LSE makes a Jolie tit of itself

The London School of Economics was founded by the Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb, who hated the English class system but loved Lenin.

That established a certain intellectual capital, and the LSE has been living off the interest every since. I remember many years ago, when Margaret Thatcher was PM, my son studied at the LSE for a semester, and I took him there on his first day.

A poster in the lobby advertised a scholarly debate on the subject of “Resolved: this house will assassinate Thatcher”. I was appalled at such a cavalier omission of the honorific. Surely it should be ‘Mrs Thatcher’, I thought.

I also thought a few other things, too robust to cite here. Suffice it to say that the faculty and students were evidently attached to the notion of upholding the university’s fine Marxist tradition.

Having said that, for all its gauche (or is it sinister?) leftward bias, which these days isn’t that different from most major universities, the LSE has also enjoyed a sound academic reputation. Why, it has even boasted some prominent conservative scholars, such as Michael Oakeshott and my dear late friend Ken Minogue.

That reputation, whatever little is left of it, lies in tatters. For, now that Oakeshott and Ken are no longer with us, the LSE has filled the gap by appointing the heavily tattooed Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie as visiting professor on Women, Peace and Security.

It’s good to see that Angelina has been able to retrain for a new career. Having undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy, she has lost the two most salient aspects of her talent and had to reinvent herself. Ideally, she ought to have chosen Bristol University though (if you aren’t English, you won’t understand the allusion; if you are, I apologise).

I don’t know how diligently Angelina has kept abreast of the current academic trends, but then her professorship has to be mostly titular. Then again, perhaps it isn’t, for there can’t be too many other scholars around to answer the LSE’s urgent need for academic exegesis on Women, Peace and Security.

In fact, I can’t think offhand of any great thinkers of the past who distinguished themselves in this subject, but this may be ignorance speaking. I’m sure there must have been whole groves densely populated by scholars doing extensive research and coming to the conclusion that, when there’s peace, women enjoy greater security.

The actress admitted “feeling butterflies” before the first lecture, which isn’t surprising in such an unfamiliar setting. To get rid of the stage fright, she should have imagined she was shooting a nude scene and dressed accordingly, but that was no longer an option for purely surgical reasons.

As it was, she was wearing “a simple yet sophisticated longline coat” highlighted in all the newspaper accounts of Angelina’s foray into the academe. This must be a new trend in academic critique.

I mean, I don’t recall anyone mentioning Ken Minogue’s “sober yet well-cut charcoal-grey suit”. Reviewers tended to focus on what he was saying more than on what he was wearing.

But, as the latest Nobel Prize winner for literature has discovered, “the times, they are a-changing.” Anyway, to be fair, some accounts did mention things other than the new professor’s sartorial excellence.

To quote one such account, “The course helps scholars, practitioners, activists, policy-makers and students to develop strategies to promote justice, human rights and participation for women in conflict-affected situations around the world.”

Also mentioned was “the aim of promoting gender equality and enhancing women’s economic, social and political participation and security.” My, admittedly non-academic, advice to women finding themselves in such situations would be to get the hell out before they get raped or killed, and never mind ‘social and political participation’.

But that’s because I haven’t studied this academic discipline as deeply as Angelina has. And sure enough, her scholarly exploits drove the students to paroxysms of delight the professor hasn’t enjoyed since doing those nude sex scenes (film references available on request).

‘Wonderful’ was the adjective most widely used, and one post-graduate student enthused: “She’ll make an amazing visiting professor. So honoured to hear her inaugural lecture at LSE on sexual violence, rape, working with refugees”.

It’s a safe bet that Angelina’s advice on rape didn’t include that tired ‘relax and enjoy’ cliché, and nor could she have possibly drawn the students’ attention to the well-documented fact that, in Europe at least, it’s refugees who commit most sexual violence.

Actually, this unmitigated tosh is itself an act of violence, raping as it does not just a formerly reputable university but indeed the very concept of academic life. Any boob could see that.

3 thoughts on “LSE makes a Jolie tit of itself”

  1. “A poster in the lobby advertised a scholarly debate on the subject of ‘Resolved: this house will assassinate Thatcher’.”

    I thought that sorta thing went on only in America. I am so glad the English do it too.

  2. The LSE has not always been solidly left-wing. My father who taught there said that pre WW2 the economics faculty was mainly 19th Century Liberal. When I was there, the Prof of Economics was Prof. the Rt Hon Lord Robbins (advisor to the conservative government), and the rest of the staff was a healthy mixture. The biggest students’ political society was The Conservatives, Liberal was next and Labour the smallest. The Communist Society had ceased to exist.

    1. I did mention Oakeshott and Minogue. Most top universities have a few token conservatives (not to be confused with Conservatives), and the LSE is no exception. However, its overall leftward tilt is quite obvious – as it is with most top universities. They didn’t hire Jolie out of conservative commitment to truth rather than ideology, did they?

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