The Age of Academic Ruin

Barbarians at the Gateby Glenn Fairman   5/19/14
Now that we can see through a glass more clearly, which of us can deny that the American Academy surrendered without a shot to its barbarous and intellectually unwashed, following a rough descent into slavish cultural Deconstruction? As such, the old guard’s aptitude for disinterested inquiry was seized and corrupted via a balkanized identity politics and a post-modern worldview that has wildly succeeded at dividing society into alienated warring camps.

As a witness to that bloodless capitulation, I found that this new progeniture of professorial triumphalists were markedly inferior in both erudition and gravitas to their predecessors and that the ranks of these Young Turks were generously constituted with perpetually dissatisfied utopians. In fact, these tin-plated revolutionaries were little more than partisan shills with an ax to grind and a seething animus against the gods of the greater culture. Consequently, there should have been little surprise when they denounced their detached search for objective truth and embraced liberalism’s political jihad to remake the world in Humanism’s feeble image.[pullquote]Consequently, there should have been little surprise when they denounced their detached search for objective truth and embraced liberalism’s political jihad to remake the world in Humanism’s feeble image.[/pullquote]

As the crowning result of the Left’s long march through the academic institutions of the Humanities, the dinosaurs of the ancient regime fled into retirement or were unceremoniously purged as the earth’s ideological poles reversed. With the forces of “reaction” spent, the academy’s once august positions were filled by a more dogmatic, less intellectually tolerant species — whose ends were no longer the assault of ignorance or in moving from opinion to knowledge, but as a brood of carnal monastics dedicated towards the advocacy of the One True Path.

Any student who has had the misfortune of enduring these insufferable Jacobins knows intimately of what I speak. For the crime of slandering liberal orthodoxy, one could be called out or relegated to the outer darkness by the effortless rolling of eyes, the condescending grin or the boisterous laugh — followed shortly by the dry expressionless question: designed not towards engaging in dialogue, but to firmly put you in your place. And if shyness or the possession of a non-confrontational nature did not therein quiet you, one could always count upon the True Believers amongst your brethren who possessed the selfsame pack mentality as the famished coyote. These lockstep drones intuitively understood the court etiquette of ideological tyrants, and knew well that the act of hectoring and humiliating the Master’s cowed and cornered prey could only enhance one’s academic standing.

Being a Conservative in the belly of the Social Science beast is a thing to behold, like a Dante descending into Hell’s circles of torment. Within the orthodox confines of graduate seminars, one could not find more “accommodating” intellects – apt pupils who would have fit in quite nicely as guardians of Soviet re-education camps. One could not find a duller and less introspective brute, especially in the lairs of any courses involving Identity Politics. Within this arena, Progressives had by far the lowest possible cumulative GPAs and were constantly speaking in the brogue of justice and emotion. All discourse was tainted with the same illiterate Marxian/Materialist thread of analysis that permeated even the most apolitical of discussions. The pursuit of respect through power seemed to be an obsession with the True Believer. Moreover, this sham of Identity Politics allowed for a maximization of political posturing with a minimum of work and collectively created an ideological echo chamber of closed circular minds fed on a diet of bitterness against a backdrop of grievance. Nevertheless, what could never be fully articulated was the nascent understanding that their Leftist project was purely personal and that these types of courses fundamentally embraced an affirmative action clientele whose talents were near universally shallow and subpar.

Today, the content of these memories, against a backdrop of so many years, have not abated like a bad dream. nor has reason reasserted itself in the Academy. Indeed, students within the humanities are measurably less literate and more propagandized — although the indoctrination they suffer from has not been so much a function of undergraduate education, but flows from the subtleties of a squalid elementary classroom. In truth, the contemporary mind has been incrementally inoculated against the foils of God and Reason, and the culprit is not so much the wild eyed Leninist professor who spewed lies and vitriol to the educationally unbalanced neophyte, but the smiling 3rd grade teachers who exuded “nice” and whose vacant philosophies demanded that the world, by definition, should be a place of puppy dogs, rainbows and equal outcomes. With such effeminate tools are today’s socialists made. Indoctrination no longer requires the blunt cunning of force or fraud: for the 10,000 little subliminal lessons attained from the school house are enough to ensure that the young human mind is waylaid and bound for its lifetime to the hive. And this parched catechism of ignoble half-truths, along with the gargantuan power of the media, will guarantee that few will ever escape, except by way of the unyielding recitations that accompany the knock-out punch of nature and reality.[pullquote]Being a Conservative in the belly of the Social Science beast is a thing to behold, like a Dante descending into Hell’s circles of torment.[/pullquote]

How perilous the minefield of public education has become since the days of McGuffey’s Reader. Although information has increased exponentially, humanity is all the more stupid in things that truly count, while the conceptions of truth and value have fallen by the wayside — leaving the entire enterprise of education in doubt. Knowledge thus becomes an instrumentality to a temporal end and is as divorced from the classical search for the Good Life as it is of moral excellence or Man’s metaphysical ends. Against all earthly prudence, the pursuit of truth and the First Things of being have been sacrificed in the service to ideology and those sworn to the service of education have becoming little more than the State’s High Priests of Orthodoxy with each passing generation.

Soon, with the benediction of the Common Core, or whatever pedagogical shakedown is offered from our Centralized Masters, a great homogenization will flow across the land. We shall not see an increase in understanding, but a narrow leveling of vision and wisdom that renders the farm boy in the Bible Belt and the bastard child of the ghetto as interchangeable as bolts on a Chevy. As such, America will have finally gotten what the Progressive’s have dreamed of: a substantive equality of result: not only in economics, but of the mind. Without the impediments of a thousand competing voices pleading for their share of the human soul, the State will finally have the monopoly of hearts and minds it needs for attaining its quest of the Universal Homogenous State. Having firmly dispensed with Socrates’ “Unexamined Life,” that great tower of Nimrod can once again be attempted:

One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them…….
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (5047 views)

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14 Responses to The Age of Academic Ruin

  1. steve lancaster says:

    Glenn,
    After spending the last 20 years in what we laughingly call “higher education” as student, occasional teacher, mentor and PIA for administrations from California to Arkansas I wish I could say you were wrong. All I can say is “OUCH”.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Fortunately, I graduated from Purdue in 1973, so I only saw a hint of this that last semester in the English department (they finally added a course on science fiction, which I naturally took as an elective). To be sure, there were some liberals even in the other fields; Professor Mork was described by a friend as “a mousy little Socislist”, but I enjoyed the 2 courses in German history that I took under him. Professor Fithian, another historian, was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1974 (replacing the egregious Earl Landgrebe, so notorious for saying — more or less — “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts” [ironically, now a common liberal reaction] about Watergate — that even conservatives mocked him). On the other hand, Professor Haywood, another historian, was a specialist in central and eastern European history of the sort known as a “Horthy-culturalist”, and my chemistry professor (Davis) was a staunch anti-communist.

    Of course, the rejection of truth and morality is one reason why we have such a rise in stupidity, just as the dogmatism of liberals leads to their extreme intolerance. (It’s ironic that liberals are the most illiberal people you can find. Even some Muslims are probably less rigidly orthodox, though the fundamentalists are probably no better than liberals, if also no worse.)

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Kevin Williamson, who is sounding like me, gives an opinion that can best be summed up as “WTF?” And more and more this is the only sane reaction to what is occurring in our culture.

    Yes, those people with patience and eloquence (such as Thomas Sowell) can dig down into the nitty gritty of all the facets that are destroying education. And it’s probably useful that they do so. But we’re watching a system that was somewhat designed to dumb-down people turning back upon on itself and producing a feedback loop of the blind leading the blind.

    The modern education system is designed (by those such as William Ayers who are doing the designing) for various things, the education of our children in strict academic subjects being near the bottom of the list. Many education establishments (such as that in Washington State) actually state in their primary documents that one of the prime goals is to create a “global citizen.”

    And it’s becoming wussified as well. As Dennis Prager notes, the Left substitutes feeling for standards. I had a citizen-activist who specialized in education show me the Washington State education system primary documents. The gunk in there was so stupid it’s really surprising to me that it can get in there. But it does. There was a section saying how getting math problems right wasn’t important. What was important was, in essence, that people feel good about the “process.”

    As Dennis Prager has noted, there is a fairly recent international poll that gauged student proficiency. The United States ranked far from the top. But as Prager noted, in how the American students perceived their abilities, they ranked at the top, showing the pernicious emphasis on “self-esteem” rather than learning.

    The thrust of modern education is wussified in that the goal is to make sure nobody ever feels bad. This is one of the fruits of the emphasis on “equality.” For someone to excel means that someone else will feel “left out.”

    Is this stupid, evil, or both? I’m not sure. But until we start asking more from the kids, how the hell can we ask more from the teachers? Or vice versa. Kindergarten, for all intents and purposes, now seems to infect the system clear up through High School.

    The purpose of education today is to take your child away from you and create something that is in the best interests of the Leftist state. This is a far cry from the historic purpose of American education which was to instill the skills into people so that they could make it on their own in the free market. Now the goal is to make dependent and feeble-minded socialists of people.

    That is the system that Glenn, Deanna, and others have found themselves in. The push from the top-down has been exactly this for decades. But only now is it getting great traction due to the useful dumb-downed idiots who were the product of this system getting back into the system as teachers and administrators – while Mr. and Mrs. America at home can’t be bothered so long as the public school system fills in as a gloried baby-sitting service so that women, in particular, can find “fulfillment” in business and industry. The Glenns and Deannas (and Steves, I think he said) used to be the rule in a system that was pushing toward what we have today. Good people predominated and provided the needed inertia to lessen or counteract the effects of the stupid. But that inertia is nearly gone now.

    Yes, there are many parents who want a good education for their children (many of them are home-schooling). Not all fit this paradigm. But the problem is, the paradigm is real. And once you are indoctrinated in it, it will be damn tough to push back against it. The blind spots are indoctrinated intentionally. And according to Thomas Sowell, the education establishment itself has become very good at deflecting parental criticism (whenever it should somewhat rarely rise up).

    If the education system was a horse, we would shoot it. Instead, the “leaders” of our country (such as the idiot Bushes) push for even more Federal control. Both parties are either in on the scam or are useful idiots for the scam.

    There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly in regards to how to effectively teach the primary academic subjects, there is no mystery. We know (or should know) what works and what does not. But there is little vested interest in fixing the problem because that would mean firing teachers, reducing Federal and state control, and rising above the stupid ideology of “Progressivism” which, for all intents and purposes, has become the state religion.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      “Those who can, do. Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” Increasingly this bitter joke is not only accurate, but is in fact exactly how “education” is supposed to work. Go back a couple of decades and you have Paul Shanklin’s “Wonderful School” parody. (“But I do know one and one is three, or at least that’s what it means to me.”) Go back a few decades earlier and you have Kurt Vonnegut’s devastating “Harrison Bergeron”, in which equality means handicapping those who are better than “normal” (which inevitably has to be set well below average). I think your notion that all that focus on self-esteem stems from their radical egalitarianism (which is always limited by the need to allow the ruling class to remain superior, as was implied in Vonnegut’s story) is likely very accurate.

  4. steve lancaster says:

    The problem is that Conservatives, of every stripe, Progressives, even some Libertarians all want the government to fix the problem.

    Education, K-12 or college and university is IMHO solely the provenance of local control. Some will be bad, some good and some excellent but the continuing effort to make all schools the same only creates mediocrity stifles thought, hinders creative solutions and keeps our children unprepared to deal with a world that is more dangerous today than it was in 1960. We are all at fault to greater or lesser degrees by thinking that more government control will produce better results.

    I recall the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I certainly agree with the idea of Federalism, Steve, which allows the 50 states (57 if you are Obama) to experiment and come up with their own solutions — solutions that will reflect local needs and standards. To make this idea plain to libtards, this is what conservatives call “diversity.”

      And I certainly agree with the subsidiarity principle, the idea that all decisions should be made at the lowest possible level, for some of the reasons stated above.

      But, in theory, one could certainly design a one-size-fits-all Federal education system. We did, after all, send men to the moon with NASA and build a Federal highway system. If the purpose and focus is clear, there is nothing inherent about the Federal level that makes something impossible to do reasonable well.

      The problem is, all of the “reforms” instituted at the Federal level are not about giving kids a better education. It’s about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic instead of changing the direction of the ship. It’s about people trying to cover their asses. It’s about doing the typical thing in government: “Doing something” (providing mere action) in hopes that this will be interpreted as a remedy. (“Well, at least I tried to do something.”)

      The system as it is in place now is a jobs program for union employees. One can say that this is on overly cynical view. Not all union employees are incompetent. Not all union bureaucracies are over-staffed. Not all union management resists excellence. And even in a corrupt system as we have now (Thomas Sowell says that the education system combines two of the worst elements: union control and a state monopoly), somehow a large percentage of kids learn to read and write.

      But the system itself as it exists is inherently corrupt because the preponderance of the parts is not geared toward reform, self-critique, and excellence. Yes, you will still find schools whose mediocrity seems like a sort of excellence when contrasted with the rest of the system. But even the “good” schools pay far too much for what they are getting. And it is certain that a plank-floored, one-room “Little House on the Prairie” school with a good curriculum could do a better job teaching the basics with textbooks that were old, torn, and dusty.

      It just depends upon what the overall goal of an institution is. If the Federal, state, or local government valued the academic subjects over the politically correct/Communist ones, and demanded high standards of excellence in the teachers as well, you would see a remarkable change almost overnight. Everyone (including the idiot Bushes) talk of “accountability,” but few mean it.

      The first job is to bust up all the teacher’s unions and adopt free market principles of competition, innovation, and accountability. School vouchers would be one such method which would allow parents to have a choice. Many criticize this idea saying that parents will not necessarily choose the best schools. But that is hardly the point. The point is to allow them to punish the bad ones. This is how the market works. Failure is punished.

      But failure is very rarely punished in today’s unionized, state-monopoly schools. And you can rearrange the deck chairs on this Titanic all day long, but little will be corrected until you actually have the kind of “fundamental change” that is needed. And part of that change has little to do with the state. As Shakespeare said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” Until we recognize the failure of the feelings-based “Progressive”/Communist utopian agenda, we will have no ideological argument against the Communists/socialists among us who are doing the things they are doing, and for the reasons they are doing them.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        You have a point there. For example, Common Core isn’t inherently a bad idea, but inevitably the standards were set by academics, who inevitably were mostly liberals, which meant that Common Core became a very bad idea once they got involved. In the end, any public education system will probably suffer from the same problem.

  5. steve lancaster says:

    Brad,
    Your starting to sound like a libertarian 🙂

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    This article is generating both light and heat on the American Thinker message boards right now.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I didn’t have time to read all 148 posts (and counting), but the top one by CA suburb hell is a real gem.

  7. littleoldlady littleoldlady says:

    Thank you for this particular article, Mr. Fairman. I always look forward to reading your contributions on AT, and “scout you out” immediately upon login to that site. The topics of Education and Constitutional Law are perhaps my two most favorite areas of interest.

    I do not wish to elaborate philosophically; just want to express my sincere thanks for your excellent exhortations regarding the obvious devolution of America’s educational system.

    BTW, I have five children and was able to skirt the “Fonix, wurx fer me” approach by supplementing their English language skills at home, thus teaching my children the intricacies, nuances, etymologies, idiosyncrasies, etc., of the English language. The core of my studies at university was the history of languages and literature in Western civilizations, including Russia. From then on, I simply decided to study for the rest of my life. I was able to find employment as an historian and, now in my late 60s, I am still working full-time and loving it.

    And now. . . I have twenty-one (yup, 21) grandchildren whose parents diligently re-teach them English, Math, and History (of all things!) when each school day is over.

    Mr. Fairman, you have turned your talents into virtues, in that you do your level best to bring to the rest of us common sense and understanding in truly literate terms without bombastic measures, all of which in turn assists your readership as they decide for themselves (and their families) how best to carry on with important aspects of their lives. I have observed this time and time again with your writings. What more could any of us ask from you?

    I am not given to flattery. I mean every word. Thanks ever so much.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    In truth, the contemporary mind has been incrementally inoculated against the foils of God and Reason, and the culprit is not so much the wild eyed Leninist professor who spewed lies and vitriol to the educationally unbalanced neophyte, but the smiling 3rd grade teachers who exuded “nice” and whose vacant philosophies demanded that the world, by definition, should be a place of puppy dogs, rainbows and equal outcomes. With such effeminate tools are today’s socialists made.

    I finally took the time to finish this article. I think the best bit is that quoted above. This is consistent with what Dennis Prager says about the Left replacing standards with feelings. We’re being bludgeoned to death by a thousand “soft” hammers.

    And note Glenn’s artful use of the word, “effeminate.” I have no overt or covert “war against women.” But one of the avenues that Cultural Marxism has used to gain control of the culture is via feminism and the female propensity to put feelings over standards (and security over freedom).

    I do not wish to root out the civilizing effects of maternalism. But without the masculine influence, we do indeed become an “effeminate” culture. This is certainly why — either consciously or unconsciously — one of the prime goals of the Left is to emasculate the males. Strong, good, self-sufficient men (or strong, good, self-sufficient women, for that matter) are an enemy to the socialists, Marxists, Communists, “Progressives,” and Democrats amongst us.

  9. Glenn Fairman says:

    that is in itself a thesis for another article.

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