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Belmont Club

The Corruption of Culture

February 27th, 2012 - 10:24 am

Inside Higher Ed says there is a growing “gender gap” in tertiary education. The women are taking it over, or if you prefer, the men are leaving it.  “Those predictions come from ‘Projections of Education Statistics to 2014,’ the latest version of an annual report from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics that examines trends for the decade ahead.” Women will make up 58 percent of students by 2014. As far back as 2006, the New York Times was excoriating the emergence of “affirmative action for men”.

Rest assured that admissions officers are not cavalier in making their decisions … The reality is that because young men are rarer, they’re more valued applicants. Today, two-thirds of colleges and universities report that they get more female than male applicants, and more than 56 percent of undergraduates nationwide are women. Demographers predict that by 2009, only 42 percent of all baccalaureate degrees awarded in the United States will be given to men.


Robert Weissberg argues that men have left the academe because it is hostile to them and all that they stand for. For another higher ed may be selling an increasingly more expensive yet less valuable product. The New York Times asked: “is the master’s degree the new bachelor’s?”

William Klein’s story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor’s in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents’ Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school …

So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers’ new master’s program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he’d like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master’s. Browse professional job listings and it’s “bachelor’s required, master’s preferred.”

What Mr. Klein is investing in isn’t knowledge per se but a signal that he knows something. Signals are more important than reality. Such signals can be sent independent of whether or not they are true. Consider Shephard Fairey, whose work is displayed in the “Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London”. He somehow sent the signal that he’s valuable, even though recent events suggest that may not be true.

Shortly before he pleaded guilty to destroying documents in order to conceal that he plagiarized his famous “Hope” poster of Barack Obama from the Associated Press, he was beaten up outside a nightclub in Denmark over a cultural issue.

Fairey claims the two assailants called him “Obama illuminati” and ordered him to “go back to America”. He believes the attack was the result of a misunderstanding over his artwork commemorating the demolition of the legendary Ungdomshuset (youth house) at Jagtvej 69. His mural of a peace dove in flight surrounded by a circle of Tønder lace above the word “Peace” was vandalized within 24 hours of its unveiling with graffiti slogans “no peace” and “go home, Yankee hipster”.

Misunderstandings should be common among the brain-dead.

The Ungdomhuset was sacred to generations of Leftists, particularly the autonomen who saw dropping out — absenteeism, slow working, goofing off — as a revolutionary activity. Capitalism could be brought down by living outside of it,  as espoused by the French Situationists who “advocated experiences of life alternative to those admitted by advanced capitalism, for the fulfillment of human desires”.

One key idea was to turn “expressions of the capitalist system against itself” using pranks and culture jamming — holding anti-consumerist street parties and basically raising hell. That’s where people like Shephard Fairey should have come in. Fairey and his type are the new masters of “anti-art”, who reject conventional artistic standards, authorship, etc.

They are the guys who are good because they put a label on their t-shirts saying “good”. The triumph of labels of reality is the ultimate achievement of debased leftist culture. Stupid and destructive behavior are turned into “revolutionary acts” by characterizing it in French philosophical lingo none of which makes the slightest bit of sense.

Things are now what they say they are. We call grafitti street art. A life as a bum is now “reclaiming the street”. People who “reject” artistic standards and “reject” evidence — and even destroy it — become Shephard Fairey.

The real revolutionary players don’t believe a word of this claptrap of course, preferring to concentrate on seizing banks and manipulating politicians behind the scenes, but the European cafe Marxists have kept  the mediocrities occupied (pardon the pun); even if the workings of their addled logic sometimes results in the autonomens punching Shephard Fairey.

But the most significant thing about this intellectual vaporware is that it has now become the staple of the academe. This drivel is now knowledge. People now get master’s degrees in goofing off. The Telegraph describes a day at the University of Bedfordshire, headed by Les Ebdon, now on track to supervise higher education in the UK.

A sunny afternoon amid Luton’s dreaming spires and a gaggle of second‑year psychology students is making its way past the pawnshop, the nail bar and the bookies, into the main campus of the grandly titled University of Bedfordshire.

The four, all aged 20, prefer not to be named. Once they begin airing their opinions, the reason for their reticence becomes clear, as they describe their experiences of an institution that offers a BA Hons in Football Studies, and where almost one in five students (18 per cent) fails to complete their course.

“All of us ended up at Bedfordshire because we couldn’t get into our first choices, and got places through clearing,” one girl says. “Would we rather be somewhere else? You bet.” …

Some institutions fear that Prof Ebdon might use as a blueprint his own University of Bedfordshire, where students can do a foundation degree in “beauty therapy and spa management”. On the university website, the BA Hons in Travel and Tourism is summarized in language better suited to a children’s book: “Travel is an exciting sector in which to work. You can often explore different countries and cultures as part of your job, plus you can inspire others to see the world, widen their perspectives on life and embrace the spirit of adventure.”

Bedfordshire, formerly known as Luton University until a judicious name-change in 2006, has 17,000 students and currently languishes in 101st place out of 113 in the most recent university league tables. Sport, education and nursing are key courses that attract many applicants. So does media studies, but no pure sciences are taught, no physics, no history and no foreign languages.

However, the university does boast in its prospectus that it was rated “second in the UK for marketing, equal second for journalism, third for complementary medicine, fourth for human resource management and seventh for dance” by the National Student Survey in 2009.

The question of whether and why a man should get a master’s degree to escape his job as a $7.25 per hour waiter has been stood on his head.  The emphasis is now on getting an additional credential rather than acquiring additional knowledge by attending a master’s program, for which he will presumably pay a lot of money. Looking at the offerings at Dr. Ebdon’s school, it is unclear whether any knowledge is on offer at all. All he is selling is a devalued degree which is yours by “right”.

How is this different from a toy out of a box of cereal awarded to the taxpayer “by right”?

Arguably getting a PhD degree in autonomism or situationism would absolutely confirm that a graduate is qualified for nothing because anyone who decided to get into debt to learn what might have been composed by a French philosopher as a “prank” must be completely bereft of brains.

(I am even now working on a tome explaining that all of Marxism was conceived as a prank to deconstruct the world. To get people to give up their jobs, families and life in exchange for absolutely nothing. There is no Worker’s Paradise, there is no Democratic Centralism, there is no Hope and Change. All the Marxist leaders — Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, as well as others you might think of — lived in palaces attended by servants laughing at all the chumps.

It’s all a scam.

The working title is the Rise of the Absurdulons: a Critique of Politique. I’ll be famous soon and have invested in orange hair dye and am canvassing tattoo parlors.)

But that would be unfair. The rise of subjects like “beauty therapy” to the canon of knowledge suggests that their backers are very clever people;  at least they are more cunning than the millions of parents who have gone along and purchased what they’re selling at the sacrifice of their life savings.


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