The alternative is tyranny
My point about reading lists and academic freedom is really about the plurality of values that exist in every society. Isaiah Berlin has written brilliantly about this, and so has my former colleague John Gray. There are market values, democratic values, emotional values, and so on, but there are also intellectual values.
The values of a society, say Berlin, Gray and I, are distributed according to different logics and they cover different realms. The one logic cannot be reduced to the other, although, admittedly, there are certain areas of overlap between them. To reduce everything to one logic results in tyranny — the tyranny of the market, the tyranny of the majority, the tyranny of emotionalism, and so on.
My job as a university teacher is to stand up for the integrity of intellectual values and to defend the university as an independent realm ruled by its own logic. This is why intellectual pursuits cannot be reduced to a question of majority decisions. But also why universities must be protected from market forces. The alternative is tyranny.