Archive for April 3rd, 2015

Plutocratic Universities Are Not Universal

April 3, 2015

Nietzsche thought that human society was motivated mostly by the “Will to Power“. Ethological studies on various advanced animals, including primates, confirm the importance of the Will to Power, indeed.

How does one exert power? One can use whips and chains, claws and fangs, but that’s a lot of work, it could be dangerous, and it damages the slaves. Ultimately, raw physical violence on most of its individuals makes a society underperform intellectually relatively to a society where people are mostly free. A slave society, where slaves are in chains, is too preoccupied by brawn, the brutal force of physical constraints, thus not brains: it does not become very smart… And thus such a society gets walloped as more brainy societies get more advanced technologically from their higher smarts (including in crucial military technology).

The best way for a class to exert maximal sustainable power in a society is thus not through whips, chains, and the police, but by controlling minds. Thus by controlling the educational system, thus master ideas and dominant moods.

Plutocratic Universities Are All About Leading The Sheep

Plutocratic Universities Are All About Leading The Sheep

[The excellence of maximizing profits: Veritas!]

The more democratic the society, the more spread-out quality education. The more oligarchic, the less it is.

As a US academic, I was asked to please be lenient with student athletes (they were failing scientific classes).

Student athletics brings up to 80 million dollars a year to some US colleges (through TV contracts; it’s highly profitable, as the athletes are not paid commensurately).

University tuition is now so high in the USA, even at (top) public universities, that the middle class cannot afford it (except by taking un-extinguishable loans). This is true even at institution such as the University of California which were founded with the explicit aim to provide free education to the most intellectually qualified students, independently of their wealth.

Even those who have taken loans have to be nice with the powers that be, if they want to earn enough to reimburse their loans. The chains they wear afterwards are not made of iron, but of debt.

We are in situation where financial class, and the positive attitude towards the wealthiest, rather than intellectual class, is becoming the selection criterion.

Too much control of the educational system by the powers that be brings the smarts down.

But the powers that be may require a more advanced educational system: this was the case during the Cold War. Or when the Frankish empire required all religious institutions to teach everybody secularly.

Money is a way to communicating power. Although it is not the only way: the law is the basic way to transmit power, and mandatory education is an obvious example.

Massimo said that “the whole system is corrupt”. A leading article in The Economist recently condemned the American university system, saying it was not worth it. It pointed out that employers care not so much about what students learn there, but about the fact they have been selected (to attend select college).

“American graduates score poorly in international numeracy and literacy rankings, and are slipping. In a recent study of academic achievement, 45% of American students made no gains in their first two years of university. Meanwhile, tuition fees have nearly doubled, in real terms, in 20 years. Student debt, at nearly $1.2 trillion, has surpassed credit-card debt and car loans.”

The tremendous propaganda in the USA about issues which profit plutocracy has been made effective by the lack of education of the population.

Education is not just instruction, it can be submission.



European universities evolved from the Cathedral schools. The latter had been imposed in the Eight Century, by Frankish law, all over Europe. Professors were cleric.

This is why European universities have no police, to this day (they were cathedrals, initially).

However, by the late Twelfth Century, the faculty of art allowed some teachers to not be theologians (Buridan was an example).

The power of universities was enormous then. Abelard used his pulpit at the Paris Cathedral School to oppose the Second Crusade and Saint Bernard. (Abelard’s arguments lost, short term, but won, long term.)

When the University of Paris got its entire body out, it extended from one end of the capital to the other. A year long strike in 1200 CE forced the papacy to authorize the teaching of Aristotle.

By 1300 CE, supported by his English vassal, the king of France, cracked down on the Pope and his army, the Templars. Philippe IV Le Bel’s aides were commoners, highly educated youth without fortune or honorable pedigree.

American universities have a very different origin. Stanford, for example, was founded by a plutocrat who used Chinese workers (who had few rights), to build railways.



There is a conscious bias, top down, in the USA against the existence of the CO2 crisis, the reality of evolution, and for the existence of the USA as a “Christian nation”.

The New York Times just discovered it in “A Christian Nation? Since When?” that it is plutocrats in the 1930s who invented the USA as a Christian nation.

The denialist system of thought in the USA is mostly fed by money. “Climate change” is an example: it is clear that augmenting the greenhouse gases from 280 ppm to 450 ppm (including CO2 going from 280 to 400 ppm), can only have an extremely damaging effect… Especially considering half of the created CO2 goes in the ocean to make carbonic acid… And that last time we had 400 ppm of CO2 sea level was around 30 to 40 meters higher.

There is really no need for “expertise”, in a subject like that, to perceive the danger. Now California is suffering a drought more severe than any time during at least 3,000 years. And it is directly caused by climate change. Restrictions have just started (and are grossly insufficient).

The economy is the management (nomy) of the environment (eco). It does not have to be about “money”: successful empires (Inca, USSR) worked without money, or partly without money (the army and public works in Republican Rome come to mind).

It is clear that, to manage the environment well, one needs knowledge.

However, it all depends upon what is meant by “environment”. If it is about the wealthiest, the USA is becoming increasingly hospitable. And having a dysfunctional educational system helps, as confrontational critiques, which require a lot of certainty, cannot arise.

The USA’s university system is dysfunctional, intellectually speaking, but it is not an accident. It is a system. Just as the GI Bill (which made higher education free for GIs), was also a system. That system went the other way. It was paid for by a 93% tax on high income.

The USA’s university system is perfectly functional if its function is the pursuit of happiness of plutocracy.

Patrice Ayme’