"The kind of willfulness with which I can talk to you now is not guaranteed for future scholars," he said. "The academic system has discovered it is no longer necessary to provide tenure. This system is fraying. And this is deliberate. This independence is a source of trouble. When Stalin carried out his purges he purged the best and the brightest. These were an alternative source of power. And I think there is a sense in government and business that there is too much independence in academia. We need to be put in our place. The spirit of free inquiry, free expression, and to some extent free teaching, and communality is alien to the corporate and political culture, which are repressive hierarchies."
Those academics who deviate from the central core doctrines, including in economics, are finding themselves defunded. Oversight committees impose quotas on academics and insist that the work conform to what they call disciplinary norms.
"The golden age of the university was in the postwar years, especially in the 1960s," Offer said. "You saw great expansion. The university thrived under the auspices of the Cold War. But once the Cold War imperative disappears it is no longer as vital to maintain national capacity. Universities could be privatized."
"The idea of the autonomous scholar is disappearing," he said. "I am not sure many people even remember it."
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