North Korea Honi Soit

This week, Labor MP Tim Watts upheld his party’s 30-year revulsion for a tertiary education that is free. In a tweet aimed not just at Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit but the approach that institution takes to the study of international relations, Watts told everyone that they should just feel ashamed. Watts, a chap who has argued both poorly and at length for our nation’s very urgent need for respectful debate, appears to want those who engage in it respectfully condemned within universities.

Look. Here’s the piece that rankled Watts. You probably won’t like the state-sponsored travelogue, and I didn’t much, either. A tankie defence of North Korea is not my jam and I do not agree with Jay Tharappel that the fight against imperialism demands the subjugation of those who contest it. I ardently agree with almost no one, however, that it is the ideal work of universities to contest all pre-existing knowledge.

Surely, the liberal and imperial ideals Watts cherishes are strong enough to withstand the research of Dr Tim Anderson -- I’d guess, the true target of Watts’ attack. Surely, it’s OK if one or two or three people manage to exist in the departments of our nation’s international relations departments while not arguing the Washington liberal consensus.