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Ayn Rand, for all the often justified criticism she and her Objectivist philosophy receive, deserves credit for her prescient portrayals of the modern institutional and intellectual challenges to western civilization. Her two major works, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, are, in my opinion, required reading for any culturally literate critic of today’s progressive left.
In particular, Rand highlighted the collapse of meritocracy. In Atlas Shrugged, anti-competitive legislation (e.g., the “Anti-dog-eat-dog” bill) captured in caricature the rent-seeking behavior of today’s large and entrenched corporations, as they seek to stymie entry into the sectors they dominate by less well-connected upstarts. This is an expression of simple greed, on both the corporate and political sides.
In contrast, in The Fountainhead we find something more sinister, in part because the motives are more complex and obscure, in Ellsworth Toohey and his deliberate and brilliantly executed battle against meritocracy itself (a theme also found in Atlas Shrugged).
Now (and with a tip of the hat to Glenn Reynolds), we see this:
Here is a typical gem from the article:
Our subjects [physical geography and geoscience] are built on a legacy of imperialism and are impacted by structural barriers that discriminate against minority groups. It’s up to the entire geoscience community to make anti-racist changes and be positive allies to Black, Asian and minority ethnic students and colleagues.
The woman who said that wasn’t a Gender Studies professor or a teacher in some similarly fluff subject like education or journalism. No, Natasha Dowey, Ph.D., is a lecturer in physical geology at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK.
Disparity must, we are assured, be the result of a “legacy of imperialism,” and the pursuit of knowledge will only succeed, apparently, if the appropriate mix of skin tones and genitalia is present in the laboratory.
I don’t know how to characterize the ongoing self-immolation of academia in the name of “diversity.” It isn’t clear that profit, per se, is a significant factor. I don’t believe that those participating in it are really bent on destroying western civilization for the sheer nihilistic thrill of it. But I think that the greedy corporations and politicians, the nihilistic burn-it-all-down Tooheys of the world, and the perplexingly misguided diversity-at-all-costs enthusiasts are all trying to drag us down the same road, and to the same end.
I also don’t think that United Airlines is interested in crashing planes, and that they honestly believe that it’s worth hiring cockpit crews based on skin color and sex rather than on a strict meritocratic basis. That also takes us to the same end, I think, albeit at a higher terminal velocity.
Ayn Rand anticipated the not so much war against as irresponsible disregard for meritocracy. Woke mediocrity is becoming the new standard.
Or perhaps not really. Go read the comments on the linked article. People aren’t as foolish as the woke professoriate would seem to suggest. We are top-heavy with shallowness; normal people understand that wokeness is nonsense. Go read the comments, and smile.