘new mission statement’ as we would say today, and opted for Christianity.

Had his nephew Julian lived to a ripe old age, Christianity would be a footnote to history.
Sadly it was NOT to be, hence the present nonsense.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Thank you, a new mission statement, I like that.
I don’t know anything about his nephew Julian to be honest, thanks that’s interesting I will have to have a read!
Nonsense indeed and still it rolls on.
I could have mentioned the serial scandals of the vatican but I’d be here all day…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Be careful about criticising the Vatican. Some months ago I commented on the rumour that there may have been a female Pope in the ninth century, a Mama rather than a Papa!

All hell broke loose and I was expelled!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Holy moly. That’s mental. Thanks for the heads up. I’m not ready for expulsion by Catholic lynch mob 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Holy moly. That’s mental. Thanks for the heads up. I’m not ready for expulsion by Catholic lynch mob 🙂

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Be careful about criticising the Vatican. Some months ago I commented on the rumour that there may have been a female Pope in the ninth century, a Mama rather than a Papa!

All hell broke loose and I was expelled!

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Thank you, a new mission statement, I like that.
I don’t know anything about his nephew Julian to be honest, thanks that’s interesting I will have to have a read!
Nonsense indeed and still it rolls on.
I could have mentioned the serial scandals of the vatican but I’d be here all day…

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

So what is the alternative World to one led by USA?
China?
Russia?
Islam?
You can see a lot of problems with modern Western system but other alternatives were tried at the cost of hundreds of millions of deaths and achieved what apart from poverty and violence and censorship?

B Emery