Liberté pour ľhistoire - or towards an EU-Dienst-academia?

My brief reflections, that is the liberty I take to freely express my concerns, do not claim to present a concise analysis of the cluster of potential problems for historical research the wise initiators of the Appel de Blois have pointed out. As a supporter of liberty in society and above all, academic research in all fields, and this includes seemingly uninteresting research about e.g. the width of Inuit slides in 19th Century Greenland, I would just like to present a few modest thoughts about the rightful concerns of the initiators of the Liberté pour l'histoire. My reflections are influenced by personal experience: first, as a historian of ideas I specialise in the 19th century political thought of the Slavic nations. While most of my colleagues do not contest that there is such a thing as Russian philosophy and Russian political thought, many still believe that there is no political thought in the Central European states because of the Cold War divide. "Czech and Slovak political thought? That does not exist"! they argue, and they should really know it better. Just because they themselves know nothing about a distinct topic does not mean that the topic does not exist. Second, the recent student protests against the Bologna system call for thinking about the increasing technologisation and economisation of higher education. In November, students all over Europe briefly occupied the main auditoriums of their universities to protest against the Bologna system. Some of their demands addressed the following issues: Sponsorship should not dictate the contents of the curricula; studies would deteriorate to a chase for ECTS points; student fees should be cancelled and access to higher education, on the whole, should be free to everybody. I share some of the students' concerns, which I think, have their origins in the perception that they have, because of the Bologna system, lost something valuable: a few years of freely reflecting, studying, finding their own personal identity and, as my esteemed colleague Ursula Pia Jauch put it, ‘they feel instinctively betrayed'. University policy is always a difficult path between autonomy and functionality; the masses that enroll require assistance by technology to ensure that each student can enjoy fair and equal treatment. On the other hand, I find it difficult to support the idea that one should get a university degree without actually attending classes or paying zero fees. But utopian ideas are a privilege of youth and student protests a European tradition.