This was a world where the humanities mattered

Saturday, September 3rd, 2022

In the 1960s, when history and English majors were among the most popular on campus, America was a very different place, T. Greer explains:

This was an America where most kids memorized reams of poetry in school, where one third of the country turned on their television to watch a live broadcast of Richard III, and where listening to speeches on American history was a standard Independence Day activity. The most prominent public intellectuals of this America were people like Lionel Trilling (literary critic), Reinhold Niebuhr (theologian), and Richard Hofstader (historian). This was a world where the humanities mattered. So did humanities professors. They mattered in part, as traditionalists like to point out, because these professors were seen as the custodians of a cultural tradition to which most American intellectuals believed they were the heirs to. But they mattered for a more important reason—the reason intellectuals would care about that birthright in the first place.

Americans once believed, earnestly believed, that by studying the words of Milton and Dante, or by examining the history of republican Rome or 16th century England, one could learn important, even eternal, truths about human nature and human polities. Art, literature, and history were a privileged source of insight into human affairs. In consequence, those well versed in history and the other humanistic disciplines had immense authority in the public eye. The man of vaulting ambition studied the humanities.


  1. Jim says:

    “to which most American intellectuals believed they were the heirs to”

    Sorry, but it had to be done.

  2. Jim says:

    Otherwise, yes.

    But it’s important also to recall that Americans were biologically different.

    I’ll leave you to imagine what that means.

    Incidentally, who doesn’t love H. P. Lovecraft? Truly he was a man ahead of his time.

  3. David Foster says:

    Tom Watson Jr, the longtime head of IBM, had a friend who had worked himself up from a rough background to a high executive position. When he asked the friend how he did it, the man described his self-improvement program:

    –Read the classics
    –Listen to classical music
    –Buy suits at Brooks Brothers

    I wonder what the present-day equivalent would look like…

  4. Paul Samuelson says:

    Umm… As someone that actually lived through that time I might add a few points, being the economist I am. This was a time when the trades could lead to a solid middle class upbringing. My neighbors were engineers, business owners AND master tradesmen. These homes are now averaging 1.5 million and anyone that kept them in the family is cruising on the equity. Especially since they are paying 1970s property tax rates. Granted, the parents… and these were single working households… were of the upper part of the market, no dads came home before 6 pm, while mom’s made lunches etc. The point is that in an atmosphere in which a person could make 40/hr just for being over 18 and possessing a strong back and quick enough reflexes to avoid being squashed by heavy equipment, a liberal arts education was a reasonable luxury to a family. Even a high school diploma meant something, as they weren’t necessary to make a living.
    Now that we are in a post-industrial serf based economy, every mediocre high school student has a mediocre degree paid for with massive debt. The minimum wage has increased in proportion to journeyman wages and one needs a STEM masters to make what any oilfield roughneck could make in the 70s and 80s. Where the minimum wage employees of an earlier era were accepted to be high school students waiting till graduation to jump pay 4 or 5 times that rate, and/or college for the scholarship types, today we see third world babuskas raising ill-managed broods with a career at the local jack in the crack. Meanwhile the harder working immigrants have predictably diluted the journeyman rates. When I was a kid, we could work the rigs for a few years and that paid for college. If you were a math/engr type, stay in the patch as a professional. If not, then there was always law or an MBA. The idea of going into debt 100k in order to work at Starbucks while waiting on a 30-40k teaching/social work job could not have been imagined. The bottom line is that the job market was such that a driller, master tradesman and professional could all afford to live in a comfortable area and raise and family. This has been eroded by market forces and the propaganda ministries until we inhabit a third world shithole. And yes, the advertising industry and the government were not trusted, it’s just that the average schmuck had his basic needs fulfilled and went along with the program. As an example, the biggest Penthouse and Playboy issues had full page ads for cross dressing appliances and size 13xx high heels. The idea of getting young men aroused by unattainable women in order to promote homosexuality has been around since the 50s.

    We are reaping what was sown

  5. Jim says:

    Paul: “This has been eroded by market forces…”

    Heretic! Heretic! Haven’t you heard the Good Word of free-market-monopoly-capitalism-trickle-down-economics? The economy is up 3,552% since 1971! Your 401K is bigger and better than ever. You will receive another $1,200 once Donal Trump returns to the White House. TRUST THE PLAN.

  6. Nobody says:

    The humanities still matter.

    What is more relevant to Western society: the discovery of the Higgins boson or Critical Race Theory?

  7. Paul Samuelson says:

    Jim: “Trust the Plan”…
    When I was a youngster, working from sun up to sundown, whatever the weather climbing up oily derricks and oftentimes soaked with crude in order to be able to pay for college and grad school without student loan debt I learned the Three Greatest Lies.

    “The pickup truck’s paid for”, “I promise to pull out” and “Was just helping that sheep over the fence”. We can no add “Trust the Plan”

  8. Jim says:

    “I promise to pull out.”

    So true.

  9. Jim says:

    Promises made, promises kept.


  10. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    >The idea of going into debt 100k in order to work at Starbucks while waiting on a 30-40k teaching/social work job could not have been imagined.

    The people duped into signing their lives away to the priesthood are doing so because they believed it is buying them status; they believe being anointed by the holy oil of an seminary will confer upon them elite status, and thus thereby, a high station in life being given to them is both expected as due and considered a moral imperative society owes them.

    The only thing a university does is train priests in the official religion; that is all they have ever done, and all they ever can do; and the contemporary west at present has a gross oversupply of priests trained in the officially unofficial religion of whiggery.

    Noone has ever learned anything about any job at a university, except if it is a job in a priestly sphere – like academics. Anyone who has ever learned anything about any job learned it by observing and working with a master doing the job, and no less the same is true for any priestly job as well; the student is watching an academic do academics – so of course, all he will learn in practice is academics. Anyone who has ever told you that college will help you make a living at anything – except priesting – was someone who was scammed by the scammers, or one of the scammers themselves.

    But the massive, society wide, civilizational scale usurpation of this traditionally understood means of vocational transmission between generations – systems of apprenticeship – by those same certain priestly factions operating universities, to place themselves as universal gatekeepers for anyone who desires entry to polite society – a position of supreme power, of course – has resulted in a shockingly calamitous loss of information with each generation that passes. Intel no longer knows how to make new integrated circuits. Boeing no longer knows how to make new airplanes. Ford no longer knows how to make new cars. On and on it goes, in any sector of human endeavor you can care to mention, knowledge, history, and understanding is disappearing with every retirement and death.

    The university systems ensure noone who is not conditioned with the theocracy’s religious faith can get a rubberstamp, and the ‘Human Resources’ systems imposed on any social body of non-trivial size ensures that no body can get away with hiring any body without a rubberstamp; one hand washes the other; tentacles of the state theocracy inserted into every orifice of society they can reach.

  11. Jim says:

    Dear Pseudo-Chrysostom,

    You are a lunatic.


    Your dear friends.

  12. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    “I suck cocks for a living and you can quote me on that.”
    - Jim

  13. Longarch says:

    Dear Pseudo-Chrysostom:
    You are a genius.

  14. Jim says:

    You have to be pretty dense to emit verbal diarrhea like that overwrought garbage and think, “Yeah, this is good, this means something.”

    …Or (I suppose) a lifelong email worker who has accumulated brain damage from extensive time spent in the corporate custody of some middle manager.

    Or maybe our dear Pseud is the middle manager? That could be it.

  15. Jim says:

    The reality situation is that in 1971 the capitalists fully detached from economic base reality and have in the times since perpetuated on everyone else the greatest fraud in the history of the world.

    This sort of thing doesn’t happen by accident or by stupidity. It’s intentional. It’s genius. It’s fraud.

    And it’s much worse than the charts show.

    Pseud’s comment that “[t]he university systems ensure [that] no[ ]one who is not [properly branded] can get a [job]” shows just how old and out-of-touch he really is.

    That was last generation’s problem. The state of the Union has since decayed substantially.

    In fact college is currently in the Wil E. Coyote cliff-hanging moment before the big collapse. Soon it will become untenable for anyone, even the Boomers, to pretend that it has any positive effect on professional success, or even that it says something positive about those who undertook it.

    They can keep the money printer running forever. They can’t keep people believing in college-as-pathway-to-success when even capable, work-ethical graduates find themselves moving back into their collective childhood bedroom.

  16. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Dear communist fed employee,

    You look at people being driven off a cliff, then give yourself self-induced schizophrenia trying to come up with a way to rationalize the idea that driving themselves off a cliff must have been their interest some how.

    You can make the argument that a woke corportation will support bureaucratization in general, on account of this disproportionately affecting smaller entities in society, the more ‘emergent’ levels of useful activity that naturally proceed amongst men of a community in more civilized times. You can make the argument that they will signal support of wokism in particular, in order to avoid drawing attention from the eye of sauron, true faithful enforcers of wokism, who enthusiastically take advantage of wokism to destroy rivals in every social space they enter, and being ground down by those same bureaucracies; but in the end they are still sawing off the branch they themselves sit on as well, helping to construct the salami slicer that is also slicing them up in turn.

    Like, just imagine the chutzpah on these wisenheimers; you watch them shoot people right in front of you, and they argue they shot themselves! A body would hardly know where to start with such shamelessness.

    It’s like looking at someone dressed like a mime driving a car, then saying he must be doing mimery; and not, you know, driving a car.

    If a body is doing socialism, then it is *doing socialism*. If the king of Spain decides to turn his country into a democracy (rule by preachers) and abnegate his sovereignty, this does not mean that democracy is monarchy, because a king did it, it means that *the king was a democrat*.

    A communist will talk all day up one side and down the other about rich men (juicy, convenient targets), but in practice his real targets always come to be those who are around him; the kulak who owns two cows, the guy who owns a pizza franchise, the man running an HVAC repair service, et cetera et cetera. In a phrase, property owners, of various sizes and market shares. A whole world of people, out there, just *doing things*, *without his personal supervision!* Oy gevalt, it’s like anudda shoah!

    The subjects of his rhetoric are all about ‘fat cats’, and the effects of his policies are all about making life, business, civilization, impossible in general.

  17. Jim says:

    “Dear communist fed employee”

    I have never had a job.

    Have you quit yours yet?

  18. Jim says:

    From below, communism and capitalism are functionally indistinguishable. To the extent that there is any productive capital, it is owned by some gigantic, bureaucratic legal entity far, far away. Only dyed-in-the-wool libertarian retards are bold enough to pretend otherwise. They typically muddy the waters by claiming that capitalism is about something other than amorally maximizing shareholder value to the extent permitted by law. (Spoiler alert: it isn’t.) Then they will accuse you of being retarded (and poor) by putting Larry Fink and a pizza-franchise “owner” in the same class, claiming that you hate the pizza-franchise “owner” because you’re envious of his fantastical success, and pretending that you don’t know where the real money is, who owns it, and how it came to be in their possession (fraud).

    If only Pseud and his fellow mouthbreathers bothered to read or listen to their favorite fake libertarian and real capitalist, Peter Thiel, who literally says, at every opportunity, that capitalism and competition are antonyms.

  19. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    As we can see, communists like our good acquaintance ‘jim’ here typically muddy the waters by using their own pet definitions for words specifically designed for muddying said waters.

    Obviously the millions and millions of suckers who died of starvation after ‘collectivization’ could have a thing or two to say about the ‘from below’ view of communism; from below ground, as it were.

  20. Jim says:

    Once again Pseud at the hands of his smirkful drubber impotently squeals. After all, it just isn’t fair.

    Dear Pseud, O ye NRX luminary and brother of the redcoat cloth, I am innocent of wrongdoing for I use Peter Thiel’s definitions. Won’t you defend the honor of noted Germanophone and world-renowned Frankfurter industrialist, Peter Thiel?

  21. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    I think one of the funniest things about your shilling is how upset you get over people talking shit about the puritans.

    It’s kinda precious to argue against the charge that puritans were proto-comunist leftists when you, a self-described new englander, are a communist leftist.

  22. Jim says:

    Mein Freund, I am but a Humble Germany Respecter living in a choking world of usury and filth and sin, beyond the wildest imagination of 1920′s Berlin.

  23. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    I’m not sure how to tell you this friend, but Uncle Adolf killed the Strasserites. Every last one of them. As God intended. ‘Third Positionism’ was always a Stalin op to converge his fascist competitors, from the beginning, and every now and then its desiccated corpse gets resurrected by the warlocks of the polygon for the same purpose.

  24. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    Have you ever reflected on the fact that you are so predictable? You are incapable of doing anything except post snide comments and reaction images. You cannot stake yourself out plainly, because the moment you do is also the moment everything you try to insinuate through the backdoor comes undone. You can instinctively feel that you are standing on feet of clay, and that more honest thinkers would rightly think less of you if they more ‘truly’ knew you; this semiconscious fear of being ‘found out’, always in the back of the mind, and so likewise backhandedness is your stock in trade.

    You are never responsive in your replies; your output is eminently replaceable with markov chains – at a significant markup up on the margin; your time would be better spent sitting on the dragon-dildo your ordered off amazon, a replacement totem standing in for the archetypical phallus of the Father you wish was there instead.

  25. Vlad says:

    Off top of my head I’d say what happened was television. It allowed elites including capital to escape the wrath of the people. Until the ability to mass hypnotize people elites had to tread a bit carefully so power wealth ebbed and flowed a healthy give and take because with that flow reaches culture also flowed.

    Land is glad of this seems most nrx deludes themselves they are going to make the passage to elysium. They seem not to have thought about how you can halve anything to eternity including a bell curve.

    Third position is such a stupid reply it’s not your fathers cold war this is a much bigger question really nothing to do with economics it’s to do with how do we apes survive this.

  26. Jim says:

    Vlad, it’s good to see you once again. You were missed.

  27. Jim says:


    And you would be the “more honest thinker[]” in this bizarro-world scheme of yours?

    The predictable Internet weirdo cries out as he strikes!

    I am a forgiving interlocutor. Here is your opportunity to right your wrongs, dear Pseud. Meaningfully address the following points:

    * Capitalism and communism are not substantially differing modes of social organization.
    * Peter Thiel is right about capitalism.
    * “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it” i.e. employment exerts a deranging tidal force upon the human psyche.
    * You are a wagie, by your own tacit admission an email worker of some kind, and therefore subject to consistent, employment-induced mental derangement of the worst class.
    * You haven’t quit your job yet.

    Otherwise? Cope and seethe.

  28. Pseudo-Chrysostom says:

    As expected, the communist believes all economies are always and already command economies, and that he merely needs to replace the current shadow comptroller-general – possibly some man sitting in a corner office in wall street – with himself.

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