State of the University Pt 1
by Adam Naphta
State of the University
As it stands, a majority of the universities taking up the space at the top of rankings lists belong to the United States. Now I am well aware of the criticisms levied against university rankings systems. I believe they are a causal part of why the university system in America is doomed to failure. However, I also believe that they give us at least one interesting insight; people believe that the best universities are in America. I predict that the downward spiral started by grievance study institutes will eventually leak into all facets of the American university thereby causing its demise. One should suspect there will be a large brain-drain from the US going into Chinese, Russian or Japanese universities where such ideological biases do not prevent genuine scholars from doing interesting work in the humanities, social sciences, and soon enough the natural sciences.
I will spend the next few weeks writing about the current university system and its flaws, contradictions, and neurotic tendencies. Three major psychological and sociological factors contribute to the decline of the university. First, its commitment to the therapeutic view of the self. Second, its structure as a service-based business. Third, related to the first, the ideological commitments to attempt to say nothing of normative value. My next few articles will explore each of these topics, as I believe each deserves in-depth understanding. It should also be noted that if one wants a truly comprehensive critique of the university, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind would be the best place to begin.
University as Adult Daycare
I’ll give a preliminary sketch on what I consider to be the nature of the American university in this article. It would be fairest to call the university an assemblage of: pseudo stressors; modernist simulacrums and platitudes of culture and value; and therapeutic institutions with the non-normative life of the student as its purported object. It is best characterized as an adult daycare for the children of elites where the administrators claim to make no judgements on the students’ behaviors beyond classification of certain actions as healthy or unhealthy.
The university is a never ending orgy in the basement of the permissive parents’ household. The students run the house and are allowed to whatever they wish as long as they take their medicine and sit down to listen to the high modernist cultural platitudes of their permissive parents. The inmates run the orgy and every once in a while the prison makes sure they aren’t too hurt, upset, or intimidated by the other members. The modern university’s administrators make sure the students can never learn anything beyond hollowed out modernist expressions about “navigating the complexities of contemporary life.” Tolostoy, Joyce, Kafka all become hypermodern simulacra. They are invoked only to instill some sense of high authenticity to the raucous infantile carouse below the stairs.
The State of the Students
These students engage in no activity with any self-conscious normative content. We all know the calls to diversity, inclusion and non competitiveness are normative. But, they parrot these off as self-evident truths that are built into the fabric of life itself. There is a normative element but it is passed off as if it were a non-negotiable starting point to pedagogy. The proper mental violence that must be done to a youth in order to initiate him amongst the learned can no longer take place. The stale ennui of the inclusive university reduces all of its content into empty platitudes, employable in any scenario and to justify any form of debauchery. Be warned, anyone who attempts to use what they learned from Plato or Aristotle to propose a vision of the good that could exclude certain peoples’ desired actions.
Theatrics aside, the current university is the absolute antithesis of pedagogy. It does not teach it panders. Asking questions to excavate fundamental premises gave way to shrill re-assertions of unconscious fundamental assumptions. We know the liberal-left university has certain fundamental assumptions that guide it blindly down towards accepting the tyranny of the students. My coming work will be to excavate those fundamental assumptions and deny their place in pedagogy.