The idea of merit has fallen on evil times, as has its corollary concept, objectivity. These principles have now been breached by a consortium of the ideologically minded, who resemble a gang of robbers tunneling under a bank vault. The masterminds planning and executing this operation are a class of “treasonous” intellectuals as Julien Benda defined them, primarily academics, along with members of the political left.
(Article by David Solway republished from PJMedia.com)
In the interests of creating a society based on the axioms of “social justice”—which is really socialist justice—the principles of professional merit and scientific objectivity are dismissed by our mandarin class as forms of bigotry. As the professions, the educational institution, the political arena, and the scientific establishment engage in a process of diversification, accommodating claimants who trade on race and gender rather than ability and native endowment, merit is in the process of being replaced by outright mediocrity.
In the university, for example, no department is safe from the “inclusion and diversity” mania that is bringing higher education into the slough of disrepute—not law, not medicine, not business, not even the STEM subjects. As is, or should be, common knowledge, literature and the social sciences have long succumbed to the social justice, disparate impact, and feminist miasma that has clouded the atmosphere of thought, paving the way for pervasive academic decadence.
When even classics programs are contaminated by race and gender issues, we know the end is nigh. In the “Notes & Comments” to the recent issue of The New Criterion, Roger Kimball documents the shameful degradation of this once elite, non-politicized academic study. “Classics has fallen under the spell of grievance warriors,” he writes, “who have injected an obsession with race and sexual exoticism into a discipline that, until recently, was mostly innocent of such politicized deformations.” Unlike the plethora of “cultural studies” programs that now command the academic landscape—Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, Chicano Studies, Peace Studies, Fat Studies, etc.—in classics, after all, “You actually have to know something.” The challenging nature of the subject, as well as the fact that most of its representative scholars and students appear to be white males, have rendered it suspect and ripe for demolition.
Kimball cites the fate of the classics journal Eidolon, now a travesty of its original purpose, which was to foreground the relevance of classics. It has fallen to the progressivist tampering of Donna Zuckerberg (the sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg) whose mandate, as she declares on her Patreon site, is to make “the classics political and personal, feminist and fun.” (I always found Latin and Greek, though difficult to master, plenty fun just as they were.) Zuckerberg requires that “at least 70 percent of our contributors be women and 20 percent POC.” White males beware! “I have no interest,” she pontificates, “in providing bland and false reassurances that we only care about good ideas and good writing and not who our authors are.”
For Zuckerberg, as for most of our cultural and political power brokers, “appeals to merit” are merely “white supremacist dog-whistles.” Eidolon will enlighten us all, not only shedding “new light on the works of Alcaeus, Vergil, Horace, and Cato,” the ineffable Zuckerberg assures us in the journal Society for Classical Studies, but also commentary on “Sports Illustrated Magazine, the conflict between Israel and Palestine, contemporary poets’ responses to the sinking of the Titanic, and the hipster obsession with kale.” The entire spectrum of a once pure and arduous discipline has been thrown under the progressivist bus and reduced to triviality and partisan hype. What goes for classics goes for the rest of the culture—a deracination of the sources of the civilized West.
Who you are, what you feel, your race, your gender, your presumptive marginal status—these attributes now constitute your primary qualifications for preference and advancement. White heterosexual males, regardless of talent, aptitude and intellectual distinction, are naturally excluded from the new imperium. Thus, in her 2008 edited volume Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering, Stanford University scholar Londa Schiebinger argued that knowledge and technics had to be opened to “new perspectives, new questions, and new missions,” thus opposing “codes governing language, styles of interactions, modes of dress [and] hierarchies of values and practices” inherent in the male-dominated science and engineering faculties. She had nothing to say about levels of motivation and discipline-specificintelligence parameters. No matter. “We need to be open to the possibility that human knowledge—what we know, what we value, what we consider important—may change dramatically as women become full partners.”
That is the “mission.” It does not acknowledge that the vaunted “opening” feminists like to speak of has been in place for decades. Women now outnumber men in the university by a factor of 3 to 2 and the ratio is far higher in K-12 pedagogy. Women also predominate in the medical and legal professions, with no end in sight to their burgeoning numbers.