The College Dissident Reading List, Part I

In the comments to the previous post, I suggested putting together a reading list for college folk who are on the business end of The Cathedral.  Out here in the real world, we get our poz secondhand; college students are the lab rats on which new strains are tested.  It won’t hurt less, but at least you can see how it’s being done to you in real time.  First up:

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, by Robert Jay Lifton.

But before you head down to the campus library to check it out, two preliminaries.  First, if you’re going to use the campus library, you’ll need a cover story.  This book was first published in 1961, and covers events in China from the 1950s, so unless you want to advertise to the world that you’re studying brainwashing for shitlord reasons — and yes, of course, they can and will check if you give them reason to suspect you — you need to have some cover.  “Independent study project” might be enough, but it’s a tough sell if you’re, say, a senior chemistry major and your entire class schedule is labs.  Much better to snag an easily-concealed personal copy, using an off-campus network.

Second, you need a crash course on how to read.  No insult intended — this is part of the reason you’re reading Lifton in the first place.  Academic prose is part of the poz.  It’s all bafflegab.  You’re supposed to struggle through the first fifteen pages or so, kinda sorta almost grasping the writer’s point.  But then you lose it, and give up, and just write down whatever the prof tells you it means.  This is item #6 in the Lifton checklist (“loading the language”); it’s nothing but thought-terminating cliches.

Lifton’s work is not bafflegab, but it is academic, and back then even the best-written academic work used language consonant with the subject matter.  You’ll be tempted to “read” it classroom-style, then.  Don’t.  The trick is to read paragraphs for topic sentences, then skim the examples.  Get the main ideas on the first pass, then go back and re-read whatever sections seem particularly relevant.  There’s no due date, and there’s no final exam, so proceed at your own pace.

Once you’ve got it, you’ll notice right away that your campus is very much set up like one of those Chinese reform-through-labor centers.  Nobody’s torturing you, of course — at least not physically — but look around.  I’d bet good money that there are no buildings on your campus that date from earlier than the 1980s, and the ones that do have been extensively “renovated” fairly recently.  This is by design, as is the fact that despite every college advertising its historic tradition of excellence, you will have a very hard time finding anything (other than the football team’s record) detailing just what that tradition IS.  Again, this is by design, and when you think about it, the weirdness jumps out at you all over campus.  You’re telling me that Flyover State was founded in 1870, and yet the only photographs anywhere on campus are digital printouts in the Dean’s office, showing a suspiciously diverse rainbow of undergrads from the class of 2008?  How about famous alumni?  Any pictures of them?  If you’re in the Ivy League you can’t avoid these, but most famous people didn’t go to Harvard…

This is “milieu control,” #1 on Lifton’s list.  The Flyover State Fightin’ Farmers have a long tradition of existence, both to their members and the community at large, but the content of that tradition can be changed at a moment’s notice, as the shifting winds of The Current Year’s SJW catechism blow.  Note that this also explains the proliferation of college-branded gear.  In earlier eras it was considered rather gauche to deck yourself out in logo stuff.  Only dorky freshmen or savvy seniors did that (and the latter only because it was a good way to pick up chicks at rival schools).  Most of us wore our one college sweater once, on Christmas break, when Grandma was over for a visit to her “real college boy.”  Finally, notice how total the milieu control is, even when it’s rather subtle.  It’s nearly impossible to cook for yourself, for instance, even if you live off campus (an increasing rarity) — no grocery stores anywhere near you.  Gluten-free vegan soy options, though?  Even the gas station has those.  Everything near campus reinforces their values.

Which segues nicely into #2, mystical manipulation.  You’re not to notice that your campus looks like an island in a sea of social dysfunction.  Instead, you’re supposed to focus on the plight of some marginalized micro-group 10,000 miles away, because if you ever stopped to wonder why we’re spending all this time and effort on the piddly issues of obscure foreigners instead of the real problems going on in the ghetto just a few blocks away, you might start wondering just why a small town in America’s Heartland has a mini-Mogadishu in the first place.  And then you’d notice that the professors’ explanations for the problems of the Exotic Oppressed have very little to do with the problems right here at home.  Maybe it’s the Legacy of Colonialism (TM) over there, but right here the main issue is that ghetto bangers are shooting each other over drugs and sneakers.  No amount of Critical Race Theory is going to stop that from happening, so it must only be applied to groups and places one will never, ever see.

See also #3, Demand for Purity.  Competitive #Wokeness is the only game ivory tower types play, and they play it with a fanatical ruthlessness the football coach only dreams his guys could bring to the gridiron.  But they’re irrelevant.  Professors are a tiny percentage of the campus population and — truly sorry to burst your bubble here — they have no idea who you are.  It’s the coeds you have to worry about.  As Z Man pointed out, “SJW” really just means “the weaponization of single women.”  Hence, “rape culture.”  Few places in America are physically safer than a college campus, but it doesn’t matter, because “rape” now means “he made me feel slightly uncomfortable, at some point in his existence.  I think.”  This is a demand for purity that can never be satisfied, which keeps emotions at a fever pitch.

#4, confession, is so obvious that even incoming freshmen laugh at it.  But note well — it doesn’t have to be sincere to work.  Everyone in the camp knows that X is only “confessing” because the guards beat the shit out of him for three days straight.  But as Lifton shows, now he’s on the record as a “criminal.”  He’s bought into their frame, as the PUA guys would say, and he’ll adjust his behavior accordingly, without consciously realizing it. Please note: Everybody laughs at those stupid “privilege walks” they make the incoming class do, but — nobody refuses.  You can refuse, you know.  What are the going to do, yank your admission?  Kick you out of the dorms?  Refund all your tuition, your meal plan, your books?  They’ll imply that they’re going to do exactly that, of course, but they can’t — not legally, and besides, the day a bursar gives a dime back will be the first time in recorded history.  Letting you mock things like “privilege walks” is, itself, part of the confession.

5, 6, and 7 are obvious, but they, like 1 through 4, all build up to #8: Dispensing of existence.  “Going to college” is American society’s collective merit badge.  Even now, when everybody knows that “college” is just a five-year SJW sleepaway camp, people throw around their college degrees like they’re game changers, and carry on like not having one is official proof of your stupidity.  Vox Day constantly mocks John Scalzi, for instance, for Scalzi’s repeated boasts about his “BA in the philosophy of language from the University of Chicago.”  But Vox Day also points out that Scalzi is a very talented, highly successful self-promoter.  Those two facts are related, I promise.  College degrees still have a “wow!” factor for people who haven’t been to college…

…which, in practice, means young people.  The kind of people, in other words, who show up at the ivy-covered halls perfectly primed to have Lifton’s list run on them.  If you have no strong sense of personal identity — and the entirety of American public education, K-thru-12, is specifically designed to make damn sure you don’t — then the identity the college provides for you is awesome, overwhelming.  You can almost hear the sigh of relief blowing across the quad from the freshman — excuse me, First Year — orientation seminar.  Finally, I belong!!!

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7 thoughts on “The College Dissident Reading List, Part I

  1. MBlanc46

    One thing about the University of Chicago: The Mini-Mogudishu was unavoidable. You didn’t have to find it. It found you. There was a block-wide no-man’s-land along the south side of the campus, but, as it wasn’t mined, it did no good. According to Colin Flaherty, Temple in Philadelphia and Yale are pretty much in the same boat.

    1. Severian Post author

      It’s true for most colleges, in my experience. The ones in big cities, e.g. USC, are in ghettos (one wonders if Lori Laughlin actually knew where she was sending her kid). The ones in “college towns” have their own, imported ghettos. For instance, here’s Ann Arbor, Michigan. Any guess as to where on that crime map the University of Michigan is located? Any guess as to the demographics?

      HAHAHA! You thought that second link broke it down by race, didn’t you? Of course it doesn’t do that, you terrible horrible no good badthinker!! Instead, it’s “income level change.” You will, indeed, not find a single word about race on a site calling itself “Neighborhood Scout.” Too easy to notice the obvious that way. Please report to reeducation, stat.

      1. WOPR

        Isn’t part of the problem that the college students themselves drive down the property values? Someone decides to rent out their house, six meatheads move in, and then you end up with the cops showing up every weekend.

        Now, Flyover State U. where I went was actually in a somewhat decent area for a few reasons. First, about a third of the university was surrounded by either the neighborhood where the professors and administration lived, or it was the CEO village that the city had surrounded. Next, administration forced all of the Greeks onto a campus village. Third, the only nearby off campus housing was quasi owned by the university. Finally, the university bought up the entire section of real estate bounded on all sides by major streets.

        Anyways, so, a campaign of simply pointing out actual history will drive them insane?

        1. Severian Post author

          The point of the list is so that potential and actual Shitlords in college can get a real education. There’s no saving the professors or the administration; it’s the labor camps for them, even if — make that, especially if — the kind of people they cheer on actually achieve real power.

          Young folks who are actually in college might benefit from some counter-programming. Hence the list.

  2. Pickle Rick

    Yes, this is good. I’m going to start working through my personal library and choosing the works for the younger ones.

  3. Joseph Moore

    I largely escaped all this by 1) going to St. John’s College in Santa Fe; and 2) attending 40+ years ago. Even then, St. John’s, with its Great Books Program, was already a refugee community: the profs there had run away from academia. Heck, the founders of The Program were refugees from U of Chicago back in the 30s, already seeing the relegation of the entire Western Tradition to the dustbin of History.

    I may need to pick up this book to better see the mechanics, but I already know the goal. Your point about learning to read is also good: students have no chance of comprehending what a book is saying, after 12+ years of learning to see only what the teacher tells you it is saying. Thus, Freire can be read by a well-trained modern with next to zero chance he will notice it is commie propaganda. I keep wanting to tell people to read the damn books – Marx, critical theorists, education theorists – bit have sadly realized that even on the slim chance they do, there’s even a slimmer chance they have the intellectual chops to make anything of it. I know a charming young woman, really a good soul, who recommended Freire to me, and seemed shocked when I pointed out that he’s asserting the goal of education – the ONLY goal of education – is to radicalize the student. The 3 R’s? Skills that might make him more employable? Skills that might enrich his life? NOPE. Schooling that doesn’t radicalize the student is worse than useless. Even though this is pretty much the entire point of the book, she’d missed it.

  4. MBlanc46

    Mme B and I are in A2 a couple of times a year. (She did her MA there, but that’s not why we go.) We frequently drive through that ghetto. It’s a paradise compared to the West Side, but it’s not the boarded-up buildings and rubble-strewn vacant lots that make the ghetto.

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