American disdain for higher education isn’t anti-intellectual, it’s anti-elitist

It’s no secret that the American workingman has great disdain for elite American educational institutions, aka, the “Ivy League”. For most non-Americans this would indicate the level of ignorance in society, proving decades old preconceived notions about the excess and dangers of American social life. However, there are some facts that should be examined before one judges the “rednecks” and “hillbillies” too harshly (and as a side note, to stop demeaning the American white working class with such crude stereotypes).

What is it about those liberals at institutions of higher learning that doesn’t appeal to the average man? It seems strange that the liberals of all people would be so disparaged by members of the working class, given the natural tendency socialism to support labor, hence the term Labor Party. Just look for a minute at the rhetoric by numerous faux conservative commentators and generally in American media: “liberal elites“, “limousine liberal”, “ivory tower”. “left coast”. It seems, given the rhetoric, that the general impression of liberal academics is that they are out of touch and that they don’t have the workingman’s interests at heart.

Yet, isn’t it odd that the “elites” all support socialism? So what does this mean? As Yale essayist William Deresiewicz pointed out,

“The truth is that the meritocracy was never more than partial. Visit any elite campus across our great nation, and you can thrill to the heart-warming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers.”

There is what might be termed economic segregation. People in the working class have little to no opportunity to come to these elite institutions, and the liberal academics live in their own bubbles. It seems that the liberal academics have little to no knowledge of the conditions suffered by the working class, in particular the white working class. The liberal elites seem to think that everything would be fine if the American public started moving itself to innovation. They act as political commissars, silencing opinions outside of the accepted mainstream, which is that the US is superior to everyone else in every dimension of quality of life.

Why is it that the professors themselves don’t say these things? In the ideological sciences, there needs to be a certain level of obedience, so the system keeps the “useful idiots” around. When professors do speak out, they just are often ridiculed by the mainstream press, as Deresiewicz was. It never ceases to amuse me when university professors claim that they are unique for being conservative at elite institutions, when in reality, conservatism (social liberalism) is the norm. These people are so isolated that they somehow believe that socialism is the norm, despite the clear taboo on the term in the US. That’s just embarrassing.

To the second point, one should keep in mind that political terminology in the US has not retained the meanings they do globally. So, it while internationally the term socialism means economically driven social justice, in America, it largely means what the Democrats do. More explicitly, it means government corruption. It’s no secret to those living outside America’s borders that legalized corruption is rampant. Let me give a few examples.

If you go through an elite American university, you’ll find that in other countries, higher education is largely subsidized by tax dollars. What you won’t learn is that quality of education in other societies is largely equal among institutions. What you also won’t learn is that most people in the West don’t go to university, because they’re in medical school, law school, or starting a career in a trade they learned during high school. That’s right, you can go to medical and law school directly from high school through traditional entry. Not only this, but the workload of these graduate students is significantly lower than that of the average graduate student in the States.

For those desiring to be scholars themselves, the path through higher education is significantly faster, with three years for undergraduate, one year for master’s, and three for doctorate (PhD). Thats two years shorter than the fastest path to doctorate in the US, nine years (four in undergraduate, five in doctorate), despite the fact that there are only two degrees. Not only this, but the universities themselves are largely taught by instructors separate from researchers. As an American graduate student, you will likely suffer through grading undergraduate assignments and teaching survey courses, something no European graduate student could say, because they’re too busy enjoying the sights of Paris, Munich, and London on their rail passes. This is not including the fact that university professors can strip a graduate student’s funding at any time, and that while American tuition is in the five to six digits compared to say the triple digits of Europe.

Why, is this so? It’s the money, stupid. Largely because universities don’t collect individual student tuition, which increases incentives to retain students for longer periods of time. It’s as simple as that. More so, the horrendous education at the elite American universities is just useful indoctrination to the Orwellian narrative that freedom is oppression. We should try to align our higher education system to match the principles already established from K-12: equal opportunity, publicly funded, and limit the credential obsession to only what’s necessary (hint: academic research).


One comment

  1. […] The effect of legacy admissions, though arguably less than affirmative action is still significant. According to political scientists Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chun in a study from 2005, legacy status adds the equivalent of 160 points on a 1600 point total SAT scale. While this may seem like a small “tip” in the fashion of minority status or athletic recruitment, the admission rate for legacies is nearly triple that of the average applicant. Additionally, while legacies are often associated with elite schools, the effect is even more pronounced at public institutions. It’s not surprising when the average American has such bitter contempt for American higher education (See American and Higher Education). […]


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