/ Deschooling /
My mistake, I’d already told this story: https://pknatz.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/history-of-schools-universities/
I’ll merge, edit them.
Oh, Who Owns New York, my school song asks. Answer: we do. Who’s that? Columbia.
Columbia is older than the US. Columbia received land grants from King George. Never mind how King George got the land to give away, just know: Columbia owned and still owns huge swaths of Manhattan.
Once upon a time some people wanted Dwight Eisenhower, famed WWII general, to be president of the US. It was thought that it might be a good idea to let him warm up by being president of Columbia. Fiat. It was done.
So here’s one of my favorite stories, a profound story: tells us who we all are.
Ike addresses the assembly of the faculty. He says that his will be an open administration. Literally, his office door will always be open: any employee of the university is welcome to come and talk to him about any issue at any time.
A professor emeritus stood. He told Ike that that sounded very nice but reminded him that he was addressing the faculty. “There’s only one employee of the university present in the hall: and that’s you! We are the university!
Yale was founded by a number of book lovers placing their beloved books on a table. Thus was founded the Yale library, thus was founded Yale! In the Renaissance the universities were the monasteries that copied and shared secular texts. The lecturers were the owners of the books who read the text aloud, slowly, for copying.
Thus: it could be said, the university is its resources in books. Columbia was saying to Ike that the university was its faculty: its human resources, the readers and commenters of the books.
Ike was saying to the faculty that he, the executive (and those who had created him executive, people with power, with property, with influence) was the university. In 1968 the student body was saying that they were the university!!!
But of course they all proved wrong: the state that can call the tactical police, that can arrest the students, or the faculty, or the executive … state power is the university. Big Brother. the stupid, nigh illiterates, utterly lacking in honesty: the mercantile state, managing the public’s skill level for the profit of the owners, that’s the university. It has nothing to do with philosophy, or science, or art … Absolutely nothing to do with truth.
Note: I got that Ike / Columbia story from my Russian lit professor. He told great Ike stories.
My other favorite concerned that professor, uncomfortable at a party at Ike’s president’s mansion on Morningside Drive. Doc slipped into the library. Oh, wow, the complete Pushkin, vellum bound, gold lettered cover … Doc went to take a volume in hand. There was no book. There were no books. It was all false fronts! There was no presidential library, it was all decoration!
Politics sorts out who’s who, what’s what. Politics sorts the power.
Then politics resorts the power.
One day the university is the books, another day its the book owners, another day it’s the book readers …
One day God has the power, another day nature, then the king … another day business, another day science …
One day critters competed for this and that, another day they’re all fossil fuels way under the ground. Way under the ground, is the tyrannosaur still trying to out-eat the fern? Or is it all just oil?
When we’re all just oil, will anyone know who the university was?