On BBC World, I just watched John Sweeney’s excellent Panorama documentary on North Korea. The LSE have complained bitterly about the BBC using the cover of an LSE student trip to film inside North Korea.
The LSE is absolutely wrong here. What is the purpose of academic contact if it does not result in the revealing and dissemination of truth?
I am perhaps particularly sensitive on this point as , in my own field, the small western academic community dealing with Central Asia, with a tiny number of honourable exceptions, pull their punches and in their publications hide the truth about Central Asia’s appalling dictatorships, in order to maintain their “access”. But “access” has no purpose if not used to reveal truth, and what the learned professors really mean is they wish to maintain their own career and income.
If nobody from the LSE is ever allowed into the terrible North Korean dictatorship again, that will be a bad thing. But the benefit of the very wide spreading of truth by John Sweeney’s documentary is worth a very, very great deal more. The academics of the LSE may not entirely use their “access” to lick Kim Jong Whatever’s arse. But the said academics certainly don’t want to be associated with the spreading of the obvious truth that the said arse reeks to high heaven.