April 6, 2011


On Searle's "The Storm Over The University" - 2

other parts of the series

"Orwell marked this passage in a copy he gave to Geoffrey Gorer, telling him that it was the key passage" and that "all the pigs were in agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon:"

'Comrades!' he cried. 'You do not imagine, I hope that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain-workers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.' "

--From Crick: "George Orwell - A life" p. 490


1. Introduction
2. The connections to totalitarianism, journalism, the media and fashions
On Searle on Kimball

This continues Part 1.

1. Introduction

This is part 2 of my review of Searle's 1990 essay that you'll find here in its entirety:

and that was published the year after I wrote and published my opinions on the subject:

Part 1 of my review is under the link. As it happens, as I explained in Part 1, I did not read Searle's The Storm-text until last week and indeed I did read nothing much like it in Dutch, ever, except by myself, and that because, clearly, I was the only one who saw things as I did and nearly the only one who had the courage to speak out in public - for it is not as if nobody saw (more or less) what I saw, but rather that everybody who did and who did not have a very safe position or a private and independent income did not have the courage to speak up, or else didn't care. (Yes, one learns a lot about people and their pretensions, when one does not follow the multitude into evil, notably how many do, not necessarily because they are evil, but because they are stupid, ignorant or afraid.)

I will turn to Searle's essay and text on section 3, but first note that I today updated, corrected and extended Part 1 a little (extensions mostly by two new notes and in the text corresponding to the new note (**)), but will first pull together a few points:

2. The connection to totalitarianism, journalism, the media and fashions

It got quite obvious to me in my early teens, though or because my parents were honest communists and moral idealists, that communism at least as it existed in the - so called - socialist systems under the aegis of the Soviet Union was very totalitarian, and that personally I wanted nothing of that - indeed, when 14 I was only not kicked out of the German Democratic Republic, that is East Germany, where I criticized the whole set-up as "fascist bullshit" because my father had spent time in a German concentration camp with some of the then leaders of the GDR, and because I had fallen ill with blood poisoning, and was in an Eastgerman hospital.

Also, it already then became clear to me that the majority of human beings saw far less of a problem with, and felt personally quite inclined to it, as long as it concerned Our Community, Our Nation, Our Party, Our Group - in brief: It is in the end groupthinking, that probably has a zoological innate component in it, since it makes for cohesion and solidarity within groups.

In fact, Orwell saw it really clearly as well and before I was born, as shown by my opening quotation and the following one, that very clearly describes the practical outcome of the combination of totalitarianism and relativism (my bold):

"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419. My stresses.).

As I pointed out in Part 1 (in the new addition to the text, that included two new notes, that are linked to from this text):

And writing now 21 years later than Searle did, it seems to me that postmodernism was a catastrophic phenomenon for the Western universities and indeed all of education, not because it was literally implemented, but because it created a climate of opinion and a standard of discourse (relativist, PC) that did become very popular, of which the key ideas were that truth and morals are relative; that real science is a species of oppressive fascism / machism / patriarchism and anyway a rightist ideology that cannot be founded on solid knowledge; that all human beings are thoroughly equal and equivalent (**); and that all there is, in the end, consists of texts or discourses (***), that in effect have only value as propaganda for or against some cause.

One reason this got very popular outside universities was that it tied in very well with what many journalists thought and with how they worked, while it was presented inside universities as important and deep (post-)modern philosophy with great moral, social and political importance: See Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism.

If this is to - and in Searle's and my text below this will get further illustrated - one major problem is this: How come so many fell for this obscurantist, nihilist, totalitarian collection of execrably written extra-ordinarily pretentious hardly sane philosophy?

Because of the following set of reasons:

  1. At heart, most human beings are totalitarian: They have an innate disposition to conform and to follow and revere leaders, that's probably zoological as it is also evident in other mammals that live in hordes, like wolves and hyenas, and besides it generally is the safest thing to conform and follow: See: The ideological ape.

  2. The postmodernists were for a considerable part, when academics or intellectuals, of strong leftist inclinations, and needed new foundations for academic leftist, since marxism had mostly failed to take roots in the West ($) and socialism - "The Really Existing Socialist States" - had collapsed in 1989: See: The ideological ape.

  3. The postmodernists from the start spoke in the moral terms of the left, came from the left, and insisted they were the New Left, in most ways.

  4. Because the moral ends of the postmodernists - equality/equivalence of all, democracy, emancipation of the backward - seemed either leftist or attractive, and their texts had the seeming depth and real difficult of abstruse philosophy, many journalists were inclined to be sympathetic.

  5. Besides, many people - journalists, intellectuals, academics and others - were quite attracted by pomo relativism, firstly because it seemed to solve many problems (everybody is wrong: all is propaganda: there is no truth); secondly because it promised them they could never be wrong, mistaken or refuted themselves; and thirdly because relativism was marketed by the pomos as panacea for all discrimination, on the pattern of "We just need to learn and teach there is no truth and that everyone is and should be equal and equivalent, and hey presto, all discrimination and injustice will disappear". See my Truth and value.

  6. The postmodernists dealt in what was essentially totalitarian obscurantist leftist propaganda, but of course did neither believe nor say so: They presented their stuff as the essence and crux of emancipatory and progressive ideas and ideals; as just the thing to emancipate women, homosexuals and blacks; and besides as if all was based on the most thorough and refined philosophical "critiqueing", as they liked to say and write, that supposedly had settled their philosophy and outlook forever. None of this was true, but postmodernist texts tend to be so horrible and pretentious, and postmodernists turned out such formidable scolds - who also were not hindered by any respect for truth, since that was a modernist Western illusion - that relatively few academics dared to protest. See: Morningstar shines a bright light on postmodernism and The Postmodernism Generator (both postdating Searle's essay, both from ca. 1995)

  7. Because postmodernism sounded impressive but in fact is nothing but delusions or propaganda dressed up as "philosophy", "critique" or "theory"; because postmodernists were quite good in getting media attention; because quite a few journalists were either intellectually impressed or agreed with the pomo moral emancipatory ideals, it happened that postmodernism got quite fashionable for more than a decade, and got into problems in the media only after the The Sokal-affair (Wikipedia), when already many of its adherents had gotten academic tenure by way of its doctrines and the help of their already academically arrived pomo friends in the previous 15+ years.

  8. What helped postmodernists organizationally, next to media-fame and already academically arrived pomo friends and comrades, was that many had belonged to leftist organizations, and that many leftists turned pomo from ca. 1980 onwards (conveniently forgetting or simply not knowing that The Old Left, so to speak, whether marxist, socialist or social democrat had been, ever since its inception realistic - in the sense: agreeing there is an external reality one's texts can represent truly or falsely -  and pro science: See my Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism)

These are some of the main reasons why postmodernism could and did created a climate of opinion and a standard of discourse (relativist, PC) that did become very popular, possibly especially in Holland, where the universities were all pomo for more than 15 years, and pomo celebrities were and are still invited, wined, dined and hotelled for prestigious public lectures in Dutch universities in the 21 C, to this day: Friends helping friends making a career in academica with bullshit and propaganda, while believing or pretending, like Stalin, that they are moved by the most moral of motives, the deepest of knowledge and the very best minds.

3. On Searle on Kimball

I have arrived at Searle's text in The Storm Over The University and quote in the present text only from Searle's sections 2 and 3 (of 5), and as before make his text blue and indented, and keep mine black an unindented:

Nominally, Searle's essay is about a few books about postmodernism that had recently appeared in 1990, in the wake of Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind - How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students that I reviewed in 1989 in my Truth and value.

Here is Searle on one of them:

- Of the books I have read on the current "crisis" in education, the one I found the most fun to read is Kimball's Tenured Radicals. Kimball's announced aim is "to expose these recent developments in the academic study of humanities for what they are: ideologically motivated assaults on the intellectual and moral substance of our culture." One may doubt that he is right to characterize the current problems in the vocabulary of "crisis" and "corruption," but from my own experience it seems to me that he is right to say that "the situation is far worse than they [his readers, mostly outside of universities] are ever likely to have imagined." Mr. Kimball has attended a number of what would appear to be rather tedious academic conferences, and read a large number of books and articles in which many strange claims are made. He describes these patiently and often hilariously.

Mr Kimball is an American journalist, but as he is summarized in this paragraph I quite agree: In Holland it did strike me as if I was taught in the university by "Tenured Radicals", who pretended to be marxists and revolutionaries because that was fashionable, and lied, as I could very clearly see with my really marxist, communist, revolutionary parents and grandparents, but most pomos and most students did and could not: Indeed, most never had seen much or talked much with anyone born in the lower class, and very few Dutchmen had family that was in the real resistance in WW II, though many pretended, with no evidence. Also, I did see, from 1977 onwards, when postmodernism had already reached the departments of philosophy, literature, sociology, politicology and pedagogy, a university in "crisis" and rife with large amounts of "corruption" and careerism (See my Whores of Reason).

I have not read Kimball's book, but it is my guess that Searle is a bit more critical of him than he otherwise would have been, because he disagreed with Kimball on politics. In any case, from what Searle writes about him - quoted in part below - it seems to me that Mr Kimball saw things quite well and did his best to stem the rising tide of oxymoronic abstruse bullshit in the name of the highest of moral ideals that called itself postmodernism, and in reality was mostly a means by which the intellectually talentless can become famous, professor, and have tenure for life.

In any case, Searle gives a good part of his article to discussing Kimball's text, and so will I in this text. To start with, here are some tidbits of pomo bullshit Kimball met with:

- Kimball's method is to quote and paraphrase some of the more extreme views he encountered. For example, reporting a speech by Professor Barbara Johnson, he writes:

Blending a deconstructionist's obsession with language and a feminist's obsession with male dominance, she summed up Professor Riffaterre's paper as a "masterful demonstration" of "the fact" that "gynophobia [i.e., the fear of women] is structured like a language" and, conversely, that "language is structured like gynophobia."

...Women themselves conspire in perpetuating this unhappy situation, she told us, for "the collective linguistic psyche exists in symbiotic relation to the fallen woman." We also learned, by a similarly elusive logic, that the "literary canon is a defense against its own femininity," a defense "against the woman within." What any of this could possibly mean was never revealed, but no one seemed to mind: it all sounded so exquisitely chic.

Such a method will seem unfair if readers get the impression that in quoting extreme passages, Kimball is quoting only unusual or eccentric views. To judge by my own experience he is not being unfair; the sorts of things that he finds objectionable are, in fact, quite common.

Quite so: Since the late 1970ies I have wearily and blearily eyed oodles of this utter bullshit. If this is what you yearn after or are amused by, try The Postmodernism Generator that must have done a lot, for the not totally stupid, at least, to satirize postmodernism to bits  (but it was made some 5 or 8 years after Searle's text, though possibly inspired by it) - and it really is quite like the postmodern texts that inspired it.

There also was no rational discussion possible with postmodern folks: Whoever tried, like I did, was almost immediately accused of (when a male) being "a macho", "a machist", "a patrist", and besides "a fascist", "a pig", "an ignoramus" (namely of the liberating prose of Derrida and such), a "misogynist", of being "old fashioned", and - of course - of being "elitist", "elitarian", "arrogant" besides being "an oppressor" (of woman, blacks, homosexuals and postmoderns), and "a conservative", "a lackey of the establishment", "an anti-feminist", and - of course! - someone patently suffering from "homophobia" and "sexism" - in brief, a very despicable sort of person, and very probably fit for hanging without trial in days of pomo revolution or revolt.

And yes... I have been there, and I know: I have met many equivalents in The Sisterhood of "Professor Barbara Johnson" (who turns out to have died in 2009, but who thrived undoubtedly financially all her adult life, e.g. compared with me, because of the pomo bullshit she implemented, in fact - as I think - to get easy money and high status by peddling bullshit): This indeed was how pomos "critiqued", as their favourite term is (next to "hegemonic", "hierarchical").

As far as I was concerned, they all sounded, talke and behaved like a bunch fanatic and totalitarian nitwits, where one also should weigh in that they were, to the last man / woman / person, extremely pretentious about both their morals and their intellects, while they struck me all, if they were academics or students, as careerist liars, albeit in majority excused by a very tiny intellect and no interest in or knowledge of any real science.

Back to Searle discussing Kimball (<- link made today to the site of the New Criterion, where he still is):

- Kimball summarizes some of his general conclusions as follows:

It is one of the clearest symptoms of the decadence besetting the academy that the ideals that once informed the humanities have been corrupted, willfully misunderstood, or simply ignored by the new sophistries that have triumphed on our campuses. We know something is gravely amiss when teachers of the humanities confess—or, as is more often the case, when they boast—that they are no longer able to distinguish between truth and falsity. We know something is wrong when scholars assure us—and their pupils—that there is no essential difference between the disinterested pursuit of knowledge and partisan proselytizing, or when academic literary critics abandon the effort to identify and elucidate works of lasting achievement as a reactionary enterprise unworthy of their calling. And indeed, the most troubling development of all is that such contentions are no longer the exceptional pronouncements of a radical elite, but have increasingly become the conventional wisdom in humanities departments of our major colleges and universities.

Kimball is himself a journalist, an editor of The New Criterion, and his book is intended as polemical journalism, not scholarship.

Searle uses this fact to distance himself a little from Kimball, and indeed it also seems quite  certain to me that Searle is the better philosopher of the two, but Kimball's status and politics (whatever they are: probably US-conservative from the link) are less relevant than whether he wrote the truth, and he did, I think, and the reason this is important are the following two:

  1. Who denies that truth exists makes a claim that is based on truth and is self-refuting, and in fact affirms that falsehood and lies don't exist either, which is very convenient if one's own teaching consists of falsehoods, lies and nonsense. Postmodernism is paradoxical sophistry, oxymoronic bullshit for a similar reason as was the Cretan, of Biblical fame, who claimed all Cretans are liars: if true it is false, hence either a lie or a fallacy.

  2. While no one really believes there is no truth when his or her own personal interests depend on it ("Professor Derrida, we quartered your salary seeing all things are relative and nothing is true: Thank you so much! It will relieve a whole Indian village of starvation! And we are sure it's all relative to you!") it quite true that

       "The very reasoning which sets out to destroy the ideas of objective truth and absolute value imposes political correctness as absolutely binding, and cultural relativism as objectively true."
       -- Roger Scruton

    and that the same teachings are very convenient to destroy all rational discussion and all points of view and all values, which is what the postmodernists try to do with all that was not postmodern (and was one of their motives to choose "postmodern" as a name).

Indeed, two of the pomo stances that are very widely shared in the West for at least two decades now are the very widespread concerns with speaking and writing in "appropriate language" (as politically correct language is called by its promoters: Note the bureaucratic blandness and lack of content of the term), and with showing verbal "respect" for just anyone, because he or she has the kindness to exist (and because conformist hypocrisy a is favourite game of conmen), since in fact the majority of human beings is totalitarian and conformistic at heart, or at least more so than not.

Back to Searle on Kimball, with some criticism:

- First, Kimball offers no coherent alternative vision of what higher education in the humanities should consist in. He simply takes it for granted that there is a single, unified, coherent tradition, just as his opponents do, and he differs from them in supposing that all we need to do to rescue higher education is to return to the standards of that tradition. But the situation is not that simple. In my experience there never was, in fact, a fixed "canon"; there was rather a certain set of tentative judgments about what had importance and quality. Such judgments are always subject to revision, and in fact they were constantly being revised.

Well... in a way this is fair enough, but I see no reason whatsoever why Mr Kimball should have offered or indeed should have wanted to offer a "coherent alternative vision of what higher education in the humanities should consist in", firstly because that is neither his job nor his field of expertise, and second and more important, because one does not need to be a baker to judge truly that the baker's bread is rotten, nor does one need to propose a review of bakery and baking if one believes so.

Some more criticism by Searle:

- Furthermore both the composition of our student bodies and the relation of the United States to the rest of the world have undergone some enormous changes in the past generation.

Kimball suggested, also with the title of his book "Tenured Radicals", that what in fact had happened was that the radicals of the fifties and sixties had fought themselves to positions of academic prominence and tenure, and Searle disagrees this was the case in the US.

I cannot speak with much relevant knowledge about the US, but I do know it very much that I saw from 1977 onwards appeared like this to me in Holland - see my Whores of Reason, that in fact consists mostly of text that I had written in a letter to the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam in May 1988 - albeit with a minor qualification: They were fake "Radicals", phony "Radicals", would be ""Radicals", merely verbal ""Radicals", for the greatest part, who simply swam and talked with the fashionable nonsense in order to get tenure in academia, or to get an academic degree while having learned nothing of real science, and without caring for it, and having no talent for it, but being very eager for well-paid high-status academic jobs.

Back to Searle, who has a more valid critical point, viz. that Kimball was mostly concerned with first year courses to undergraduates:

- Worse yet, the debate over college curriculum mainly concerns only a tiny fraction of undergraduate education, usually a single required freshman course in the humanities, together with other courses in literature which the scholars who describe themselves as the "cultural left" may seek to control, and which may (or may not) therefore be vehicles for promoting ideologies of "social transformation."

This may have been true in 1990 in the US, but it was false in Holland in 1990: In fact, postmodernism had been the rage in the universities from 1980 onwards, for reasons outlined above: Give pomos your little finger, and they first appropriate your arm and then the rest of you, all as a matter of course and, so they'll say, like O'Brien, "in your own best interests and that of Our Community".

Also, I should like to remark that nearly all of it was phony, fake, pseudo, quasi: Only the dimmest of wits really believed there was no truth about their own salaries, or that morals  were completely relative if someone wanted to rape their small daughter ("liberating her from pre-pomo hang-ups and outmoded binary judgments", say, in pomo-ese.).

As I met postmodernism and its proponents, it was quite clear nearly all of them had no intellectual talents whatsoever, nor indeed real intellectual interests (this is why it started in departments of "literary science"), while not a few pomo leaders or would be leaders, such as Foucault or Habermas, were clearly compensating some private problems of their own, rather than engaging in real philosophy. (Foucault, for example, was a homosexual with SM preferences, and liked to prove that is as good as any other orientation, and indeed came to grief over his denial of the reality of Aids, which indeed in his mode of thought must be a delusion.)

More Searlian criticisms of Kimball

- A second difficulty with Kimball's analysis is the thinness of his diagnosis. He argues that the radicals of the Sixties have now become tenured professors, and are carrying on, within the university, the same ideology that they espoused as student radicals a quarter of a century ago. This analysis seems superficial.

This may be true, but as I argued above you do not need to be a specialist in a subject to diagnose that something in it is quite rotten, and in Holland indeed nearly all academic marxists and feminists of the seventies turned themselves into postmodernists in the eighties, and into neo-conservatives (meanwhile having a lot of money in the bank due to academic tenure) or animal rightists after 9/11.

And some more Searlian criticisms of Kimball:

- Furthermore, the diagnosis still leaves too many questions unanswered. Why do the radical critics attack mostly the humanities? (..) More pressingly, why should literature have become the academic home of radical left-wing politics?

Very briefly: The first mostly because - see The Sokal-affair (Wikipedia) - they knew damn all of real science and were neither educated in any of it nor held an academic position in real science; and the second mostly because postmodernism started being popular in "literary science" and in philosophy, and indeed in the former of these two because the latter was much concerned with language, and all of postmodernism was really simple in the end, because propaganda and posturing.

However... once the postmodernists got power in a university, they really tried to transform the university after their own postmodernist teachings, and would have ousted the real science as "old fashioned", "not postmodern", "not socially relevant", "elitist", "a 'science' of Dead White Males'" if only they could.

- Kimball has nothing to tell us about these questions. I think the issues are complex, but several factors help to explain the migration of radical politics from the social sciences to the humanities. First, as empirical theories of society or blueprints for social change, Marxism and other such theories have been discredited by recent events. The collapse of the Soviet empire only marks officially something that most intellectuals have known quietly for a long time. The standard versions of radical leftist ideology in the form of theories of society and social change, such as Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, and Castroism, are all in disrepute. The most congenial home left for Marxism, now that it has been largely discredited as a theory of economics and politics, is in departments of literary criticism.

This seems mostly correct, but I found it quite striking that in Holland my generation of formerly marxist then postmodernist students and pseudo-academics only gave up theoretical fellow-travelling with marxism and communism and socialism after the fall of The Existing Socialist Soviet Empire, namely in 1991-1992. Even so, when doing so, all made a point, if they could, in public, that they all had been - personally and privately, mind you - disgusted with socialism and marxism long since, and in fact had seen through it already 10 or 20 years ago, and read Orwell and Koestler even before that.

As usual, these were mostly lies in the interest of their continued careers: In fact, hardly any of them had ever had any serious interest in either real science, or knowlege, or even Marx: They just pretended, and indeed in 1991-1992 some could only plead themselves innocent by insisting they really had pretended much or all the time. If you read Dutch, see my series Die Partei hat tausend Augen that starts with Geniale Gijs.

I have arrived at section 3 of Searle's essay of which I will in this text only discuss one paragraph, and leave quotation and discussion of the rest to Part 3 of the present series.

But this is a fitting note to end on, also because it gives me an opportunity to mention one more relevant fact about my extended experiences in the University of Amsterdam, where I talked with many students, lecturers and professors, because I was rather well known there in the early eighties and am a conversationalist such as occur rarely in Holland, where folks tend to be both bad writers and lousy speakers and talkers, probably again in part for a postmodern sort of reason, though this existed far longer than pomo: To speak or write really well, in Holland, is offensive to most Dutchman (i) because they can't (ii) because it seems as if one is something special and (iii) that is the morally most frowned upon thing in Holland, where The Norm Of All Norms, it seems since centuries, has been the following  article of faith of all hypocrits, conmen, and conformists "Act normal, for then you are acting insanely enough": Being normal is the Dutch moral holy of holies - if in Amsterdam, do as the Amsterdammers do; if among cannibals do a cannibals do.

But to my last quote in this Part 2 of three, still about Kimball:

- One of the most ominous charges made in Kimball's book is that the cultural left in the humanities today has lost its traditional commitment to the search for truth. Indeed, according to Kimball, many no longer believe in the enterprise of an objective and disinterested search for truth, because they do not believe that such a thing is even possible. The claim is not that it is difficult and perhaps impossible to attain complete disinterest and objectivity, but rather that the very enterprise of trying to attain such things is misconceived from the beginning, because there is no objective reality for our objectivist methodology to attain. In short, many academics who make up the cultural left, according to Kimball, reject the "correspondence theory of truth"; they reject the idea that true statements are ever made true by virtue of the fact that there is an independently existing set of objects and features of the world to which such statements correspond.

I think this is nearly all true (as does Searle, in fact, as we shall see in Part 3 of my text), except for one interposition of "postmodern" in between "many academics who make up the" and "cultural left", because there remained a few who did not, who in Holland tended to get problems with student activists, and left university or were removed or pestered away.

Now for my concluding remark of today, that should explain something about my aristocratic habits of mind, si vous me permettez:

It was virtually impossible to discuss that "many no longer believe in the enterprise of an objective and disinterested search for truth", especially with students, indeed as Harold Bloom said in the opening of his book and as I had found already in 1977 (and see my Truth and value):

"There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes that truth is relative."

Most students of philosophy I tried to talk this over with did not even understand the issues, and also were not willing to understand them, because they had learned in school, many of which were already pomo-ified (levelled, simplified, relativized) in the 1970ies that to think otherwise was immoral.

Indeed, most seemed to believe - as I mentioned above, since most were afraid to say what they honestly thought even in the very liberal and free Holland of the 1970ies and 1980ies, where on a verbal level everything was "tolerated", as the favourite Dutch phrase is, which is why I wrote "seemed to" - that by being relativists about truth they were personally fighting racial and sexual discrimination, one must assume because they held that other races and the other "gender", as the pomo term is, are factually inferior (as the feminists tended to claim in 1980-1985 in Holland: Being born a woman was something special then, and being born a black woman made one a being of an almost higher order, especially if she was also homosexual, for then she was eminently fit for having all discrimination of blacks repaired in her person, status, tenure, income and public fame: Readers of Dutch should see Rushdie, Ali en ik, that deals with one who played that game to great personal profit, knowingly, I think, for while not being the intellectual or moral light she likes to pretend to be, she is not that stupid).

So in the end that seems to have the main mechanism behind it all: The forces of prejudice and propaganda at work, in such intellects as are pomo Dutch academic intellects. ($$)

One unfortunate result among many is that postmodernism - the climate of opinion, made up of absolutistic relativism in the name of moral prejudice linked to politically correct language as a condition for being accepted as a thinking human being: Orwell's nightmare realized - has succeeded in presently opening up the Western universities to 40-60% of those of the requisite age, i.e. to approximately everyone who is not markably more stupid than average - one must suppose because they must all be equivalent and equal to geniuses - while the universities are effectively set up commercially so as to hand out to at least 85% of these folks a mortarboard and an "academic degree" after two or three years, for which reason the universities are really dead as institutions of higher education, having been made rather easy to finish for an IQ of 100, indeed a few departments where real science is studied excepted, as long as that lasts. ($$)

This will probably not last very long, since a society were half of those who are born are fit for the best possible education the society offers, cannot offer a good higher education, with some exceptions perhaps, and indeed cannot employ most with academic degrees on a social or financial level that they expected and went to university for. Then again, this is a fairly optimistic estimate, at least if one also supposes this can be put right again by precisely those who have found the previous two generations frauded them from their human right to receive an education that fits one's talents. ($$$)

I doubt much that it can or will, in the end because I have been forced to conclude - odi profanum vulgus, et arceo, a Horation quotation close to De Tocqueville's heart - that only a small minority of men gets born with the talents of a really good scientist or mathematician and with the courage to use one's talents, and that the majority of ordinary men all through history have been the willing dupes and proud tools of smart conmen dealing in religious, political and medical bullshit, for the most part, since these are closest to "the hearts and minds" of the masses: illusions about paradise or miracle cures.

As I said, I myself blame it mostly on innate lack of wit and a weak or egoistic heart, and am willing to exonerate or excuse the former - non posse, nemo obligatur - and partially forgive the latter, since we all only feel our own feelings, and I agree that

Stupidity and egoism are the roots of all vice.
-- Buddha

But then you ought to weigh in that I have been removed from the University of Amsterdam for saying so, and thus must be as "elitist" as Buddha, I presume.

And Orwell, in the opening quote, grasped and phrased it very well:

Orwell marked this passage in a copy he gave to Geoffrey Gorer, telling him that it was the key passage" and that "all the pigs were in agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon:"

'Comrades!' he cried. 'You do not imagine, I hope that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain-workers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.' "

--From Crick: "George Orwell - A life" p. 490

Put "pomo" for "pig"; "power" for "milk" and "tenure" for "apples" and you get the idea...

other parts of the series


($) By this I mean that marxism did not get a hold of many institutions outside the CP and the Trade Unions, that in some countries, e.g. France, were considerable, but less so elsewhere, e.g. in Holland and England. In Holland marxism became fashionable only when after The Sixties many academics were partial to it, and after the universities were "democratized" i.e. effectively handed over to the top of the Dutch Labour and Communist Parties, to rule according to their ideology, in the name of "democracy" (i.e. one man, one vote for the professor, the student and the cleaner each).

($$) In Holland, already 6 years ago, postmodern professors of economy seriously suggested importing Indians and Chinese - on the classical colonial system - for doing the work Dutchmen weren't anymore educated to be able to do, and kicking them out after their work was done, for the Dutch lately are weary of "foreign labourers".

($$$) Most Dutchmen who are younger than I am - 60 - did not learn three to five foreign languages, as I did and previous generations who wanted to get admittance to a university had to, but one; most such Dutchmen do not know how to do mental arithmetic; hardly any of such Dutchman can do a long division, that has not been taught since the 1970ies; hardly anyone knows how to spell even the commonest declinations of verbs grammatically, a.s.o. a.s.f.

And the most frightening thing is that most such Dutchmen don't care, or are proud or at least glad that they did not have to learn what previous generations had to learn to achieve an academic degree.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- Apr 7, 2011: Fixed some links and inserted the forgotten final line.
Apr 8, 2011: Fixed some typos and inserted more links.

There is a Part 3 coming, that will be linked in here, as soon as it exists.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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