“There’s Nothing Morally Wrong With Not Wanting to Work Hard at School”

That’s a point I agree with in an opinion piece I recently stumbled across.

And it relates to a larger point that’s been brewing in my head the longer I hang around campus. Most of these kids simply shouldn’t be here. They don’t want it enough, and they really don’t need it. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that they don’t want to work hard enough to make school a valuable experience. College is a distraction for most kids who really should be getting work experience instead.

I’d love to live in a world where people valued education and pursued it for its own sake. I’d love to find out my garbage man is a lover of classic Russian literature. But I actually live in a world where people value schooling which they pursue for credentials. And any education they get along the way is an accidental byproduct. The one things students seem to learn is how to flatter their professors. Sure, they learn while they’re at school (how can you be 18 and not learn something?!), but I’m far from convinced that they learn because of school.

The trouble is that the one thing schools have been effective at teaching students is how important school is. Is it so important that nearly a quarter of “amusement and recreation attendants” should have bachelor’s degree or higher? I won’t argue that carnies should be high school drop-outs like in the good old days. But if I had the choice between one who passed my class (with a C+) and one who spent an extra couple years learning how to make sure a bolt is tightened properly, I know who I want operating my teacups.

As a society, we’re fooling ourselves. We’ve set up a system where we convince kids that they need a degree to live a good life, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as college graduates go on to uncritically hire college graduates. That leaves an unsustainable tension: most students (rightly) don’t want to work hard at school, but they want to go to school. “Society” wants them to work hard at school, but doesn’t want to deny anyone a degree. At best we end up wasting everyone’s time. At worst, we set kids up for failure then leave them with student loans. In either case we erode standards and diminish the signalling value of school along with the educational value. We need someone to go into high schools to tell kids that there’s nothing morally wrong with opting out of college entirely.

The political Left and violence: An uncomfortable, subconscious symbiosis

I recently set up a Twitter account (you can follow me here; you can follow Notes On Liberty here) and after a couple of days of using its newsfeed I’ve decided to tally up the number of tweets from Leftists that either call for outright violence or allude to violence against their political enemies. Now obviously these guys are joking and I don’t think that any of them actually mean what they say, but the fact that this project even struck me as something to do is flabbergasting.

I think the fact that there are so many allusions to violence – against political enemies – in my newsfeed, combined with the recent labors of the media to rid the Colorado school shooter’s political leanings from the narrative of that particular story, has put me at unease* and made me particularly sensitive to the culture of ‘high’ media.

The allusions to violence harbor an authoritarian tendency that I think often goes unnoticed. I didn’t notice anything until a couple of days ago. Yet they are there, in plain sight. You can find these appeals and allusions to violence on the Right as well, but not from the people and organizations I follow on Twitter.

For example, I don’t follow rednecks or Party activists but rather professors, journalists, wonks and publication outlets that I think provide great, in-depth insights into the world around me. Most of these individuals and organizations are Left-leaning, and I have yet to ever (ever) see an appeal to violence coming from an intellectual conservative or libertarian organization. I see it from the intellectual Left so often that I am now going to start tallying such outbursts.

This is worrisome for a bunch of reasons, but three stand out to me:

  1. Joking about violence is not very funny; Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert don’t do it, and now we know why
  2. The hypocrisy coupled with the veiled and not-so-veiled threats against political enemies is nothing short of barbarism
  3. It convincingly shows just how shallow Leftist thought has become; resorting to violence in an argument is, as we all know, a sign of defeat

Added together, these three major reasons make a solid foundation for a fascistic political movement. Look at my most recent ‘favorited’ tweet, from an assistant editor for The New Republic:

“If I were running Bloomberg View…the thing I would most want would be for Bloomberg to get hit by a bus.”

Ha. Ha. This is hilarious, right?

These are the same people who, in the wake of many mass shootings, have claimed that one of Sarah Palin’s campaign websites was indirectly responsible for senseless acts of violence (because of animated target signs that hovered over a map).

Disgusting, and yet there is a definite silver lining in all of this. Reason #3, as outlined above, is largely responsible for the intellectual Left’s impotence and fetish for domestic political violence.

Violence and the lust for power have gone virtually hand-in-hand with Leftism since the mid-19th century, of course, and this is largely because their plans for humanity are simply not feasible. And these plans, in turn, are not feasible because they are not congruent with reality.

Let me see if I can illustrate my point by digressing for a moment. Benito Mussolini was a Leftist his entire life. National socialism for German workers was a child of the Left. Maoism and Leninism were Leftist to the core. All were violent. All failed miserably and yet I see the underpinnings of these philosophies – these worldviews – in the rhetoric of the present-day American Left.

Not good. Nor is it good that the present-day Left denies its own bloodlines. Conservatives and libertarians are often quick to fess up to any historical misdeeds done in the name of their ideologies. Not so with the Left. I think this may have to do with the fact that while Leftist regimes were responsible for hundreds of millions of unnecessary deaths in the 20th century alone there are very few historical misdeeds perpetrated in the name of classical liberalism.

At any rate, I’ll keep you all updated on my tally. In the name of justice I will also keep a tally on tweets of violent fantasies that go out in the name of libertarianism or conservatism. My sampling size is small, of course. I only follow intellectuals and publications that give voice to intellectuals. This will be interesting.

* The fact that an evil person’s political views have been marginalized is not what is important. I think such views (if any) should be, as there is obviously something other than a shooter’s political leanings that is responsible for the horrific violence. What is important is the fact that if this shooter had been a self-identified conservative or libertarian it would have been plastered all over the news and it would still be getting air time as you read this.