The postmodern abyss of college

the_dream_of_academiaIn a liberal arts college, the only thing campus progressives seem certain of is nothing. They are certain of God’s absence, race’s social construction, and gender’s ambiguity. No objective truths can be found and everything, particularly culture, is relative.

Their certainty in nothing only gets stronger; if you dare challenge them, Godwin’s Law is quickly invoked, you are told to check your privilege, to stop accepting everything your parents told you, etc. This may disappoint some readers; but most people on campus who disagree with the progressives have learned to just passively ignore them; trying to start a debate is relatively futile, usually leaving you exhausted and angry. It is generally better to just take the path of least resistance and let them feel superior.

Admittedly, because of the above strategy, most progressives are fairly convinced that just about everyone they keep company with is on their side — giving them the impression that our college campus is a little bubble of enlightened youth. Although I was initially jealous of even being under the illusion that everyone on campus shared my views, upon further examination, their situation is far from pleasant.

Silencing your opponent can only get you so far, and as a general rule being the loudest opinion in a room is not the most effective strategy for getting others to side with you. On campus, progressives derive their strength from unusually strong numbers and the easily invoked claim that ideological opponents are eroding the college’s “Safe Space” policies. The situation is very different off-campus. People actually express their surprise to me that a co-worker of theirs at Super America did not think much of Critical Race Theory. Progressives are astounded that a few state-school students they ran into at a concert give them blank stares upon hearing the phrase, “false gender-binary.” Since progressives run the show to such an extent on campus that some colleges even have a, “Conservative Support Group,” no debate skills are ever honed. Once outside of their element, they are shocked at how little interest their beloved working masses have in Radical Feminism.

As the year goes on, I have noticed how much this gets to them. They have no idea what they are doing wrong – everyone in their Social Science class agrees with them, so how is it that the whole world is against them? Two minorities that fall into the “progressive” grouping have found answers: the Liberation Theology clique takes comfort in God, and the strict Marxists remember their belief in Hegelian inevitability.

However, the far majority of these progressives find both God and strict Marxism horribly trite and outdated — thus are left adrift — and what happens next is almost identical every time. The first reaction is righteous indignation, and their demeanor becomes more aggressive than usual. Then the anger becomes somewhat more contemplative and less in-your-face. Next comes a kind of sadness, a sense of futility. Finally, the real trouble starts, and a spiral of deep depression sets-in. Many terms come close to describing their predicament: postmodern vertigo, existential crisis, depression, or melancholia – but none quite get it right. They realize their deficit of fundamental axioms, a basic moral compass to guide them is lacking, and a series of contradictions hit them all at once. They do not doubt their moral high ground on the topic of gender-neutral pronouns – but they reject any notion of objective truth. Life has no meaning – so they must make it for themselves – except the battle they have chose suddenly seems utterly unwinnable. Any notion of God is for the birds – but they yearn for something bigger than themselves. They have everything figured out – but are still unsatisfied. So what are they to do? What happens next?

Suddenly Albert Camus’ bibliography is rapidly ingested; there are suicide scares, drugs and alcohol are consumed en masse. The whole scene is quite sad, but strangely, few come out of this experience changed. The prolific drug use continues, but God is not found, and bombastic debates are had again.

Academia’s Cultural Marxist legacy has put young progressives once filled with hope in an odd position. Every adage of Western Civilization has been abolished, but a new axiomatic system to replace traditionalism has not been set up. Derrida will teach you how to debase every culture or truism, but no conversion of beliefs takes place, only an iconoclastic and vaguely progressive opposition to the world is left. However, outside of the Academy most people still cling to their Gods and guns and do not bother reading Judith Butler, and these people are comfortable doing so – they are not looking for something more fulfilling. Campuses turn into negative-feed-back loops – dormitories house lively debates on whether or not a John Maynard Keynes was a classist – but no one in the real world cares. Although this phenomenon is rarely vocalized, people slowly become aware of it – cue the cocaine and Camus.

The best off-campus example of what this mentality looks like was the “Occupy Movement” – groups of over-educated people coming together and saying “no” to everything. With only one in five protesters over the age of forty-five, and almost a third having gone to grad school, it seems safe to call Occupy very influenced by higher education – and everyone talked about their complete lack of focus. Why a coherent message was lacking lies in what has been described above. Occupy as a whole was operating on a different set of postulates than most everyone outside of it. A 20 year old genderqueer vegetarian who has rejected materialism ever since developing an interest in Eastern Spirituality is going to have a hard time coming up with a list of simple reforms to improve government – something completely different is desired. The way in which Edmund Burke described the French revolutionaries of his times can be applied easily to many squatters of Zuccotti Park:

Confounded by the complication of distempered passions, their reason is disturbed; their views become vast and perplexed; to others inexplicable, to themselves uncertain. They find, on all sides, bounds to their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order of things. Both in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged and appears without limit.

With such an unsteady foundation, Occupy died more-or-less stillborn, but the mentality that both spawned and killed it is alive and well on liberal arts college campuses across the country. The children of yuppies and bobos have fallen into a strange postmodern abyss – passionately decoding the Nazi buzzwords of Libertarianism in the day, and popping thizzles while contemplating Sartre at night. Convinced they are right but incapable of communicating themselves to the outside world, a self-pitying hedonism has enveloped their lives.

Most of these people drive me nuts, and often disgust me. I do not doubt that half of them would try and get me expelled if they knew I read VDARE from time to time – but despite this, I genuinely feel sorry for them. Some are certainly malicious idiots, but plenty are smart (understanding Gramsci is not easy) and just looking for answers.

The world is in a volatile state, and my generation is wrapped up in its own cynicism quietly looking for something higher than itself; but it is hard to envision people with tear and wine stained copies of Waiting for Godot pulling themselves together enough to advance an eco-queer movement. Any Marxist will tell you that if a situation is ripe for revolution it is equally ripe for a dangerous counter-revolution — and if that is so, the Dissident Right may have an opening right under its nose.

18 Comments

  1. Donny says:

    It’s not just the college liberals suffering from post-modern vertigo. The nature of living in this post-modern world makes it more and more difficult to believe in traditional notions of god/religion. Of course if you could flip a switch or swallow a pill that would allow you to believe in the old god/afterlife/religion that carried people for thousands of years I think a lot of people would take it, hell I would.

    I think the typical campus liberal stinks because they act like they are the ones who are curious about the world, and that they have all the answers, but they are so insulated and don’t really want to know the truth if it doesn’t fit their worldview. Tell a sociologist/women’s studies major that there are innate differences in the male/female brain and that gender identity is pretty much determined in the womb and they don’t want to talk anymore. Someone who is really curious about the world would be interested in answers, regardless of the implications. And where the progressive really gets me is how they are so militantly atheist. Like I said, I wish I could be religious. But I damn sure am not going to criticize someone for believing in god the bible or whatever else gets them through if it doesn’t hurt me.

    1. RiverC says:

      As a religious person, I can only say that there is a connection between belief and action. Just to throw out an example, a society so structured that one need only go to Church on Sundays, or even perhaps has no time but Sunday morning to devote to a religious activity, one which is mostly devoid of participation is not one that can long believe.

      As one thinker put it, most homes were (and perhaps still are) so situated that the T.V. had the position of the household god or altar. In such a structure belief is literally foreign, because it structurally belongs to a different place. I was going to say time, but in such an example as that they’re interchangeable.

      The answer it seems to modern/post-modern man’s ‘why can’t I believe’ in general (though perhaps not specifically) is that he lives the life of an unbeliever, never mind his specific beliefs which even for the religious are often ideological anyway.

      Even a century ago, it was assumed that Christians prayed at least twice a day, if not more if you count praying at meals. This basic praxis is by-and-large lost, and with it, one of the pivots by which faith is fixed.

      It’s a chicken and egg problem though, why do religious praxis if you don’t believe? That’s the question I can’t answer for you. But if you believe, dropping all practice and the structure needed for it is a quick way to ‘green apostasy’ as Met. Hilarion put it.

    2. The left in general holds that they stand for fearless progress and enlightenment, when really they’re circulating ideas that were “new” five thousand years ago and failed then, too.

      It’s personal pretense masquerading as an ideology. They want to be elite, so they invent reasons that the rest of us are idiots, and then go about being highly-paid idiots. It’s brilliant except for the sociopathic dimension. A parasite that kills its host is a stupid parasite.

  2. Meow Mix says:

    Gilbert,

    While I understand your target here, I wonder if you are not raging against a dying era. I try to keep up to date on what all the crazy lefties are up to these days, and honestly, very few of the hardline Communist/Socialist/Anarchist types took OWS seriously and many were frustrated by the movement’s complete lack of direction or demands. Sure, they cheered it on for it’s ‘courage’ (whatever that means) and many intellectuals marched alongside the unwashed hippie masses, but a lot, like Zizek for instance, thought the entire thing was stupid.

    Likewise, the whole postmodern ‘social construction of xyz’ trend is dying hard. Many on the left feel abandoned by the very feminist, minority, and gay movements they helped spawn and many have turned against identity politics due to the fact that it sidelined the central issue, which was always class warfare.

    Aside from that, great article.

  3. deadite says:

    I really enjoyed this article. It read well and flowed well too. The emptiness which many of my peers feel is damn near palpable.

    OWS is seen as a joke by many, because that’s really what it was. It’s a sad state of affairs when people can’t even decide to protest about.

  4. Mihai says:

    A very good article, congratulations !

    You did a great job in showing two things:

    1. The parody of modern education, which should also be extended to the whole of the academical world. They are all intellectually impotent, they’re theories and worldview no longer correspond to any reality. Not only are they useless for the acquiring of any real knowledge, but they also lead astray and suffocate any possibilities in the truly gifted. They are worse than the plague.

    2. The bankruptcy of the whole postmodernist paradigm, which is nothing but a continuation and a deepening in the mire that has its roots in very deep in the ground of Western anglo-saxon rationalism, that began quite some centuries ago. The rejection of God, Tradition and higher understanding is at the very base of our problems. This is why new-right movements, who rage against democracy and egalitarism only attack the symptoms, not the causes. Quite often, when it comes to essential features, they are in the same boat as their progressive opponents.

    We must have the radicalism to attack modernity in its very core and to reject
    completely any products of its atheist mentality. This includes all the die-hard idols that moderns are so attached to: capitalism, scientism, rationalism, the deification of the individual and all the ramifications that spring for them.

    If we attack the core, we might have a chance of surviving. If we agree with our opponents regarding the core, then we will continue to sink low.

    1. Loretek says:

      I sometimes fear people who make this an issue of religion. It is not my place or your place to state what came before and what comes after reality. In reality all that matters are your principles and morals. Granted if they coincide with Christian morals the individual is on the right road. So for me an inpass has occurred. While I believe in the principles of the bible, those same principles prevent me from stating with all certainty that Christianity is the end all truth. Even if Abraham was talked to by God he surely would not have told him everything (and didn’t, ie the “laws” of the physical world, genetics ect. but only eluded too them by categorizing time into 7 days and revealing a marriage of a man and wife producing a unison (child birth?) ect) I guess my point is, as a conservative the world’s problems all make sense as a lack of direction and loss of morals and principles, but as an individual who strives for truth I have to, by personal law, question religions validity.

      The ball then lands in your court with a question. Can your new world you invision include a moral person who will not state his belief in a factual mannor but who’s principles line up with the society? Should I lie and say I believe? I think God would see that as a willful sin, in my eyes it is better to express the truth. I believe in the mystery of humanity, the studies of humanity divine or human that led to the Christian moral code, and truth above all things. And if fitting into your society I already ethnically belong to requires me to lie, how is that any better than what we fight against. How are you allowed to redefine reality to fit your goals, is that not also what we fight against. IFF a human decision dictates reality, it cannot be reality as human decisions and awareness are based solely on perception.

      You clearly need to rediscover the original definition of atheism as the inverse of someone who “knows” the bible is true and not of someone who “believes” in it. That is to say atheism sets out to disprove religion as much as religious nuts set out to prove it. Both are illogical as things that do not exist in reality cannot be known or proven while still in reality, so they should not be advocated for or against unless you believe yourself a prophet. Which you might as you write mainly in certainties. I fear if someone like you were in a position of power, creationism might not be presented as a wholesome theory of God or the first ever variable creating the initial ripple in time space that exploded into the universe and manipulating the code inside reality to create humans as a step above Neanderthal (who walked along side humans until we migrated into the world with the melting of the ice caps) but instead will throw away all scientific discovery (or scientism as you like to group people who dont agree fully into an evil category, ie progressive attack strategy) and replace it with your “truth”, while subsequently subduing me with laws and punishments for non-adherence. Science is not evil, it only sets out to discover what our reality is made of and makes no advances into the realm of the spirit. It is your fault and your fault alone for thinking the words God created man and the word evolution are a contradiction, you have simple not thought enough about the events and possibilities of rhetoric. An atheist is NOT a scientist as they have made a claim using someone else’s evidence for an unrelated topic (see neanderthal walked alongside humans and evolution brought about both from apes, and this is true so God didn’t create man.)

      On the same note, an intellectual dissection of religion is not “Post-Modern” or even “Modern”, its historic. Name Drop: Marcus Aurelius.

      If we attack the core of immoral and hedonistic culture we may have a chance at survival. But if we try and force people to believe religion as a means to stop this behavior, the progressives will no see it as such an enlightening statement. It took me two solid years of isolation and thought to begin to except the mystery that is beyond our world and personal life, and I have never strayed from conservative ideals. I do not think that a person who has spent that last 20 years having the time of his or her life, and didn’t get struck by lightning, will be able to pier into what your asking of them. To them, by not being struck by lightning proves God doesn’t exist. Instead they will attack in a mannor I have but with all the bonkers progressive mindsets behind them. Judging by their track record, this attack will not be very intellectual, possibly violent.

      Anyways sorry for the rant, carry on sir, I only with to induce thought and strengthen OUR core.

      1. Mihai says:

        For me there is nothing to argue about.
        The Truth is not up for dissection, nor is there anything to discuss about, there is nothing to prove, there are no “systems”, no “theories”, no cherry-picking. The Truth is either understood, in which case one conforms to it and may eventually experience it directly, or it is not understood, in which case no amount of theories and ‘philosophies’ are of help.

        What you write there is completely irrelevant as you make me say things I never did.

        “and replace it with your “truth”, while subsequently subduing me with laws and punishments for non-adherence”

        I honestly couldn’t care less about what you adhere to, I am speaking of something completely different.

        “It took me two solid years of isolation and thought to begin to except the mystery that is beyond our world and personal life, ”

        Who says it is beyond our world and personal life ? How do you know that ?

        ” I speak not of fictitious things, but that which is certain and true”, as a Hermetic axiom puts it.

        Truth was understood as clear as one experiences physical sensation until the advent of the Renaissance and all the progressive decline that followed from it.
        To say that atheism (which is a denial of Truth or at least of the possibility to experience Truth) is a cause for today’s decline is a fact. If we deny any absolute standard, then claim that man emerges from the animal kingdom, it is only a matter of time before we adopt hedonism as the only acceptable behavior and then drift into solipsism altogether.

        Science may have quite a few practical benefits, but not when it drifts into scientism and explicitly denies that which it is outside its narrow domain. The modern scientific agenda is immoral in its essence- there is no such thing as a neutral position. When it claims that it offers the only “certain” explanation of reality, it implicitly denies the superior faculties inherent to the human intellect and any dimension of reality superior to the one we can experience through the senses. And if the senses are all that we can experience, then there is nothing left to do but to cultivate them mindlessly.

        Of course, such postulates don’t have anything to do with actual science, the one that deals with the facts observable in nature. Its starting points (and conclusions) however, are entirely ideological and purely arbitrary.
        Evolutionism, for example, is not a scientific fact (as I am tired of hearing), it is only an ideology that appeared long before Darwin, who only made-up a plausible theory to confirm the prejudices that were accepted well before its time.

        1. Loretek says:

          “Who says it is beyond our world and personal life ? How do you know that ?”
          I completely agree and I realize I miss worded what I had meant. I mean to say outside our perceived reality. I.e the one made up of senses and how we combine information into knowledge as individuals in our conscious mind. The unconscious is the mystery. Outside of the purely organic I guess would be a way to state it.

          I have thought about this a lot since writing my comment and am interested to see you have replied with a lot of the same things I realized. I try and think in terms of reality, truth, and this phenomenon of “Manifest Reality” Ted Swanson talks about (of particular interest as it put words to what I knew was going on) I also use perceived reality so others are not as confused as I was initially. I recently wrote this to a friend in response to the usage of words and how they mean different things to different people. It is, like most of my thought intensive writing, a stream of consciousness:
          “Useless words are useless. Exemplified by the multiple ways to interpret the last sentence. And that it has a deeper meaning of portraying the uselessness itself. A meaning that is seen by chance or by context. Start using words like race and freedom with highly variable meaning and emotional ties and it’s easy to see how so many “world views” or perceived realities exist.

          In a progressive world “all world views are welcome” which is to say any individuals “reality” is our reality and actual reality can’t be proven so therefor does not exist. Which is ludicrous of course. In actual reality we know something outside our perceived reality caused all time, energy, and matter to exist in space. Humans exist in this time as matter that perceives the world around us.

          Now rewind a few thousand years and we are talking about this when everyone believes in deities or if you zoomed in on the universal fractal and cut it off at the most recent “roots”, they deity or power to each apex. But we see that all things are similar and thus came from the same place and something caused it to happen. Replace words with words, keep the meaning and you have heaven and God. Space and the first variable, whatever word you assign it, it is outside our understanding in scale and mechanism.

          After thousands of years we are no closer an answer. It is simply not in our perceived reality to find. All the most advanced physics have come up with is the Big Bang. Or in other words everything started from one location, as a change in space that allowed variable, that fractals out with amazing force as all possibilities are attempted and each viable combination exisits and new ones are created out of the stability.

          This fractal always continues where it can, filling every crevice it touches. A planet such as ours with such extreme stability allows for even more extreme viable combination of matter, eventually creating life, that eventually created humans, who adopt this fractal in our minds and use it to adapt to variables by trying all the solutions and seeing which is viable. I.e we were made with a piece of the first variable that allowed for this fractal of possibilities, or we were made in gods image. Everything created everything after it, and something created the source. It is all words and people’s manifest reality prevent them from seeing it.

          Abrahamic religions are the most meta science can get. Everything came from something before it. It adds principles for humans to live by that are again unarguable in meaning. It is technically the most true science can ever be and can teach us everything that is really important, regardless of individual interpretation of the word God. As genuine science sets out to explain the observable universe around us and nothing more. As long as you believe in humanity and it’s organic roots. Ie aliens did not synthesis us, what is the argument really about?

          Nothing, it’s a miscommunication of words causing disaster and misunderstanding across time. Useless words are useless but religion may not be as useless as atheists claim. Using science to disprove the meaning of god is blatantly ignorant as science has done nothing but prove religions meanings.

          The knowledge people take away is all wrong today of course, and our schools do nothing but perpetuate the manifest reality in all but the most perceptive minds. The ones it ironically is leaving behind.”

          The fact that you are hearing evolution as a scientific fact, no pun intended, bothers me deeply. No self respecting scientist would ever call evolution a fact, it is a theory that describes our natural world as an evolution of phenotypes. Further, if one was not on 40 year old science like most loud mouths and atheists, he or she would know that Darwin was wrong as DNA mutations and relocations account for most of the changes, the environment just picks the viable ones. Again tipping its hat to something creating all things, even DNA follows the fractal system. And no one attempts to explain the human mind past its observable logic gates that control homeostasis and traffic nerve impulses. But it does follow the adaption pattern of the universe and willingly uses it.

          It appears that humanity was destine to come of the big bang as beings that can use the same fractal pattern in thought to adapt and create. It is no imagination that major world changes coincided with the events of the bible with God or reality intervening at key moments. God or reality created man, which went about itself for a while but self corrupted with no guidelines requiring a flood to reset the world with noah bringing the new. Pagan and Tribal religions formed soon after with the spread into the world. Soon these self corrupted and God or reality intervene again giving us Abraham, setting the record straight that the deities were not the powers just the effectors. Eventually bickering and name calling split this religion into two which have been corrupting since. The final branch is Christianity with Jesus saving the next and last migrants out of the area Noah settled. A necessary step as lock tight laws and punishment had slowly corrupted the orignal truth. God or reality needed a way to allow people to forgive themselves and grow in its wake. Notice this all appears as a fractal.

          Whether it is God or reality, the fractal and improved stability is always the driving force, it created everything. God’s Will I suppose.

          A point you make well is that the stability has gotten worse since the renaissance, but maybe it was necessary for improvement. I would not want to die the way people did back then of disease. It has allowed our society to be completely open minded and choose our path. Perhaps it is encroaching on the time of Revelation, where society has taken every turn it can and quite literally Good and Bad is set out in front of the individual to choose with not just written examples but a whole history of examples and a multitude of living examples as well. At this point what direction can we have? How much more advanced can we get? What is left other than life itself? And is that not just hedonism. I can’t see a reason God would let this continue much longer, nothing of meaning is left to discover and the human mind has come close to enlightenment (if it weren’t for that nagging fractal sense to try everything and see problems where there are not holding us back). We must be close to the end as I don’t think humanity can handle another cycle without killing everything.

          Again I thank you all for being this receptive as it is the most I’ve ever experienced when talking about religion and has helped me profoundly. As many people have created a false reality of thoughtless following of religion, which is good for humanity, bad for someone like me who might get burned at the stake in yester’years for asking the followers a question for a master.

          1. crow says:

            Reality = God.
            God = Reality.

      2. 1349 says:

        Should I lie and say I believe?

        It’s not about belief but rather understanding / knowledge.

        But if we try and force people to believe religion

        There’s no need to force the likes of you. Don’t worry. :) An explanation will do. :)

        1. Loretek says:

          I don’t know how to take this. “The likes of you” sounds mean but “Don’t worry” and the smiley faces make it better.

          “Could be sarcasm, I am unsure… best ask him.”

          1. 1349 says:

            “The likes of you” is a compliment.

            I’m smiling because you were fast to detect oppression and force where no one was talking or thinking about them. It’s a sad smile…

  5. Comment writer says:

    You express a difficult problem very clearly in that article. Well done!

    Though, in my experience the liberal arts people of today will not go home to read philosophy and such, be it not on their pensum list.

    Now, how do we drive those demon rats out of the rats nest they have made themselves in academia?

    1. Ted Swanson says:

      You’ll have to be better read than them. You drive them out by not battling them head-on, but by getting them on a different battlefield. You’ll want to be expert on any or all of the following: Classics, Folklore, Mythology, Religious Studies, Latin, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Old English, Old Norse, Shakespeare, Beowulf. Go back to the real cornerstones of academia and hold court. Nobody’s interested in the ancient stuff – it’s a void waiting to be filled. Just be earnest in your studies, no trickery or drama debating the post-queers.

  6. They've seen me. says:

    You got one thing wrong. The college kids, with names like Ketchup and (“senator”) Andy did not live in the encampment. Their philosophies couldn’t create a livable space and their minds couldn’t take responsibility for it. Those who lived in the park were visiting for a day or three, or payed to be their by the government or the enemies of “anonymous” or whomever and the gutter punks who knew a good thing when they saw it. The number of those who considered themselves activists that slept at Zucotti day in and day out could probably be counted on two hands.

    Oh, and people released from jail with no where else to go besides a shelter. These victims and victimizes released from jail were quickly accused of being agents of the cops .

    Awake on my airplane.

  7. EvilBuzzard says:

    College is now a liminal socialization point. It won’t make you smarter. It will just weed out the total rejects and retards from “polite society.” It’s a place to weed out all the downer cows.

  8. abf31 says:

    As someone who teaches at the same college where this article was written, it seems that a new cultural label–“post-skeptics,” perhaps–is in order for a visibly growing student, and faculty, demographic. I refer to those of us who are, on the one hand, more impressed than the author appears to be by philosophers such as Derrida (who has not been read by most people who repudiate him) and by the numerous other thinkers and writers who have been undermining traditional certainties since the late 19th-century. But we “post-skeptics” are, on the other hand, tired of hearing such self-contradictory assertions as “There is no absolute truth” and witnessing phenomena such as the author describes, and believe it’s time to proceed on the basis of what we do know, even if knowledge is not the same as certainty.

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