The Perversion of Scholarship by Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
July 30, 2012

Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression—in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas—are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance.  They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.


via Truthdig

Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His latest books are Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Death of the Liberal Class, and The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.

Copyright © 2012 Truthdig


To Be Or Not To Be… Subversive by Chris Hedges

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12 thoughts on “The Perversion of Scholarship by Chris Hedges

  1. Pingback: The Corporatization of Public Higher Education by Shepherd Bliss « Dandelion Salad

  2. What more is needed to prove this system and the society it has engineered is psychotic, than that it is defined by and predicated upon WAR?

    {..and plunder through enforced regimentation.}

    As a design and a plan, there is nothing new about the New World Order.
    It is in fact the propagation in a cyclic fashion of a very old world order:

    Despotic oligarchy and enforced feudalism, branded and rebranded in a roiling mythos sustained by symbolism and technocratic ritual.
    It is false assumption that ‘technique’ is something new, and not just the current version of artifact, tool making, and apologia for being ruled by the tool.


    That is at the base of the enchantment, the human race on its knees to the god of Efficiency. A binary concept lacking appreciation for quality, beauty, the soul, and the divine mystery of life.


    ~W.D. Whitten

  3. The Herd Instinct and a Healthy Mind:

    Participation in physical sporting activity is part of intellectual develeopment.Team bonding and audience enjoyment of sporting events are good things. Social interaction during and after such activities is part of personal development and learning.

    Such physical exertions facilitate the mind to apply itself and allows for study without the strain and tensions caused by inactivity.

    The herd instinct may be indulged without any negative impact on individuals who are mostly quite capable of distinguishing between team support and hooliganism.

    A study of the finished university student (product) from such university interactions between the physical and academic may define a well rounded, healthy graduate.
    In the real world there are no defined barriers between sport and academic achievements.
    There are pragmatic business reasons for university administrators to work with commercial entities, profit and grants are complimentary and necessary.

    • Rocket is right. I think your view, DPB, is very “old school.” It is the ethos of the old empire scholastic ideal typified by Oxbridge and Trinity College. So lets keep this in proportion. What has corrupted America is the commodification of authentic old school values, their caricature. It is not enough to be a decent, honest, aspirational individual with strong opinions, you have to conform to the expectations of the corporate herd and worship the preferred brand. In my book this is total anathema. We should get real, get an ecological life and discard the sycophantic corporate cant of this patronising elitism, bribery and endowment with dirty money that masquerades as aristocratic benevolence and largesse. There is often more aristocracy to be found on the streets than in the fields and woods these days. And why? Because authentic rural life has been hijacked by biophobic psychotic imbeciles with more market share and bigger portfolios than common sense.

      • “conform to the expectations of the corporate herd” :

        is very apt and relevant to the “dedicated followers of fashion” and every media led and corporation promoted product and life style etc.
        DL Foster’s argument applies to the herd instinct in all of those things.

        University student development can hardly be singled out as the root cause of modernism.

        The “Old School” ideal of a healthy body makes a healthy mind is an unlikely sentiment to attach to any aristocracy and definitely has little relationship with corporatism.

        • Interesting comments Donal. My idea of true aristocracy is really no different from indigenous cultures still surviving in many places, where the well-being of a community resides in an egalitarian sense of place, of belonging; of participation in a dialogue with nature that cultivates embedded stewardship of the environment. Athleticism is noble, but corporate sponsorship is cynical and subversive of quintessential ecological values ~ the only values upon which true aristocracy rests or can lay claim to.

        • Gentleman, if i may butt in to this discussion. It is interesting that Gore Vidal died this week in regards to this debate. Vidal has much to say on this matter, and though he is always given to hyperbole it would behoove us not to at least hear him out.

          Vidal’s take on the dumbing down in Academia proper is placed right smack dab on the lack of reading, pure and simple. He also quotes Tiberius, Ruler of Rome at the time of Christ, when he says “The lamentable thing is that people are so willing to be slaves.”

          Vidal’s screening of history can give us a parallel with the Ancients and the Moderns. What has changed? What passes as education is in the same decline and fall as it has in every Empire. What David has said about corporations and their being cynical runs in direct proportion to what Vidal states about the Calvinist work ethic –which is… God smiles on the rich and may the rest be damned.

        • Thanks Rocket, I had plenty of time for G V; another way of seeing things is through the often myopic, sometimes opaque lens of “success.” My idea of it is not likely to coincide with say, the Rockefeller dynasty’s or the Shiite Ayatollahs’ or Mr Netanyahu’s for example. Its an interesting insight into character and motivation, and quite challenging to define exactly what we separately mean by success.

  4. Yes, Chris, to all you say. There is a deep moral, ethical void in our colleges today, starting at the top with their presidents colluding with politicians (sic, Mike Bloomberg) for funds. See Columbia University and New York University, that wants to eat and digest Greenwich Village for two-million more square feet of “teaching space.”
    Jerry Mazza, NYC.

  5. Chris Hedges never fails to raise the bar. There is more than a hint of William James’ still controversial essay the “PhD Octopus” here. It seems to me there is a one core issue around which our most perspicuous socio-political commentary presently orbits; and Mr Hedges is certainly one of the finest exponents of this mode of analysis. That common denominator is the abuse of power ~ on all planes. Huntington’s pretentious myth of a “clash of civilisations,” appropriated and peddled by reactionary religionists in the West is preposterously naive and self-contradictory hyperbole, that only serves to buttress prejudice and perpetuate widespread cultural ignorance, amplified by the corrupted & corrupting media. As Gandhi rightly and wryly is said to have opined, with respect to the fact of “Western civilisation” ~ it certainly would be a good idea. So let’s forget about any spurious athletic assumptions concerning the “Bernard Lewis doctrine.” The only real “clash” is the dogmatic war of self, of “sanctified ego” as corporatised “authority,” pitted against Nature ~ aka our planetary ecosystems representing the sanctity of Life (as Hedge’s memorably and commendably noted in his Moyers interview.) In fact, this very real conflict readily translates or corresponds in Islamic terms to the ethical concept of Greater Jihad, when understood as the transcendence of self through “submission to God” ~ ie our cosmic True Self or in secular terms, acceptance of “ethical ecological existence.” We delude ourselves with the comforting fetish of a familiar language inculcated through an “educational” system obsessed with the rhetorics of control. Direct and immediate apperception of Reality is the only legitimate ground for cognitive moral coherence. All mystics have known this since time immemorial, but it is only now in our present era that legitimate science is beginning to interpret “progress” as a universal initiatic/evolutionary process.

    • David, yes, the common denominator is the abuse of power in the abstract. but in the specific there is a real problem that Hedges hits upon in regards to the slinking away with a hatchet by corporate donors of Major schools that used to have muscular Humanities departments. This is dealt with in the cover story of the Atlantic monthly some years back called “The Academic Industrial Complex”. When i read it things began to become clear as to the exact way the digital dumbing down is being done .

      Let us have no illusions in this matter –it is deliberate.

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