Commentary: Totalitarianism and Academic Freedom

Jennifer Ruth
Academe Blog

Excerpt: A lot of the higher ed news these days has me thinking about experiences I’ve had in China. (If you have access to the Chronicle of Higher Education, please see “Non-Critical Thinking in China” and “The Increasingly Authoritarian War on Tenure”.) And thinking about China’s history of totalitarianism more generally.

In authoritarian and totalitarian states where knowledge is controlled by one political party largely with the aim of perpetuating its rule, academic freedom does not exist. Every state in the United States where legislation has passed seeking to restrict teaching on race and gender has rejected this basic precept, one fundamental for a functioning democracy. Florida is going furthest and fastest as Ron DeSantis eyes the White House.