The “smart” economy

Some sense of the current world can be had if we consider college education as a fiat currency. The graduating student receives, in addition to a mountain of debt for him to climb, a piece of paper or e-paper that can be exchanged for a paid position in the labour market — the better the more wisely he shops. This “degree” indicates that he has useful virtues, the crucial one being patience.

A doctorate, for instance, indicates that the holder is willing to spend x consecutive years in an extremely tedious, and rather pointless activity, without doubting the benefits that will accrue. He may be secretly rebellious, but few have been provided with the religious skill of self-analysis, leading to self-knowledge. Natural feistiness in the human being is displaced from creative to destructive activities, such as crime or progressive politics.

Depending on the human, a voracious sex life is an alternative, or this can be combined with politics via social media. I first observed this phenomenon in the Vietnam hippie era, when any policeman could tell you that after a big protest rally, innumerable couples could be spotted “happily humping in the hedges” (the late McKenzie Porter’s memorable phrase), having been aroused by lust for sex and power, simultaneously.

In contemporary campus life, the burgeoning administrative class encourage this kind of behaviour, because it distracts students and professors alike from displeasure with the administrative class.

I notice that social studies repeatedly show that the administrators of colleges are more radical than the professors; and that the student body is, though still quite Left, generally the farthest to the Right. Thorough brainwash rooted in a Pavlovian reward/punishment system renders them complacent to the prevailing “politically correct” ethos, however, and accustoms them to unquestioning acceptance of obvious falsehoods. Upon graduation they may easily replace one set of lies with another, to fit in with “global” commercial requirements.

Quieter people invest in hobbies, which they may indulge out of public view. The great secret of the suburbs I discovered when, through bourgeois employment, I had suburban friends. It could be found in the “rec rooms” (rec for “recreation”), usually in the basements of North American homes. It was how they kept sane, given low-grade university degrees that equipped them only for unskilled or paper-pushing labour. These quite various and often interesting hobbies were their access to a world that was beautiful, and exquisitely ordered.

Weekday mornings, however, they would have to return, after a long chaotic commute, to their ugly, boring, debilitating, but salaried jobs. The contemporary notion of a “holiday” consists of getting in a car or aeroplane and flying as far away from one’s “real world” as one can afford. Five weeks per year if you are lucky.

I would seem to be wandering away from my point, but in addition, I should like to enlarge upon those fiat credentials. With the inflation of “education” since the last World War, these bear less and less relation to the owners’ natural or acquired abilities, except this ability to sit through numbing experience for a fixed number of years. A comparison might be made to Bitcoin, or other crypto-currencies, in which numerical value is digitally “mined.” This involves an incredible waste of expensive electrical resources, in order to obtain “something for nothing.”

Now, in a society that were fully sane, the abilities themselves would be the criteria for employment, and rather than by sitting through the “education” process, “cred” would be acquired through accomplishments that were appropriate to the trade.

Universities would of course still exist, but they would cater to the relatively small proportion of people who could benefit from focused, exacting, intellectual study. It is possible that as many as one in twenty of those currently populating the university campuses, actually belong there. But the rest are miscast.


P.S. already I must explain, to one of my incredulous correspondents, that I don’t include e.g. health trade schools, engineering quadrangles, or other technical training facilities in my definition of a university. Until they become politicized, these can be fairly useful institutions, and their credentials may perhaps be valuable, thus. Seminaries make an exceptionally interesting counter-example, combining, as it were, the intellectual and the vocational; almost all the world’s great universities began as Catholic seminaries. The old quad of arts, law, medicine, and theology I will accept by mediaeval precedent, though I remain sceptical of the “standardizing hand of Frederick II” at Salerno.