The recent events of censorship at the university have rightly aroused the anger and indignation of many, reminding us of the importance of protecting freedom of education in an institution dedicated to search for truth, the production of knowledge and the transmission of knowledge.

This somewhat idyllic vision of the university, which still seems to be widely shared, corresponds less and less to what is becoming of this institution, which for many years has been worked on and undermined in its foundations by the emergence of postcolonial studies and whose the practice of censorship is only the most apparent symptom.

The problem goes far beyond a minority of radical students and it is much deeper than one might think since it corresponds to a radical change of paradigm on which university education is based.

The truth does not exist

It is one of the main postulates of modern thought that characterizes postcolonial studies. There is no more truth, nothing but interpretations. The search for truth supposes that each thing has an essence, a nature of its own that we will discover gradually and that these truths will be universal and timeless, that is to say that they will be true everywhere and at all times.

However, this conception of truth, which was given to us by classical science and which was taken up by the thinkers of the Enlightenment, is today undermined by the postcolonial current for which there is no longer any truth, no longer of neutral, objective and universal knowledge, no more common neutral or natural norms, but nothing but interpretations which clash and for which each statement becomes a political exercise.

Thus, knowledge is transformed into power and reason is supplanted by the will to dominate. You will have understood that here we have left the field of knowledge and epistemology for that of politics and ideology.

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Postcolonial thought, which comes to us from American universities, draws its intellectual roots from thinkers of French Theory, such as Michel Foucault, whose influence is immense. Refuting any ontology, the latter argues that there is nothing that is endowed with an essence or of any nature whatsoever that would exist outside of history and that the normal and the abnormal would be explained by mechanisms of domination at a given time. So normality would be manufactured in the interest of power structures.

This is why, in postcolonial thought, universal knowledge becomes particular knowledge, knowledge which passes itself off as neutral when it is the reflection of a majority hegemonic culture. A dominant knowledge, white, male, heterosexual which, by the way he looks at the other, constitutes him as dominated. This is why Rector Frémont said that “members of dominant groups do not have the legitimacy to decide what constitutes micro-aggression”.

And this is why whites are forbidden to play Indigenous roles as in Kanata. Because the dominant projects an image of the dominated and, as Franz Fanon and Albert Memmi said, the colonizer sends back to the colonized the portrait of the colonized. Justin trudeau calls it the unconscious biases of systemic racism.

This postcolonial current will therefore make identity overdetermining it in the analysis of a question and necessarily lead to a politics of identities.

Decolonize dominant knowledge

Postcolonial thought has a very specific purpose that has nothing to do with knowing or seeking truth. It is no longer a question of knowing the world, but of transforming it. What matters here is not to debate or to argue to convince, but rather to impose one’s point of view to reformat minds. Neutralizing and defeating dominant knowledge is the unacknowledged political objective.

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How ? By requiring the censorship of certain words or titles of books spoken in a school setting. By requesting the withdrawal of certain works under study. By demanding the dismissal of professors who refuse to censor themselves. By questioning the classic academic corpus. By unbolting statues. By practicing the cancel culture which forces the expulsion from public debate of those we want to silence. By denying whites any legitimacy to talk about minorities. By accusing artists of cultural appropriation. By practicing lynching in packs on social media, insulting and accusing of racism anyone who does not subscribe to the creed of postcolonial thought.

These intimidation strategies are incredibly violent and carry an ambitious project of social reengineering which spares no area; history, literature, the arts, philosophy, sociology, political science, feminist studies and anthropology being the most contaminated disciplines. And that’s without counting the media, political parties, unions, the feminist milieu, the cultural and even legal milieu.

This trend is heavy and already well established in places of power. It will not disappear and will go on increasing. We can expect that the university that forms the elite of tomorrow will become a battlefield where all knowledge, even the hard sciences, will not escape this current of decolonization. Do you doubt it?

There is a “Decolonizing Light” research project at Concordia University that studies the reproduction of colonialism in and through contemporary physics and in higher education in physics. Go check it out!

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