Blog: The Corruptor and the Destructor

The Corruptor and the Destructor
The Corruptor and the Destructor
Date: 2021-Feb-24 17:18:16 EST

Earlier this week, I donated $1000 to the University of Pittsburgh as part of something called Pitt Day of Giving. This is a yearly event where the various departments, student orgs, and programmes extend their hand, and as people interested in the University we can open our wallets and help out. I have no deep ties to UPitt, but I feel more ties to them than my actual alma mater, and I think CMU (probably the University I feel the strongest ties to) doesn't really need my money, so I've done this for the last few years.

My donations:

  • $100 to Child Welfare Education and Research
  • $200 to Epidemiology General Support
  • $100 to Department of Neuroscience Development
  • $100 to Social Work Scholarship
  • $200 to Biostatistics General Support
  • $200 to Human Engineering Research Laboratories
  • $100 to Information Culture and Data Stewardship

I could talk at length about why I picked the departments that I did, and how they fit into my ideas of bettering the world, but that might not be that interesting. Instead, let's talk about academia and how it fits into the world.

I occupy a position on the left that's not presently very loud - that of cosmopolitan technocratic socialism. I take part in broader efforts that span the political spectrum in pushing back against woke social changes, and it being a very broad effort means not everyone in it sees the struggle the same way. My model for understanding this difference is one of Corruption, Cleansing, and Eradication.

  • I broadly see the woke parts of the left as corrupting academia. Critical Theory undermines universalism, introducing "benign" racism to combat traditional forms of it, and ditching free speech for the sake of trans activists. They are most active in fields under the "Social Studies" umbrella, where they mix a lot of activism with a mild commitment to scholarly form. An area where I disagree with conservatives is that I think they're weaker in academia than outside of it, because we have systems and traditions that make it hard for ideologies to entirely take over the place
  • I see the role of liberals as reversing the gains of the woke, cleaning them out of academia (and broader society). We should want academia and broader society to be technocratic, merit-driven, blind to unessential differences, and committed to diverse opinions. Society (and academia) never has been perfect, but we retain the same methods we've had for centuries to continually gradually improve, and we are proud of that progress we've achieved so far. Let's get back to it.
  • I see a lot of conservatives (not all - there are many who share our commitments) using this as another excuse to be anti-intellectual, fueling their existing interests in ripping down academia. This is the same mistake as thinking inviting a barbarian like Trump in would give more benefit than harm - it is simply destruction, neglecting that great heights cannot be reached without some missteps along the way. Or perhaps resenting great heights altogether.

I understand the "fuck it all" mentality. I suspect it's not a modern creation so much as a primal urge, part of our mental toolbox for problem solving. I think we should be able to look it in the face and reject it. We also should reject the idea that we must weigh, in great detail, the faults of the woke versus the faults of the populists. They both are very heavy, and we should side with neither, accepting that we will anger both.