Are Universities in the Business of Producing Jeongs?

Instapundit quotes Jonah Goldberg, writing about Sarah Jeong:

[Joseph] Schumpeter predicted, before the massive expansion of higher education, that capitalism would breed a new class of intellectuals (writers, journalists, artists, lawyers, etc.) who would be motivated by both ideology and self-interest to undermine liberal democratic capitalism. “Unlike any other type of society, capitalism inevitably and by virtue of the very logic of its civilization creates, educates and subsidizes a vested interest in social unrest,” Schumpeter wrote in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. He adds a bit further on: “For such an atmosphere [of social hostility to capitalism] to develop it is necessary that there be groups whose interest it is to work up and organize resentment, to nurse it, to voice it and to lead it.”

Sarah Jeong is not the ideal example of what Schumpeter was talking about, viz. capitalism (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fits that bill better). But she is a good example of the larger adversary culture that universities not only “nudge” students toward, but actively indoctrinate them into. Simply put, there is an entire industry dedicated to the proposition that not just the American past, but the American present, is disordered, bigoted, and oppressive. And Jeong’s meteoric and meritocratic rise demonstrates how so many of our best and brightest have gotten that message. How many have internalized it as ideology or have just cynically decided that’s how you get ahead is an open question.

…which reminded me of an observation made a long time ago:

Francis Bacon pointed out four hundred years ago that one reason for sedition and mutiny in any polity was “breeding more scholars than preferment can take off”…

(Honor: A History, by James Bowman)

A modern translation of “breeding more scholars than preferment can take off” might be “graduating more PhDs than have any hope of getting tenure.”

11 thoughts on “Are Universities in the Business of Producing Jeongs?”

  1. “dedicated to the proposition that not just the American past, but the American present, is disordered, bigoted, and oppressive”

    Uh huh. Seems about right from my viewpoint here. ;)

  2. Sarah Jeong one of our “best and brightest”? Hardly. You really need to get over the marketing of the Ivies. She quite obviously cannot think her way out of a box, and is a complete ignoramus. This notion that these sorts are anything more than mediocrities might be a first step for you to come close to seeing what is really going on,

  3. MM….the quote is from Jonah Goldberg. I certainly do not believe that being an Ivy graduate is any guarantee of being ‘best and brightest’, quote the contrary: see for example my post The Ivy League and American Society.

    But that’s not really especially relevant to the point of Goldberg’s post: that universities, and not only those in the Ivy League, are actively selling the message of the badness of American society.

    I’m not convinced of his other point that this has anything to do with capitalism, England was not a very capitalist country when Bacon made the quoted observation.

  4. @ PenGun – compared to whom?

    To the OP. I would include the desire to be intellectually fashionable, which is a positional good. I know people of little education, but a shrewd sense of what will play as intellectual in a group who would say much the same. College may be as much cart as horse in this. It is at any rate self-reinforcing, in that the coolest kids go there and influence next year’s rising crop of freshmen. Children don’t learn the material we set them, but they are always on the lookout for shortcuts to status in the status and mating game.

    Perhaps it is best to retire the 1960’s term “Best and Brightest,” as they are no longer a pair, if indeed they ever were. Jeong is one of the brightest, as her cleverness illustrates, but not among the best, as that requires virtues such as self-observation and self-criticism that she seems to lack.

  5. Jeong’s bio has her growing up in North Carolina. IDK if she was a small-town girl but Christopher Caldwell’s description below can be used to describe racial minorities who desperately want to be accepted by the cool white kids:

    “There are basically two kinds of people in small towns–those who assume, as Shaw put it, that the customs of the tribe are the laws of nature; and those who have sussed out that there is a big and varied world beyond Main Street. This division used to have little to do with politics. But small-town politics in its Norman Rockwell variant–all those democratic battles over school bonds and ousting the crooked sheriff–is not what it was. Now, all politics is national. Political ideology, for most people, is a matter of whether they prefer to have Bill O’Reilly or Diane Rehm console them for their impotence in the face of events happening elsewhere.

    At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

    For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.”
    Smiley’s People, Christopher Caldwell, The Weekly Standard, 29 Nov 2004

  6. If Jeong and ilk are our “new class,” we can look forward to fall of that class within most of our lifetimes. (Sorry, Mike.)

  7. but the American present, is disordered, bigoted, and oppressive

    Curious that trivial junk like “bigoted” is thought important.

    Yet that seems about right. If only we could rid America of the contamination of Leftism.

  8. Oh, she’s just another of the ilk of Garrison Keillor; so embarrassed about where he came from, that he couldn’t wait to start differentiating himself from his kin and neighbors as soon as he hit the Big City.
    Except that GK was at least skilled enough to conceal his venomous dislike of small-town flyover Americans for a couple of decades. Unlike this poisonously racist wench who couldn’t keep it stifled until …
    Well, maybe she got the NY Times gig because of her views.

  9. @ Sgt Mom – good pickup on Keillor. I think he still retained some affection for his roots early on. When he came back from Denmark he was different, and the anger increased over the years. I compared the four midwestern humorists of my generation – Keillor, Bruson, O’Rourke, and Barry a long time ago

    @ David Foster – yes, I think “Best and Brightest” was ironic. But that descended from it being the thought in everyone’s mind about the Kennedy cabinet.

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