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  Apr 4, 2012                  
     

Crisis: The age of ignorance and degeneracy


Originally written and published by Maarten Maartensz January 1989, warning against the stupification of all levels and kinds of education in Holland:

The result will be what can be seen now, after some 25 years of postmodern levelling education: [4]

Moronic academics; complete, half and threequarter charlatans as Masters of Art in psychology or sociology; academically titled pseudo-intellectuals who hardly know foreign languages and claim to be "too busy" to read; who cannot write, and do not speak good Dutch (of the kind of honourable Members of Parliament - an asylum filled with selfenamoured yahoos that unfortunately has room for only a few hundred minibrains); semi-scientific but heavily subsidized research that never yields anything but above average incomes for "scientists" of very average grocerly brains, and unreadable research reports in awful bureaucratic cant "to help the feminist movement, the trade union movement, and the environmental movement" (as the central aims of the University of Amsterdam were for many years) - in brief, The Netherlands will be governed by corrupt mandarins with an average IQ of 115. And the usual hypocritical impostures and backhanded greed, that is to say "in the name of our exemplary Dutch dumbocray, sorry: democracy".

Nothing new? Real science will become even rarer than it is, in an atmosphere filled with tenthousands, possinly hundreds of thousands Masters of Art of minimal brainsize and maximal greed - for an average IQ of 115 does not precisely exclude greed, ambition, intrigue and that delicious species-searches-species trade unionist mentality).

The cultural level of societies will sink until public mediawhores on the dreambox can move the population to any form of unreason. Public gangsters, frauds, parasites and eagerly upcoming dictators will be left free to do as they please - and the only social group that could have opposed them with rational arguments based on real knowledge and understanding of human civilization, will have been reduced to a set of stammering know-nothings, precisely of the level of people's parlementarians there is already.

Nothing new, I ask again? No, indeed: Virtually the only thing we do not have yet is a populist would-be dictator that abuses the opportunity. For we have had already 25 years of postmodern education. And we live in  moronified society, that moronifies further incessantly.

Thanks to the present so called academic elite, that has let it happen while they parasited upon it: The present generation of university professors and lecturers. Après vous le déluge, quoi? [5]

Previous crisis

To start with a brief clarification of my title:

Every age in human history so far has been an age of ignorance (of most) and degeneracy (of most leaders of state or religion: They're in it for the power or the money, usually, not for the reasons they claim and, in a few cases, believe), but some ages are worse, and especially so if the ignorant are being led by the degenerate, while either could have been fairly easily prevented - as in the present postmodern times in the West. (*)

Now to my subject, which is mostly about irrationality and degeneracy that could have been easily prevented but was not, and namely - in the present text, for there is more easily preventable irrationality and degeneracy that was not prevented but enthusiastically embraced - the steep and fast declines in education on all levels in the West, that took place over the last forty years, and that hardly any "intellectual" discussed while it happened and could have been stopped.

But there were a few exceptions, and yesterday I mentioned that a book of one such exception, namely Allan Bloom's

The Closing of the American Mind

has been reprinted after 25 years. You'll find an article by Andrew Ferguson from "The Weekly Standard" under the link about it. I will turn to this article below, but should say right away (for my US readers) that I do not know this periodical, that seems to be conservative - which is something I am not, in political terms.

In fact, I have described myself for over 30 years now as "a classical liberal", by which I mean to refer to Jefferson, De Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill, and specifically not to any political party that claims to be "liberal", since these all fall in the class of popular "sophistries and illusions", and I can't take them serious even if - which is very rare these days - some of the politicians who claim to be "liberals" are honest men or women rather than collaborating careerists and media-trained liars and deceivers.

But rather than once again attempt to say what I think about politics, I provide a link to a number of quite relevant entries in my Philosophical Dictionary that should be clear enough, taken together:

Political texts - Politics - Power - Society - State - Group - Groupthink -
Ordinary Men - Conservatism - Liberalism - Anarchism - Marx - Marxism - Wishful thinking - Ignorance - Postmodernism
- Hypocrisy - Stupidity - Human nature - Ideology - Religion - Features of Moral Norms

To my topic: I reviewed Bloom's book 24 years ago, in Dutch, and translated that review in 2011, and added some notes:

Truth and Value

I still have the book, complete with quite a few of my marginal notes, and may return to it at a later date, when I have looked into it and checked out my notes.

For the moment, I'll consider the review of it in a Weekly Standard of this month (prepublished on the internet), which contains rather a lot about Allan Bloom that I did not know in 1988, such as that he was a homosexual; died of aids; and was the subject of the last book of Saul Bellow, who was a friend and admirer of him.

Then again, I don't think any of that is relevant for the question whether Bloom was right about the declines in education and civilization, as summed up by the full title of his book, which is "The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students".

Also, I suppose that at least the rather small minority of the presently living postmodernistically "academically educated" who are not hopelessly stupid careerists, a minority that mostly is to be found in the real sciences, since these need some real talent, can agree these days, after 25 years of continued lowering of standards, that something very bad has happened to almost all the schools and almost all the universities in the West, for example because even the Dutch, at long last, in 2008, came to admit that at least school education had been very much stupefied. (If you read Dutch, see the Nederlogs for 2008 - and if you are not Dutch: Of course hardly anything changed!)

Now to Mr Ferguson's text, which is journalistic, as the following quotation illustrates:

In March of the following year [1988 - MM] The Closing of the American Mind was still a bestseller. By then nearly a million copies had been sold in the United States. Foreign sales were just as prodigious. The best minds in American publishing were boggled. Never in their experience had a book about Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger outsold memoirs by Patty Duke, Shirley MacLaine, and Sam Donaldson​—​combined.

I don't know whether this is true, but am quite willing to suppose so. Mr. Ferguson explains it by way of "a handful of spectacular early reviews", in which he may be right. Then again, quite a view of the early reviewers, may have thought that Saul Bellow's summary, at the end of his 1987 introduction to it, made a lot of sense.

Here it is:

"The heart of professor Bloom's argument is that the university, in a society ruled by public opinion, was to have been an island of intellectual freedom where all views were investigated without restriction. Liberal democracy in its generosity made this possible, but by consenting to play an active or "positive," a participatory role in society, the university has become inundated and saturated with the backflow of society's "problems". Preoccupied with questions of Health, Sex, Race, War, academics make their reputation and their fortunes and the university has become society's conceptual warehouse of often harmful influences. (..) Increasingly, the people "inside" are identical in their appetites and motives with the people "outside" the university. This is what I take Bloom to be saying (...)"

To illustrate: When I arrived - remigrated from Norway - in Amsterdam at the University of Amsterdam, as the son and grandson of communist heroes of the Dutch Resistance against Nazism, I was immediately called "a fascist" by two (would be) Student Leaders of The Left called Trees Mom and René Boomkens, because I politely replied "No" to their question whether I was a Marxist.

That was the climate in the UvA: Leftist fanatics, feminist fanatics, queer fanatics, and lying, posturing and deceiving Labour Party careerists ruled everything in the University of Amsterdam through systematic lies and propaganda about their noble intentions and plans (all were careerists, all spoke the fashionable cant of the day as if they believed and professed it) and slandered and defamed anyone who did not embrace their fanatic delusions as "a fascist", "a patriarchical swine", "a macho" or "an elitarian": Everything, every question, every perspective was reduced to pretended moral/political positions that were in fact pure propaganda; everybody who might disagree was grossly, impertinently and brutally verbally discriminated as a matter of course (for the assholes who did it felt themselves sanctioned by their pretension of being moral).

Both Mom and Boomkens - very much less intelligent than I am, and both not even capable of either coherent rational speech, or intelligent thought or clear writing -  soon became lecturer or professor in Holland, and at least Boomkens is still producting his neo-marxist bullshit, as "professor of philosophy" at Groningen University, and indeed he may be so monumentally stupid that he believes it - while having now for over 3 decades led the life of a louse on a sore head, as the Dutch saying is: A parasites' life, in the highest income bracket, with hardly any duties, as a whore of reason that pretends to have a conscience and an intellect, and who would sell each of these if he had them to the highest bidder if he could find one.

Indeed, I was three times removed from the university (see my 39 Questions for the reasons for my third removal) - all while being ill with ME! - and had to fight my way back three times to get my degrees - and was then, in spite of a brilliant M.A., refused the little help I needed to write a Ph.D.

And since 1988 all of the Dutch universities have fallen into the hands of the equivalents of Mom and Boomkens - leftist moral and intellectual degenerates with mini-brains, these days usually top-ranking members in the Labour Party (or "Green Left Party"), who all get their own personal professorship in some pseudo-science no one has ever heard of, that usually only covers a political theme and agenda, and is pure hogwash to give yet another Labour politician a job with high income, high status, and hardly any duties, where they can await their being nominated to alderman, mayor or parliamentarian, usually with their university-function reserved for them, until they finished being alderman, mayor or parliamentarian, and can "return to The Life Of Science", as they themselves like to present it in the media.

I think I described much of the mechanisms, motives, outlooks and dangers in 1988-1989, written mostly before I had read Bloom, in what I think is a more readable style than Bloom's, but addressing most of the same points, for similar reasons, but more satirically (**):

Dutch originals: English translations (from Nederlog 2010

Columns gepubliceerd in "Spiegeloog" 1988-89


Columns published in "Spiegeloog" 1988-89
Hoeren van de Rede
Mandarijntjes met een IQ van 118
Echte wetenschap & echte psychologie = genot
Yahooisme en Democratie
"Ik wil gelezen worden"
Waarheid en waarde
Lichaam EN geest?

De ideologische aap
Theo can Gogh interview (1989):
   "Ik lieg vaak"  - dl I
   "Ik lieg vaak"  - dl II

EN:   Whores of Reason
EN:   Mandarins with an IQ of 115
EN:   Real Science and real psychology = joy
EN:   Yahooism and Democracy
EN:   I want to be read
EN:   Truth and Value
EN:   Body AND mind?
EN:   The ideological ape

De hoofdreden mij van de UvA te verwijderen


The main reason to remove me from the UvA
NL:   39 Vragen (publieke redevoering, mei 1988) EN:   39 Questions (public speech, May 1988)

This did not make much or any difference, except for me, namely in receiving more discrimination, for I was reliably informed that "The scientific staff likes to see you dead" because of writing the above, and less reliably, by quite a few students, that I must be "a fascist" or at least could not be really intelligent "because..." I was told by several nitwits who probably today are professors in psychology or pedagogy, "...everybody knows that intelligence is a choice".

And that was the predominant feeling and value at the University of Amsterdam at the time: Everybody is of equal value as John von Neumann or Marie Curie, because intelligence "is a choice" - not a talent, nor something one is born with (when I said that it seemed to me that most of human intelligence is determined by one's genes, again I was claimed to be "a fascist" or "an elitarian").

At the same time, every Dutchman of the time, academically educated or not, just "knew" there were two geniuses in Holland: Johan Cruyff the soccer player, and Harry Mulisch the writer, both no such thing at all, except that Cruyff once was a good player, and Mulisch always a bad writer and a good careerist (and friend and admirer of Fidel Castro).

Unlike Bloom, I made no money or career through writing the above satires, and made things more difficult for me than they would otherwise have been - but then I was very worried about what I had seen and heard since 1977 in Dutch universities, and thought and think it a very dangerous decline in civilization: There is no real civilized modern society without an intellectual elite of the highly educated best minds of their generation.

Bloom got quite wealthy and quite well-known through his book, which does not mean he was not savaged. I quote Mr Ferguson again:

One observer estimated that more than two hundred reviews of Closing were eventually published, and scores of these, in obscure quarterlies and highbrow opinion magazines alike, continued the theme of Bloom as authoritarian menace. Several likened him to Oliver North, architect of the then-raging Iran-contra scandal. In Harper’s, the political scientist Benjamin Barber called the book “a most enticing, a most subtle, a most learned, a most dangerous tract.” Americans were too susceptible to a “Philosopher Despot” like Bloom, Barber wrote. “Anxious about the loss of fixed points, wishing for simpler, more orderly times,” they found in his work “a new Book of Truth for an era after God.”

In time the academic establishment’s horror of Bloom grew too vast for mere paper and ink to contain. Drastic action had to be taken: Conferences had to be held. They were convened to declare Bloom anathema. At one, in Manhattan, an administrator at the (elite!) Dalton School called him a “Hitlerite.” For left-wing academics in 1987, Hitler was almost as bad as Oliver North. Richard Bernstein, then a reporter for the New York Times, chronicled a gathering sponsored by Duke and the University of North Carolina, where Bloom, though not in attendance, was “derided, scorned and laughed at” by a large group of humanities professors.

In some respects,” Bernstein wrote, “the scene in North Carolina last weekend recalled the daily ‘minute of hatred’ in George Orwell’s 1984, when citizens are required to rise and hurl invective at pictures of a man known only as Goldstein, the Great Enemy of the state.”

Again, the same sort of tiny minds reacted in the same stupid and despicable ways to me, and indeed Mr. Ferguson follows the above quoted paragraphs with the following, that also very well corresponds to my own experiences (and I added the link):

In some respects,” Bernstein wrote, “the scene in North Carolina last weekend recalled the daily ‘minute of hatred’ in George Orwell’s 1984, when citizens are required to rise and hurl invective at pictures of a man known only as Goldstein, the Great Enemy of the state.”

It is - to speak for myself - very ODD to be for more than a decade scolded as "a fascist", "a terrorist", "an elitarian", and "an admirer of US imperialism", when in fact one is the son of a communist house painter, who also knew Marx far better than any of the would be phony "student revolutionaries" I know of. (It taught me a lot about ordinary men and the real main cause of fascism, stalinism and maoism, and of most forms of persecution, discrimination and political and religious fanaticism: The qualities of the hundreds of millions of ordinary men and women who support them, fight their wars, guard their concentration-camps, and torture dissidents in the name of Our Community And Our Great Leader.)

After detailing some more about Bloom's reception by most US academics in the late 1980ies, Mr. Ferguson writes

I  wonder whether all this fuss will seem bizarre to new or younger readers of The Closing of the American Mind. The critic Camille Paglia once called the book the “first shot in the culture wars,” and whether or not it was the first it was undeniably the loudest and most ambitious.

Well... I will not discuss the loudness or the ambition of Allan Bloom, but I certainly protested considerably earlier than he did, as witnessed by my Whores of Reason that for the most part was written in 1982 and addressed to the University Parliament (I led a student party that had one seat in it) of the University of Amsterdam, and that made me very much hated by its Board of Directors.

Why did I do it? Being ill all the time with I did not know what, though not as badly ill as later? Because I was asked by professors "for you can say it so well" (and they wanted to keep making a career, which they did not say, and succeeded in doing, whereas I was dropped by the way as a tool they could not use, namely after I started criticizing the level of education I and everyone else who studied received, that I thought, think and pronounced to be theft of my and their birthright on an education fit for one's talents) and because of what Bloom formulated thus:

“The crisis of liberal education,” he wrote, “is a reflection of a crisis at the peaks of learning, an incoherence and incompatibility among the first principles with which we interpret the world, an intellectual crisis of the greatest magnitude, which constitutes the crisis of our civilization.”

He asked readers to consider contemporary students as he encountered them. They arrived ill-equipped to explore the large questions the humanities pose, and few saw the need to bother with them in any case. Instead, he said, they were cheerful, unconcerned, dutiful, and prosaic, their eyes on the prize of that cushy job. They were “nice.” You can almost see him shudder as he writes the word. “They are united only in their relativism,” he wrote. “The relativity of truth is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate.”

Relativism, in fact, was the only moral postulate that went unchallenged in academic life.

The reason for that popularity of relativism, that still exists, is that it allows everyone to have his cake and eat it: If nothing is true and nothing is false and if "anything goes" you can think and say and do and lie and pretend as you please: It doesn't matter, for there are no standards and no criterions of any kind that matter in any way (apart from the approval of The Leader Of Our Community, of course) - it is THE belief system of the most hypocritical of careerists: relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel, these days. It was and is in fact all propaganda, posturing and lies to get away with anything one says to further one's own career and status, and it was and is not based on any sound knowledge, insight or reasoning: It was a pose designed and meant to deceive.

Mr. Ferguson asks:

What follows when a belief in objectivity and truth dies away in higher education? In time an educated person comes to doubt that purpose and meaning are discoverable​—​he doubts, finally, that they even exist.

That is the situation, and the main reason for it is that most postmodern "educated" persons are hardly educated, and the majority does not care, for they attended a university to get a degree for a career, and not to help them understand or appreciate things that require some knowledge and some individual intelligence. Indeed, by now almost half of the population goes to some sort of "nominal" universities, that therefore awards doctorates and master degrees to people who score barely or not at all above average in any decent intelligence test.

But Mr. Ferguson has more about the consequences of relativism:

Into the vacuum left by the humanities comes science, which by its own admission is unconcerned with the large questions of meaning and purpose. Even so, on campus and elsewhere, science is now taken as the final authority on any important human question​—​and not always the rigorous physical sciences, either, but the rickety, less empirical, more easily manipulated guesswork of behavioral psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology, developmental studies, and so on.

Mr. Ferguson seems to have a literary education, but in fact what has happened is that pseudoscience has taken over, also in the universities - for "behavioral psychology, cultural anthropology, sociology, developmental studies, and so on" are for the most part not only not "rigorous physical sciences" but simply not sciences at all, and indeed real sciences cannot be properly taught to the vast majority of people that these days is allowed to enter university, with a hundredth rate intellect, no interest in any science or civilization at all, but a burning desire to get a diploma that will allow them to make a career to make as much money as a bank manager.

What we have now, is much like I predicted about 25 years ago:

Moronic academics; complete, half and three-quarter charlatans as Masters of Art in psychology or sociology; academically titled pseudo-intellectuals who hardly know foreign languages and claim to be "too busy" to read; who cannot write, and do not speak good Dutch (of the kind of honourable Members of Parliament - an asylum filled with self-enamoured yahoos that unfortunately has room for only a few hundred minibrains); semi-scientific but heavily subsidized research that never yields anything but above-average incomes for "scientists" of very average grocerly brains...

... and so on, as quoted at the top, and as written in January 1989.

Mr. Ferguson seems to agree, for he writes:

The trends that followed the crisis in higher education that Bloom identified have only intensified since 1987: toward weaker academic requirements for students, greater specialization in the departments, a rigid orthodoxy in the university’s politics and cultural life. The university we face today is still the one he described, only more so.
(...)
The “core curriculum” or “general education requirements” are largely a sham: A math class may be offered, a science class may be offered, but seldom are both required, and often the content of each has only a glancing relation to the study of math or science. Philosophy and history fare still worse. Last year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni surveyed the catalogues of more than one thousand colleges and universities. Fewer than 20 percent of the schools required courses in American government, only a third required a literature survey class, and 15 percent required anything more than a beginner’s level class in a foreign language

Mr. Ferguson reserves the last part of his essay to consider the feelings and fate of a postmodern present day 38-year old man, with a daughter ready to go to college, with this as his last sentence about that man:

And when he disgorges tens of thousands of dollars to send his daughter to a school that has itself become a caricature of higher education, I am consoled to think that he will be able to consult Allan Bloom as to how such a thing could come to pass, thanks to a new edition of his maddening, haunting, towering book.

Perhaps so, but it is more likely he will have no money to spend on his daughter's education - which is quite tragic, especially if she happens to be really talented.

Finally. I probably have a lower opinion of Bloom's book than Mr Ferguson, not because I disagree with Bloom (I do on some things, and not a few, if I recall well, but I agree on the main lines) but because I did not like his style and because I had come to his manner of conclusion some ten years earlier, at least, than he appears to have done. Then again, the last point is not a criticism of Bloom: I merely mean to say I had found the same sorts of thing as he did without even knowing of his existence.

And it is much in favour of Bloom that he was one of the very, very few of what must have been several hundreds of thousands of academically employed men and women in the West, who spoke up to defend the traditions of learning, of civilization, of education and of civil society, that may now have been lost for generations, all because the academics of his and my generation betrayed human civilization, in order to make a career they really did not have the intelligence for nor lacked the interest in, and without having the excuse that holds for intellectuals who lived under Stalin's or Mao's regime: They were threatened in no way, and were corrupt liars from their own free will, for money and a career, "et après nous le déluge".

Previous crisis


Notes

(*) I certainly don't think it is better elsewhere on earth, but the problem of the West is that it has the means, the money and - albeit hidden in libraries - the knowledge to solve the problems that are due to ignorance and depraved or hardly sane populist careerists.

(**) Actually, of course, the main reason Bloom protested against the decline of civilization was the same as my own: We both are uncommonly intelligent; come from a non-academic background; and were very much impressed by our reading of especially the classic books (<- written precisely two years ago, with a nice choice and list of them: Enjoy!).


P.S.
Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- Apr 5, 2012: Corrected some typos.
-- Apr 6, 2012: Idem and added some links.
Also, I should add that I first published, on paper, about the sickening state of the University of Amsterdam in 1977.
 

 

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
2.  Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT: 
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of 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)
9.
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
10.
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

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 understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.



See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.
 


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