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Reflexive Patriotism, Last Refuge of a Scoundrel Nation

Article by Kirkpatrick Sale.
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Thinking about the hold of this sickness I began to reflect why it was that the movement, though obviously getting stamped on the national consciousness in the last few years and drawing enthusiasm in a number of quarters, has not made more inroads than it has. Why, in particular, has it not drawn more attention on college campuses, where fringe ideas with good intellectual credentials are often picked up and supported, at least by the politically-minded minority of students and the more adventurous of the faculty. Why, for example, has there never been a single faculty member of Middlebury College or (with one exception) UVM to come forth to join the Second Vermont Republic or any of its sister causes? Why haven’t there been academic studies n Vermont supporting secession by showing how the state would be better off economically if it were free of Federal taxes and regulations?

And it dawned on me that actually the American academia would be the last place in the world that would be critical of the American empire, much less interested in breaking it up. It is a creature of that empire, it gets funding in the billions from it, its research is heavily directed toward its needs, its faculties are intertwined with Federal agencies, and insofar as academia may be said to have a philosophy it would follow more or less the liberal support for big government, and the bigger the better.

So how could I expect any enthusiasm for secession from that quarter?

The American university system is enormous and it plays an enormous role in making the nation what it is – it is not too much to say, in fact, that it is an equal partner in the military-industrial-academic complex that essentially runs the country. And it continues to expand its role and power every year, getting added money in tuition and fees every year ($37,000 annually for Harvard) despite a tight economy, and getting added Federal money every year (now about $60 billion, including student grants).

I would argue that this is a bubble that will eventually burst, because it is more and more obvious that just having an expensive college education doesn’t guarantee a job, even less a job that will pay enough to pay off that expense. But while it lasts, there’s no sign that academia is in danger of loosing its comfortable place in the national pantheon of imperial power.

And here’s the kicker: while it lasts it will obviously continue its role of conditioning and indoctrinating the young minds in its care to have a deep and abiding belief in the singular virtues of the American republic, indivisible even at 310 million people, and its legitimate business of imperial domination, regardless of party or faction. They wouldn’t call it patriotism, the liberal faculties, and they wouldn’t call it knee-jerk reflective, but that is what it is. And it ill becomes institutions that once were in the tradition of skeptical criticism.

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