This is further to the Z Man’s excellent post on Their Summer of Discontent, so be sure to read that first.*
The Progressive Whitopia he describes there — the eschaton they attempted to immanentize in currently-burning places like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, etc. — can best be described as “college.” His description — “carefully curated hipster areas” — describes the environment of every college campus I’ve been to in the last two decades… and y’all, I’ve been to a lot of college campuses.
Go tool around the local college town for a while if you can. The first thing you’ll notice, especially if you haven’t been there in a while, is how nice everything is. Those t-shirts with the football team logo cost upwards of $30 each. The jeans they’re over cost at least $100, and the shoes below that have to be north of $200. Add a team-logo hat and a purse, and your Basic College Girl is wearing something like half a thousand bucks’ worth of stuff. Add a MacBook and and iPhone with unlimited data and you’re looking at three grand, easy, just on her person. I, the professor, was always the worst-dressed person in my classroom, price tag-wise, just like my car was the cheapest in the campus lot where I parked. Students live niiiiice.
And then there’s the faculty. Being obnoxious Marxists, they’ve mastered the subtle art of inconspicuous consumption. Oh, sure, everything they own costs somewhere between “a lot” and “a fucking shitload,” but they’re not, you know, gauche about it. It’s just that all their stuff was handmade by disabled lesbian pygmies from the Andes, and so that lawn chair that looks like a D-minus from a junior high shop class cost $2500. Because social justice.
But now look at the faces. When I first came to grad school I was deliriously happy. Finally I was doing what I always wanted to do, living the life of the mind… no shit, I was that pretentious, but the point is, if your idea of happiness is “every book in the world and the quiet, crime-free leisure time in which to read them,” then a college town is indeed heaven. But even then something was wrong. It took me a few semesters to figure it out (I’m not the quickest on the uptake), but one day it came to me in a flash:
I’m the only happy guy I know.
I looked around one day, and noticed that all the people who had chosen my same material circumstances — who had indeed, as I had, worked very hard to get there — were miserable. No, worse than that. They weren’t just miserable; they actually thought they were being persecuted. Yes, persecuted, these people who are the 1% by any quality-of-life measure that makes any sense. The sexual deviates, just to take the most extreme example of the disconnect, were absolutely certain The Handmaid’s Tale was about to land on them, despite the fact that the only sexual fetish you’re not allowed to indulge in a college town is “missionary position with your lawfully wedded spouse of the opposite sex.”
Worse, everyone was getting paid to do what they loved. Imagine a gun nut getting paid to spend time at the range, a model railroader getting paid to play with his trains, a football fan getting paid to tinker with his fantasy team. That’s academia. These people ride their hobbyhorses like they’re Bronco fucking Billy, and get comped something like 100 large to do it, plus guaranteed lifetime employment.** Any enthusiast in any other field would kill for that kind of deal… and yet, these people are miserable.
Z Man alludes to the reason for this, and I’ll put it plainly: The crucial characteristic of life in a college town isn’t how nice it is, but how transient it is. Nobody’s from there, and nobody stays there. Everything in the local ecology depends on a kind of social Brownian motion — directionless people moving around randomly for four or five or ten years before drifting off elsewhere. If you don’t have a college town within driving distance, you can see what I mean by going to a beach town, or any of those tourist-trap towns that litter the highways. Their populations swell 2-10x during the summer months… but any given set of that increased population only stays there for a few days, weeks, a few months max. Everything’s geared to the tourists. Note that in a college town, this most certainly applies to the faculty, too: Even those academics with tenure always have a bag packed and a foot out the door, since they’re all certain they deserve to be at Yale and New Haven’s going to be calling any minute now (the ones at Yale, meanwhile, are certain they really belong at Oxford, which is why New Haven is such an irredeemable shithole).
The cult of the atomized individual is the worst thing to happen to the human race in a thousand years. People need a place and a tribe. For proof, look at what the kids do the minute they arrive at college. There’s a reason the bookstore only sells logo apparel now….
*Maybe as recently as two months ago I would’ve left a shorter version of this as a comment on his site. But holy jeebus that comment section. I’m pretty sure the few who remember me think I’m a Fed now, since I wasn’t kicked out of SEAL Team 6 for being too much of a badass, and I don’t put (((lots))) of (((parentheses))) around every other (((word))).
**No joke, I know a persyn in one of the Bullshit Studies departments who got tenure by writing opinion pieces for far-Left rags. Seriously.Loading Likes...