What Went Wrong with America’s Universities?Stephen Paul Foster
“Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae” — Motto of Harvard University
In a previous Counter-Current essay, I asserted that “universities are the fons et origio of much of our current misery.” For a little taste of it, click on this UC Berkeley link.
Let’s take that thought further and see where it leads us.
From the mainstream media comes the steady propaganda drumbeat of “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “superior virtue of the oppressed,” the extasy of multiculturalism (“diversity is our strength”), and the claim that the “Great Replacement” is a Right-wing conspiracy theory. For its part, the federal government has created massive regulatory, legislative, and judicial bodies that aggressively discriminate against white Americans and are involved in replacing them with Third World peoples. And the spectacularly corrupt teachers’ unions amount to a funding spigot for Democrat politicians. Our taxes pay their members to pitch social justice voodoo to their captive audience of children in the schools we pay to have built.
It’s the universities that train the tergiversators and unleash them to infest and corrupt the organizations and professions that are supposed to serve the American people’s interests, however. The universities are where the rational and moral underpinnings of the norms, traditions, and customs of European-heritage people are under a long-standing and constantly escalating campaign of assault and demolition.
A farcical moment in higher education history in 1987 signaled where things were heading. The leading civil-rights buffoon and shakedown artist of the era engaged in one of his signature publicity stunts: “On January 15, 1987, Jesse Jackson and around 500 protesters marched down Palm Drive, Stanford University’s grand main entrance, chanting ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go.’”
These assailed underpinnings determine how we think about ourselves, most importantly our past, our heritage, what we inherit from our ancestors, and what that means for us; in a word, who we are. This assault has aimed at obliterating the thinking that connects us with our past and gives us a fixed, mature sense of who we are. The question “Who are we?” implicitly contains the answer to the question: “By whom should we be governed?”
When you’re not sure of who you are, the “who” goes up for grabs — and some of those eager to grab it do not have your, shall we say, best interests in mind, particularly with respect to matters of who gets to be the boss — your boss. Think about that when you’re wondering why there is so little resistance to the mendacities of “white privilege” and “systemic racism,” and why academic hucksters like dreadlocks-sporting Ibram X Kendi and pasty-faced Robin DiAngelo are in such high demand and so richly compensated. They are avatars of racial revenge manifest in the increasingly open hostility toward middle-class and blue-collar whites by “victimized” minorities and white elites. Without a firm grasp of the “who” comes an increasing institutional marginalization of whites, along with blatant discrimination and state support for black lawlessness, as the widespread BLM mayhem of 2020 and the de-policing of the cities has demonstrated. With the unobstructed emigration of the Third World underway, the endgame envisioned is a supine, white minority stripped of its moral and material resources and left at the mercy of a hostile, colored majority. But: “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Many Counter-Current readers may recall the speech that Barack Obama gave five days before the 2008 Presidential Election in which he announced, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Forewarned is forearmed.
Although not in this case, which is what makes this memory so painful and bitterly depressing. 44% of white Americans voted for the “fundamental transformation” of their country, a bloc of voters without which this Chicago street-hustler would never have come close to the White House. Did these white voters ask themselves, “What kind of transformation is this fast-talker planning, and what will it mean for us? Why should we want our country to be ‘transformed’ at all, much less transformed in a ‘fundamental’ way?”
Clearly, whatever thinking connected these white voters with their past, their heritage, and their self-interest had been largely obliterated. As such, they fell for the “Hope and Change” elixir coming out of the traveling medicine-man show that was Obama’s presidential campaign: its fake Greek columns, fainting maidens, and vapidities like “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” all covered obsequiously by the press corps with an unprecedented level of adolescent-like, orgasmic adoration.
To grasp the thinking that led white Americans to embrace a man whose personal history was marinated in resentment and hostility to white America’s traditions and achievements, we must answer the following questions: What force has separated so many white Americans from their historic sense of self-identity? How did it so insidiously become what it is today, a quasi-religious body rife with priestly, fire-breathing zealots rooting out and persecuting the heretics who question the realities of systemic racism and white privilege?
The answer to the first question points toward the institution that shapes the way we think about ourselves, and that teaches us about our past and how to interpret it: higher education, i.e., the universities. Out of them come the teachers who have failed our children, the opinion-shaping journalists who churn out the propaganda, the social justice lawyers who use the law as a weapon in the interest of victim clients, the prosecutors who throw the book at whites while going easy on black felons, and judges who preside over the show trials of white policemen.
The answer to the second question — what went wrong in American higher education? — lies in scrutinizing three mutually reinforcing sociopolitical changes in the aftermath of the Second World War that made the American university what it is today.
The first was the democratization of the university. The Second World War was, ideologically speaking, pitched as a do-over of Woodrow Wilson’s war to “make the world safe for democracy,” which was highly ironic given its abysmal failure. Eleven months before Pearl Harbor, while secretly conniving with Churchill to get American boys across the pond to kill Germans, Franklin Roosevelt explained his thinking to a joint session of Congress: Democracy was in big trouble — everywhere!
Every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world. . . . Let us say to the democracies: “We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom.”
Let us say to anyone who thinks that FDR was not a demagogue of the highest order: This was a howler. The American people wanted no part of the slaughter going on in Europe, which is why Roosevelt blatantly lied about his intent to keep the United States out of the war during his 1940 reelection campaign: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”
After two world wars fought by the “realists” to save “democracy” all over the world, so the progressive thinking went that it was imperative to make everything at home democratic as much as possible, including the universities. Making them “democratic” was to be a top-down project run by the managerial elite.
On June 22, 1944, FDR signed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, which came to known as the GI Bill. It allowed the US government to pay for war veterans to go to college. In 1946, the New Dealers persuaded President Truman to create the President’s Commission on Higher Education, headed by George Zook. The report was released in December 1947, and summarized by Roger Geiger thusly:
[It declared] that the primary purpose of education should be to instill the democratic ideal in citizens in order to transform society into a higher form of democratic community. Thus, for colleges and universities, “education for democratic living . . . should become . . . a primary aim of all classroom teaching and, more important still, of every phase of campus life . . .” Democracy assumed an almost mystical quality, essential to confront “the worldwide crisis of mankind,” and to guide American leadership in developing “World Citizenship.”
There you have it, a tautology of sorts: Instill the “democratic ideal” in citizens, which in turn lifts them to a higher form of “democratic living.” “Our democracy” as early as 1947 was being entrenched as a state religion with a vocabulary, intonations of piety, and observance rituals, the employment of which would eventually become de rigueur. As noted by observers such as Alexis de Tocqueville, the strong impulses toward uniformity and conformity that mark mass-democratic regimes belie the possibilities for a genuine diversity of opinions, customs, and social practices.
Democratized higher education was underway, and it meant that everybody had to go to the university. A degree would become the entry pass for professional or white-collar employment. There was an explosion of physical expansion to accommodate the returning GIs as well as the Baby Boomers, and an explosion of various “degrees” to accommodate the coming hordes:
The nation’s colleges and universities had absorbed the demographic Tidal Wave, increasing from 3.4 million students in 1959 to 7.5 million in 1969 (+122 percent); and educational expenditures in that decade had grown from $4.5 billion to $15. 8 billion (+250 percent).
One unfortunate consequence of the democratization of the universities, it should be noted, has been the production of large numbers of what Ryszard Legutko calls “lumpen intellectuals”: degree-holders trained to enforce the orthodoxies and sniff out irregularities in behavior, speech, and attitude that threaten “the transformation of society into a higher form of democratic community.” With no practical skills to offer, they find their calling as commissars of political correctness, gravitating toward government compliance work, human resources consulting, and the “diversity” profession, the latter of which has been a huge growth industry over the last three decades, where the requisite characteristic for success is a personality seized by continuous fits of moral indignation.
The second change was the federal government’s control of higher education through financialization, an insidious process that would give federal agencies the power to extort compliance with whatever diktat some apparatchik cooked up while warming a seat in a DC government office.
The government created and expanded research entities such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the National Institute of Mental Health. They became the pipelines through which the government money slushed money to fund university research projects.
On the enrollment side, federal funds were unleashed to put ever-more tuition-paying students on the expanding campuses. The 1965 Higher Education Act created the first federal scholarships based solely on financial need. The Educational Opportunity Grants were aimed at students “of exceptional financial need.”
The College Work-Study Program was enacted in 1964 by the Office of Economic Opportunity, and federal insurance for student loans was established, paving the way for massive student debt. By 1970 the funding for the former’s campus-based programs expanded rapidly to more than $400 million.
The yin of government money meant that the yang of universities was scrambling to get ever more of it, which in turn meant conforming to the dictates of the massively expanding federal regulations mill. The government came to own the universities and used them to enforce its priorities, both technical and ideological. You take the money and then you do exactly as we say — a kind of soft Sovietization imposed by the myriad regulatory agencies, with much of their effort given to muscling up the behemoth known as “civil rights.” Every aspect of university life became tainted by the government-enforced ideology of equality. Equality would become the driving moral impulse to make “discrimination” applied to fundamental human differences — race, sex, abilities — the ultimate evil. All inequality would point to practices of oppression, which meant that there had to be an oppressor with whom old scores would have to be settled. “Rights” claims (entitlements) became the weapon used to bring about “the expropriation of the expropriators,” to paraphrase Karl Marx.
The university now is where “equality” gets rigorously and religiously enforced. Title IX was the name for the federal civil rights law that was enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, the “great equalizer” for women:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Ergo, “women’s rights are human rights.”
As Geiger put it, Title IX was
but one example of a new relationship between universities and the federal government: the imposition of federal mandates, based on abstract conceptions of the social good (rights), that substantially affected established practices. Hitherto, universities were considered agents for the common good and were accorded autonomy to manage their own affairs for research, learning, and teaching.
That autonomy is long gone. Colleges and universities that refused to comply risked the loss of grant-funding and student tuition dollars in the form of government financial aid via scholarships and loans.
The third change was the invasion of the cult-Marxists. To America came the Frankfurt gang: Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, and so on. It is worth noting that prior to his arrival in the United States, Marcuse was hired by the US government to help design the post-war self-loathing reeducation program for the German people, which has continued to be successful to this day. All of the ingredients of the denazification program that was imposed by the American occupiers were imported sub rosa to the US itself: collective racial-ethnic guilt, public atonement and reparations, ubiquitous racism, abnegation of heritage. Like the Germans, Americans have been experiencing a program of denazification that, ironically, rapidly increases with an intensity that is inversely proportional to the rapidly diminishing number of Nazis who might dare to make a public appearance.
Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality, published in 1950, developed and employed the psychometric “F-Scale.” It measured a subject’s predisposition to fascism. Those tested whose results fell outside of the thinking framework of Adorno and his colleagues were, as you’ve already guessed, strongly disposed toward fascism. American culture and traditions were themselves latently fascist, which meant that America’s patriarchal, racist, church-going yahoos would someday propel Hitler the Second to power and repeat the Holocaust. Der Führer II was supposed to be Donald Trump, but Jack Dorsey came to the rescue and banned his Twitter account.
Marcuse came with his colleagues to the US to show university students in the sociology, philosophy, and psychology departments how to inculcate self-loathing among white American Christians. The Marxist template of oppressor and oppressed was used to develop and expand the grievance vocabularies that would leverage the moral surrender of illicit privilege and power from white Americans. “This is what your people did to my people: You owe us.” See how it’s working out today in San Francisco.
According to a recent Revolver report, “[a] San Francisco panel studying reparations has proposed a one-time payment of $5 million to each black resident of the city deemed eligible as recompense for the ‘decades of harm they have experienced . . .’”
It took time, but the conversion of the professoriat to the religion of “diversity” fueled by racial grievance-mongering is complete. Marcuse is gone, but his students are running the universities with a vengeance. The humanities and the social sciences were among the first to become ideologically compliant, and now the religion has invaded the hard sciences and medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges:
Medical schools, it’s time to get real about becoming anti-racist.
Like many American institutions, medicine has had to confront anti-Black racism during this tumultuous year. A senior medical student [Taiwo Alonge] shares his ideas for how to enact real and lasting change.
No thank you, Tawio. We know what you are up to and who is pulling your strings.
In conclusion, some practical thoughts on how to minimize the misery, if for reasons of career or employment you need university courses.
For undergraduates: Take the general education prerequisite courses at a community college. They will be much cheaper.
The private universities are more expensive and equally, if not more, woke than the public ones. The Catholic universities are a mess.
Go part-time, work, and pay as you go. Do not go into debt.
Fly under the radar; avoid confrontation. Think of it as stealth survival training — getting to know the enemy better in his own territory.
Knowing that universities are indoctrination centers helps to immunize you from the intended effects and keeps you concentrating on extracting only what you need from them. Look for compatriots for moral support.
Steer as much toward technical studies as you can (e.g., programming, accounting, health alliance) to support yourself post-graduation. For interests in the humanities, there are good alternatives to the university ideologues — Counter-Currents, for one.
Remember the words of Rainer Maria Rilke: “Wer spricht von Siegen? Überstehn is alles.” “Who speaks of victories? Endurance is everything.”
* * *
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 The National Education Association is the largest union in the United States, with three million members.
 Roger L. Geiger, American Higher Education since World War II: A History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2019), 11.
 Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies (London: Encounter Books, 2018), 103.
 Wikipedia: “OCR is one of the largest federal civil rights agencies in the United States, with a staff of approximately 560 attorneys, investigators, and other staff.”
 Geiger, American Higher Education since World War II, 221.
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The State of the Nation for White Advocates
Stranger Things and Surviving in the Modern World
Scott Howard’s The Plot Against Humanity
When the question starts out with “What went wrong with…” 99 times out of 100 the answer is “jews.”
A problem that I have noticed is that medicine seems to be very advanced in replacing Whites in certain fields and medical care is one of them. I don’t think simply flying under the radar is going to fix things. Eventually whose fields are going to be almost entirely composed of non-Whites and Jews with a few self-hating Whites. Even if Whites get racial autonomy, who will train our doctors? I’m not black-pilling, I think its just something we need to consider: How we recover or transfer valuable knowledge to the next generations of Whites. Do we need to just go back to pioneer days and pretend there is no advanced medicine available? The White equivalent of Chinese ‘barefoot doctors’? I don’t know. I just think we need a strategy for advancing a knowledge ecology among White people to keep knowledge within the race.
“What you write about the Yids is quite correct. They fill everything up, they undermine everything, and they embody the spirit of the century. They are at the root of the revolutionary-social movement and regicide. They control the periodical press, the financial markets are in their hands, the popular masses fall into financial slavery to them, they guide the principles of present-day science, seeking to place it outside Christianity. And besides this, no sooner does a question about them arise then a chorus of voices speaks out for them in the name of ‘civilization’ or ‘toleration’ (by which is meant indifference to faith). As in Romania and Serbia, as with us – nobody dares say a word about the Jews taking over everything. Even our press is become Jewish. Russkaya Pravda, Moskva, Golos, if you please – are all Jewish organs…” (Letter from Konstantin Pobedonostsev to Fedor Dostoevsky, August 1879)
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