Steve Fuller argues in his feature “Et tu, academe?” (26 January) the case for “academic Caesars”, leaders who can make the radical decisions necessary to ensure that universities can survive existential threats both internal and external.
To be strong is one thing; to be a “strongman” quite another. When a university comes to be in need of the latter to forge ahead, it is time for someone to go turn off the lights.
Universities should be about the power of ideas, not the idea of power. When an academic community begins to require a Caesar or a politburo to accomplish its mission – displacing logic and its various contingencies, not least persuasiveness – perhaps that scholarly community has lost its way, its defining essence: the use of reason (not power or coercion) to govern.
When a scholarly community finds itself in such a foxhole, all that is then required is the kind act of having the institution buried inside the very hole it has dug for itself, the Caesar its first casualty.