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Apr 26, 2022·edited Apr 26, 2022Liked by John Carter

The Humanities profs of the 80s embarked on a campaign to deconstruct and dismantle our entire inherited intellectual tradition (knowledge, culture, literature etc), plus the institutions they belonged to (and that subsidized their suburban lifestyles)--and they achieved a smashing success! (Isn't it always the case that what took centuries to build by a collection of geniuses can be destroyed in a few years by a collection of non-entities?)

And on top of that they taught any young people interested in books to always be suspicious and on the lookout for power differentials and to interrogate every text for oppressive hegemonic constructs (the writer is guilty, your job is to find out how!)--and they achieved another smashing success! Their intellectual progeny are a generation of secret police who have exchanged sex and love for the cheap thrills of policing language and narcing on political opponents.

They must be so proud of what they achieved in their sacred crusade for Equality--their children are equally stupid, equally miserable, equally subliterate, and equally committed to destroying what they can never understand or duplicate.

The deconstructors couldn't have done a better job if they'd used dynamite!

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author

What's actually surprising, even a little embarrassing, is how many of the deconstructionist radicals are horrified at what they have created. Many genuinely thought they were safeguarding against fascism or whatever, and didn't realize where their intellectual vandalism would take society. Useful idiots really.

On the other hand, there are also a fair number of scheming dark triad types, who are indeed entirely content with this situation.

I go into the connection between these developments and the student loan system in part 3 of this series. In a nutshell, throwing open the academy to all and sundry led directly to the present state of things.

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Apr 26, 2022Liked by John Carter

While I passionately hate all the people who polluted the realms of thought and beauty with their foul second-hand pseudo-Marxist jargon (I was a Lit major in the 80s so saw it all up close), I also try to understand that people respond to incentives in the moment, and it's rare and not really possible to imagine what downstream effects our words and deeds will have in subsequent decades.

That being said, what these people did was jump on a trend to make them seem cool and edgy (not to mention that this fulfilled career, social, and psychological needs), while at the same time ignoring the wants and needs of their students. (I don't wanna teach Homer again, I wanna be a Marxist revolutionary!)

French Theory and all its nihilistic ambience, plus Nietzsche's dingleberry Foucault, became the black leather jacket and Velvet Underground LP of Thought and Culture, all the cool kids had them and anyone who didn't just "didn't get it," was a backwards fogey and probably a closet Reaganite too.

I read this recently in a book about Eric Hoffer:

"Mass movements are generated by non-creative men of words...He viewed them as a dangerous species. They scorn profit and worship power; they aim to make history, not money. Their abiding dissatisfaction is with “things as they are”. They want to rule by coercion and yet retain our admiration. They see in the common criminal “a fellow militant in the effort to destroy the existing system”. Societies where the common people are relatively prosperous displease them because intellectuals know that their leadership will be rejected in the absence of a widespread grievance. The cockiness and independence of common folk offend their aristocratic outlook. The free-market system renders their leadership superfluous. Their quest for influence and status is always uppermost."

I think this perfectly describes the deconstructionist academic.

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author

Well put. I started as a lit major myself, and was equally put off for the same reasons. The zampolit masquerading as academics as they walk around in the skinsuit of our culture's intellectual tradition are engaging in the scholarly equivalent of stolen valor.

Thankfully, as they lack the actual intellectual chops to do more than LARP as scholars, their dominance of commanding heights of academia will be short lived. Or, better put: they will reign, but over a kingdom of ashes. We can already smell the fires burning.

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Apr 26, 2022Liked by John Carter

hope you're right!

and i rudely forgot to mention how much i've been enjoying your essays.

thanks and much appreciated...

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author

I'm glad you're enjoying them. I'm finding them quite cathartic myself.

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May 14, 2022Liked by John Carter

I'm one of those who basically just wanted to teach Homer (Ph.D. in classical philology). Oh, I would also have wanted a comfortable income, but that wasn't central to my ambitions. As things happened, I had to abandon that career and work as a government lawyer).

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May 5, 2022Liked by John Carter

I would say (very well stated) and largely correct. Yet how difficult is it to find clear exceptions? I don't know, but here is one that I recently (almost) finished: The Puritans, David Hall - Princeton University Press - 2019. The guy teaches at Harvard Divinity School where the "woke" pressure must be immense. Yet this is "straight" history of the sort that might once have been described as "magisterial" - which it is! - Nothing deconstructive about it; said Puritans are treated as rational, committed historical actors (which they were) - documents are assessed, actions explicated, contentions illuminated, conclusions presented - ... you remember that kind of scholarship, right? - Not the slightest apologies offered of the "yeah, for sure these guys were ugly racists, but let's proceed regardless" sort.

So, my question again: how many other exceptions are out there and how does the balance between those and woke scholarship fall? - One part of that answer: Classical Music scholarship until quite recently seemed mostly on the "exception" side but in my sampling is now looking quite a bit more on the "acknowledging whiteness" side of things. There seemed to be an almost concerted effort in the Summer of George to "go after" classical music.

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May 5, 2022Liked by John Carter

Hey, thanks for the book recommendation, I will def look for it.

From my perch inside the Blue Bubble, I think it has become essential that you loudly publicly display your fealty to the dogma of the new religion/revolution, as a way to signal you're on the side of the angels, and also as a way to save your skin. Your 2 choices are either constant displays of obedience or banishment.

So, as everyone has to be seen doing their part, for people working in culture this usually means denouncing some aspect of the Old--more or less the Four Olds of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (old ideas, customs, culture, and habits of mind) except always tying these evil Olds back to that great Satan, the heterosexual white christian male.

I'm guessing I'm not telling you anything you don't know already, but what it boils down to is: if you want to have any kind of career or prominent place in any American cultural industry or institution (publishing, Hollywood, academia, art museums and galleries, symphonies and theaters etc etc) you must first establish how bigoted those institutions are, how backwards were the artists and critics etc who created those fields and their works, and how you will dedicate your career to interrogating and dismantling them.

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author

"you must first establish how bigoted those institutions are, how backwards were the artists and critics etc who created those fields and their works, and how you will dedicate your career to interrogating and dismantling them."

Precisely why this must ultimately fail: they're like termites, destroying the very structure that sustains them.

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May 5, 2022Liked by John Carter

john, it seems we are deeply simpatico (at least here on your substack ;)):

i've been calling them "the termites of civilization" for years!

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I was holding on to this guy - the author David D Hall - as a great exception. Ah! he is still apparently active but in his mid-80s - (so, a bit over 80 when the book was published). He is currently an emeritus professor at HDS. So, at that exalted level, scholars of his stature and age must have something of a pass on all this as everyone waits for the calendar to take care of them. The scenario you sketch is likely iron-clad for anyone under 50; an assistant professor - anywhere - probably could not, at least, would not have written the work I cited.

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author

Gonna go out on a limb and guess this particular professor is one of the old guard.

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you win - stand by.

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Not just whiteness now. Now they're going after Russian music and musicians.

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May 15, 2022Liked by John Carter

Did you know that in the depths of WWII in Russia (USSR) there was a String Quartet called "The Beethoven Quartet" - who continued to perform Beethoven's music in public throughout the war - obviously with the sanction of the highest authorities.

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May 1, 2022Liked by John Carter

Exactly the reason why universities mandated the vaccine. This was the final filter. Anyone freethinker who would 'dare' to refuse the vaccine must be eliminated from the indoctrinated class!

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author

I think that's exactly right.

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May 14, 2022Liked by John Carter

Likewise for the military.

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founding

Great article. The current unacknowledged aim of education is to suppress talent, especially amongst the middle and working classes, rather than develop it. As the West becomes more oligarchic the system de-prioritises development, preferring stability. The provision of quality education en masse raises expectations of recognition and reward that the system cannot meet. At the moment the system merely has too many over-credentialled young people; were they equipped with a serious education in the first place they would displace those at the top pretty quickly. Dumbing the content of education down ensures that at least the disgruntled and existentially unsatisfied can’t think clearly…a safety valve of sorts for a corrupt and unreliable elite.

The long-term cost is ruinously high, but it will be postponed beyond the lifetime of the current generation of oligarchs and their clients in the professional and managerial classes. Furthermore, in the relative absence of interstate conflict, there is limited need at the level of the nation-state for the thorough development of available human resources.

The suppression of talent is achieved through the relaxation of standards which was undertaken in the first place to enable increased participation rates.

These processes have accelerated given the need to integrate ever greater number of marginally able people into the elites and para-elites via affirmative action and have developed a momentum that has become unstoppable.

The predicament of the US and its Western allies/client-states is that the suppression of talent and the general dumbing down of the culture has exerted its influence at the highest levels. Even at the elite level standards of competence have fallen and the routine achievement of excellence has become much rarer than before.

The scene is now set for the next stage of the perpetual cycle of elites. We have been unlucky to have been born in interesting times, but in the longer term, these problems do have solutions, albeit at a terrible cost.

In conclusion, the opportunistic infection of DEI would never have taken off if the education system had been healthy and vigorous in the first place. Ghastly as it is, DEI has simply made it easier to replace or kill off exhausted institutions whose annihilation was overdue in the first place.

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author

Excellent analysis. I concur entirely.

" Furthermore, in the relative absence of interstate conflict, there is limited need at the level of the nation-state for the thorough development of available human resources."

It seems Russia may have a word or two to say on the subject.

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founding

It is reassuring to know that there are others who agree with me. The good intentions and performative piety that camouflage education today seems to have a tranquilizing effect on just about everyone else.

Re Russia, there is a Russian born commentator, a true champion of STEM, by the name of Andrei Martyanov who constantly makes the point that the rigour of Russian education is set to provide them with a decisive and history-changing advantage over the West. Martyanov's contempt for the undereducated Western elites is vigorous and, to my mind, deserved. He blogs at https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/

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author

Thanks for the recommend. My friend Rolo, who covers the Russia beat, might find this interesting.

https://roloslavskiy.substack.com/

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May 5, 2022Liked by John Carter

Here's a data point - I think more relevant to a previous entry in the series. From way down at the bottom of a recent Steve Kirch post - worth re-posting here:

= = =

The US government pays schools to push deadly drugs. Ohio State University is being paid almost $1 billion as long as they comply with the CDC vaccine guidance. This is in the public record. So if they are paying this to Ohio State, can you imagine what other schools are getting?

= =

https://stevekirsch.substack.com/p/what-i-learned-on-my-trip-to-the?s=r

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author

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. That money is of course only really relevant to the administrative scum that are the real power centre of the universities. Little to none of it will make its way to the professoriate. The implication being that the professoriate's enthusiastic acquiescence to this isn't mercenary in nature ... which is probably worse than if it was.

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May 8, 2022·edited May 8, 2022Liked by John Carter

"Now, when was the last time you came across a book or a talk by a university professor that absolutely blew your mind?"

Great article, thanks. Like the rest of your DIE series. But I have had it blown away the last couple of years by the scientists associated with the ID movement (as opposed to the creationists). People like Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, James Tour, Douglas Axe, Gunter Bechley etc.

From some of the unorthodox science you mention a couple of paragraphs down from the quote here, I wonder if you were thinking of them?

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ID is an interesting case - something of the exception that proves the rule I think. It seems to me that much of the most interesting work in the modern academy is that which straddles the boundary between acceptable and "fringe" science by staying in dialogue with informal communities that have grown up outside the ivory tower.

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Apr 26, 2022Liked by John Carter

I want to learn to be like a free tenant peasant, surely beneath the plugged noses of those in the sterilized class.

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John, imagine what historians of the future will write, if they get the chance.

DOUBLE BRAVO on the series!

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One of the first challenges is financial, as we online scholars need to somehow be able to earn a living, be comfortable enough to survive in order to produce the time we need to invest in intellectual pursuits.

At present, some of us are temporarily fortunate in this regard, but it won't be long before the system cracks down (especially in places such as Canada).

That said, what we also need I think is for novelists and writers and artists to join up with the online academics who have no interest in the current system. As the stories that are passed down by a society serve a critical role, in maintaining the beliefs and traditions as they tend to be an 'adaptation' of them. Or maybe I'm just biased because I like to write mythological stories and serial-novels.

What could also help is for larger Substacks and larger platforms to shout out, and help up the ladder the smaller ones (if only in small ways as we all do need to earn our way), and to help out where they can. In turn the smaller ones, need to support and defend the larger ones, acting like Legionaires to the Centurions that are the larger platforms. In turn though, as the smaller ones grow they need to help the next guys down in the ladder.

The trouble with the current system is that it has ingrained in people the sense that they need to knock over the ladder or otherwise pull it up, and mercilessly help only themselves. What is more is that it has ingrained in people a sense that they must resign themselves to the current system.

Intellectuals and artists are curious creatures, it is only by interaction that they've ever generated decent ideas (some can do it on their own) but generally it is by interaction and by exchanging notes that society has advanced. As no idea is born in a bubble or so I think. Lord of the Rings for example much as it was Tolkien's project, would never have become what it is without Edith Tolkien, Christopher and Lewis and the other Inklings proofreading, listening and criticising. Aragorn would have been left as the hideous Trotter rather than the Kingly figure we see in the finished project.

Just as say legally would Justinian have passed down so large a body of laws without the assistance of his supporters? Would Augustus have expanded the Roman Empire without Agrippa? And what of the scientific discoveries of the 19th century? Many of them were people coming together, tinkering together to produce some of the greatest inventions.

That said you also have intellectuals who operated very much alone such as Musashi, so I'm not saying we must eliminate individualism and individual pursuits, only that there must be a balance between both. Sorry for the long tangent really liked this article and just felt I had to explain my own thoughts on it. Hope you don't mind the novel sized reply.

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