How California’s New Utopia Became the American Killing Fields
Last week, Facebook had a company-wide, Mao/Pol Pot-style public humiliation and apology session after one employee attended a Kavanaugh hearing. And, here we are, the Cambodian killing fields of the 1970’s transported to California – let a thousand poppies bloom!
How did we get here? Well, when the Internet was built and the web-economy exploded, the Founders envisioned a global community exchanging ideas and reaching an obvious consensus, an integration of the world, an Electronic Athenian Democracy where borders and nations would fade into obscurity and every human would be equal and happy.
Imagine their surprise when their utopia went horribly wrong, and hardened into fierce tribalism and neighbors began to hate each other over small differences magnified on social media. When autocrats used their technology to further enslave their people. When the real Athenian Democracy actually spoke up and produced President Donald Trump.
WTF, as they are prone to say in Silicon Valley.
Of course, it didn’t take long for the Technology Titans to see their mistake: the new tools were far too dangerous in the hands of the masses without a little more education and guidance. Raw discourse and exchange of views needed to be channeled and filtered, and, so, the Athenian Democracy began to look a little more like a dystopian dictatorship. People dwelling on the coasts were “woke” and “got it;” the rest needed to be sent to electronic re-education camps.
But, let’s go back a little further; who taught the Titans? Where did they get this narrow, self-righteous point of view in the first place?
Obviously, let’s go to the Internet and get some data on the educational institutions that trained these leaders and their teams. The most relevant analyses of free speech on campuses comes from the FIRE rating (https://www.thefire.org/) and from The Heterodoxy Academy (https://heterodoxacademy.org/top-150/). What they suggest is that the principal feeder schools to high-tech billionaire-ism, Stanford and Harvard, have regrettably limited free dialogue and exchange of ideas, and their even more technically focused sister schools Cal Tech and MIT are not much better. A cursory look at speeches and articles from the leaders of these institutions tell a story. They are littered with the popular, but limited, political vocabulary of “inclusiveness,” “multi-culturalism,” “sustainability,” and often the even more suspect “micro-aggression,” and “safe-space.” Dr. S.I. Hayakawa, famous linguist (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_in_Thought_and_Action), University President, and U.S. Senator from California would find a target-rich environment in the contemporary political lexicon controlling debate and thinking, even if the intellectual content behind the words is lacking. Today we are drowned in a nonsense word-wave that, regrettably, is being adopted by our top schools, arguably lowering the value of their education, making them virtually ungovernable, and producing graduates with premium degrees and a stunted ability to think.
The schools will claim that they put on dialogues with opposing points of view, as in the recent gathering of Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel at Stanford, but these are little more than set pieces that belie the consistent drumbeat of narrow thinking promoted in daily classes.
Putting aside the ratings systems above, I offer a simple, free-speech and academic quality challenge to our leading universities. How many courses and class hours are devoted to the following?
— The Policy Successes of Trump. Regardless of the man, it is arguable that his policies have been more constructively successful in 16 months than his two predecessors in 16 years.
— Increasing doubts about climate change. There is strong evidence that climate change predictions have proven largely wrong.(https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/thirty-years-on-how-well-do-global-warming-predictions-stand-up-1529623442)
— The disastrous impact of sustainability. The higher energy costs of “sustainable” energy may stunt economic growth and raise the costs of transportation and food to a degree to starve a good portion of the third world.
— The new racism of “inclusiveness,” “multiculturalism,” and expanded public welfare programs. (Shelby Steele is highly informative on this.(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Guilt_(book))
— The collapse of American Health Care under Medicare-for-All. Most available studies in the U.S. suggest that costs would skyrocket and quality and availability would decline. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAND_Health_Insurance_Experiment)
I could go on and on. The short answer is that students are rarely exposed to such opposing points of view. Even if you violently disagree with these ideas, they are valid arguments that require serious debate in leading universities and students should be trained to think and discuss, not swallow doctrine. But academic faculty have been fully coopted, debate is not encouraged, or, at times, tolerated, and University Presidents have no chance of guiding these institutions to free thought and debate. Galileo would have fared no better today than he did in the 16th century. Today’s universities appear to be designed to close rather than open minds.
I do not mourn for Brett Kavanaugh, although being “Kavanaughed” will live on forever in American political history. I do not mourn for Joel Kaplan, who was persecuted by the heirs of Pol Pot, using the weapons of vested stock and the electronic liver hooks of social media shaming and/or exile. No, I mourn for these young, group-think “Titans,” and the faculty who taught them, who do not understand the law of unintended consequences, cannot seem to think beyond the narrow and suspect political vocabulary they have been infected with, and are unwittingly repeating the massive errors of the past and shaping a dystopian future beyond their imaginations.