The University Empire

The American university system has been increasingly in the public eye, but not in an especially friendly way, which is in part because of an increase in the percentage of students attending university. More families see and hear the effects of universities on their own children. The additional media coverage, often negative, only crystalizes a drive of reformation.

However, a problem for many observers is that they fail to recognize what the idea of college is in the American context. They view it as a business that provides a good or service, which must respond to customers like any other enterprise. Some who have read Howard Zinn or other communist scribes will see universities as the means for plutocrats to produce good, obedient workers. Instead, the university system is better conceived as a structure that cranks out theory to justify current elite rule and promulgate the state religion. Universities are indoctrination centers; this idea has caught on even among the broader right-wing.

As a wing of the reigning power, the university has the special dispensation of educating the masses. Universities have tax-free endowments, they receive grants from the official sovereign, they have their own police forces, they operate courts outside the rule of law, and they even earn billions tax-free. They have another special dispensation. They are the official union card stampers for any job in the white collar world and also what the sovereign’s official propaganda organ declares and portrays as ‘the good life’.

One should look at universities less like a business and more like stationary bandits. They take a cut (tuition) to make sure future workers and thinkers can function well. They provide some order to the system. To cut off rival power centers, progressives moved to make it illegal for private firms to have entrance exams for prospective employees because of disparate impact to minorities (Griggs v. Duke Power Co.). Rather than corporations having the power to determine work qualifications, the central government rendered doing so illegal and allowed the universities to fill that role by proxy.

This is not the only manner in which the progressive federal government helped the growth of universities. There was significant debt reform in the ’80s that protected lenders, making rates on debt lower, which allowed increased enrollment on the margins. There was more student debt reform in the ’90s. This had the effect of turning students into debt slaves.

One could argue that universities follow fiefdom theory, which states that managers of a firm expand a business to maximize the employee count and scope of their departments but are still subject to minimum profits. This makes sense with the runaway growth in tuition and even the steady growth of administrative positions in comparison to actual faculty. Faculty themselves are even limited as the lowly paid adjunct lecturers continue to grow as the last remaining guild (professors) hold tightly to its hierarchy.

However, fiefdom theory does not fit quite right. Managers seeking to expand their employee count or an asset they control still have to have a profit focus, even if that focus is not profit maximization. They still have to make some money to justify their existence. Due to the nature of college funding of subsidized never-ending debt, there is no profit constraint. These are non-profit institutions, after all. The product of college itself does not take many students to make a professor, an adjunct, a lecturer, or an administrative employee like a diversicrat marginally profitable.

Again, the theory does not fit because there is no competition on price. No group of universities use their product differentiator as price. As goes the Ivy League in price, so go the colleges that consider themselves Ivy equivalents. Each university in the chain, including the state universities, continually mark up their price. No college even considers offering a stripped down college experience but the same good life diploma granting power for $8,000 a year. Not every college freshman needs a single dorm or suite dorm set up with rockwalls in the gyms.

There is another theory on firm behavior that fits well. The work of Cyert and March in the mid-20th century is obsolete now, given how lean the globally competitive private side is, but universities with their economic moats are a good fit. They maximize their influence and control of where society and culture goes. They need to reach broader and wider groups to make sure they influence every facet of society. It is about maximizing reach not profit, and it is only dependent on how much money third parties feed it.

Any theory of how universities work as firms needs to accept that they have tremendous organizational slack. All of the money pouring in makes for well-funded endowments and means of buying off groups. With the system of education consumption, universities have no skin in the game, as Nassim Taleb would argue. Someone else is fronting the revenue, and even if loaned, the university has nothing to fear if the loan is unpaid. Court-enforced payment makes creditors happy, so loans are forever coming. Since the federal government is the main lender and controlled by progressives, the money will not stop.

Universities themselves are coalitions of groups. Money must be used to fund new endeavors to satisfy the different pieces of the progressive coalition. With never-ending money, these groups are bought off. With the positive status attached to the positions of academic or researcher, this makes buying off employees a little easier. One does not need to maximize earnings if the status of being published in peer-reviewed journals grants autoethnographers a way to the priest class. Administrative bloat is even more tempting for buying off disparate coalition blocs, as a diversicrat neither needs a PhD, nor needs to fulfill professor guild requirements. Added to this, administrative employees are governed by a completely separate collective bargaining agreement compared to faculty.

This last piece also hits on a bit of Cyert and March’s theory. Our universities need to attack the native cultures of Western nations and deconstruct them, while at the same time feeding grievances to members of their coalition of fringes. Money must be granted to satisfy the needs below. As evident from all the ’60s campus takeovers and agitation, the elite at those universities wanted to form ethnic studies and women’s studies groups, but there was no conflict to allow them to safely give it to their allies in the low. Black studies groups were formed that served the dual purpose of buying off a rising new member bloc of the priest class and allowing for expansion in recruiting new marginal students.

A university is an empire. As part of a unified, distributed system, the university is a well-fed monster without restraints. Every possible advantage is structured for them, and every possible negative is a risk passed on to another bag-holder.

Much has been made of the University of Missouri’s lower enrollment rates after the campus protests by black students. New students did not reject university life entirely; they just went elsewhere. The technostructure of education still won. That protest itself was a good example of how graduate students were bought off using some fake hate crime. Administrators never clear out protesters or rioters, and they always cave to their demands. It is a play for money, though, this one happened to hurt the university for a short spell.

The university system is an empire and one of unlimited resources, due to its place in the broader system. A proper attack on the university system cannot solely be monetary. Funding must be removed. If the federal government can hold over one trillion in student debt, it can fund one trillion in infrastructure, energy, and even transportation that will require jobs outside the university credential system. Student debt must be made dischargeable once more and if defaulted on, the university must share the burden.

Even more important is that the idea that colleges offer the ticket to the good life must be altered. And while this idea is admittedly under attack now in our great recession, it must be finished off with a redefinition of the good life. High schools send their graduates off with scholarship announcements. They never transform these monetary awards to grants or funding for entrepreneurial endeavors.

These imperial organizations are really just one blob of the education technostructure fed not just by our government largess, but our status value system. The campus insanity, the nonsensical peer-reviewed articles, and the ever-expanding workforce of the system’s priest class will not stop until all attack angles are employed.

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12 Comments

  1. I just graduated and I can definitively say that the whole “roll tanks into Harvard yard” thing is the best option.

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  2. Roll tanks into harvard yard, run through some crowds, but definitely preserve the architecture

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    1. Yea, preserve the architecture since they give a glimpse into the past. It’s those “things” that inhabit them that are the problem.

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    2. I say ruin-value the whole place and leave it as a reminder of how a fallen society went astray. Rebuild anew elsewhere and let the mistakes of the past loom over the arrogance of those who think they can simply re-arrange some deck chairs.

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  3. Academia is another front in the culture war that Conservacucks ceded w/o a fight that now must be reconquered at great price.

    For young people, it’s much like the prisoner’s dilemma. If they boycott it together en-mass the system would collapse on itself. But, if only a few do that, while a labor surplus remains, HR depts and the managerial class in the Fortune 1000 will continue with its business as usual. College is like incumbent politicians… everybody complains about the other guy’s, but then gives their own a pass.

    Govt created this mess and, unfortunately it’s going to take govt to undo it. Nothing less than a 1-2 punch to their tax-advantaged status, and forcing them to have skin-in-the-game wrt clawbacks if their graduates’ debt to income levels exceed an acceptable ratio is likely to do the trick. Wish us luck explaining that one to normies.

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    1. This is the problem I have with cucks. They said meh to art & entertainment. The left took over. They said meh to formal education. The left took over. They said meh to social media. The left took over. They’re saying meh to military strength. The left is currently taking over. They’ve been saying meh to religion. They left is currently taking over. But it’s all about muh guns and muh taxes and muh economy.

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  4. It’s interesting that you referenced the priest class several times, which roughly corresponds with Nietzsche’s “priestly caste” and Moldbug’s “Brahmin caste.”

    A decade ago, Moldbug identified the Dalit or Untouchable caste as being comprised mainly of non-white ethnicities and races. Hillary’s comments about “deplorables” last year was so resonant and telling because it crystalized the left’s continued attempt to replace the traditional non-white Dalit caste with mainly whites. After all, non-whites in America today, and indeed throughout the West, are now defined as “holy” and “morally superior” by the left, so they can hardly be Untouchable.

    At the same time, channelling them into the university system is essential to expanding their ranks within the Brahmin or priestly caste. Thus, you see a broader attack on Western Civilization within the academy, so that the non-white Brahmins are made to feel more welcome in it, and have more skin in the game.

    A couple of years ago I worked with a Mexican-American guy in his forties in Saudi Arabia. He had an MA in Creative Writing from a UC school, and his “thesis” was a personal memoir; he was exactly the type of “autoethnographer” you reference in your article. One time an older white guy (from Arizona) and I were discussing Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” The Mexican-American guy had never heard of Kerouac or The Beats, and yet he had taught Creating Writing himself at the UC school from which he had graduated. How an American citizen who teaches creative writing at the university level could not know about The Beats is being me, and yet surely it’s all part of the plan: Breaking down a common American culture, and redefining the American priestly caste as non-white instead of white.

    A hundred years from now, will the few remaining American Untouchables be reading all POC books in their high school classes, and have no idea who Jack Kerouac, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller even are?

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    1. What were you and the Mexican American Creative writer doing on a job in KSA? I thought the companies contracting there had only people with technical skills, hard experience in oil fields and such or things that had a direct military value. Creative writing difficult to undetstamd the need even in USSA but KSA? Wow times have changed

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      1. Saudi Aramco has a massive industrial-training program. We were helping whip young Saudi trainees into shape – or at least some of us were. Pretty sure the Mexican-American chap was an affirmative-action beneficiary back in the States. He mostly just slacked off on the job and was eventually kicked to the curb.

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  5. Reginald Maplethorp July 17, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Here’s another interesting example of universities being able to do whatever they want without regard for the laws that even corporations have to follow: http://www.colorado.edu/today/2015/03/30/cu-boulder-program-seeks-bring-national-and-international-entrepreneurs-campus

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  6. One big bullet would be to get a case to the SC and overturn Griggs. That and a little race realism/loosening of quotas and the universities would slide towards irrelevance quicker. Of course they are committing suicide from the inside http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/7/13/new-sanctions/ “A faculty committee has recommended that the College forbid students from joining all “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations”—including co-ed groups—with the goal of phasing out the organizations entirely by May 2022.”
    People behind this are not alums(woman president, curryhead admin) equality/inclusiveness PC stuff is just cover, their intent is to destroy the (formerly)nice place built by Puritans.

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  7. The Oriental Neoreactionary July 19, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    We are witnessing the atrocities of the University Empire since 1773, when the Imperial School of Naval Engineering of Ottoman Empire were founded.

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