Evergreen State and postmodernism

Over at Quillette, which is really the go-to place fostering progressive Liberalism and criticizing Authoritarian Leftism, Michael Aaron has a new piece on the Evergreen State College affair called “Evergreen State and the battle for modernity.” It’s a good read, and deals more with the forces behind the fracas than the messy details of campus troubles.

Aaron revises the old Left/Right dichotomy into a trichotomy: postmodernism, traditionalism, and modernism. Traditionalists are basically anti-progressivists of the conservative Republican stripe, postmodernists are Regressives who “eschew any notion of objectivity, perceiving knowledge as a construct of power differentials rather than anything that could possibly be mutually agreed upon”, and modernists are “those who believe in human progress within a classical Western tradition.” Postmodernists hew to critical race theory (see the list of its key elements on Wikipedia).

Like me, Aaron sees this mess as a turning point—or at least a “crossroads” in modern society, though that may be a bit hyperbolic. I think it may be a crossroads for how we look at student behavior, but of course those students will become the next generation of decision-making adults, so we’ll have to see (if we live!). A few of its final paragraphs (read the whole thing):

In the end, the Weinstein/Evergreen State affair poses a significant crossroads to modern society, extending well beyond the conflict occurring on campus. Evergreen State represents the natural culmination of postmodern thought—roving mobs attempting to silence dissenting thought merely based on race, informed by far left theories that weaponize a victim status drawn solely from immutable, innate traits. Unfortunately, I cannot place full blame on the students either, as they have been indoctrinated with these ideas on the very campus that is now serving as the petri dish for applied postmodernism.

It is no coincidence that, while society outside the walls of campus looks on with disbelief, administrators to this point have been siding with the students. For if they were to repudiate the actions of the students, they would also need to repudiate the ideology with which they have been brainwashing them. In other words, taking a stand against the students would require administrators and professors to re-evaluate the meaning and value of the entire raison d’etre of their adult professional careers. Holding on to madness is a way of forestalling dealing with the grief that comes with the realization that one’s higher purpose has been a fraud. I am not sure of the final outcome, as this kind of process is long, difficult, and very, very painful.

But this internal struggle serves as a microcosm for the larger battle occurring in society between the ideas behind modernism and postmodernism. And the stakes are extremely high. As Weinstein articulated in his Rogan appearance, “Let’s put it this way, I believe at the moment coalitions are unholy alliances between two things. In this case you have the real equity movement, which are people who wish to end oppression, and then you have another movement that wishes to reverse oppression, and they don’t know that they are different because until you reach equity, they are pointing in the same direction.” For the sake of basic humanity and decency, let’s all hope that the Evergreen State affair has finally exposed this vital distinction.

As Bret Weinstein has said, the Evergreen faculty may be more to blame than the students, who probably came to the school not yet indoctrinated by postmodernism, and the Evergreen curriculum is full of it. Regardless, the school needs a thorough shake-up, starting with firing President George Bridges.

 

78 Comments

  1. biz
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Postmodernism and regressive leftism are really two distinct things though, although they are of course often correlated and feed off of each other.

    It is entirely possible to be a regressive leftist and not a postmodernist. It is also theoretically possible to be a postmodernist but not a regressive leftist or even a leftist at all, although in practice this doesn’t seem to happen.

    As an example of a regressive leftist but not postmodernist person, consider various Islamist and covertly Islamist spokespeople in the West (such as CAIR or 5Pillarz or Linda Sarsour). They are clearly believers in a universal, objective truth that is knowable by man – the infallibility and divine origin of the Koran and Muhammad – so they are not philosophically postmodernists, but they are most certainly regressive leftists. Of course their white allies in the regressive leftist coalition are largely postmodernists.

    Postmodernism and regressive leftism are different philosophical and ideological currents that feed off of each other, but are distinct. It would be interesting to know how much of each the Evergreen student thugs have internalized.

    • nicky
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Good point.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Most of those who fall into the “regressive leftist” bin seem to have minimal education (often they are beginning college students) and little semblance of a coherent philosophy. They want to fight Xism, and Xism is defined broadly as that which they fight. But for those who are more intellectually developed, “critical theory” seems to fall at the intersection (pardon my coopting of their term) of Marxism, postmodernism and feminism that seems heavily represented among left-wing activists today.

      • somer
        Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:44 am | Permalink

        crit theory is little better than pomo. It takes as an unchallengeable given that the worlds problems are a phenomenon of western capitalism (the west is conflated with capitalism and capitalism is an unmitigated ill regulated or not) and it buys into the same identity politics.

        • Draken
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:50 am | Permalink

          The deeper irony is, that most of those scholars who embrace critical theory likely have to thank capitalism for being able to study it in the first place.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The students may have not yet been formally indoctrinated into Postmodernism, but I’m sure they had been exposed to sloppy thinking and bombarded with a press that sensationalizes science while giving equal credence to crack pots. Think of the slime lay little niche Deepak Choprs found his way into or the ridiculous claims about Wifi and cellphones giving off ionizing raditiation.

    I once angrily addressed a FB friend’s post about how cancer would be cured were it not for its profitability. I asked the poster if she really thought that researchers, typically paid less than most professionals, most likely with a relative or friend suffering from cancer, would evilly crackle as they pretended to work on a solution that they already had an answer to, going to work during the week (and I guess conducting fake studies) while silently watching their friends and family die in their free time. I also asked how likely such a global conspiracy involving hundreds if not thousands of researchers, doctors, etc. would have of succeeding given everyone had to play along.

    Her answer? “You have your opinion and I have mine”. So, in other words, all opinions are of equal value and facts don’t matter because it’s all subjective. This person was never exposed to post modernism, never attended university and is probably your average person with better than average intelligence.

    My answer, if you’re curious, was, “No, I have facts and you have ignorance; it’s not a matter of opinion”. I’ve not seen anymore of those stupid posts from her since.

    • nicky
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Classic conspiracy theory, it seems.
      I often get this response (“You have your opinion and I have mine”) when engaging in discussions about religion. Many do not want to engage with evidence. I think that has little to do with Post Modernism or regressive leftism, people just don’t like to question their closely held opinions, this precedes PoMo or RL.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Which makes them the perfect vesesls to pour in the PoMo juice.

        • Martin Levin
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 12:20 am | Permalink

          You no longer need to be educated. The po-mo poisoned Kool-aid has contaminated the water supplu downstream.

        • somer
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 4:48 am | Permalink

          ideologies when they are context free become like religions – particular ideologies maybe necessary at particular crises but no one system works all the time. University students should be taught better otherwise its no different from teaching laissez faire economics is the perfect system at all times or marxism is or whatever. Ideologies aren’t hung up with reproductive taboos but have a religious taint – they often predict a kind of end of history to make themselves context free

    • Carey
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The belief that Big Pharma is a powerful, evil entity is widespread. When communicating with people who believe in alternative medicine, I find they don’t read the same books I do and we can’t even agree on what the facts are. I agree it takes a special kind of cynicism to believe that cancer researchers know a cure, but are hiding it so they can profit.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Re:

        en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Bresch#Early_life_and_education

        “STEM” – trained researchers don’t go into pharmaceuticals to make a lot of money, however handsomely they are otherwise paid. (Even more so for federal government National Institutes of Health researchers, eh?) In the above-referenced case, to make a bunch of money apparently only takes an undergraduate political science degree and some MBA coursework. (English undergrad MBA/JD Mitt Romney no doubt would be proud.)

        Yep, how admirable, how noble, how edifying to jack up that Epipen package price by hundreds of per cent. IIRC from a NY Times article, there is $1-worth of epinephrine in that package.

        Non-STEM-trained policy makers are always clamoring for high school students to go into STEM fields. Were they to advocate that position in person in a high school classroom, how would they answer the student who prefers to become a Romneyesque venture capitalist or junk bond/hedge fund CEO owner-demigod?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

          Oops my reply got attached to Ken. Poor Ken.

        • James Walker
          Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          The constant invective for students to study STEM implies that everyone has an aptitude for it. They don’t. I’ve seen many struggling and unhappy students whose parents pushed them into a program that they (the parents) think will guarantee the student a high-paying job afterwards. “Postmodernism” affects a relatively small (though vocal) fraction of the university. There are plenty of people doing good research and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and students in those disciplines will pick up skills in critical and analytical thinking as well as in oral and written communication (something that is often lacking in STEM training). Two of my most successful friends (one in law, one in business) did their undergraduate degrees in classics and philosophy, respectively.

          My advice to students is to figure out what you like doing and find a way to make a living from it.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      As I watch the Canadian GP race today I wonder about the conspiracy theories that make Mercedes so good, but no, it’s just mechanical engineering.

    • Geoff Toscano
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      The issue of opinions is a difficult one. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean every opinion is of equal merit. The problem is, who says whose opinion is better? In a one to one on Facebook you can’t win, no matter how ludicrous your opponent, and no matter how much you claim ‘fact’.

      My view is that an opinion is as valuable as the arguments used to support it. A creationist will decry evolution, but is unable to provide evidence to support his view, so relies on ‘incredulity’ (how is it possible that….fill in the blanks). Other areas may be harder to define, but in all instances one can readily research sensible, evidenced, opinions against the more foolish ones. However, you’ll never convince a fool that they are a fool.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        I think that if you are going to put something up on FB as fact then you have to be able to defend it. I may not win over that person in that argument, but that person has people watching the exchange and they may be swayed. I’ve slowly been able to introduce better critical thinking to some on FB and I’ve noticed the improvement in how they engage with articles they post.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      A telling tale! I have a relative that is a bit like that. They are always going off on wacky medical cures, while dissing science based medicine.

    • GM
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      I once angrily addressed a FB friend’s post about how cancer would be cured were it not for its profitability.

      But that comes directly from basic scientific illiteracy

      Cancer will never be completely cured for the same reasons infectious diseases will never be cured — evolution will always be a step ahead of us. So we will move asymptotically closer and closer toward taming diseases but will never win the battle completely.

      But in order to understand that you need to understand evolution at such a level that it informs your thinking about everything

      Kinda hard to achieve that when you are being taught that science is a tool of masculine oppression and white supremacy.

      While indoctrination into postmodernism is not a necessary condition for being scientifically illiterate it can often be a sufficient one

    • Colin McLachlan
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

      People like your Facebook “friend” should be directed to read Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies. But then again, “Don’t confuse me with facts, I’ve made up my mind”.

      • Harrison
        Posted June 12, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Indeed, a simple understanding of how cancer works should be all that it takes to dispell the myth that there ever could be a permanent cure. Cancer is not caused by an external germ that can be eradicated like polio. It’s pure probability. A cell divides, you roll the dice. Live long enough and you’ll eventually lose.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I actually brought that up in the exchange as well about how cancer is, at its simplest explanation, cells that don’t stop multiplying and that every cancer is different.

    • Robert Bray
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      ‘No, I have facts and you have ignorance; it’s not a matter of opinion.’

      I think you’re too assertive here, Ms. MacPherson. What you’ve shown in your argument is still an opinion, just a much stronger one than that of your interlocutor. You are very (very!)likely right because you have ‘facts’ nicely assembled into a cogent argument that carries itself with a righteous tone; while the person you so warmly addressed has nothing but pellets of impotent anger shot from the hip with a rhetorical scatter-gun.

      You drove her away, you say. But did you change her mind?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        This person is a friend of mine in real life and I wasn’t really aiming to change her mind but the minds of those reading the meme. What I didn’t say in the description above is she said “I’m sorry you’re going through this but they haven’t changed how they treat breast cancer for the last 50 years”. Pretty cocky going after the disease I know the most about since I was in treatment for breast cancer at the time. What she is referring to is treatment of breast cancer with chemotherapy. She was unaware that cancer is treated in several different ways. So I cited information about how I had genetic counselling done that determined if I needed chemotherapy amd that I was given hormone therapy. She was, in fact, completely ignorant about how cancer is treated. I told her that if I had been diagnosed as short as 20 years ago I may not have been given the choice of radiation only and 50 years ago they would have given me a mastectomy and I had a much higher risk of death.

        I had the facts. She had ignorance but it didn’t stop her from coming back to proclaim she knew what she was talking about. Of interesting note, she didn’t once tell me she was sorry I had cancer at all but saved it for the snark which of course was just that – snark at having been challenged.

      • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        People like that friend are resistant to evidence and arguments. As for the facts, it is a fact that scientists and their loved ones also get cancer and die of it.

    • hugh7
      Posted June 18, 2017 at 3:39 am | Permalink

      I think “I have my reality and you have your reality” emerged among New Agers about the same time as PoMo. It would be interesting to explore which came first, and whether they are connected.

      I think some of the people I first heard it from, in the 1980s, were influenced by Alice Bailey and Theosophy, but she seems to have been clear that there is one (real) reality, even if it is not the one we think of:
      “The intuition is a function of the mind … and, when rightly used, it enables man to grasp reality with clarity and to see that reality free from glamour and the illusions of the three worlds.”

      (But of course, she had her reality and we have ours.)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 18, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        Yes the new age movement seemed to nicely fit and enabled the Deepak Chooras of the world.

  3. Eli Siegel
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know from post modernism. Evergreen State reminds me of Mao’s Cultural Revolution during which it was common for students to denigrate and assault their teachers. The Maoists would send Weinstein to Alaska to clear land with minimal tools and see that his children never got into college.

    • Mike Cracraft
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      I keep thinking of German universities in the 1930s where racial ideology and anti-Marxism caused students to burn books, harass teachers and riot against other students. Your comparison with Mao’s era seems sound to me as well.

  4. Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Postmodern narratives are untethered from any contemporary context and unresponsive to local context or changing circumstances. They have no victory plan. They actually seem to resent progress, thinking any acknowledgment of progress is an “erasure” of the suffering and oppression that still exists. A few years ago my university commissioned an assessment of each college’s hiring and retention of women and minority faculty. When results were presented in faculty senate, there was stunned silence to see engineering and business at the top in both racial and gender equity, while humanities and sociology underperformed. After gathering their thoughts, the conversation shifted to rationalization of why the numbers are misleading. Must protect the narrative at all cost. Conservative disciplines can’t be acknowledged as *efficacious* even though efficacy toward assigned goals is our whole reason for existing.

  5. Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Evergreen was the blackened little toe dropping off the gangrenous limb of academia. Whether it serves as a wake-up call in time to save the body of our society from the infection of postmodernism, remains to be seen.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    When I attended college in the 1970s, postmodernism was around, but it hadn’t yet gained its purchase on academe. I read some of it then, and I’ve read around in it some since.

    In its original incarnation (or at least in the original incarnation I was was exposed to), literary criticism, it offered up some interesting insights. And it spawned some wonderful works of metafiction. But once it jumped its lane and claimed a broader remit, it’s worked to undermine the Enlightenment project it was originally meant to serve.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      I think I’d say to go do whatever makes you happy to those students who don’t want to go into STEM. Many will do things that make them miserable. Many will be dissillusioned that they have to figure out what to do with their lives on their own. Most won’t realize how privledged a position that is to be in.

      The dilemma in state funded universities these days is trying to remain relevant to a public that doesn’t value education (because it’s there tax dollars universities must compete for). Many in the public only see university education as a means to an end. The end often to become rich or have a job tailored specifically to what you studied upon graduation. This is is the niche community colleges filled. This was never the job of a university; it was to educate you so that you were a rational individual capable of thinking complex thoughts and making sound decisions based on reason. There is no end to that. What you do with your education is up to you now.

      • GM
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

        There is no such thing as the option of not going into STEM

        The world is physical in nature and an approximately accurate understanding of it is provided by the natural sciences.

        If you want to have a somewhat adequate understanding of the world around you, you do not have the option of not studying STEM in depth.

        And society does not have the option of allowing people who are STEM illiterate to populate its ranks, because a society in which a large mass of people live guided by a mistaken understanding of the world around them is doomed to extinction due to disastrous decision making.

        • Carey Haug
          Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

          Everyone should have some basic knowledge of science as well as math. Understanding statistics and probability is especially essential for decision making. That said, not everyone is suited for a career in STEM.

          • GM
            Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

            It’s not about a career in STEM, it’s about a worldview thoroughly rooted in science.

            Right now even a majority of the people working in STEM don’t have that.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          You do not need to pursue STEM as a career or go into it in higher education to be scientifically literate just as you do not need to study literature in university to read.

      • Craw
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        I disagree that the public “doesn’t value education.” That is an obviously false claim. The objections to PoMo bullshit are precisely that it is not an education.
        Aren’t you in fact devaluing education by implying that only attendance at a university counts?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t say the public doesn’t value education. I said the public doesn’t value university education unless it is tailored to a specific career outcome. Almost all the universities in Canada receive government funding and the government wants to provide more funding in areas they see as providing jobs so universities must provide these data to the government. The problem is, the universities don’t see this as their mandate as it never has been. This is the exact struggle the university I work at is grappling with and it’s outside of the research dollars it already attracts (I’m at a research intensive university).

          It is also difficult to predict what employment will be hot over time and adjust to that. My line of work didn’t exist when I was in school, for example. The key is providing a good general education that the graduate can use to adapt to rapidly changing times, but governments don’t like hearing that.

          • Filippo
            Posted June 12, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

            ” . . . but governments don’t like hearing that.”

            Nor do private corporate tyrannies. They don’t like the idea of “human resources” and “human capital” thinking for themselves.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted June 12, 2017 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

              Corporations are learning he hard way that autonomous and self-organizing teams achieve the best results so they are changing because the market is forcing them to.

              • Filippo
                Posted June 13, 2017 at 4:43 am | Permalink

                Is that to say that consumers are forcing corporations to change? Do I correctly recall that market research shows that for many if not most U.S. consumers lower prices hold more sway than the working conditions of third world sweatshops?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

                Oh hell no! There position in the market is forcing them to change, not consumers directly. If they can’t have teams within them that are self organizing and autonomous, they’ll be slower to market than their competition.

                Companies are only motivated by money and the loss of money directly. Sometimes the loss of money comes from consumers directly, usually it comes from not being able to compete.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted June 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

                *their*. I’m having a bad homonym day.

        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          I am a Bulgarian, and while I hate speaking bad about my people to other people, I must admit that our public doesn’t value education. Most would want for their child education that would make him eligible for a high-paying job, but do not value education in general. They do not want teachers to be well paid. Teachers’ salaries are currently so low that retiring teachers cannot be replaced. Nevertheless, whenever a pay raise for teachers is discussed, there is an outcry that there are many bad teachers and they do not deserve the same raise as the good ones (though nobody is troubled now that good teachers receive the same low payment as bad ones).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Oops that was for Filippo above

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      I too vaguely remember literary criticism that went along PoMo lines. I don’t recall calling it PoMo either. It served its purpose in the land of metaphor and fiction that is literary works but it is absurd in the real world where metaphor is often attached to things either to explain them better or, in my case, to make a funny joke.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        ‘Sup D-Mac? Ain’t seen you round these parts much anymore.

  7. Historian
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    In the dismissal of the notion of objectivity, doesn’t the current president and his minions exhibit post-modernist tendencies, if not meeting the technical definition of post-modernism? The growing influence of post-modernism on college campuses is a disturbing trend. But the fact that extremists on the right essentially subscribe to the same philosophy is even more disturbing. Their defense of “alternative facts” and their version of science denial in the area of climate change can potentially mean the end of life as we know it on this planet. What I don’t know the answer to is why at this particular time in history this outburst of rejection of objective reality has gained steam at the extreme fringes (each with their own bizarre interpretations of reality based on nothing more than “feelings” or in the case of the right, religious beliefs). It may be several decades before researchers who deal in actual facts will be able to provide us with satisfying explanations.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      You may be right on the connection to Trump and his minions but I doubt they are that mild. The attitude of this crew is more of win at all cost and ends justifies means. Any opinion or report of them that is negative is immediately declared false news and lies and must be put down. It is pure madness but that’s the way it is in America today.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      You might find this an interesting read

      https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/5/30/15631710/trump-bullshit

      /Grania

      • Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Left and Right have converged on bullshit. They may have taken different routes to get there but they ended up in the same place.

      • Historian
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        This is a very interesting article you have cited and deserves a close reading by anybody who wishes to understand Trump, his administration, and his media supporters. He may actually be a bullshitter rather than a liar, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous. As the author notes:

        “The president bullshits because he is ignorant. But his aides, in order to manipulate Trump into governing in ways they find reasonable or ideologically congenial or both, must echo his bullshit to prove their loyalty. This winds up creating substantial levels of second-order bullshit as flunkies pony up an outlandish series of pro-Trump claims — claims that are then echoed in a large and vibrant ecosystem of pro-Trump media.”

        Certainly, the motivation for the right’s truth denial is quite different than that of the far left. But, the effect is the same: a disregard for objective reality. Since the right controls the entirety of the U.S. government, its denial of reality threatens the foundation of democracy whereby people weigh actual facts and render political judgment based on them.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

          Bullshitting and lying are the same thing.

          • Harrison
            Posted June 12, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

            They’re different in intent and different in effect.

          • hugh7
            Posted June 18, 2017 at 3:56 am | Permalink

            No, it’s a useful distinction.
            * A liar tells an untruth they they know to be an untruth, crafted to achieve a particular end (typically to part a fool, or even a wise person, from their money).
            * A bullshitter doesn’t care whether what they say is true or not, and the end is just to attract attention, to spread doubt and confusion, and/or to cover up previous bullshit. Come to think of it, bullshitting is closely akin to trolling.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        It is also exactly correct as Hitch once said about another of this type, give the guy an enema and he will fit into a matchbox.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 11, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

          If I had to come up with a way to define what this is – it’s like having a used car salesman as the president of the U.S. Buying a car shouldn’t have to suck.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes good article especially the bit about how Russia uses these same tactics. I’ve heard this post fact era described as the “Russiafication of the West”. It’s the kind of thing that made George W want to slap Putin and now so many of us want to slap Trump. How does Merkel cope?

        • Filippo
          Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          “It’s the kind of thing that made George W want to slap Putin . . . .”

          Because Bush (decided that he) could no longer see Putin’s soul in his eyes? 😉

          • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            I remember another US president who reportedly uttered at his deathbed: “Joe (Stalin) deceived me!”

            In such cases, “better late than never” is not valid.

        • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Merkel copes very well. She told us that we should not carry out the South Stream pipeline project because Russia is bad, but she has no problem with Germany guzzling Russian gas from the Nord Stream pipeline. If I had to choose between Merkel and a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, I’d opt for the virus as the lesser evil.

  8. Martin X
    Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    taking a stand against the students would require administrators and professors to re-evaluate the meaning and value of the entire raison d’etre of their adult professional careers.

    This is a bit harsh; it really depends on the academic background of the administrator. Only a few disciplines are guilty of this sort of indoctrination.

    But it does mean that the administration would have to clean house among the faculty to put a stop to it and I gather that this is a difficult thing to do.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Really I think it speaks to the character of the person as a leader more than his academic background. The cartoon is dead on in its portrayal.

    • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I think that administration should be part of faculty and elected by them, and that the emergence of managerial university administration in recent decades that bosses faculty around may be the root cause of the problem.

      • Filippo
        Posted June 12, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

        ” . . . the emergence of managerial university administration . . . .”

        Not a few of whom are STEM-illiterate Romneyesque English undergrad major/MBA-JD types. Maybe still a few with an Ed D.

  9. Posted June 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Really I find the idea that the students enter university as blank slates and then get brainwashed by faculty into being intolerant radicals within 1-2 years extremely implausible. When I entered university my politics were already pretty well formed. The effects of pre-university socialisation, through family, friends and social media, seem to be somewhat underestimated in that piece (/understatement). Also, self-sorting; a university widely known for its political slant is likely to attract some kinds of students but not others.

    As for this being a pivotal point in Western civilisation, it should perhaps be kept in mind that activists are pretty much always a small minority. They may be the loudest, and push-back would appear to be in order, but it certainly does not mean that most engineers, scientists, doctors, politicians, administrators and entrepreneurs going forward will be postmodernists.

    • Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      That all sounds reasonable. On top of that, I expect that students who enroll in TESC for example are a bit pre-filtered to begin with.

      As for these events where SJWs with hipster haircuts are walking around with baseball bats, it does not worry me in the long run.

  10. Posted June 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    I commented many times on Critical Race Theory on this site, and was hoping that, over the years, more people would look into Critical Race Theory, which is in my view the defacto “SJW ideology”.

    It is described by its leading thinkers as a movement, based on postmodernism, radical feminism, freudian psychoanalysis and other such ideas. Delgado and Stefancic (2006) also wrote in their introduction that it is critical of enlightenment, liberalism, and the civil rights movement, consistent with the behaviours seen by so-called SJWs.

    Most — if not all — problems we have today can be tied to CRT in some ways. It’s against the melting of cultures (which we learned, is also a microagression); it prefers segregation — even forms of nationalism, compare with “cultural appropriation”. It features “ways of knowing”, called “storytelling” which translates to “lived experience”. It also is the overarching framework in which “intersectionality” is embedded, though notably, the contemporary version is almost the opposite from what it used to be, when proposed by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the late 1980s.

    Delgado made himself a name for argueing for censorship, too, and an exchange can be viewed online, see here

    Alas, the papers by Delgado & Stefancic (2006) I used to cite previously are no longer online.

  11. Posted June 11, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  12. peepuk
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    If defined like Wikipedia describes it, I think postmodernism is right:

    “Postmodernism asserts to varying degrees that claims to knowledge and truth are products of social, historical or political discourses or interpretations, and are therefore contextual or socially constructed.”

    Only natural sciences has been able to discover objectively true claims and knowledge. Normally we humans confuse our preferences with truth and fiction with reality.

    • BJ
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Except they believe the same is true of the natural sciences and, additionally, of literally anything that disagrees with them and their ideology in any other field.

    • Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      There are a few known social truths, too, like what Bunge calls Toqueville’s Law, but they are much are harder to find than natural or mixed (psychology, linguistics, anthropology) ones.

      Of course, those who deny that one can *find* such things will never succeed in doing so.

      • peepuk
        Posted June 13, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        “Of course, those who deny that one can *find* such things will never succeed in doing so.”

        Agree, think it’s extremely difficult because human culture is constantly changing. What is true today is false tomorrow.

        “There are a few known social truths”

        A well known example could be:

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Democratic_peace_theory

        Don’t think anyone would be willing to bet his life that this will not be disproved in the future.

  13. Bruce Gorton
    Posted June 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Here is the thing I have noticed: The far left is actually opposed to ending oppression in any way, shape or form.

    They are actually aimed at utilising the bitterness of each group in order to further the oppression of every group.

    For example: Sanders’ call for $15 – that would be of greater help to women and minorities than to white males because women and minorities earn less than white males.

    Okay – so how do you deal with that? Accuse Sanders’ supporters of racism and sexism. Call them “Bernie Bros.”

    Then in order to maintain the illusion of being an “ally”, complain about “cultural appropriation” and “micro-aggressions”.

    You know ignore the fact that the waitress is a single mother who is worried about making enough from job number 2 to pay her rent, those fajitas were made by white people!

    Is there anything more despicably privileged then some moneyed snot-bag whinging about their food not being “authentic” enough?

    The left invariably end up trying to broaden every single march to include every single issue – because they know damn well that if anybody managed to just focus on one thing at a time those things would get sorted out.

    And these aren’t the kids who are going to be working the factory floor, these are the new cosmopolitan rainbow rich who people the publicity shots of mega-corporations.

    They’re ultimately the future beneficiaries of the way things are, so they work very, very hard to keep people bitterly divided so as to prevent anybody ever getting together to solve anything.

    And these lefties wonder why people don’t hail them as their champions.

    • BJ
      Posted June 12, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      At the end of the day, many regressives are economically privileged, which is why they don’t want to speak out against economic privilege, even though it’s the greatest privilege of all. In study after study, the amount of money you come from and have has consistently been shown to matter far more for your future prospects than race, gender, or anything else they use to weigh people on their victimhood scales.

      But so many of them would see their victimhood statuses evaporate overnight if they took economic victimhood into account (and they would also have to admit something they find horrifying: that there are tons of white males out there who are victims of economic oppression), so they just ignore the greatest factor in whether or not one will be able to comfortably make it through life.

  14. Diane G.
    Posted June 13, 2017 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    sub


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