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The claim of academic freedom is based on the high and serious calling of the academic profession and that calling is to think. A university is a center of independent thought. So and so there's a center of fraud and of independent thought it is also a center of criticism. Freedom of the modern university in a democratic society is not based on the remnants of a medieval tradition but on the proposition that societies require centers of independent thought and criticism. If they are to progress under sort of. Academic Freedom means that the independence of the thought that goes on in the university is so important to society that men cannot be restrained or punished by those who pay them because they hold with which those who pay them disagree. To maintain the claim of academic freedom. It is not necessary to prove
that all professors can and do think. It is enough to show that unless the freedom claim for them is guaranteed it will be impossible ever to assemble a faculty that plan and will think. The old man can be expected to express unpopular opinions. If in addition to becoming on popular they are likely to starve to death. I do not say that the object of a university is to develop and express unpopular opinion. I do not say that the object of a university is to prevent social and political conformity rather than promote. I do say that a university in which no one popular opinions are heard are one which merges imperceptibly into the social and political environment. And the presume until the contrary is proved not to be doing its
job. If the university is a center of independent thought and criticism than a popular university. Is a contradiction in terms. The claim upon the financial resources of the country. That a university can legitimately make rests on the same grounds. Public bodies or private persons who have money that is spent. Must be asked to do so. Not on the premises but the university will produce a lot of people in their image and on the assurance that the university will do its best to carry on the independent cross criticism of the country requires them to turn out graduates who are capable of independent thought and criticism. Graduates who are committed to the fullest development of their highest powers and who can do their part as a responsible citizen of a democratic state.
The first step toward the performance of this duty is to explode from the universities those activities which are not proper to which prevent understanding of the function of the universities and which create confusion in regard to the award of college credit at Florida State University for being a clown. Is as great a disservice to higher education and academic freedom. As any of the carryings on of Senator McCarthy or Congressman Bell. Unfortunately these gentleman would have no objection to the clowning program of the Florida State University. Because that does not involve thought. Still rest. Does it involve independent thought and criticism.
Like many other Americans these gentlemen unconsciously favor a custodial system. And this shows the seriousness of our failure to develop an educational tradition in the United States. I think it also shows that many of us have a false idea of unity. One gets from some of the statesmen of the day the same impression. That under the influence of the Cold War they have concluded that a country is not safe unless it is United which is true. And then that a country cannot be united unless everybody in it agrees with the majority about everything which is false. The plays for unity during the last electoral campaign are qualities. That civilization which a true university has a paradigm. Is one that is based on the premis. The
discussion is one way of arriving at the truth. Discussion implies that there is more than one point of view. The notion that the truth may be arrived at by discussion is peculiarly applicable applicable to practical political economic matters. Civilization in which the opinion of the majority is taken on such matters and then must be adopted by all is one that is don't lead to stagnation. That ignores the fact that the most precious possession of any society is the thought of the minority even a minority of one. The rule of the majority without discussion and creditor is tyranny. A great new term of approach nowadays is controversial. The dream of the public relations man that run this country.
Is that all the people of America will desire in in their clients. The perfect combination of all the popular stereotypes of the day. The public relations men run all the people that is whom all the people except perhaps a few dissident nobodies. Why nobodies because they haven't any money. But even then it would of course be best to share the general opinion and join in the general chorus because all they have little money they have to buy somebodies products in order to live. And it would be fine if they would buy the public relations man's clients products. So you towards conformity to what the public relations man discovers. There was a series of careful polls to be the prevalent opinion at the moment. Hence the elimination of man ideas books and opinions that may attract unfavorable notice as differing from the prevalent opinion.
In many quarters during the last political campaign a man became controversial by being for Stevenson. Professors who said they were for him were held to endanger the public relations of their universe and those who were for Eisenhower. Of course not controversial at all. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that in a democratic controvert democratic society controversy is an end in itself. A university that is not controversial is not a university. Of civilization and which there is not a continuous controversy about important issues. Speculated and practical is on the way to totalitarianism and death. Such a society may of course be said to be united. But it cannot be regarded as strong. We don't think it is a sign of strength.
But the rulers of Russia find it necessary to seek out and punish dissent. On the contrary we have sense enough to say. But the secret police and the Iron Curtain and the universal program of indoctrination practiced in Russia amount to a confession of weakness. Role as a Russia do not have sufficient confidence in the adherence of the people to the principles of communism or in those principles themselves. Permit for a continuing discussion of that. If we want an example of a strong society all we have to do is to look at that association of 13 struggling states which at the outset of its career as it faced sea of troubles adopted the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. The United States of that day look weak and disunited Actually it was strong
because it was not afraid. And was not afraid to have its principles submitted to a critical examination. It was united in the conviction that strength and progress. Why not. And social and political conformity. But in the constant exercise of individual judgment and independent thought and criticism. Perhaps I should not say but the drive toward social and political conformity. What we are witnessing is an America. I will say that it is an utopian. If there were a House committee on utopian affairs. As of course there was not. What dedicated south to seeking out and exposing those elements in the community which were
trying to put an end to difference. And hence so that the Scotian which the utopians regard as the essence of utopianism. In Utopia the rich and conservative agree. That looking at matters only in terms of their own selfish interests. Something that it is hard for utopian to do preservation of free discussion and criticism is the best guarantee against violent attacks upon their institutions. Because the University of Utopia symbolizes the highest aspirations of utopian civilization that naturally receives the support of almost automatic support of all classes of society. The only kind of university that could be popular with the utopians is one in which the most lively controversy was continuously underway. The award for the most controversial person.
An award that is bestowed with great ceremony on the anniversary of the day on which the utopians declared their independence of the polestar is usually won by a professor at the University of Utopia and Utopia. A public relations man are closely related to the priesthood and are usually called public. Their job is to point out to their clients what their public duty is. A public duty men of Utopia together with the lawyers and priests the conscience of their clients. They show them how they can look better than they how they can be better than they look. I should perhaps add. That it is assume that with the steady
advancement of education and Utopia perfect utopianism will eventually be achieved and that the class of public duty men or public relations and will wither away. The University of Utopia has men who serve to remind it of its public duty. They are called the trustees. The job of the trustees of the University of Utopia is not to operate the university but to criticize it. They criticize it in terms of its purpose. So if they believe that if it seeks to achieve its purpose it cannot fail to receive public support. They do not bother themselves very much with the management of its property or even with raising money for. The Board of Trustees of the University of Utopia was created by legislation resting on the proposition. That every autonomous body of men
requires criticism. And that it is not usually capable of self-criticism. Utopians recognize that professors are people. They acquired the usual privileges of people which is utopian in itself. But the utopians know that professors have the ordinary failings of principle one of which is an inability to see beyond their noses for their own interests are involved. The board of trustees is therefore a means of keeping the professors up to the mark. And utopia. Of course the professors are in no sense employees. They are members of the educational corporation constituting the University of utopia. They manage their own affairs elect their own colleagues and officers and determine their own programmes of study and research. But they do all this.
Under the constant criticism public and private of the trust. One question formally much agitated and Utopia was what the limits of the discussion permitted to the people and more particularly to the educational system and the university were to be. And answering this question the utopians had certain historical advantages because they had never heard of the celebrated dictum of Mr Justice Holmes about crying fire in a crowded theater or of the remark of Mr. Chief Justice Vinson that freedom of speech was not an absolute sense absolutes or a ruined relic of the Dark Ages. Utopians approached the matter with their usual common sense. They asked themselves what they were afraid of. They concluded that what they were afraid of was x. They could not imagine
themselves being afraid of ideas or taught or of discussion. Therefore decided that any Utopia could say anything you like on any subject at any time. They never let poetic imagery carry them away and would think thinking that this meant that a man could with impunity cry fire in a crowded theater. On the other hand they did not met the pseudo philosophy of even their distinguished judge to delude them into supposing that a principle should be abandoned just when they needed it most. The utopians do not like spies and traitors any better than anybody else does. The Utopian Bureau of Investigation is supposed to be competent to discover them. The Utopian House and Senate would be surprised to learn that it was only part of their duty to hunt spies and traitors. Spies and traitors are not welcome as teachers in the University of
utopia. But in view of the efficiency of the utopian Bureau of Investigation the university is not expected to devote its energies to the search for spies and traitors on its staff. The utopians think that what matters is what the individual man himself is like. They do not deny that a man's tendencies may be suggested by his associations but they insist that organizations being what they are and I should tell you of utopias credible organizations. All of them rather loosely held together by statements of principle. A luminous and veg. Utopian say that membership in an organization is a very slight evidential value and showing what a man is really like. If for example. A man is taught with satisfaction in the university and his
students for 20 years the fact that he belongs to some organization that has been shown to contain some spies and traitors does not strike me atop Ians as very impressive. And utopia. A professor is a citizen and as a citizen I engage in any activity public or private and which any other citizen may legally and give a reason why the laws sets the limits of a citizen's conduct. Isn't the utopians are determined. That those limit shall not be set by the shifting prejudices of the time. They see no alternative but the law. The real academic crime in Utopia. His indoctrination. Which is only slightly worse. Than the crime of refusing to discuss. What these crimes are utopian professor and be remembered after a hearing by the academic body. And I am tired of the sentence of
removal followed by the ceremony of this guy. Who. Is often visited upon a utopian professor for trying to indoctrinate his students with the principles upon which the utopian Constitution is genuinely based in the common opinion. And he may also be charged with failing to cooperate with his colleagues and bringing other interpretations of the Constitution and of the common opinion to the students attention. The Utopian professor is supposed to have conviction. The deeper the better. But he is not supposed to pump and pound a minute with students even though his opinions are shared by the overwhelming majority of the population. The reason why university of Utopia is told is that the people of utopia are utopians.
The people want the kind of university they have. The educational tradition in Utopia is such that it would make no difference. Whether the educational system was operated by the state or by private price. The educational system is supposed to be a continuing discussion of important subjects. People want this discussion continues. They see no limits that must be set to discussion. Therefore the question whether the educational system is discussing improper questions does not arise. The only question that arises is whether the discussion is being conducted with sufficient vigor and sufficient representation of different points of view. I have indicated that the representation of a point of view. In the utopian situation. As determined by the intellectual
rather than the political pretensions of that position. The point of view of an enemy is neither included nor ignored because it is the point of view of an enemy state. It is included if it has some intellectual claim to consideration and it is ignored if it has none. The utopians believe that a point of view can be presented only by somebody who has. Won the point of view of an enemy state is entitled to win electoral consideration. The utopians appoint a professor who has the enemy's point of view to set it forth and participate in the discussion concerning it. This may be one of the reasons why the utopians have seldom been taken unawares by the doctrines of an enemy state as the South was at the time of the American Civil War.
At that time the presentation of the northern position by one sympathetic to what had so long been forbidden in the south. The young men of that region gamely went to war in ignorance of the possibility that there was another position that could be seriously entertained so seriously and some people were willing to lay down their lives for. The utopians as I have said are disturbed by enemy acts not by enemy ideas. They want to be as fully informed as possible concerning enemy ideas and think that any other course. You may wonder how the utopians in a world full of dangers are willing to run the risk of exposing young people to the ideas of their enemies. How can they be sure that their young people will not adopt these ideas particularly if they are expressed by a competent man who
holds them and who was entitled to all respect. As you may have gathered. The essence of the utopian way of life is that it is rational. Utopians do not think they know it all. If they can learn from anybody they want to do so and they think a particularly intelligent to learn from their enemies. Since nobody who has ever lived in the utopian atmosphere of freedom would ever want to live anywhere else. And since the utopians are perfectly adapted to peaceful change they are prepared for any change. But the discussion of other people's ideas may bring about. Moreover the utopians do not share the prevailing prejudice that the young are so many sheets of blank paper upon which their teachers may write anything that claims. Utopian family and religious life is expected to leave and does leave its mark upon the.
Concern of the utopians is not that their young people will be too receptive to a new ride there. But that the effects of utopian family and religious life will be so deep that the young will not be at all receptive to new ideas from any quarter. Finally remember the tone and content of utopian education from the Kindergarten through the university. Whole object of this system is to train the young utopian to appraise theories and programs. You are perfectly willing to abide by the result. Of population experienced in practical affairs and as wise as any people can be. Tolkien is believe that all wise people will not make unwise choices. The people in their wisdom want to change that change the utopians believe is necessary
and desirable. The question is then whether it is possible that the university of utopia without having utopians. The answer would seem to be in the negative. Education is a secondary dependent subject. But let us look a little bit more closely into the matter. If we can clearly we cannot have the University of utopia without having utopians we shall be in desperate condition indeed how shall we ever get utopians unless we can produce them through the educational system. Well then the first prize. Just how utopian as a people have to be in order to establish the University of utopia. Apparently they have to be only this far along the road to
Utopia. They have to want to get there. If they want to get there. They will decide that the kind of educational system and the kind of university they want are the kind that Utopia has. These institutions are designed to produce resident a country that wants them needs to want nothing more than to be wise. History suggests that the other things a country is like you don't want riches and power. And also suggested riches and power are not enough. At this moment. Korea and the atomic bomb. All right all the evidence we need. Being rich and powerful is not the same as being wise. Unless a country is wise it may not be rich and powerful long. I think it impossible to say that education is irrelevant.
The example of Prussia after the Napoleonic wars and Denmark after 1864 shows that it is possible to achieve great social and political results through education. It also also shows that it is possible for a country to make up its mind. To have a kind of education that it never had before and to lift itself by its own bootstraps into a different spiritual world. This does not mean the educational system can achieve these results. Behind the back of the population or against its west it does mean that if a country decides to move into where different spiritual world it can use the educational system to help it get there. The educational system is a means to the achievement of the country's ideal. The decision about the ideal is made by the country. Not by the
educational system. The utopians decided that they wanted to be was. An established and educational system and a university to help them become so. They decided that what they needed was an educational system to train them and the critical comprehension of important issues in the university. It acted as a center of independent thought. And. Content of their curriculum. The organisation of their educational institutions the freedom of their teachers are the necessary consequences of their fundamental decision. Or grow your therapy. There's a perfect country. No utopian think of it it is not wise to believe in your own perfection. The educational system and university of utopia are therefore far from being devoted to tribal self-admiration. I
directed growing in the clearest possible light upon the problems of mankind. And the conduct of utopia with regard to that. In the United States. That richest and most powerful of countries. Is it possible to have the educational system and the University of utopia. Not unless the people want. If we can start what will sustain us on the way. I answered the spirit of our country. You have heard Robert and the HUTCHENS From the chancellor of the University of Chicago in his final talk in the series hazards to education in the United States. This talk was entitled social and political conformity. The lectures were delivered under the auspices of the Walgreen Foundation and a copyrighted by the University of Chicago. They will then published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Hazards to education
Social and political conformity, part two
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University of Chicago
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, presents a lecture on the hazards that social and political conformity present to education.
Series Description
Walgreen Lecture series on the present hazards to American education as seen and presented by Robert M. Hutchins. Each lecture discusses one particular problem.
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Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Hutchins, Robert Maynard, 1899-1977
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-10-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:15
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Chicago: “Hazards to education; Social and political conformity, part two,” 1955-04-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 1, 2024,
MLA: “Hazards to education; Social and political conformity, part two.” 1955-04-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 1, 2024. <>.
APA: Hazards to education; Social and political conformity, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from