Loyalty, but not blind allegiance 2

December 7, 2007

One can be loyal to the principles and purposes for which an institution claims to stand, but this does not imply loyalty to a particular regime, system or policy.

Indeed, many would argue that loyalty to the first often requires extreme disloyalty to the second. Thus Germans fighting in Allied armies in the Second World War generally claimed that by so doing it was they who were being genuinely loyal Germans.

There is an implication in your story that loyalty to a subject is somehow narrower or less worthy than loyalty to an institution. In reality, for most academics, subject loyalty is part of a wider, universalist, ethical commitment to values such as intellectual inquiry and academic standards that transcend institutions in the same way that millions of us put international values, principles and movements ahead of loyalty to a particular nation or government.

Presumably this makes us "disloyal".

As to business language and models, many of us find that it is precisely these, incorporated in the new managerialism that all too often marginalises the contributions of academics to policymaking or governance, that make it increasingly difficult for us to have any loyalty to our institutions.

Furthermore, where does the insistence on business models place those of us who, for ethical or ideological reasons, are opposed to the business model as such?

Are we to be totally excluded from academic debate?

It has been obvious for some years that the sorts of loyalty and love of business outlined in your story are increasingly the main criteria for promotion.

Are academics now going to have to pass a loyalty test to be employed at all?

Richard Kirkwood, Retired senior lecturer in social science London Metropolitan University.

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