But something more urgent presses upon the day. It seems to me to be the case that a new, drastic hiatus impends in our civilisation, matching two of the great historical splits of the past, those of the 17th and 19th centuries. The old order is breaking down, economically, environmentally, meaningfully. The official forces will fight to the end to restore things as they were; they will fail.

In these circumstances, it will prove the responsibility of university teachers of the humanities – philosophy, history, literature – and like-minded allies in social science to rediscover a language capable of speaking of matters of life and death, whether in lectures, books for the risible research excellence framework, seminars and conferences or, indeed, in the long, drawn-out disputes with management about the whole horrible hoo-ha over balancing the rigged books as handed over by the government. The language to hand is Leavis’, and we had better learn to speak it again before it is too late.

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