As I randomly said to my little brother this morning, “…in college you will run into plenty of Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau, and maybe even some Locke if you take philosophy. You won’t hear much Spooner, Rothbard, Thoreau, Hayek, or Aristotle, since they tend to undermine the status quo and teach people to think for themselves. It is funny that you won’t be really taught how to think as much as what to think. Just get ready…“
Rogue Operator beat me to it:
Staggering within today’s monastic halls of academia is the lack of real, substantive debate. While academia has always been satirized as a place where pointy-headed philosophical types debate “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” there once was meaningful debate on the core issues of philosophy that determined the research programs of all fields. In a move that would make Stalin proud, many philosophers and brilliant minds of the past have been erased from the big picture of human knowledge. It is not that these intellects do not measure up to the supposed insights of the New Left, it is the fact that these truth-tellers represent a threat to the left’s political program, which is driven by Platonic “big lies,” and Sorelian “useful myths.” In other words, it is not because these past philosophers are not insightful that they are excluded from the formal curricula of our universities; it is because they are insightful that they are excluded.
. . .
Radicalism requires confusion about the nature of politics and government. In addition to Aristotle, whom was mentioned earlier, such crucial texts as Montesqueiu’s The Spirit of the Laws, Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense are dropped. Montesquieu is commonly objected to on the grounds that he was ‘aristocratic,’ and because his speculation on the heterogeneity of societies being tied to climate bordered on racialism; therefore, his brilliant innovation of divided government, a crucial concept embedded in our Constitution, is somehow tainted by association. (Though the charge that Karl Marx was a deadbeat father and a social parasite apparently is a kind of blasphemy.) Locke is usually attacked along the lines that he was too ‘mystical,’ that is to say, too Christian. But as we saw with the indispensable Thomas Aquinas and his magnum opus Summa Theologica, rationality can be wondrously harmonized with Christianity, particularly in the ideals of Natural Law and natural rights. Common Sense is dropped as too ‘polemical,’ while The Federalist Papers is relegated to being an obsession of ‘right-wing fanatics,’ though it is perhaps one of the greatest works on political philosophy in the history of mankind. The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution are increasingly ignored altogether, much the fate of the supposedly obsolete Anti-Federalist Papers; and although Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is widely discussed, it is mainly for its more modern liberal merits, which arise in certain passages. Again, forget Frederic Bastiat, whose writings are often corrosive of leftism and statism at their very cores. Along with “false choices” and social justice, students should learn about “The Broken Window Fallacy” and the unintended consequences of statism. F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom is paramount in this latter regard.
Radicalism requires immorality. It is practically a non-starter to discuss the Christian Bible within school or Academia; not for its historical merits, not for its insights into the human condition, not for its positive effects on the human soul. However, alternative religions and faiths are to be lauded as reflective of “tolerance,” and “diversity,” in accordance with the nihilistic offspring of political correctness, cultural and moral relativism. An absence of ability to distinguish between good and evil, rather being “beyond good and evil,” as Nietzsche put it, is crucial to the left’s dehumanizing program, thus students are not allowed to learn about the deep-seated social causes of revolution and misery. Whether in the ancient Near East, ancient Greek city-states, the Roman republic, the medieval period, the English Civil War, the French Revolution, the 1848 revolutions, the Bolshevik putsch and Russian civil war, the collapse of society that presages tyranny is rarely explicitly mentioned, and hardly ever fully explored. Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind is a stellar modern work that explores this topic.
Radicalism requires a loss of identity, loss of confidence in one’s self, and susceptibility to be manipulated by a collectivist cause. There are certain texts that are crucial to morally girding the student to prevent his manipulation by self-interested authorities into adopting or embracing ‘altruistic,’ self-destructive causes. Students are asked to ‘sacrifice themselves’ for the greater good, instead of better themselves for the greater good. What betters a human being is pursuing personal excellence, in accordance with those virtues that make a man a good citizen. What is lost in academia completely is that market competition brings out the best in individuals, and that the market mechanism requires that one contributes to the greater good in some way in order to be compensated, and in order to become wealthy. While wealth can be gained in a capitalist society, it can also be lost; as opposed to the record of government, where elites can barricade themselves into accountable positions using fraud and force. Such wanton deception can only get so far within a market, where the free flow of information is crucial. And just as the government is choking the free flow of information in the market through currency manipulation and over-regulation, in order to cause chaos and gain economic power, those same elites are non-coincidentally choking the flow of information in our universities.
Read the rest. Well said, RO. My recent reflections on the gaping hole in academia lead me to the consequences of Marxism. Hundreds of millions of men, women, and children killed in the name of a Utopian ideal that today we apparently yearn to replicate here, by demanding more government money and tendrils in every level of society. Which leads me to your lecture of the week, which I have been able to listen to the last few days while I have been in the shower (I studied for 10 hours straight yesterday. And to think no one even paid me…) Here is Yuri Maltsev, former personal economist to Gorbachev and an incredibly insightful and virtuous man, on the dangers of the tendency toward government control from a historical perspective. He also has warnings for today that we would all be wise to hear and educate ourselves about. There is a hole in your education and in the media. We may hear of the Holocaust and Hitler once every few polarizing discussions. Hardly ever do we hear of the sins of those with good intentions who destroyed life on magnitudes unseen before or ever since. Doesn’t it make you wonder at least, why the most destructive man-made forces are not discussed in the classroom or media? Conspiracy? No. Complicity? Perhaps, if we adopt the same societal arrangement…