The Necessary Review of the Spanish University Caste

Sep 23, 2015

It is evident that Spain has much at stake in the challenge to the Rule of Law led by the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas. It seems unthinkable that Spain could lose this battle, but we should draw some conclusions to avoid similar situations in the future.

Any Spaniard might think that this duel could be lost by our country simply due to non-appearance or, rather, due to the neglect of duties by the national political parties, parties that are supposed to represent the general interest.

In this neglect of duties, both PP and PSOE stand out equally. However, it is an undeniable merit of zapaterismo to have brought back the two Spains, reopening an old wound that we thought had healed as a result of the agreement between political forces during the Transition.

We cannot understand ‘zapaterismo’ as an accidental phenomenon but as the result of bringing the prejudices of the elitist, oligarchic, and endogamous Spanish bureaucracy into the political sphere, specifically, the university caste from which Zapatero himself came.

This caste does not serve the citizenry since its purpose and existence are exclusively oriented towards inoculating students with a venom against private enterprise and wealth generation, uprooting any possibility of developing personal attitudes towards entrepreneurship and promoting the desire to become civil servants.

To whom does the civil servant account for their work? Or, in the university sphere, who measures or evaluates the outcome of the teaching task? Spain, like other Western societies, must carefully study the functioning of its bureaucracy to transform it into a tool that serves society.

It seems we have not learned that when meritocracy is removed from the horizon and unfair egalitarianism punishes the best, blocking any possibility of proportional benefit to effort and risk, we end up in the situation of abject misery to which communism led us.

It is the risk of failure and uncertainty (inherent in the private world) that create the right environment for progress. The fact that something can go wrong scares us and leads us to do everything in our power to prevent that adverse outcome. Effort, reflection, and creativity arise in contexts of uncertainty, and the fact that things can change activates us to survive.

However, the bureaucratic and endogamous design of the university (see the system for selecting professors, the internal promotion system, funding and evaluation system, its limited interaction with the business world…) has immobilized its functioning, hindered its dynamism, and distanced its members from the real world, turning them into the social agents who feel the most animosity towards changing the status quo. It is no surprise that we do not have leading universities, as they live in a parallel, static, and immovable universe where meritocracy and the creation of viable solutions to real problems have been relegated to the corner of oblivion.

It is necessary to analyze the results of 30 years of public service in democracy to implement changes that generate benefits for society, turning teaching into a driver of national economic development since it is from this activity that behaviors generating an entrepreneurial attitude and mindset, the genesis of wealth creation, emerge.

Undoubtedly, the university bureaucratic caste will not allow the indoctrination of our young people to stop, as it would mean the end of the outdated left that still roams the classrooms. But without that change, the conflict of the two Spains will remain ad eternum.

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