08 November 2013

The Hibbert Journal

My colleague Dr Charles McCreery recently mentioned to me something interesting about the Hibbert Journal (a philosophy journal), which he had read, including back numbers, soon after finishing his first degree.

He said that he noticed a sea change in the contents round about 1946-47 – they became more vacuous, less meaningful. It is not that the contributors started to clearly say things that he found he disagreed with, or that it was obvious that they were promoting a point of view that he found claustrophobic. It was more subtle than that, but the change was definitely there.

Charles said it was strange that a philosophical journal could in any way be affected by the socialist ideas that became dominant with the end of World War II, but this indeed seems to have been the case.

I myself noticed a marked change in the attitudes of my teachers at about this time (i.e. around 1946-7). In my schools, and in other organisations, the ‘old guard’, who were more likely to be sympathetic, and in some cases even positively helpful to me, were retiring and being replaced by those who espoused the now dominant socialist, egalitarian ideology.

text of a letter to a senior academic by Christine Fulcher, Research Officer at Oxford Forum

I am writing to say that I think you have a duty to put pressure on your academic colleagues and contacts to give financial support to Celia Green.
Of course, I also think you have a duty to give Celia financial support yourself, as someone who knows her and has a clear picture of her situation; to help enable her to set up the university department with residential college which would provide her with the hotel environment and scope to do research that she needs, to relieve her frustration.
The constriction of our situation affects all of us, Celia in particular, as she is the person with the greatest need for intellectual activity and for an expanding situation. Charles and Fabian also ought have professorial appointments as heads of departments, and no doubt all three of my colleagues would be well-known and well-financed professors if the University of Oxford and the academic world in general were not so hostile to real ability.
The fact that Celia had to try to set up her own university department on being thrown out of Oxford University fifty years ago is an indictment of the standards and motivation of the University. The fact that after all this time our academic organisation is still supported solely by us is a clear indication that the standards and motivation of the academic world (as exemplified by Oxford) are still deplorable.