Archive for October 22nd, 2009
In 1992 I decided to try grad school again. One semester almost drove me nuts but I learned that what I had said about academe in A Plague on Both Your Houses in 1976 was, at the very least, true. In 1976 it had been many years since I had left academe and my description of it struck even me as a bit overblown.
I found out in 1992 that it wasn’t. But I had no illusions going in. One person, hearing I was in Political Science, said, “It must be fascinating to them to ask you about all your campaigns and making laws and working for the President.”
I was actually stunned by this statement. Obviously it had been a LONG time since this person had been in school, or maybe, like most people, she just didn’t notice while she was there. I sort of mumbled, “No, they’re too busy to be interested in that stuff.”
In school, your sole interest is in listening and regurgitating on tests and trying not to worry yourself into a breakdown. The person who asked me that had a college degree, but probably had not been to grad school. She probably thought that GRAD students would be interested in the subject they were dedicating their lives to. I understand that was once true.
My father used to advise us to talk to a professor about HIS subject, because to HIM that was the most fascinating thing in the world. Back in HIS day it was probably true. After all, back then the few people who had doctorates could make good money anywhere. But by my time academe or government were the only places a man could be assured of a job for life.
Graduate students and professors have less interest in their subjects than a plumber does in pipes.
One thing I noticed was the difference, even from my generation, in the reaction of professors and grad students to the words, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you RICH?”
In my day, professors or grads would just chuckle at it. Today they start to explain how just anybody can get rich if they’re MEAN or GREEDY enough or how it’s all a matter of chance and so forth.
They protested too much and they protested WAY too quickly.
There are endless books about how industrialists shape their mentality around the industry on which their money and power depends. But I am the ONLY person who has written a book of that sort about academe.
Academe is an industry so gargantuan that it could stuff US Steel in its vest pocket without a bulge. On every issue its attitude is that if things were turned over to the Intellectuals, things would be fine. All money would be OK if the Intellectuals took it and gave it out.
This giving all money to the dictatorship of the proletariat, made up of Intellectuals, used to be called Communism or Socialism. On the day the Soviet Empire collapsed, every Communist or Socialist became, in a single day, Environmentalists. No one else noticed that, of course. If they had noticed it they would have been surprised.
I wasn’t. The program of Environmentalism today is a Kyoto Treaty where all production becomes subject to the dictates of the Intellectuals.