Friday, June 5, 2009

Oppressed francophone professors, unite!

Some clever soul signed me up on the email list of something called, where port here means left; in particular, an old-style, 1930s trade union sort of left, with an occasional bit of New Left environmentalism thrown in for variety.

I actually occasionally read the emails as they provide a glimpse into a strange and wonderful alternative world. I have always found it fascinating how reality is fundamentally under-identified, which is to say that there are a finite number of facts but an infinite number of theories to explain them. That, combined with the various cognitive tics and emotional overrides that worry our mental machinery means that people can draw from the same reality completely and utterly different theoretical frameworks. Wandering into other frameworks, and recognizing that they are sincerely held, is an exercise both useful and bracing. Nothing is more intellectually deadening than reading only things written by people who share your priors.

One of today's portside emails links to an overheated description of a strike by the faculty of the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), the lesser of the two francophone universities in Montreal. The piece largely speaks for itself in regard to, among other things, the massive self-delusion required to imagine that professors at UQAM (or, indeed, any other Canadian or US university) are oppressed in any substantively meaningful sense of that word and that it is somehow morally right that their oppression should be salved by raising taxes on actual working people.