Thursday, March 01, 2012

Why does UT feature Karl Marx on their sociology website?

This information was sent to me by my friend, Mario. Normally, he emails jokes which I've shared with you in the past. However, this isn't a joke.

Below is the screen shot of the University of Toledo's Department of Sociology and Anthropology website.

As you can see, the "pioneer" (as he's described) Karl Marx is featured. The welcome says:

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at The University of Toledo is dedicated to understanding and improving social life. From our disciplines' earliest days, pioneers such as Karl Marx and Margaret Mead have championed both social understanding and social change.

Our graduates go on to work in a wide variety of settings, from community development corporations to social movement organizations to social service organizations. Many also go on to graduate schools in fields such as law, education, public health, social work, the social sciences, and the humanities.

The link for Marx takes you to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy where it describes him:

Karl Marx (1818–1883) is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary communist, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century.

Interestingly, the link for Margaret Mead takes you to a University of Southern Florida College of Arts and Sciences page which says:

404 - Page Not Found
Enjoy a TimeScape video or see below:
The page you were trying to access was not found. It is no longer available or has been moved. Please visit the main CAS website, try using the links on the top to locate the information you are looking for. If you arrived at this page by following a link, please notify the webmaster of the original page that contained the non-working link.

Try Searching for what you were looking for:

As Mario wondered, why Karl Marx? "At a taxpayer funded university in a country that has traditionally been the antithesis of Marxism? Frankly, I find this offensive. Wasn't Adam Smith good enough?"

Why not Albert Hobbs, one of the few conservative sociologists?

As Gary North wrote:

"Conservative sociologist" is as close to an oxymoron as you can get in academia, comparable to "civil government."

North also described sociology as

" academic discipline that has long been dominated by collectivist political liberals and radicals..."

If this is true, then wouldn't featuring a conservative sociologist on the UT web page indicate to all that the college was devoted to exploring all aspects of sociology and not just the liberal ones?

Considering the dearth of conservative sociologists, couldn't they find one who didn't promote one of the worse systems ever? If the Department is dedicated to "improving social life," Karl Marx, Marxism and Communism are certainly NOT the examples to follow.

As Mario continued:

Old Karl invented the most idiotic philosophy in history - briefly, that a small group of elites could know what's best for everyone else, better than they do. This was at such variance with human nature that it unleashed massive mayhem, misery and oppression and has been dumped on the thrash heap of history, where it belongs, by all the major countries which actually tried it, like India, China and the old Soviet Union!

The countries still sticking with old Karl's basic ideas include N. Korea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and a few more broken states in Africa, all having one thing in common - grinding poverty and merciless oppression.

Is this what students who study the teachings of Karl Marx in the UT Sociology Department learn? Or does this public, tax-funded university teach that Marx's theories are just as valid as any other?

No matter what they learn, is Karl Marx really the public face the University wants for their Sociology Department?

I think not.


James said...

Thanks, Maggie, for posting this. If I ever get some spare change to donate to my alma mater, UT, it sure won't go to the Sociology and Anthropology Department.

Jason said...

I'm not sure how I ended up at this blog, but I will say that Karl Marx is a prominent and influential philosopher whose work has been so influential and important in history that it would be a political scandal if his ideas weren't introduced to students of economics or sociology at a conservative Texas school.
Despite what your friend says, scholars all over the world study and confirm the value of Karl Marx's work whether they agree with it or not.

UT has an obligation to uphold the values of an institution of higher education which means that its curricula shouldn't be dictated by political ideology.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maggie Thurber said...

Jason - I removed your duplicate post which was identical to the one already there, so that's why it shows your comment deleted.

I don't question the fact that UT is teaching Karl Marx - to ignore him in the learning would not be a good thing at all. I also don't believe my friend was questioning his ideas being taught.

Rather we both question why he is the featured philosopher on the page. There are certainly other philosophers - some discussed in the post who are as prominent and, as I pointed out, more indicative of the diversity of thought you should find at a university.

The point was not to limit the teaching but to question why Marx - clearly not the best example - was the one chosen to represent the department on their webpage.

As I wrote in the article - if the University really wanted to demonstrate a wide reflection of the field, they'd have been better off featuring the rarity: a conservative sociologist.

Besides - in this day and age, I thought we were all supposed to immediately stop doing something that 'offends' others. If featuring Marx on the webside offends my friend, shouldn't the University immediately put a stop to it? They do so with prayer.

(the last comment is clearly meant as sarcasm and the prayer reference is an example only)

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