1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND

How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

Matthew Wright

I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world.

Academic values demand that the INTRUDER must be UTTERLY DESTROYED! Academic values demand that ANY WHO DISAGREE with what WE DEMAND must be UTTERLY DESTROYED!

In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively.

I was wrong. The mood on campus was one of affronted anger, driven by a small but noisy part of the student community. Their indignance was directed at the world in general; but in practise their rage was always vented on the people in front of them. They were relentlessly ‘against’, never ‘for’. Alas, the causes they chose to ‘fight back’ against were social trends, so they had about as much chance of succeeding as of holding back the tide with a toothpick…

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