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Torch the Higher-Ed Sector

State of the Union: The recent campus protests are a once in a lifetime opportunity for conservatives.


Frankly, I don’t care about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. I am agnostic, and so have no special religious inclination towards being a party to that fight, which, despite what geopolitical analysts might say, remains at its core a millennium-old theological feud. I am neither an Israeli nor a Palestinian myself. My core belief is that one’s loyalty should be to the land beneath one's feet—not to one’s ancestral homeland or culture, but to the country that feeds you. The idea of assimilation and a republican citizenry is to actively reorient instincts and loyalties. Assimilation isn’t just the burden of the host country. Waving a foreign flag on the streets, no matter how deep the cause, is something that should be viewed as politically toxic. Never trust a banished man who seeks to change the politics of the faraway land to which he owes loyalty with the blood of his new country, as Machiavelli once warned. 

The recent campus protests, however, have been driven by more than just questions about faraway foreign loyalties. They constitute a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for conservatives to demonstrate that the entire higher-education sector is bloated and toxic at best, and outrightly hostile to civilization at worst. The professors, as Richard Nixon once warned, are the enemies—but so are the administrators. 


In fact, anyone who has worked in top-tier academia in the U.S.—or, in my case, among the Russell Group Universities in the UK—will remember that most professors are gutless midwits who talk a big game about principles but are simultaneously instrumental in sacrificing the academy to bureaucrats and activists, and often both at the same time. The bureaucrats’ ranks have swelled by over 200 percent in the last 30 years; faculty, by comparison, rose by around 10 percent in the same timespan. It is the bureaucrats who amplify a certain toxic section of activist academia. It is the bureaucracy that is the chief cause of cost and tuition increase

The current round of on-campus rage also highlights a couple of things. One cannot simply go back to ignoring or laughing off the higher-ed sector. It was the greatest mistake of the conservative movement to think that students would grow up. The bloat in the government continues to grow because positions are filled by those coming out of an activist, self-loathing higher-ed. Most organs of the national security bureaucracy, for example, are filled with those who are but cogs in the machine. They owe their student debt, and by definition, their loyalty, to the institutions of liberal internationalism and the government that promotes those institutions. If you want to know why the intelligence and surveillance sector is so partisan and hostile to conservatives, look at who works there and where they went to school.

Second, the mass of tribal students—guttural in their hatred, proud of their ignorance, confused about their identity, purpose, and theology, and at the same time deferential to rituals such as Muslim calls to prayer—demonstrates the need for discipline. This is a generation whose members were never punished and always got what they wanted; they grew up in a world of nominal egalitarianism and participation trophies, and therefore, seek, almost subliminally, a strong hand to restore order. Any future conservative leader who fails to understand that, or lacks a plan to transform this heterogenous mass into a movement by repurposing them towards a life with some meaning, should go back to studying history. The metaphorical crown is lying in the gutter. 

An understandable instinct of American conservatives would be to provide more power to DEI bureaucrats to be the arbiters of decency in response to growing antisemitism or power struggles. As Chris Rufo said, that would be a mistake, not unlike George W. Bush’s expansion of the national-security bureaucracy in the name of providing security to Americans. 

The correct lesson is that too many people go to colleges for degrees that are irrelevant, accruing debts that they don’t need, extending their perpetual adolescence and the resulting ethos of victimhood and tantrums.

Far too many universities are accredited. Destroy the pipeline. Let the campus protests ensure that the colleges are the architects of their own destruction.