Oh, the Humanities!

So I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that Occupy Wall Street was overwhelmingly white and privileged.

According to a new study from sociologists at the City University of New York, more than a third of activists in the Occupy movement in New York City had household incomes above $100,000, placing them at the cusp of the top quintile of income distribution in America. …[in general they were] more affluent, whiter, younger, much more highly educated, and more likely to be male than the average New Yorker.

… While only about a third of Americans hold bachelors’ degrees, 76 percent of respondents who had completed their education had a four-year college degree and 39 percent had graduate degrees. Among college graduates, more than a quarter went to top-ranked schools…While 10 percent of participants were unemployed, 71 percent were employed in professional occupations. Eight percent were “blue collar.”

Truly the voice of the downtrodden.

Snark aside, there’s an important point to be made here.  I live near a college.  I have friends and family in all levels of the ed biz.  I know these people, and I can tell you their major malfunction:  They’re bored.

Colleges push two contradictory messages simultaneously.  The first, common to humanities and STEM majors alike, is that a college degree is a ticket to middle class prosperity.  The second, overwhelmingly concentrated in the humanities, is that “the middle class” is a bastion of entrenched class privilege, the wellspring of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all that other bad stuff.

Being an “informed citizen,” these professors preach, means recognizing the rot behind the mask of the very lifestyle they’re in college to pursue.

Traditional marriage, kids are told, is a prison of patriarchal privilege for women, an unconscionable act of aggression for men.  Religion, of course, is the opium of the people.  Party politics is a sham run by oligarchs, for oligarchs, and the traditional “little platoons” of society are merely means by which entrenched white / straight / male privilege recapitulates itself.

Is it any wonder, then, that an affected, exaggerated taedium vitae is the overwhelming psychological response?  If it’s all a sham — but a sham you have to participate in — what’s left but hookups or protests?  It certainly doesn’t help that college these days is so easy; you might could forget about the inherent pointlessness of it all if you had to study more than a few hours a week.

Who’d have thought a cheesy 90s power ballad would be the key to understanding the whole Occupy generation?

4 thoughts on “Oh, the Humanities!

  1. Which is awesome, and a trend I’d encourage unreservedly. Problem is, though, so many colleges require liberal arts “core” classes that you can’t avoid paying for a “studies” class — they just call them “Western History to 1500” or “Introduction to American Literature” or some such. I once had to take an “American Literature Survey” — turns out that the entirety of American Literature was Phyllis Wheatley, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Tony Kushner. And Babbitt.

    I especially love that last one. A perfect illustration of my point: Go to college! Get an education! With that business degree from Bong State, you can… become a hypocritical, self-absorbed, buffoonish cuckold. Is it any wonder the more thoughtful / spiritually inclined among them are out Occupying? The “studies” classes are quite clear that the only meaningful form of self-expression is through leftwing politics.

  2. Colleges push two contradictory messages simultaneously. The first, common to humanities and STEM majors alike, is that a college degree is a ticket to middle class prosperity. The second, overwhelmingly concentrated in the humanities, is that “the middle class” is a bastion of entrenched class privilege, the wellspring of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all that other bad stuff.

    Ayn Rand explained this one: they want the glamour of the upper crust (or the stability of the middle class) without having to dirty their hands doing what it takes to get there. The message that colleges really push is that if you get into an elite institution, you will be richly paid just for being your awesome, enlightened self. When reality comes in, people get mad – but not at the ones who sold them the lie that their lives would be paved in gold for being elite, smart, and enlightened.

    (I wish I were kidding, but, just last night, I had some 24-year-old Ivy grad, a 2L in law school, mock me for saying that work experience matters in hiring decisions. What matters more, he said, is pedigree, and those who do not have the pedigree or who are so declasse to work will lead boring, meaningless, unfulfilling lives.)

  3. I’ve had some experience with Ivy grads. A snottier bunch you never did see. “I went to Harvard! Give me a corner office and a six figure salary, and be quick about it! If you have any work that needs to be done, speak to my assistant. He went to…. sniff… a State College.”

    No wonder they’re all leftists. Money has always just kinda been there, so why can’t it just kinda be there for everyone? “Trust-fund Trotskys,” we used to call them.

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