A problem in higher education

A growing problem in higher education — actually it has grown, and matured — is that of the proliferation of aggressive, semi-literate morons. One could write a tedious book on how this came to be — it is one of those effects that has multiple causes — but the problem would not be solved if one did. It would have to be “another” such book; by now it is a genre.

Perhaps the qualifier, “aggressive,” could be relaxed. From my own experience of university campuses, visiting libraries, museums, sometimes auditing a lecture; knowing more than my share of perfesser types, and a few exceptional students; and reading; there is not that much aggression.

As Jordan Peterson has usefully demonstrated, when you make what merely looks like it might be a stand the Enemy usually runs away — even when it has you hugely outnumbered. Not all modern university inmates are moral and intellectual ciphers, to be sure, but at least nine in ten. They can be stirred into a mob on special occasions, by a few silly slogans from a “bad mouth.” But left to their own devices, the great majority are apparently harmless. I write “apparently” because most harm in contemporary society, on campus and off, is invisible to most participants. It is casual vice, by spreading example — behaviour that is vicious, but in no way exciting.

My late friend George Jonas, in conversation and in his writings, too, reserved the phrase “sub-literate moron,” cautiously (using “imbecile” sometimes, for elegant variation). Hitler’s, for instance, was a case he mentioned. Nietzsche, quite certainly, would not have been. But, “Nietzsche and Hitler created an explosive mix. …

“One can easily see the dangers of a Viennese flophouse inmate like young Hitler fancying himself a Superman, belonging to a master race, possessing the Will to Power, shedding the slave morality of an enfeebled Judaeo-Christian ethic, taking the place of a dead God, and when going to woman, like Zarathustra, not forgetting his whip. Ideas have consequences, one of them being that semi-literate morons may read them.”

Parse these remarks attentively, and it will be observed that the list of idjits will not be restricted to the Führer und Reichskanzler, though I daresay he was among the more aggressive. Most are followers, however, not leaders.

Returning to contemporary university life, the question arises: “Should we ban Nietzsche?” Or anyone else that Hitler tried to read? Or Marx, for that matter, to provide some balance? Or Shakespeare, or Dante; or other white males? Starting perhaps with Moses, and Homer? I am not going “over the top,” incidentally. These are among “serious” views sported on campus by semi-literate morons, today; including a young white male I spoke with recently, to cross purposes. (He is on his way to an advanced degree, in one of the latest sociological “disciplines.”)

And let me say, he cannot be confuted, for in pointing out that as a white male himself, his views are eminently eligible for suppression, I got no response; not even an ironical shrug. It was a point he could not hear, let alone reason with. Guess why?

Where do you start with these people? I should think in the cradle, were it possible to go back. But since it is not, we might pray for angelic intervention. There is certainly no public policy I can imagine that would deal effectively with the issue, except a partial one. It would be to cancel tax-funding, and make the universities beg. I should think they would return to their original “elitist” function fairly quickly, just to raise money; and that meanwhile departments of no conceivable value would be obliged to close.

Yes, I think money is an answer. All kinds of evil can be reduced, by withdrawing the money that supports it. But that is only a makeshift. The real solutions begin at the cradle. New parents should bear this in mind.


CHRONICLES OF THE UNFORESEEN. — My Chief Pittsburgh Correspondent (if I am not mistaken) writes to warn that if the universities were cut off tax money, we might expect such as Lord Zuckburgers (of Facebook), Lord Bezos (of Amazon), Lord Soros (of Euromoney), or Lord Gates (of Hell), to step in with their zillions. I would welcome the bankruptcy of any of these, and as a bonus the loss of their respective enterprises. For the amounts of money that are currently absorbed by the four thousand six hundred and twenty-seven “accredited” Title IV colleges and universities in the Natted States Merica alone, could eliminate their entire wealth stratum. Merely making them the dispensers of student loans would do a world of good.