Professors seemed to have only two things in common: they were personally ambitious, and they had renounced religion.
~ Paul C. Vitz, Ph.D. (Lecture notes delivered at Columbia University on the psychology of atheism)
Universities are our great fall,
They teach only propaganda, that’s all:
Gramsci rules, no doubt,
Marx! Lenin! they shout;
Until America is left in a pall.
~ Paul (writer and reader of my WND column)
The 19th century (Age of Enlightenment/Romanticism) and the early 20th century (Progressive Era) saw the ascendancy of the academy, colleges, universities, higher education. With the academy came its attendant associations where the intellectual class, especially since the 1950s and 1960s, increasingly sought to cement its newly exalted position as the controller of society and dictator of culture.
Solidifying its education monopoly, the academic class over time would control the very gates of higher education, admissions, course requirements, degree offerings, graduation, licensing, college accreditation, degree certification, tenure – the very access to success in this life. Many people believe that to be “successful” in today’s society, one must have a degree. Yet, did you know, dear reader, that long before the academic bureaucracy became entrenched in society ordinary people did extraordinary things without degrees?
For example, as late as 1954 there was a man that sat on the Supreme Court of the United States that not only never graduated from a prestigious law school, he only had one year of law school under his belt. He had no judicial experience, yet his legal mind was so superior to his contemporaries, FDR tapped him to become a justice on the Supreme Court (1941), and Truman four years later appointed him to be chief prosecutor for the U.S. at the Nuremberg Trials (1945-46). That man was Robert H. Jackson.
Other justices of the Supreme Court were appointed without graduating from law school or taking the bar exam (Benjamin Cardozo) or who lacked impressive judicial experience (Frank Murphy), the latter a lowly circuit court judge from Michigan before he was appointed to the high court by FDR. But how can this be?
In art, the correlation between a college degree and artistic genius are nil. As a matter of fact, there appears to be a reverse correlation between not going to art school or getting an art degree with artistic excellence. None of the greatest artists, sculptors or architects whose works we revere today had a “degree” – not Galileo, Rembrandt, Rodin, Bonticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Goya, Picasso, etc. None went to what we today call “art school” or received a degree in “art studies,” yet they were able to exercise their gifts without paying homage to some irrelevant, bureaucratic association or certification board that incidentally knows absolutely nothing about who or what makes transcendent art.
In classical music, the same is true all of the greatest composers and musicians whose music transcends art, including Josquin, Palestrina, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and Berg. None graduated from a “school of music” or received a degree in composition, music performance, music education or music business, yet they ascended the very steps of Parnassus in music, and they were able to exercise their gifts without paying homage to some self-aggrandizing, bureaucratic association or certification board who with Pharisee-like fanaticism guard the portals of the academy, to graduate schools and thus to prestigious universities, well heeled positions in society and economic success, affluence and notoriety. This monopoly over the mind of We the People by the academy through higher education must be deconstructed.
When an honorary Ph.D. degree was granted to Benjamin Franklin (one of the greatest inventors of the 18th century and a high school dropout), he later wrote in his autobiography that he was loath to publicly acknowledge that honor despite the fact he did path-breaking work in physics and invented bifocals, the odometer, the lighting rod, electricity and many other great innovations we still use today. Franklin also helped write the Constitution, was ambassador to France, founded the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society.
Other geniuses of humanity that did not have the Ph.D. or in some cases no degree at all include:
- Noah (no college, saved all humanity, for 4,000 years had built largest boat until the Queen Mary)
- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (no college)
- Jesus Christ
- St. Augustine
- St. Thomas Aquinas
- George Washington (no college, commander in chief, president)
- Alexander Hamilton (our first and greatest secretary of treasury, taught himself law by reading law books)
- Abraham Lincoln (no college, no law school but a lawyer and our greatest U.S. president)
- Frederick Douglass (ex-slave, abolitionist)
- Booker T. Washington (ex-slave, college builder)
- Albert Einstein (had trouble finishing high school)
- Alexander Graham Bell (college dropout)
- Thomas Edison (no college)
- Harry Truman (no college, judge and president)
- Sam Walton (no college, founder of Wal-Mart)
- Mother Teresa (no college)
- Bill Gates (richest man ever, dropped out of Harvard as a junior)
- Rush Limbaugh (college dropout, media genius)
I don’t mean to denigrate the necessity of degrees in modern times (I have three), or associations or certifications, but just to state that like all organizations or bureaucracies of man, they are intended not to improve the quality of education or improve the standards of academic disciplines, but to centralize academic, educational and administrative authority in the hands of a university oligarchy. This centralization of educational authority determines who gets a degree, who gets that coveted Ph.D., MBA, J.D. or M.D., who can belong to their elitist academic associations or be bestowed with the coveted certification, or maintain the indispensable college accreditation. These certification and accreditation organizations have little to no correlation whatsoever to academic worthiness or vocational excellence. Why do they exist? Follow the money.
These associations, certification boards and accreditation institutions generate billions of dollars in annual revenue to determine college accreditation and fund the test-taking bureaucracy (MEAP, ACT, SAT, MCAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, KAPLAN, BAR-BRI, etc.). In this land of milk and honey, it’s all about the money, power and control … not knowledge or wisdom.
Thank goodness humanity’s best and brightest made their contributions before this entrenched and intractable education bureaucracy we call the academy came along with their degree requirements, academic associations, certification boards, teacher and professorial unions telling them that they had to have their stamp of approval to make such stellar contributions to humanity.
If you think that I write from hyperbole, I challenge the reader to take any core curriculum, examine any canon of great works, scrutinize the credentials of any of the geniuses the academic class venerate as the foundation of their disciplines, study and codify in their textbooks or write Ph.D.s about, and you will conclude that the following somber aphorism is most true: A professor is a mediocrity that is an expert on the works of great men.
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