‘Progressive conformity and cancel culture are distorting the teaching and research mission of universities,’ British professor said
British politics Professor Eric Kaufmann is moving to a new university to found a “heterodox” social science center and teach a public course on “woke” ideology.
Faculty and staff at the University of Buckingham in England, Kaufmann’s new academic home, “have been very encouraging and are completely behind everything I am doing, including the new course and new center,” Kaufmann (pictured) told The College Fix in an email.
“There must be 150 [students] registering interest already,” Kaufmann said, referring to his new, non-credit class, slated for the spring 2024 semester.
The course “is really about evidence and logic – that is, trying to be dispassionate social scientists and analytical political philosophers,” Kaufmann said. “I don’t want students to get too comfortable so will always play devil’s advocate if need be.”
The Fix asked Kaufmann what it was like to leave Birkbeck, University of London for a new university.
“It was hard in some ways to leave a place I had known as my intellectual home for 20 years,” Kaufmann said. “But radicals had poisoned the experience for me sufficiently to ensure that I was only coming in when I had to. So the writing was on the wall and the loss of freedom was palpable, even though most of the people I had known for years were perfectly cordial.”
For its part, Birkbeck Head of Communications Ollie Berman told The Fix in a statement that “Professor Kaufmann left Birkbeck at his own request on a voluntary basis, as part of a restructure supporting the reorganisation of our academic departments.”
“Birkbeck is committed to free, robust, and open debate among all members of the College community,” Berman wrote.
Kaufmann announced his university move and his new class, titled “Woke: the Origins, Dynamics, and Implications of an Elite Ideology,” in a series of X posts last week.
“After 20 years, I am leaving a full University of London professorship for the University of Buckingham,” Kaufmann wrote. “In January, I launch a new low-cost online course open to the public on Woke: the Origins, Dynamics and Implications of an Elite Ideology.”
“Why leave?” Kaufmann wrote. “My university’s uncertain financial position played a role, but I was also repelled by cancel culture and attracted by the chance to help build Buckingham as the only ‘free speech university’ in Britain.”
“Whereas the US has some 150 non-leftist research centres, nothing of this kind exists in Britain,” he stated. “In January I will therefore establish the Centre for Heterodox Social Science at Buckingham to pursue countercultural social science and humanities research.”
“Progressive conformity and cancel culture are distorting the teaching and research mission of universities,” Kaufmann wrote. “Between the extremely controversial and the progressive-controlled monoculture of academia is a vast and growing zone of unspoken truth.”
1/ After 20 years, I am leaving a full University of London professorship for the University of Buckingham. In January, I launch a new low-cost online course open to the public on Woke: the Origins, Dynamics and Implications of an Elite Ideology. Sign up:https://t.co/wkEbDvQAbQ
— Eric Kaufmann (@epkaufm) October 2, 2023
Kaufmann’s personal website described his “woke” course as “present[ing] a theoretical, historical and social scientific analysis of cultural socialism.”
“Uniquely among university courses worldwide, it focuses attention on the western cultural left and its accompanying symbolic system of wokeness – defined as the sacralization of minority identity,” according to the description.
Kaufmann has ventured before into controversial terrain in his research and public statements. Last June, he told The Fix that a recent increase in young adults identifying as gay or transgender is likely due to social pressure or political ideology.
“There are two theories, that greater tolerance is allowing more to come out of the closet, or Bill Maher’s assertion that LGBT is trendy among some youth,” he told The Fix via email. “I think the second theory better fits the data and explains more of why the rise occurred.”
Kaufmann said that while young adults identify as LGBT at higher rates than older generations, there has not been a corresponding increase in sexual behavior linked to those identities.
“LGBT behavior is up 4 points among young people since 2008, but LGBT identity is up 11 points,” he said in his email. “Among women, only around a fifth of bisexuals in 2008-10 said they only slept with men in the past 5 years. That share has risen steadily, so that it is now the case that the majority of female bisexuals only sleep with men.”
Editor’s note: This article has been update with a statement from Birkbeck, University of London.
IMAGE: The Agenda With Steve Paikin/YouTube