August 12, 2014

PETER WOOD: Campus Activism: the Fight for Imaginary Victories. “The premise behind campus activism is always the same. The college campus is a microcosm of the larger world. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens at Oberlin or Sweet Briar is imagined to rock the foundations of the old order. Patriarchy trembles. The Zionist Entity is called to account. The coal-breathing capitalist Earth warmers feel the chill of a generation walking on their graves. That premise, of course, is always mistaken. . . . “Patriarchy” stalks the American college campus the way the plesiosaur stalks Loch Ness: oft reported, never actually seen. A mistaken premise, however, is still a premise, and we anthropologists have written many books about the way people organize their lives around interesting misconceptions. If you believe that witchcraft causes unfortunate events, protecting yourself from witches becomes a significant preoccupation. This is especially so if everyone else in your village is worried about witches too. From such preoccupations arise communities that appear to outsiders to be dominated by irrational fears and sometimes destructive obsessions.”

Amusing, of course, that campuses purport to be islands of rationality amid the booboisie.