Saturday 7 December 2019

Why is there more intellectual freedom in Bucharest than Cambridge?

Several people sent me this Spectator article recently about how much more intellectual freedom there is here in Romania than at my university, Cambridge. The writer, a Romanian student at Cambridge, tells how he wanted to speak to a political society about 
‘The classical liberal case against the EU’ –and was asked not to do so.

‘The problem is… we’re looking for something a bit more mainstream.’ Mainstream? But this is broadly the view of 52 per cent of the UK population! ‘Right. It’s just that we had a pro-Brexit speaker once and it all got a bit uncomfortable, a bit… controversial.’ Controversial ideas? At a university? Whatever next?

This only skims the surface. All sorts of things about race and sex and other subjects are freely said in Bucharest that are not said in England, but society polices itself and what it says far more than in the 1990s. One Romanian friend complains that political correctness in Romania reminds her of how it was under the Communists, who after all invented political correctness.

Who would have imagined in 1989 that Romania would soon have freedom of speech and in England speech would be tightly regulated?


  1. Why is there more intellectual freedom in Bucharest than Cambridge?
    Because we are flying below the radar.

    1. But what radar? Once every country did its own thing.

    2. OED Online Word of the Day

      Your word for Monday 9th December is: contemptus mundi, n.

      Disregard of or disdain for worldly or temporal concerns.

      1869 J. C. Byrne Beggynhof iv. 92 We silently admired this simple Christian philosophy, and the sublime contemptus mundi it bespoke.