It appears that in a bid to change public perception that the humanities produces research which is not only frivolous and completely useless for Australian society at large, a group of academics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney has devised a brand new program called FutureFix.
Comprising six ‘flagship’ themes, academics behind the project claim that over the next few years, they will not only tackle a number of ‘issues of global importance’ but that they will also provide solutions to them. They are it seems, determined to show Australians that what they do is actually beneficial.
However, the six ‘flagship’ themes listed as part of the program are so far removed from useful that it beggars belief. They range from reconsidering what it is to be human, to proposing that capitalism is responsible for engendering new forms of insidious inequality. They believe these to be the most pressing problems of our era.
But the subject which surely wins the prize for the most absurd is called ‘Multispecies justice.’
Described by the project leaders as being ‘a post human reconceptualisation of justice via a multispecies lens,’ this movement is essentially pushing for both animals and the environment to be given the same political, moral and legal status and rights as humans. The team behind this insanity is putting its effort into attempting to work out what ‘justice across the human and natural world [would] look like and entail.’
A University of Sydney lecturer has even made the connection between ‘multispecies justice’ and democracy and political institutions. He proposes that we need to seriously consider the ‘arguments for the formal inclusion of animal interests in democracies. That is, how might we design democracies in ways that are non-anthropocentric.’
In other words, we need to work out how to give wombats the vote. This is absolute lunacy.
It is astounding that this is the same university which refused to take $50m from the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, which would not have cost the taxpayer a cent. It vehemently opposed the idea of a Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation on the grounds that it was ‘European supremacism’ writ large, and opposed to academic freedom.
This would have given Australians students the opportunity to learn about our common humanity, through, for example, studying the works of Shakespeare, which in today’s unsettled world is needed more than ever.
Yet, the university is more than happy to take money from the taxpayer to ponder about how best to give animals the right to vote. There has been no hint of outrage from the 200 staff members who opposed the Ramsay Centre about their colleagues’ reflections on wombats and koalas taking part in the democratic process.
All this is especially potent given that last year, former Education Minister Simon Birmingham saved Australians around $4.2 million by vetoing 11 utterly useless Australian Research Council grants. Among the prospective research projects which he rightly canned were ‘Writing the Struggle for Sioux Modernity’, ‘A History of Australian Men’s Dress’ and ‘Beauty and Ugliness as Persuasive Tools in Changing China’s Gender Norms.’ The outrage from academics at the intervention was as loud as their defence of the research projects was weak.
Modern academia has made a mockery of the university system, their research ideas are now so ridiculous they have gone beyond parody.
It appears that academics’ obsession with radical identity politics now includes animals. Having exhausted the countless computations of class, race and gender, academics at the University of Sydney have thrown a fourth category into the mix: species.
The fact academics genuinely believe ‘multispecies
justice’ to be a global issue reveals the abyss between the academy and the
rest of the world.
Dr Bella d’Abrera is the Director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs.