Culture Wars/Current Controversies

How I Left Academia, or, How Academia Left Me

By Dr. Michael Robillard

“Universities are madrassas for woke stupidity.” -James Delingpole

When I first encountered the discipline of Philosophy as an undergraduate at West Point some twenty years ago, I was put into a state of awe. Encountering the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, Kant and Hume, Berkeley and Russell for the very first time felt like I was being let in on some ancient and esoteric form of knowledge, some sort of secret language invisible to the uninitiated. Leaving the classroom each day, debating and conversing with other students over these new and earth-shattering concepts and questions felt like a kind of drug trip; like I was Neo being shown the code for the Matrix. For those years and for who I was at the time, it was truly a mind-altering and life-changing experience. And while the questions shook my sense of certainty to the core, filling my head with all sorts of doubts, I nonetheless remained certain of one thing; that Socrates was ultimately right and that the unexamined life was indeed not worth living.

I was compelled so much so by these philosophical questions and ideas that I would later be moved to terminate what was, at the time, a fruitful career as a U.S. Army officer, to turn down several lucrative white-collar jobs thereafter, and to shove all my chips into the center of the playing table, in hopes of one day becoming a professional analytic philosopher. Now, after a decade of being within the ivory tower, of seeing how the sausage is made and witnessing first-hand the business that academia really is, I’ve determined, quite sadly, that the discipline of academic Philosophy, and the university system more generally, has become little more than an indoctrination center for ‘woke’ leftist ideology and the antithesis of its original aim and purpose. That being said, this essay is my explanation of how and why I’m leaving academia, or, more appropriately, how academia ended up leaving me.

My cynicism towards academia was not always this way, however. Coming away jaded from the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war in my mid-twenties, believing that we as American citizens had some basic duties to look out for animals, the environment, and for the poor, and thinking that African Americans still had some reasonable and justified grievances because of slavery, I found myself entering into graduate school at the beginning of the Obama years as a self-described ‘center left’ liberal.


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