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Incapacitation: A recollection of the delusions of a modern humanitarian curriculum
By G. Stolyarov II
My freshman year in high school now seems an eternity behind me, but vivid memories of the experience linger within me nonetheless. A proficient honors student at the time, I attended a statistically superior public facility in affluent suburban Chicago and was presented with the supposed prime of its services. There I was admitted to a selective humanitarian program consisting of foreign language, English, and social studies instruction. I had entered it seeking an intellectual challenge and an appreciation by my peers and instructors for my logic, insights, and academic success. And indeed there existed teachers who condoned and furthered such virtues of my character, especially in my German studies. Yet that one freshman year stands as a glaring protuberance in my experience due to the absurdity and repression that it sought to foster within me and my classmates.
Prior to my full exposure to the scope of its activities, I had never applied much attention to the not-so-clandestine purpose of this select niche in the school's curriculum, termed "The Academy of International Studies" and listing as its prime goal that "students would learn to see validity in views and beliefs other than their own." As I discovered in subsequent deliberation, this is but a politically correct mask for multiculturalism and moral relativism. It urges not merely to tolerate divergent views while deeming them incorrect and attempting to sway their beholders away from them, but to accept them on an equal moral plane to one's own. Ultimately it implies the surrender of the integrity of one's convictions to every mystical revelation, every illogical argument, every arbitrary whim of "the dominant cultural paradigm". One's rational mind should be the ultimate judge of one's ideology, evaluating matters via objective, reality-based data acquired by one's senses and processed by one's cerebrum. By equivocating beliefs deemed rational to those considered ludicrous and even dangerously misconstrued (such as the delusions of al-Qaida), one is deprives reason of value to his person and of the condition of being a guiding faculty in regard to one's interactions with the world. The stated agenda intends to incapacitate the judgment mechanisms of emerging minds.
Indeed, the books we had read in English and, more so, their evaluations on the teacher's behalf painted a mental picture to supplement such a paralyzing transformation. We opened the year with Golding's Lord of the Flies, which allegedly compares the moral and psychological degradation of a handful of young boys stranded in a primeval wilderness to the "inherent evil" of the entire human species. Perhaps Golding's book correctly identifies particular whimsical, capricious, and sadistic behaviors, such as those of Jack, that men must act to avert, but in his interpretative lectures, our English teacher emphasized that a civilized condition, that of technological, moral, and philosophical progress embodied in the character of Piggy, is futile in its attempts to eradicate brutal impulses. I had immediately realized that such a dreary vision of human life was not Golding's intent, that he had written the book as a forewarning of the triumph of savage evil if the good, the likes of Ralph and Piggy, attempted to negotiate or compromise with sadism or to "accept" and "tolerate" it in any manner. Hopeless despair, which was what the English teacher had attempted to convey through his misconstrued analyses, is on the other hand a recipe for intellectual suicide. It speaks to students unable to comprehend its fallacies: "Humans are inherently evil. You are human. You are inherently evil, and you cannot help it. Thus, all of your actions are inherently evil and there is little distinction between their peculiarities." A profitable industrialist, an intricate artist, a prodigious scientist are by this calculus on the same moral plane as an illiterate hoodlum, a ravenous thug, or a parasitic bureaucrat surviving solely on bribes and taxes. Many of my classmates seemed to catch on to that motif and proclaimed in our tumultuous "class discussions" (i.e. the teacher selecting the most timid and compliant students to voice their "opinions", echoes of the teacher's "opinions" while their divergences were picked apart bit by bit without the more conscientious students being presented the opportunity to refute the ideological de-constructionism) that the evil is "part of who we are as human beings", that "it is wrong to remove our shortcomings from us" as if animal vices instead of logical, civil, deliberate virtues defined the integral nature of man. What contrary effect could this framework have had upon only partially mature, still omnivorous young minds many of whom did not know any better? How much of their development was stunted by that moral sanction which permitted them to applaud their indolence, vulgarity, and aggression, the qualities of Jack?
Afterward we ventured into Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street, an account of a lower middle class Hispanic community with its cemented rites and repressive cultural paradigm out of which an ambitious young woman attempts to escape. Yet instead of discussing the necessity of individual liberty and rational convictions as opposed to stale, Neolithic traditions upheld merely because they are traditions, as well as the commendation that an aspiring youth escaping from poverty through her own efforts should receive, the teacher initiated discussions concerning the alleged mutual contempt and hostility, a subtle variant of "class warfare", between the upper middle class and the ghetto dwellers. He entered into the "stereotypes" held by both sides and the widespread perception of "the poor" that men of prominent financial background are capricious shooters of arbitrary targets in public places. There was no distinction made between the genuinely sordid condition of poverty (and no mention that it was caused by government intervention with wage practices) and the ludicrous assumptions that the unfortunate individuals in that state expound due to their lack of acquaintance with any reality outside that of their vicious subsistence lifestyles. Again, the evidence of one's eyes, of the destitution of those people, was discounted entirely in favor of the proposition that the cultures of the suburbs and ghettoes are merely "different" and no value judgments can be articulated between practices which further the accumulation of wealth and refinement and those that foster stagnation, submission, self-abnegation, and gang warfare.
The third literary work whose theme was warped by the Academy of International Studies was the renowned Shakespeare's "Othello". From an objective standpoint the work is profound and yields enormous insights into human motivations and ethical questions. The primary culprit of the tragic unraveling of Othello's life, Iago, is motivated by two prime delusions, envy and credulity, the former manifested by his scorn for Cassio for occupying Othello's lieutenancy and for Othello for having elevated Cassio to such a position due to the his merits, the latter guided by a warrantless assumption that Othello had engaged in an adulterous affair with Iago's wife. Both perceptions are prime examples of irrationality leading to malevolence and devastation. In the meantime, Othello's own credulity and fact-less assertiveness cause his compliance with Iago's scheme and prompt him to murder his own wife. But the English class of freshman year would never have allowed me to arrive at such a conclusion. Its interpretation of Iago's conduct was of that motivated by "selfishness" and "greed", as if a person genuinely concerned with his own interests and affluence would seek to drink the blood of another's carcass. The teacher and the students had fully embraced the sadism/masochism dichotomy, viewing men as either able to live via extortion or perishing by means of "morality". But, as they never realized, how was Iago's conduct in any manner for his own benefit? Even neglecting from his ultimate imprisonment, he would have remained in a significantly more prosperous state had he honestly resumed his tasks on Othello's payroll and elevated himself through genuine service to the general, not harming the latter and not being harmed by him. Instead of interpreting Shakespeare's genuine message of irrationality as the vice, the teacher targeted cold, calculating rationality as the alleged root of Iago's malignant character. The result was, again, a perception of man as a savage beast, to be either leashed and coerced into the slightest movement by the inevitably emerging holders of that leash or that same monstrosity tearing the world to bits when released into the open. How many of my classmates would evolve into bullies and tricksters, and how many into their compliant victims and peons?
Subsequently we studied Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which had received extensive laudation from our teacher for having distorted the structures of English grammar and initiated an augmenting string of colloquialism in literature. The book and the teacher both had presented a dichotomy between Huck's atomistic "river rat" pseudo-individualism and conformity to a society which fostered the abomination of slavery and deference to the dictates of a deity and a two-thousand-year-old book. Either, they implied, a man would be an indolent, subsisting, semi-literate hoodlum who cannot comprehend progress in any of its dimensions, or the compliant little pawn of a thoroughly entrenched paradigm which does not permit significant ideological or behavioral deviation. They neglected that it is selfish and individualistic, in accordance with the qualities Huck claims to profess, to interact and trade values with other individuals of varied capacities, to dwell in civilization and to develop it to extract one's own legitimate profits, which implies a social existence, but only on terms acceptable to every denizen thereof. Instead, because the authorities evidently would not permit a Huck-like behavioral pattern in the students of a high school, the sole other alternative remaining for the freshmen was to incorporate every dominant social practice into their routines as an unquestionable holy edict without examining each in its particular aspects and resolving to accept or denounce them individually based on their independent rational faculties. In relation to his misfires from Lord of the Flies, the English teacher had elaborated upon a similar interpretation of the Shepherdson-Grangerford feud episode in Huckleberry Finn, claiming that savage irrational tendencies which initiate generational rivalries can afflict the most civilized and materially flourishing individuals, essentially declaring against the evidence of history (wherein feuds occur most frequently in nations unexposed to the civilized Western ideals of the rule of law and individual rights and the realization that man is not a metaphysically predetermined entity based on his genes or his upbringing, but rather on his volitional consciousness) that progress is impotent in the face of the primordial beast, proclaiming that reason is futile and thus so are aspirations to ameliorate the status quo. Such a mindset instilled simultaneously despair, disgust, resignation, and... acceptance of the evil because no alternative was said to exist.
Our final major item of study in English class was the environmentalist propaganda pamphlet, Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat, a field biologist who had ventured into the northern Yukon Territory to investigate the habits of its lupine population. Perhaps some of his scientific observations exhibit a certain accuracy, but he attempts to package-deal them along with an anti-Western, "anti- human intervention within the wilderness" philosophical folly. He constantly pictures the wolves' grueling struggle for subsistence in the barren tundra as an idyllic paradise, "a world we lost" through modernization and exploitation of natural resources. He neglects the brute monotony of their routine, from pup den to rotting carcass, for tens of thousands of generations unchanging, futile, amelioration outside their capacities. He lauds the Eskimo hunters who had frozen themselves at a wretchedly inadequate level of development and therefore seek to adapt themselves to the environment of their prey, the caribou (and the wolves who are consumers of the ill portions of the herd) instead of mending their environment to their purposes, say, through agriculture or caribou ranching. Simultaneously, Mowat scathingly insults frontier hunters from developed countries who are genuinely improving their financial status and their physical coordination through activities which inflict no harm upon human beings but instead offer them valuable commodities in the form of lupine byproducts. The aim of that particular reading was to equate man's condition, this time more overtly (as the Academites had already been "conditioned" for it through rhetoric on Lord of the Flies and Huckleberry Finn), with that of uncultivated animals, and moreover present the animals as the keepers of a divinely ordained universal scheme (known as the ecosystem) from which humans had deviated, portraying men as outlaws and the life of the wolf as the proper one. "The wolf does not aspire," their deliberations would imply, "thus neither should we. We should be like the wolves and sacrifice individual autonomy to mechanistic cycles of subsistence, collectivism, and ruin which are the essence of an ecosystem wherein every species thrives at another's expense and in turn someday perishes itself." With Never Cry Wolf our English teacher had completed his agenda of translating the sadist/masochist dichotomy applicable only to the savage, untamed world of animals into an ethical framework for human behavior, involving massive government-imposed restrictions, de-industrialization, and a repressive curtailment of progressive territorial expansion.
However frightening it may seem to one exposed to the aforementioned details of his ideological blunders, our teacher was a staunch "radical centrist", refusing to fully embrace left-wing post-modernist anti-humanist drivel, but also not wishing to extract lessons from conservative ideological accomplishments. But as Ayn Rand once wrote, "In any compromise between food and poison only death can win. In any compromise between good and evil, only evil can triumph." We can pinpoint the validity of such an observation within my former English teacher. Although he was a courteous and lenient man who permitted a slight (albeit insufficient) amount of dissent within the classroom, although he may not have consciously intended to espouse a stance opposed to human merit, aspiration, and progress, he had nevertheless absorbed the devastatingly thoughtless and nihilistic totalitarian leftist rhetoric in its essence, neglecting to resort to the only pure antidote to the poison, a consistently objective philosophical framework which can only be found today in branches of the ideological right.
Nevertheless, my English class was "moderate" in comparison with the appalling rubbish I was required to endure in social studies, from an intensely leftist teacher who just happened to also be the director of the Academy of International Studies. She seemed a cordial one at first, but such a façade was removed some two weeks into the year when we were engaged in an "introductory" unit consisting of a contrast of values held by Westerners and other more "traditional" cultures, one of the focal points of which was a dichotomy between control over one's environment and a resigned submission to fate coupled with a belief in foreordainment. I had commented on the fact that fatalism had historically been the dominant trend among scientifically illiterate tribesmen who were incapable of altering and amending their surroundings and thereby lived in constant despair, resignation, and the possibility of demise looming over them, that they henceforth lapsed into mysticism and the conception of a deterministic universal scheme which they possessed no power to alter. I had noted that the corollaries mysticism and fatalism are the sign of a primitive and ignorant culture which cannot be logically deemed valid by the civilized peoples of the West. I received a tidal wave of gasps from classmates docile with their teachers who nevertheless buzzed away like angry wasps whenever I attempted to convey a rational argument. I received an indignation-filled chastisement from both the English teacher, who had been an observer of the "discussion" and the social studies autocrat. I was forced to remain after class and was hollered at for having "insulted other people's ideas", a peculiar accusation considering that those particular people did not hear my grievances, that their paradigms would merely be challenged and their lives ameliorated had they heard them, and that it was my fundamental right as a human being (and not a wolf or a primeval savage) to broadcast my convictions without fear of that one practice which distinctly separates oligarcho-totalitarian dictatorships from republican democracies, censorship. But they waved that claim away like the wind had once scattered the ashes of those scientific pioneers who had perished in the flames of the Holy Inquisition. Political correctness was all for them, and when I quoted Voltaire, "I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it", in defense of my freedom of self-expression, they responded verbatim, "That was just his opinion." I resented them from that moment on.
And my displeasure was proper indeed. Academy Social Studies, the supposed crème de la crème of freshman history instruction at my school, had managed only to reach to any degree of depth the history of ancient Greece by the conclusion of the year, while the remainder of the honors and regular courses had already ventured into World War I and acquired a comprehensive understanding of factual events instead of subjective assertions. What caused our social studies teacher to lag behind so? For two months at the beginning of the year we had been "studying" a series of arbitrary, speculative narratives by Alan Lightman, "Einstein's Dreams" which speaks of bizarre scenarios wherein the progression of time was altered in metaphysically impossible ways while neglecting even a popularized explanation of Einstein's scientific achievements and the warrants behind them. The social studies curriculum attempted to translate into a cosmological/ethical moral relativism, an ideology utterly detached from any manner of objectivity and logic whatsoever, a scientific theory which merely proposed that the effects of time on particular objects may possess in certain instances a correlation with the said object's proximity to the speed of light. Einstein's work is still objective and assumes absolute reality, merely connecting several observable phenomena in a previously undiscovered manner. Lightman's little smatterings of assertion and hypothetical situations are not warranted by any presently known facts, thus standing contrary to Einstein and to all science in general. But they were a core focus of a fifth of our social studies instruction, for it was necessary, in order to mold compliant little anti-conceptual automatons out of us, to indoctrinate us thoroughly with moral relativism using a pseudo-scientific approach. It may not possess objective grounding, but how could the freshmen have discovered that?
After another several months on Paleolithic hunter/gatherers, some week and a half on early agricultural nations, and a gargantuan unit on Oriental theology, I and two partners were assigned to a research project on the ancient Hebrew civilization, a culture that has fascinated me as having established the mindset of time progression as linear, of the individual serving as the agent for his own destiny, of a struggle between forces of righteousness and vice (although I do disagree with the Jewish faith as to what such terms constitute). I had compiled a detailed, twelve-page report on everything from an extensive outline of their historical evolution, their mythology, their societal hierarchies, and their ideological legacies with their translation into such a prosperous, modern, Western, secular state as Israel. I was beaming with appreciation for the topic, and I wished to share this knowledge with the class, in as thorough and eloquent manner as I could. When my group presented, the social studies teacher, sitting at her desk in her smorgasbord of multicolored, outlandish garments with a mouth ready to intervene and eyes that as if scoured me for errors to exacerbate, stated in the casually disdainful tone she usually reserved for me that we would be allotted but five minutes for the entire occasion! The dilemma poised between genuine, constructive understanding and the grade, I selected the former. Somewhere around the time of King David's reign she commanded us to terminate our exposition.
The fundamental conviction of the social studies teacher, as she had repeatedly espoused to the passively absorbing class, was that she wanted to "learn why things happened". Perhaps such a motive would have been commendable had it not been crippled by her vehement resistance to the facts, circumstances, and essential details surrounding a particular situation. This sentiment was reinforced in her especially by the impression that, at a superficial glance, an interpretation of history would favor the post-modernists, as it is thoughtlessly simple to declare that "the explorers of the New World had committed cultural genocide" or that "there was a lot of poverty brought about by the Industrial Revolution" or that "United States interactions abroad have brought September 11th down upon us", without evidence as the post-modernists, who profess that, since they are divinely endowed and magically separate from the worldly events they claim to study, evidence is superfluous, express such claims. We devised generalizations without concrete grounding and in the meantime were taught that facts did not follow an objective, abstract structure, that historical perception depends upon competing "frameworks of interpretation", each just as valid as the other and no value judgment possible between them. The social studies class fostered a dichotomy between body and mind, practice and theory, event and analysis. As a result students' minds became detached from the truths of their lives and their existences became grudgingly monotonous and mechanistic as they merely spilled back out in "classroom discussions" the formalities of the politically correct discourse bludgeoned into them.
When we studied Eastern religions, comparisons had been made to the cultural background of the West. Westerners, in an introductory story to the unit by R. Bretnor ("The Man on Top") were smeared and slandered as "vulgar materialists" whose interests necessarily clashed with those of others. The story and the Academy curriculum neglected to realize that there can be no conflicts of interest among rational men, that their individualistic ambitions to accumulate profit and master their environment reinforce the tranquility and prosperity within their spheres of interaction. Instead the Academy adopted a mystical framework by extolling a "holy man" who had, in the story but never in truth, just "appeared" atop a mountain from "submission and adaptation to the natural status quo" whereas the alpinist was ridiculed for having actually had to climb to the summit! What does that teach young freshmen? That interaction with reality and conversion of rational analysis into a concrete scheme for action are irrelevant to practical gains and that "wishing will make it so". The vapid, indolent "holy man" was a role model for "clearing one's mind of meaning and content", languishing in stagnation. To supplement this we examined Hesse's Siddhartha, in which the main character (not to be confused with the Siddhartha Gotama of historical Buddhism) shifts his lifestyle from one supposed extreme to another, confusing asceticism with spiritual and intellectual refinement and blind, impulsive social conformity with wealth-accumulating materialism. Eventually Siddhartha completes his ideological "development" by renouncing all distinctions whatsoever, viewing the world as an inseparable unity, a mystical collective "one" wherein a dead jackal is the same creature as a devious thug or even a prosperous merchant. The book states that the ultimate and indivisible entity is the whole of the universe, unable to be judged by its individual parts. It thus fosters the dichotomy between nihilism and pantheism, encouraging the students to, since they asserted their willingness to exist in the universe by the very act of deliberation, essentially refrain from any judgments or criticisms whatsoever! This was a deviously subtle ploy to stunt and gradually dismantle still developing rational faculties.
Our examination of Hinduism was, judging by the extrapolations of the arguments presented, an attempt to justify the circumstantial discrimination and brutal segregation of its caste system. The practice's "acceptability" is derived in a manner somewhat like the following: "They believe (although without proof, as even our teacher had admitted that religions are seldom founded upon reason) that their blind fulfillment of inherited duties will earn them a superior position in the next life, which will eventually enable them to dissipate their individual identities into the mystical collective 'one' of Brahman, and therefore this causes their subordination to be essential to their reality." Out the drain of Academy censorship went the objection that neither is reincarnation verifiable nor is the destruction of the self desirable, that fundamentalist Hinduism and the cast system rejected human life as valuable, while in the absolute reality it is the sole standard of value, thus that Hinduism assumes an essentially nihilistic standpoint, worshipping non-existence of the most crucial entity of them all. It was no wonder that Hindus longed to be the slaves of the devious Brahmins who had devised such ideological schemes in order to parasitically thrive off of willing producers acting for self-destruction. It was also no wonder that the social studies teacher embraced submissive suicidism in whatever stale ancient relic in could be found.
For example, in a unit on Lao-Tzu and Daoism (sprinkled in with Zen Buddhism), she read to us excerpts from The Tao of Pooh, a post-modernist attempt to popularize this primeval version of ignorance-worship. One of the passages from the book criticized "the men of books" for employing lofty terminology and "detaching them from an unrefined harmony with nature". Harmony with what? With an untamed desolate moonscape unsuitable for sustaining life, for that is what will become of nature if living entities cease to employ, amend, and ameliorate it for their peculiar interests. The Daoists and the Academites both denounced the educated because they were better able to adapt the universe to themselves, condemned the living because they exhibited the desire and the actions necessary to live. Their ideal was a fermenting vegetable, who, in the words of Lao-Tzu, "is a wise man who does nothing" and expects all to magically fall into place. To reinforce this I recall being handed a sheet of aphorisms by personalities from O.J. Simpson to Karl Jung, with two of them particularly conspicuous, "Thinking is what gets one caught from behind." and "The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in harmony with nature and the universe around one." What an efficient dogma for eliminating the last vestiges of work ethic and self-esteem within the best and the brightest. If they do not aspire and do not succeed, it is all the simpler for them to metamorphose into passive dependents of the omnipotent State guided by the infallible revelations of sagacious Academia.
In a lightning-swift one-week unit on Ancient Greece, we perused through the Athens/Sparta rivalry, our teacher having morally equated the two, one-- the cradle of free expression and the other-an oligarcho-totalitarian tribe bludgeoning menial sameness into its common folk. The vast majority of our time, however, was spent on acquainting ourselves with "various" Greek thinkers, Socrates, Plato, and not Aristotle. The legacy of the former had been perverted by the pedantic reiterations of our instructor, who rambled on about how "Socrates was not an advocate of democracy and did not believe truth to be attainable." Not even Plato would have stooped to such a ludicrous misinterpretation of his mentor's motives, which held as their goal the discovery of truth and the examination of people and objects via the Socratic Method, necessitating as its prerequisite the free expressions and deviation from blind acceptance of norms possible only in a rights-respecting society. Even at his trial Socrates had emphasized that he could not choose between Athens and the search for truth for the two were mutually inclusive and each unattainable without the other. But what was an inconvenient fact such as this to the social studies but a little "detail" to bypass in order to dress up one of antiquity's pioneering thinkers as a relativist/collectivist knucklehead in order to feign a "heritage" that post-modernism simply does not have as well as mislead the students into equating reasoned argumentation with denial of objective reality and accept an intellectually suicidal package-deal?
Then, toward the final week of the year, we watched a thirty-minute film on ancient Rome and were given neither quiz nor test nor project to verify our understanding of the situation. Thankfully, I had been an avid history reader since early childhood and therefore did not form gaps in my awareness of mankind's progression, but one can imagine the disastrous effect of the erratic and abysmally slow routine on the comprehension of my classmates, for many of whom this was the first serious and in-depth social studies course. Then our teacher declared, "I could tell you about the Middle Ages, but instead let's read an alternative interpretation of human existence." What did she have in mind as a tradeoff for a thousand years of Western history? The most abominable book ever written, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, the novel which credulously and warrantlessly expounds upon modern pseudo-scientific theories of global warming and Malthusian overpopulation (neither of them ever empirically verified) in order to paint a picture of technology "destroying the world and waging war against it", offering as its antidote the disease, famine, and fragmentation-riddled "Leaver" lifestyle of the hunter-gatherers, which is supposed to "check" the population increase through immutable cultural and ethnic boundaries, rampant tribal warfare, and mutual parasitism a la ecosystem. The book and the course suggested that "man should renounce his knowledge over the power of life and death", i.e. over his individual choice to live and ensure his existence by adapting his environment to himself. They mixed apocalyptic rubbish with the absurdity of Original Sin and with an outright mystical plea to "return the world into the hands of the gods", urging Western man to cower back into the animist/pantheist mode of Paleolithic savages. The English and social studies teacher, together for the culmination of our freshman Academy indoctrination, expanded upon such claims by urging us to "consider limits to how far we want to go", to place caps on our aspirations and desires, to mimic the stale, misery-riddled perceptions of the Leavers which are such due to their imposed psychological blocks against conceptual proficiency and material amelioration.
What else did we learn along the way? We learned that the Saudi government wields the "rightful" authority to penalize American non-Islamic servicewomen for refusing to wear a traditional veil, because laws are derived from governments, not any objective natural rights principles, and therefore our vision of justice is just as arbitrary as theirs and cannot hold sway upon their territory. We learned that a man dreaming he is a butterfly is actually a butterfly dreaming he is a man. We learned that Chinese foot binding and Indian ritual widow burning are unique cultural practices which should not be curtailed but rather preserved in order to represent a distinct way of life. We learned that institutional poverty was caused not by the advent of government handouts but by lack thereof, and when I had attempted to quote profound and formidable scholars such as von Mises, Williams, and Bovard on the matter, the teachers replied bluntly, "We're not interested".
And all throughout that tedious bombardment with one intimidating fallacy after another, the dominant zeitgeist (which was the social studies teacher's favorite word) in freshman Academy was fear, fear of being labeled a divergent by the teachers or by one's peers in a similar mindset. Therefore at the first hint of ideological dissent, there erupted a maddened, self-righteously aggressive tide of groans and vulgar, stereotypical smears, which the social studies teacher especially condoned and even encouraged with her stinging mockeries of any thoughts not corresponding with her own. Like the typical post-modernist, she would never provide warrants for her degrading assaults, but would rather state in her casually disdainful voice, "You're wrong", and when one tried to justify himself or identify the accusation as warrantless, from her would emanate a sound somewhere in between a honk and an oink to silence by sheer volume any opposition to her ridiculous delusions.
There was another grievance that she had harbored against me, perhaps one which I had exasperated through my own deliberate conduct; numerically speaking, I was her best student.
As for the others, I had acquired several friends who, as individuals, were capable of rational discourse and constructive interaction but in a collective setting were frequently hesitant to dauntlessly exhibit their capacities for the virtues that they were. They were not of the typical breed that would flaunt their ignorance as a badge of honor, that frequently reiterated in a light-hearted tone during their intra-factional superficial chatter, "I'm so lazy." "I'm so stupid." "I didn't understand what he just said, but... Hmmph!" Hopefully they had, too, discovered lifelines from the outside to develop their rational faculties. Thankfully for me, I had stumbled upon one when I needed it most, and its name was Objectivism. The works of Ayn Rand brought a lucid, logical structure into my understanding of philosophy, a common ground I had even before speculated it to possess with mathematics and the sciences. As a silent protest against the absurdities when they became too much to bear, I would either browse through articles by Randian scholars at my desk or immerse myself in mathematical challenges, entering the genuine reality, of syllogisms and formulas and natural laws, of attainable and useful solutions instead of fashionable word games, of development instead de-constructionism. It was no wonder that the social studies teacher was especially infuriated by the frequency of such an intellectual departure from her chaotic little world of the classroom on my behalf.
I had survived, and the subsequent trials of my experience were never as overtly anti-humanist and anti-mind as was my freshman year in Academy. The fact that I am writing this article implies that I have lingered throughout the ordeal, that I am ideologically beyond their grasp. But how many more insightful young minds will become trapped along the way? How many will give in to the overbearing pressure from all sides? How many will succumb to inaction, to sloth, to sadism, be it from timidity, trepidation, or a longing for acceptance by the dominant paradigm? To whomever of those students confined in a modern humanitarian labyrinth of repression that has been reached by my message, I send a plea for resilience, for fortitude, for resolve in upholding one's convictions in the face of daily assaults. You are the virtuous, and they detest you for it. Do not surrender your moral superiority and your capacity for action. Eventually a single survivor will be worth a hundred compromisers in the amount of work, profit, and progress he will be able to generate. Learn what your opponents think, but under no circumstances concur with them nor admit any manner of respect for their "ideas" aside from a recognition of their right to espouse them and yours to oppose them and shoot down the absurdities. Only with your default can they destroy your capacity to think with integrity. Do not give them that sanction. And tomorrow will be yours.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist and independent philosophical
essayist. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator,
a philosophical journal championing the Western principles of reason,
rights, and progress, to be found at http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/index.html.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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