Dec 19, 2022·edited Dec 19, 2022Liked by Sheluyang Peng

Thanks for this article! I also came here from your comment on that Free Press post, and I'll be hanging around to see what else you write.

I've often wondered if the rise of Wokese could be thought of as the product of an internal struggle within the Professional-Managerial Class, the Humanities scrambling for a solution to the shuttering of their less popular departments and the utter dominance of STEM fields.

Of course, none of this mattered as much back when a college degree was something quite rare and a suitably cushy job could be found for nigh every graduate. But with economies sputtering, wages stagnating, and close to half of young people in many wealthy countries attending university, a degree isn't enough: having the right kind of degree has become crucial, at least in people's imaginations (the reality of the job market seems much twistier and turnier than that).

So much for yesterday's news. As elite overproduction ramped up and the digital revolution boiled our lives to the core, frog-in-a-pot style, the sociologists and the philosophers and the art historians had an ever-harder time justifying their place in universities whose main job now, by their own account, was making money. But if, suddenly, sociology and philosophy and art history (and other Studies whose names I'll spare you) are vectors for Decentering Colonial Perspectives and Uplifting Marginalized Voices and other such pious works, then they at least know why their funding shouldn't be cut, don't they?

And at least in some places, it seems, the Great Awokening has corresponded with upticks in enrolment in various liberal arts departments which had long been atrophying. At the measly cost of constantly decrying their own participation in the institutions of oppression, the Humanities (or certain corners of them) can be the producers of a new elite, distinguished not by technical skill but by their mastery of a certain jargon and attitude. If not all, then at least some of their graduates can then go on to fill positions as Equity Officers and Accountability Provosts and the like.

I'm sure this account is missing a few important points, but it's something I've been thinking about lately, especially since I finished my own liberal arts degree much sourer about these things than I was when I started.

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Your comment on latest Free Press post resonated with me as left-of-center person hanging in mostly progressive circles.

An odd thing I’ve noticed among academics and even lauded politicians like former President Obama is criticism of Booker T. Washington and total praise of DuBois. Washington unfairly cast as compromising race traitor (ridiculous). DuBois’ eugenics support you cite in this post is largely ignored in his evaluation.

My mantra is to evaluate a historical figure based on the greater good they provided to society and DuBois certainly passes the test on balance. Why does Washington not? 1619 Project claimed we should pay attention to Frederick Douglass because nobody knew 19th century America better than him.

Why then do we reject the brilliant life lessons provided by Booker T. Washington? Who could know America better than a man born into slavery who traveled on foot to find work after emancipation and set up America’s most successful Black university in the post-Reconstruction south?

And then live without a hint of malice. In Up From Slavery, Washington left us with advice that can still save us from our current culture war predicament:

“It is a hard matter to convert an individual by abusing him, and that this is more often accomplished by giving credit for all the praiseworthy actions performed than by calling attention alone to all the evil done.”

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May 18Liked by Sheluyang Peng

I was exposed to deconstructionism, back when first became the rage in American academia. This was before The Great Sokal Hoax made a lot of people look real stupid.

The jargon and obtuseness were intentional, because once you cut through them, deconstructionism had little to say that wasn't either self-evident (the word "cat" is not a cat), dorm-room bull-session level epistemology, or errant nonsense.

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Nov 10, 2022Liked by Sheluyang Peng

In order to maintain my sanity and not get completely homicidal, i've decided to turn my perspective upside down.

If what we think of as universities were founded in the 13th century, then for say their first 700 yrs they were religious institutions that considered teaching theology and inculcating proper religious morality as their first priority. Men were being sculpted to serve god and country!

So the recent 50 yrs or so of the notion of college as an intellectual free-for-all, a place where any and all ideas could be debated, was actually the aberration and our glorious interregnum of freedom was just a placeholder until a new religion appeared to swallow our sense-making and morals-instruction institutions.

So we're just back to where we started: professors are priests, priests are professors, you either bow to the ruling gods or be expelled, if no one ever sees you mouthing the proper prayers a whisper campaign against u will commence, and all our supposed cultural/intellectual leaders and institutions earn their keep by providing moral legitimacy to the ruling class.

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