The Decline of an Immature Society


For an explanation of Western pessimism, give David Solway a read:

“Are we not witnessing,” asks John Agresto in Academic Questions (Vol.29, No.2), “something that looks to be the…purposeful eradication of what it has historically meant to be educated?” The mission of the university is now the inculcation of intellectual conformity, a duplicitous “inclusiveness” that banishes dissenting voices, “social justice,” and discursive closure, coddling students into a condition of protracted puberty as the academy devolves into “separate programs of grievance and outrage.” In this way, students, stunted in their development, become the shock troops of the new world order as they have been taught to see it. And as we know, and as university policies have made glaringly public, children throw tantrums and don’t like to be contradicted. …

Such is the damage the educational institution has wrought in a culture spoiled by affluence and forgetfulness—a culture that has shucked the past and de-realized the future. The falling off from academic integrity and rigor explains why almost everything from political culture to cultural politics smacks increasingly of retardation. And it accounts in large measure for the descent we are observing. For children, who have no knowledge of the history of their civilization and no sense of an empirical future, cannot think rationally, they can only feel and act upon their feelings. They live in a realm defined by the present and the imaginary. They are the low-information voters, partisan pedants, liberal socialists, leftist ideologues, suborned journalists and entitlement parasites of the current day, living in a make-believe world that is running out of time.

Because I’ve always been aware that it existed, yet had never seen it, I’m watching The Paper Chase on Netflix as I work out each day.  After the observation that I don’t particularly like a single character in the movie, what’s most striking is the confidence of the stern Professor Kingsfield and the unquestioned understanding of the students that there is nothing lamentable, and probably something very desirable, about accepting his authority.

The standard was conformity because the mature, developed mind was better.  Indeed, the only way to real independence of mind is by working one’s way along the path as it’s been discovered, adopting habits and principles that bring us to the edge of what is known.  Imagine some giant, interlocking structure in space developing into a purposeful network.  We had a general sense of the plan and fresh young minds were welcomed and brought into it, being told how to interconnect.

Now the better metaphor for the conformity is a black hole.  The unifying principle is that there is no objective way to say what is better, so young minds of mush (as the cliché goes) are sucked in through emotion and social manipulation.  Independence is not permitted.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    Justin’s article reminds me of a hit from the 60’s “I’m in with the in crowd”. This song speaks directly to a number of pubescent desires. It is my understanding that college is expected to broaden ones understanding and introduce you to differing ideas and philosophies. It should also teach you to discriminate among them. It now seems that colleges desire to extend pubescence, even the faculty wants to “sit with the cool kids at lunch”.

  • GaryM

    American psychologist Abraham Maslow asked in 1943 – “It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?”

    Ans – They become student activists!