Some variant of this is the second-most common question I get asked re: my time in the ivory tower. Sometimes it comes in the form of “What were you, stupid or something?”, but the gist of it is, knowing what I most certainly must have about life in academia, it’s strange that I ever would’ve started, much less endured it for all those years…
Coming from me, I can hardly ask you to believe it was idealism… but, believe it or not, that was part of it. I had no illusions about changing the discipline. Even if I were the kind of big-league scholar that could’ve gotten hired at Harvard — and I was light years away from that — the kind of people who go to Harvard are already hopelessly lost. There will never be a “conservative” scholar of note until we dig ourselves out of the rubble of the West’s utter collapse, because the entire system is stacked against it. In fact, “stacked” isn’t even the right word, as it implies that a conservative work could even get a hearing. Modern academia is one of Joseph Tainter‘s complex societies, destined for collapse — just as the Romans kept stuffing forts with legions because they couldn’t even think of another way to go, so modern academia lacks the cognitive toolkit to evaluate an argument that isn’t “race / class / gender, therefore #OrangeManBad.”
Out in the provinces, though, there was once some hope of getting through to a student or two. The professors were, if anything, worse — one of the main reasons “bad” schools are bad is that the profs there all feel they deserve to be at Harvard, and are openly contemptuous of their employers — but the students can sometimes still be reached. For a while there, every class would have its secret shitlord or two, who could sense that I was a kindred spirit. This, I felt, served a socially necessary function. But just as video killed the radio star, so social media killed whatever was left of independent thought in American students.
The other reason I stayed, quite frankly, was that the show was so perversely fascinating.
Imagine you’re some kind of Gulliver-type explorer, and you reach an island of perfect bliss. Clear air, gentle breezes, balmy temperatures, and all the delicious food you can eat. And the natives! They live to serve you, completely unconstrained by anything so antiquated as Western sexual morality. Limitless 5G internet. Anything you want to eat, drink, watch, read, do, say, insert, or have inserted, it’s all yours at the snap of your fingers. Got it?
Now imagine that the rulers of this little slice of paradise do nothing but sit on the side of the road all day, smashing their own toes with ball-peen hammers.
That’s life in a college town. The Left run everything. They set the admissions requirements. They have unlimited budgets, and since they do, the entire commercial ecosystem exists only for them. All cuisine is “fusion,” you have to drive to the next burg over to find milk that comes from cows, and every single item of public culture — from sidewalk graffiti to public radio to experimental theater troupe — does nothing but flatter them. There is no fetish so outre, no practice so bizarre, that you can’t find at least one other enthusiastic participant. It’s intersectional genderfluid heaven….
…. and every single person in it is miserable. I’m serious — if it’s not too far out of your way, drive down to your nearest college town, and just watch the faces. You might glimpse a grinning undergrad or two — they’re too young and dumb to know better; they’ll be fully reeducated by junior year — but you can spot the tenured faculty solely by their scowls. The only thing that temporarily alleviates the existential horror of their lives is getting outraged by something, which — since, again, they control everything — means tilting at windmills is their only sport; they play it with a cutthroat intensity the football coach can only dream of.
How can you not be fascinated by that? To utterly refute the view of man as homo economicus, all you have to do is watch the facial expressions of people who are “the 1%” by any measure that makes sense. It’s one hell of a show…
…until it isn’t. Because that kind of self-inflicted misery grinds on you. We’ve all stopped to look at the car crash, of course, but you don’t want to spend all day, every day, year in and year out, looking at car crashes. It took me a good long while — I’m sadistic, I guess — but I got flat out exhausted by it all. So I quit.