Academic knowledge must be socially useful 2

October 8, 2009

Once again, Times Higher Education privileges the self-proclaimed Institute of Ideas, but "it is a bit rich", as Claire Fox puts it in her fight for "useless knowledge", to "whinge on" about its sanctity while ignoring how knowledge can be really useful.

As former editor of Living Marxism (coyly renamed LM magazine), Fox ought to be aware that since its inception, progressive education has linked useful knowledge with democracy while opposing "knowledge" that is inimical to it, such as the academic obfuscation peddled by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in the 19th century.

Ignoring this, Fox colludes in bashing "Mickey-Mouse degrees" and advocates the usual free market in ideas. This is quite compatible with a free market in fees and the consequent return to traditionalism that the Institute for Funny Ideas characteristically advocates.

Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich.

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