Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

Kyle is filled with righteous indignation against Rush Limbaugh.

In case you had any lingering doubt that Rush Limbaugh makes a good charlatan’s living espousing half-baked pseudo-ideology slyly disguised as principled conservative philosophy, the winning radio host informs us that he doesn’t know what Classical Studies is, but he’s sure it’s a clever socialist plot. His faux-ignorant blather about the uselessness and insidiousness of studying Greek, Latin, Cicero, Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, the Bible—you know, the bulwarks of Western Civilization that any conservative worth his salt should have an interest in conserving—reveals that he has no regard for the origin and history of our ideas, for the development of the intellect, or for conservatism.

The source of the indignation is a rant which Rush apparently delivered on the air a week ago. Said rant was in response to this “We Are the 99%” plea which was posted in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement:

I graduate college in 7 months with a “useless” degree in Classical Studies. I have worked very hard and am on track to graduate with highest Latin honors. I am in a Greek organization with many volunteer hours under my belt.
MY JOB PROSPECTS?
0
I am one of the lucky ones, but I am still the 99%.
Welcome to the American nightmare.

Rush responded to this plea, in part, as follows:

[reads the above quoted "We Are The 99%" piece]

Now, do you think somebody going to college, borrowing whatever it is in this case, $20,000 a year to get a degree in Classical Studies ought to be told by somebody at a school that it’s a worthless degree? … [W]hy is it that no one in her life told her that getting a degree in Classical Studies would not lead to employment? In fact, how many college students do you think believe that just getting a degree equals a high-paying job? Probably a lot of them. Not that you can blame ‘em. That’s what they’ve been sold on. That’s what they’ve been told. Ergo, that’s what they expect. A college degree equals success, riches, whatever. Not work. This is key, now.

Now, I think the colleges ought to be held accountable here. You show up, you want a degree in Classical Studies, you need to be told what that really means. “Well, how do you want to use your degree in Classical Studies? Do you even know what it is?” “Well, yes, I want study the classics so that I can be an expert in the classics, so that I can then study them further, like, and, you know, help others.” “Really? Okay, how much money do you expect to make doing this?” “Well, as a college graduate with a Classical Studies degree, maybe a Latin minor, $200,000 a year, enough to pay off my student loans in the first four years and then after that who knows.”

“Can you tell me where do you go to apply for a job with a Classical Studies degree?” “Well, anybody who’s interested in studying classically, I would think would be interested in my services because I’m going to be an expert.” At that point somebody at the university ought to say, “Babe, you are wasting your time in a nothing major. We are stealing your money. You’re gonna be qualified for jack excrement when you get outta here.” But they don’t. Now, this is part of the trick, this is the ruse, and it’s actually clever.

Tell me, any of you at random listening all across the fruited plain, what the hell is Classical Studies? What classics are studied? Or, is it learning how to study in a classical way? Or is it learning how to study in a classy as opposed to unclassy way? And what about unClassical Studies? Why does nobody care about the unclassics? What are the classics? And how are the classics studied? Oh, cause you’re gonna become an expert in Dickens? You’re assuming it’s literature. See, you’re assuming we’re talking classical literature here. What if it’s classical women’s studies? What if it’s classical feminism? Who the hell knows what it is?

The socialists that run universities dilute the education, they offer useless majors, and then they lie about the quality of these useless majors. They lie about the happiness and the jobs and the money that awaits you after you get the degree in something like Classical Studies. Then — and this is where the payoff is — after a generation or two of such students, after a generation or two of such worthless degrees, after generation or two of deceived students with worthless degrees out in the world finding themselves very unhappy, very unemployable, and without money to do all the fun things they want, what do they then demand?

Socialism as a remedy. They demand that everybody else take care of them — and, my friends, this is not an accident.

Now, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of question that Rush’s ramble here is ignorant and anti-intellectual. Given his total lack of pretensions to intellectualism, I’m not sure that his clear ignorance of what Classics is is all that startling a revelation. As someone whose degree actually is in Classics, I can assure you that this happens pretty frequently. I once had an optometrist ask me, “So did you study classic films or classic novels?” A nice old lady once remarked, “Oh, so you must have read Gone With The Wind!” It shows ignorance of academia, but that’s not exactly shocking in a studiously low brow radio host. It’s not like the time that the new college president was touring the Earth Science department where my father worked and announced, “I’m so glad to see that you have classes in cosmology. I always like to know where I can go on campus to get a perm or have my nails done.” (You can imagine that this led to rampant speculation that she was an affirmative action hire.)

Rush occupies a niche on the right which is something of a cross between the purposes that Michael Moore and John Stewart serve on the left — which is to say that many people enjoy listening to him spout off, feel a certain agreement, but don’t really take him all that seriously or expect him to present a fully coherent philosophy. (Personally, I listened to Rush daily back in high school, and used to catch parts of his program when the forklift guys out in the warehouse had him on at my first job out of college, but haven’t heard him since. I lost the taste for his tone — though I will say that he was generally more polite to his opposing callers than the liberal talk show hosts on the same station.) I prefer a more high brow approach to conservatism, but there’s ample precedent this kind of low brow curmudgeonry within conservatism. Indeed, since we’re on the topic of the Classics, this is something of the spirit which Arisophanes epitomizes in Greek drama. Arisophanes was a conservative within the Athenian context. And from that vantage point he savages Socrates and higher education in general in The Clouds.

All that said, there is, I think, something to be said for what Limbaugh has to say in response to the “99%” plea. The idea that one should have a sure idea seven months before graduating college where one is going to have a job afterwards strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Maybe I was just too ready to accept the realities of being a Classics major, but I certainly didn’t have any clear job prospects seven months before graduating, but the determination that I would find something. After I was done with classes, I flew back out to Los Angeles where we were planning to live after getting married, went down to a temp agency, and explained that I had experience using computers (Word, Excel, Access), doing phone customer service and sales, and that I had a college degree. I did a few interviews and got a job as a “sales and marketing assistant” for the princely sum of $14/hr. (This was not much to live on in Los Angeles, but compared to the misery of doing phone sales for $10/hr, I was glad to get it.)

My younger sister, who hit the job market six years later with a master from Oxford in English and the ability to read Old Norse and Old English took a moderately similar route: She worked at a Starbucks for a while and taught herself to design websites so she could create a book review portal. Then she used that web design experience to get an entry level job at a law firm putting documents on the web for them.

As these stories show, it’s certainly possible to graduate college with what the 99%-er terms a “useless” degree and proceed to get a “real job”. As my experience over the ensuing ten years shows, it’s even possible to equal or surpass the fortunes of one’s compatriots who took degrees in fields like business, computer science or engineering. One must, however, be prepared to scrounge around a bit, deal with some uncertainty, and start out making half as much as some people with more vocation degrees.

This isn’t because a degree in the humanities is “useless”. I believe that learning Greek, Latin, history and philosophy was very useful to me. But it was useful to me in the sense that a liberal art is meant to be useful — in allowing one to think like a “free man”. It is not useful in the sense of providing instant and easy employment. I think that it would be helpful if colleges and departments were a little more honest about this. It would also be very, very helpful if people took it into account before blithely borrowing large amounts of money. (And if people were less blithe about borrowing so much money in order to fund college degrees, perhaps the absurd rate of tuition increase would slow down. You may be assured that one of the things allowing universities to make off like bandits is that people have the illusion that having a degree, any degree, is an automatic ticket to a “good job”.)

Kyle quote Rod Dreher who says, “If Limbaugh were any kind of serious conservative, he would be trying to figure out how we can make Classics majors employable by fostering an appreciation for the Classics — this, as a way to restore a love for and knowledge of the cultural foundations of Western civilization, as a shoring up of our cultural defenses against what Russell Kirk called ‘chaos and old night.’”

Frankly, this still strikes me as far too commercial a view. I love the classics and would not have spent my college years any other way. But because I would see classical languages and the canon of Western Literature as being things worthy of study on the part of any free man, I don’t think that the way to encourage their study is to urge that we somehow create more jobs “for classics majors”. Classics is worth studying even if the job you take will never have anything practical to do with Classical Culture. Studying classics is, fundamentally, a leisure activity. It is not practical, but it enriches the mind and spirit. Rather than having “classics jobs”, I would much rather have the people who will go on to be sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives have spent some time learning about Western Culture during their college years simply because that is the civilized thing to do. Acquiring civilization is not something which should be dependent upon someone giving us a job as a reward.

37 Responses to Rush Limbaugh vs. The Classics

  • “many people enjoy listening to him spout off, feel a certain agreement, but don’t really take him all that seriously or expect him to present a fully coherent philosophy”

    You give his listeners too much credit. I’ve met quite a few people who take Rush very seriously.

    I do agree with Rush that colleges deceive prospective students and it’s gotta stop. It’s so reminiscent of the housing bubble. Lots of people taking on loans they won’t be able to repay with the government encouraging the practice.

  • I first read Thucydides in the seventh grade, and I have read all of the Greek and Roman historians since then, most of them several times. I believe they have helped me through life by giving me greater insight into human character. However, if I wanted to make a living through my study of these historians I would quickly be on food stamps, and my family along with me. There is a distinction between studying something because it is intellectually fascinating, and engaging in a course of study to enhance someone’s value in the marketplace. This is a lesson that students need to learn rapidly as undergraduates. As an undergrad I obtained a teaching degree in social studies so I would have something to fall back on if I decided that the law was not for me. Just because you can’t make a living on it doesn’t mean that a subject area is not worthy of study, but only a fool does not realize that at the end of the educational process he has to find a job. Socrates engaged in philosophy and was a stone mason after all, although I doubt if Xanthippe thought he struck the correct balance between the two. (No money again today? You wasted it yacking with those worthless scamps Alcibiades, Xenophon and Plato didn’t you ? Why I married you is beyond me. Mother was right, you are a worthless layabout!)

  • I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…

    But yes. This idea that if you just get a college degree (in virtually any subject) you will automatically be given a “good job” without a whole lot of effort is so patently absurd I don’t understand how it got started. Heck, even the guys I knew who took eminently practical degrees like Computer Science had to search around a bit to find jobs.

    Is this the result of the “promote whether you pass or not” approach to education in this country, writ large?

  • I think you’re talking past each other, given that your solution is much what I seem to remember him proposing recently….

    I have no doubt that Rush knows that “classics” generally means “Greek and Roman.” (I’m just an ignorant kid whose highest, finalized, official schooling is high school, and I caught on to that…though my listening as an adult is MUCH later than yours, starting about 2006; I graduated in ’01 with the delightful luck of an English teacher who adored the classics enough to inflict them on his students.)

    What he’s commenting on is something I’ve observed, that folks think graduating with a degree in X means that they deserve a job in X. I see places around myself, and my folks, that are begging for folks to work– but no-one will, because it’s not their field. (example convicts picking apples at better than $20 an hour, yet the areas near them are still highly unemployed, though the convicts are no less skilled at apple picking than an English major.)

    FWIW, I don’t listen to Rush much. He repeats too much for my taste, and with the blogosphere I get news before he does most times. I also, to cut off accusations, don’t even have cable– let alone Fox News. His kabuki style annoyed me even when I did listen to him at least once a month, but I’m easily annoyed.

    Lest you take offense, I’ve been doing this for years– back in 2000, the recruiters thought that I was an anti-military nut because I pointed out that every restaurant I’d seen in our nearest community college town had a “help wanted” sign. I’m sorry, but I have no sense when it comes to delicately pointing out facts at variance with the POINT, even when I can see your point is “having a degree that makes your life better but not more profitable isn’t a bad thing.”

    Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.

  • On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back. At the time, the only Hanson I’d read was Fields Without Dreams and The Western Way of War so I was surprised to have someone I’d only run into as an academic author show up on there. I believe it was right after Hanson had written a book about the need to teach the Great Books.

  • Well, the hard truth is that Rush is right, and I say that as someone with a Ph.D in the humanities. To paraphrase what a friend once told me, they ain’t opening political science factories anytime soon. But like Darwin, I wouldn’t have chosen any other path.

    College has become a racket – a big money racket. We are telling our kids that they all have to got to college, regardless of need or merit. Then, when they get there, they are offered no guidance whatsoever.

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something. I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.

  • Paul-
    you have a point; Mr. “if you were REALLY conservative, you’d ignore your points the way I’m ignoring them and do what I want” is a topic I missed. “Fostering appreciation of the classics”– let alone to the point where graduating with a degree in them is a good choice from a career perspective– is WAY down my list as a conservative, below “basic biological understanding of the start of life” and “respect of basic human rights, such as to life, property and association.”

  • That’s more than the cart before the horse, it’s putting the elegant coach-and-four ahead of making sure folks know how to identify a cart horse….

  • “I suppose in a sense Socrates was very like a blogger…”

    True, fortunately most of us have spouses with tongues far less sharp than Xanthippe’s!

    “On a random note: I seem to recall Rush having Classics Professor Victor Davis Hanson on as a special guest ten years back.”

    My favorite living historian as well as a writer of grace and elegance. Here is a link to his books, all of which I recommend:
    http://www.amazon.com/Victor-Davis-Hanson/e/B000APGQDU

    For those interested in understanding the sad state of the Classics in most of academia today, Hanson’s, along with his co-authors’, Who Killed Homer and Bonfire of the Humanities are indispensable.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bonfire-Humanities-Rescuing-Classics-Impoverished/dp/1882926544/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5

    http://www.amazon.com/Who-Killed-Homer-Classical-Education/dp/1893554260

  • “I guess that was in the part of Reflections on the Revolution in France that nobody reads.”

    :)

  • “Irony: I qualify the “as an adult” listener to Rush because my dad listened to him when I was little. My dad is a farmhand and ranch manager who has an AA with a focus on music appreciation. He proves your point… and, I think, is a living embodiment of Rush’s.”

    My wife and I have enjoyed Rush since he came on in 1988 Foxfier, and all 3 of our kids have been exposed to him all of their lives.

  • Victor Davis Hanson deals with a question from a charter member of Tin Foil Hats R Us:

  • I don’t listen to Rush very often these days, because his “shtick” gets on my nerves after about 5 or 10 minutes. However, I did read a couple of the books he wrote in the early 90s, “The Way Things Ought to Be” and “See, I Told You So” and I liked them both. The first book, especially, is an excellent introduction to his basic thought.

    One of Rush’s favorite shticks is “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd” so one cannot assume that he is always being totally serious. In reading his allegedly anti-classical education rant above I suspect he is being heavily sarcastic at various points.

    I don’t think Rush is saying that “the classics” — meaning, the seminal literary, historic and artistic works of Western civilization going back to ancient Greece and Rome — are not worth studying. If anything they are a great way to clear the mush out of young skulls full of mush. But it all depends on how you define classical studies, and how they are taught. What if they are taught by leftist professors who despise Dead White European Males and are determined to show how racist, sexist, bigoted, etc. they are? Then your education really would be worthless.

    Also, does one really have to spend thousands of dollars on a college education to study the classics? Why not just go to the library and read them for free, or pick up some cheap copies at a secondhand bookstore? Lots of homeschoolers do just that.

    What Rush is saying, in my judgment, is simply that one is not owed or guaranteed a job simply by virtue of completing a college degree, particularly a college degree in a subject that is not directly related to vocational or professional development. If you choose to study a non-vocational or liberal arts field, you do so at your own risk, and may have to be more creative in selling yourself to prospective employers. You can’t just sit back and expect job offers to fall in your lap.

  • Agreed Elaine, on all counts except that I still listen to Rush most days. I re-read See I Told You So in grad school for a paper and found it surprisingly insightful and with more depth than I had initially remembered. It was certainly as serious an investigation of conservative principles as something like, say, Crunchy Cons.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    And Dreher – ugh. He is the embodiment of the faux intellectual. He’s the guy who grabs a Kirk quote out of some book he once read and thinks he has made a profound point. It’s great to have Dreher lecturing us on the attributes of a real conservative. I guess I missed the part of “true conservatism” where we’re supposed to change our religious affiliation every time we get mildly annoyed by something.

    That is unfair to Dreher, who had a series of severe objections, not mild annoyances. He did not process what he was reading intelligently, but what he was reading was mighty disagreeable.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people. The American Conservative‘s readers and editors will receive a daily report of his emotional upsets, which will be the price they pay for what they really want. Dreher has a long history of affiliation, disaffiliation, and accusation. If you are a bunch of sectaries, reading an distrubed middle-aged man issue indictments against the other sects is a sort of catnip.

  • That is one of the few times I have ever seen Kyle Cupp be anything but twee and evasive in print. Do you think the moderator of Journeys in Alterity might have a personal interest there?

    Kyle was a year behind me at Steubenville, so I can assure you that his degree was in English Lit, not Classics. :-) Though in a sense, the same difficulties apply. It did strike me as a rather extreme outburst for Kyle, though, underlined by the fact that his summary of Limbaugh’s rant is about as hyperbolically inaccurate in describing what Limbaugh actually says as anything in Limbaugh’s rant itself is in relation to Classics.

    Dreher is one of the better examples of Thomas Sowell’s observation that articulate people are not necessarily intelligent people.

    Ain’t that the truth!

  • I rather think this comment is largely sadly correct regarding Classics in most of academia:

    “Well, you know, it’s obvious as I look into this Classical Studies business it is obvious at one time it was something of great esteme, something of tremendous import and value. I have to think like everything else in higher education today that it’s been dumbed down. In fact, about Victor Davis Hanson, he actually created the classics program at California State University Fresno in 1984, and he was a professor there until recently. He created it because of the deterioration in the whole field because of how it’s lost whatever specialness that it once had. But I think there’s all kinds of theories to explain what’s going on in higher education. For example, it’s not new that college graduates don’t know anything. That’s not really that new.

    Now, I think it is relatively new, two generations, that worthless degrees are being constructed and taught and awarded. But generally what’s happened is that American employers have taken these ill-educated graduates and they’ve turned ‘em into productive employees after a lot of investment. But in this economy, in the Obama economy, employers don’t have the money, they don’t have the wherewithal, and they don’t have the confidence or the money or the time or the patience to go out and hire uneducated people and turn ‘em into something. Because they can’t get a handle on what faces them next year with Obamacare, what other regulations might be awaiting them.

    So this woman, or person, whoever it is, I’m assuming it’s a woman that wrote this note, Occupy Wall Street, lamenting the fact she’s gonna have zero job opportunities with her Classical Studies degree, the villain is Obama. There will be a time where the economy will be able to absorb these people again, but it’s down the road a bit. ‘Cause after you get a degree in Classical Studies, what do you need? You need Reality Studies. And Reality Studies is what you get when you get out of college and you start going to work and you learn what you don’t know. And if you don’t have the ability to admit that you don’t know anything, then Reality Studies is gonna be a cold slap upside the head, and it isn’t gonna be pleasant.”

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2011/11/01/deciphering_the_sad_sack_story_of_a_classical_studies_scholar

  • Indeed. (Confession: I hadn’t read past the first commercial break.)

    Though I will say, in defense of my old field, that Classics has held up far better than other fields (history, literature, etc.) against the silliness which has come to pervade the Humanities. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s necessarily grounded in actually learning Greek and Latin and actually reading ancient texts. People sometimes try to get into all sorts of trendy analysis after that, but the fact that everything has to start with the language and the texts is a big help in keeping it sober and rigorous.

  • Well said Elaine. Apparently Kyle missed the class on sarcasm during his classical studies period. Rush was indeed “demonstrating absurdity by being absurd”. Just because you have a degree does not entitle you to a handout. You have only secured a piece of paper (degree). Get out there and work hard to accomplish whatever particular goals you set for yourself. if you wish to obtain material things on this earth then you must do so yourself and not depend upon the government or anyone else to hand you anything. If you have no interest in material things then fine. Be at peace with that. But, don’t run to the feeding trough looking for a free ride during your time on this earth. Don’t choose to be a sloth and expect to be rewarded for it. Feel free to choose whatever degree you wish but be prepared for the realities of the job market. Free enterprise and capitalism will dictate the the current job market- as they should.

  • THis was painful. First First things had comments on a post on tenure in which people were bashing medieval studies, and now classics (classics was my undergrad degree, medieval my grad). People need to be told that most of these humanities degrees directly translate into jobs in their own areas (ie. a classics job) only in academia and they require graduate degrees. I would tell students to minor/double major in classics if they are doing it mainly for self improvement/interest.

  • I studied the Classics, having translated Cicero’s Orations Against Cataline and Virgil’s Aenid in Latin class long ago. I’ve read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few other ancient writings as well. Yes, I did read some Catullus and Horace, but I kept those poems even in their Latin well away from my mother, God bless her! I even studied Koine Greek (most of which I have since forgotten – the old “don’t use it, then lose it” maxim comes to mind), and had translated St. John’s Gospel. But I never expected to directly make money off any of these things. My Mom and Dad taught me that I had to do good old fashion work. They encouraged my classical studies (except for Horace and Catullus) so that I could think like a man. And they encouraged my entry in the nuclear submarine service so that I could behave like a man. Both are essential to eventually getting a decent job that pays well, and in being a useful and responsible citizen (which I hope I qualify as). I now have to return to that job – “nukes ‘R us” – and use the grammatical and editorial skills I learned pouring over some esoteric text that Aurelius or Cicero wrote to write nuclear procedures that make sense, are simple, and can be followed by the most hopeless of engineers for whom English grammar and writing style was an art in college reserved solely for the artsy-fartsy types. ;-)

    PS, I never did go to college. Instead, I went to Naval Nuclear Power School which I am told is much worse – no keg parties, just lots and lots of studying, and then months at a time on a submarine beneath the waves. And I kept up with some of my Classical studies which enabled me to make sense of what happens when I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form, and to read the Nova Vulgata.

  • From 1962, The Changing of the Guard episode from the Twilight Zone which reminds us of two things:

    1. Sometimes the most impractical parts of our education can be very important for guiding us along in life.

    2. Teaching, when well done, can be a very noble profession indeed.

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    I can offer no defense of students who foolishly expect that getting a degree in X will mean getting a job in X (or a job, period), and if that was all El Rushbo was saying, I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I agree with you that Classics and other humanities are worth studying for their own sake, regardless of the field one goes into, but, commercialist though I may be, I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

  • I’d have no complaint. Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    For the sake of precision, what he said in the quoted passages which would indicate he held to this ‘fantasy’ was as follows:

    “Socialism as a remedy. They demand that everybody else take care of them — and, my friends, this is not an accident.”

    It is not immediately clear from this sentence what he considers whose intentions and plans to be. (In any case, if you are on the air for – what? – fifteen hours a week, you are bound to make ill-considered remarks from time to time).

  • I figured I’d get a response from you, Darwin.

    By all the gods, have I become so predictable?

    Instead, the voice of the EIB network invented this fantasy world in which the Classics are part of a clever plot to make future generations dependent on a socialist state. I’m not so optimistic to believe his avid followers won’t take this fiction for reality.

    I’m not at all clear that’s what he was saying — especially now that I’ve read on past the first commercial break. It sounds to me more like a general claim that encouraging people to have unmeetable expectations out of life in regards to job prospects will encourage people to turn to the state to solve their problems. This is, perhaps, a bit conspiracy minded, but given that some have been suggesting in connect with the OWS movement that if people can’t be guaranteed a good job when they graduate college than then “the system” clearly needs to be changed in order to do so, I’m not sure it’s entirely fantastic.

    I also agree with Rod Dreher that our society would be improved if social interest in the Classics were such that more Classics majors could pursue work studying and fostering appreciation for the classics. Really, this seems a prerequisite for the influence of the classics you’d like to see upon people in a variety of fields. You want sales managers and advertising writers and loan officers and customer service representatives to know a thing or two about Homer and Hesiod? You need a lot of scholars who understand the Classics and can teach them effectively.

    I suppose. Perhaps much of it is that I’m not generally sanguine about the prospects of getting people excited about a topic simply by telling them, “You should be excited about this! That would allow people to make a living writing books for you or giving lectures to you!”

    In my own little way, I try to do my part by talking about and writing about Classical culture with those I know. I’m not really sure what, beyond that, Dreher expects people to do. Though Limbaugh does get in a pitch further down for Victor David Hanson’s writing, someone who comes fairly close to being a Classicist crossing over into general popular writing. (Part of the problem, to my mind, with Dreher’s expecation is that greater interest in the Classics might translate to a minutely increased number of figures such as Hanson rather than a vast number of well employed young Classicists.)

  • Reading through these comments, I would wager that many of the OWS fleabaggers and their supporters among the liberal elites would not know Cicero from Plato, must less be able to understand what Cicero was driving at in De Officiis or Paradoxa Stoicorum, or what Plato was driving at in The Republic or The Statesman. And if they did understand, then they wouldn’t agree in most cases. I suppose the same is true of most conservatives. Alas, we have been done educated into imbecility.

  • The only memorable piece of writing that I can recall from Rod Dreher was the time he said in the comments at Amy Welborn’s former blog that he’d like to kick the chancellor of the Diocese of Rockford, IL in the privates.

    Yeah, real high-brow stuff.

  • “What am I going to do with my degree in philosophy? Open a shop and sell concepts?” asked the young lady. The study of the [Greek and Latin] must be done for the intellectual pleasure and value derived from them. In England decades ago, the study was required to get a job in the Foreign Office. They were thought to develope one’s thinking ability; and also one’s writing style, so important for short and coherent dispatches. [Consider Veni, vidi, vici].
    A grevious flaw in the study of the Classics is that these studies have pushed aside the study of Mediaeval Latin and Greek, which among other things is much simpler and clearer than the vagaries of Ciceronian oratory. That Latin was spoken and written for far longer than “classical” Latin. Much fine poetry, much great thought, much scientific theory was written in Latin down to the 18th Century, Samuel Johnson on his visit to Paris conversed in Latin with several French scholars. The Renaissance was Latin speaking phenomenon.

  • Frankly common sense simply sees that Rush was dealing with the situation of getting jobs….where the jobs are in greater abundance. It’s a discussion of practicality and expense and frankly motivation, using his own experience. You can get a background in the classics without an expensive college formation in such subjects that don’t have a lot of slots out there for their purity alone. My cousin did classic studies as an aside to his medical studies just for personal interest. So I don’t see a reason for such consternation other than one might feel personally upset because he spent time and trouble to follow his own personal interest and wishes to defend it from criticism. But I wouldn’t term practical criticism as “blather” or a need for a personal attack. I would think the wisdom of the “classical” teachings would itself advise against such reponses!

    Yes, it certainly is “possible” to graduate with such subjects being the principal study and “get a job”, but it is also wise to get the practical picture before adding to one’s debt for a happier future. I have to wonder even about certain Catholic long time bloggers, their chosen “fields” for life work, who wish to be considered knowledgeable via “opinions” on a number of subjects, but who consequently must beg for funds to support their families from readers who themselves may be working 2 or 3 jobs, not esp. to their liking, in order to first take care of their main responsibility as fathers and husbands!!

  • Elaine beat me to the punch by a long way.

    If I had been more creative (which is kind of ironic when you’re a performing artist), I probably could have gotten to this point without a college degree. Sure, audition committees probably feel more comfortable with somebody who has an institution’s seal of approval, but is it strictly necessary? Not always. Are there ways around it? Yes, for the determined individual, there are. If you can deliver, consistently, reliably, and at the highest level, you will be hired regardless of any letters by your name. The main advantage of college for me was that it put me in close proximity with a lot of peers in my field for an extended time. The vast majority of the work I’ve gotten has been through those relationships and connections. It was more convenient to have it all packaged like that — and naturally, more expensive.

  • rosie, leaving aside particular examples in the blogosphere or otherwise, you introduce a fair point. There is a reason why we call it “work.” Most adults work dutifully in jobs they do not especially like for one reason — the money. People need to support their families and try to accumulate a little security in the process if possible. Some people instead opt for occupations that they find fulfilling, even if less remunerative. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong for them to complain or expect others to provide for them. Very few people truly marry their vocation with their avocation, and those that can do so successfully are truly blessed. Many of these “occupiers” seem to think they are entitled to do this, and that is naive and selfish. Of course, their enablers have been parents and other boomers who keeping repeating that silly mantra “find your passion.” The idea that one is entitled to make a living by doing whatever one finds interesting and fulfilling is obnoxious. Tell that to a “pricing strategist” at Pepsi.

  • Now now Mike! There might be a couple of us around here who happen to think being a pricing strategist is much like marrying a vocation with an avocation (even at Pepsi!). :) Granted, we may be odd birds, but (I think I speak for both of us here) there was no prior interest in the field and the work was taken as a means to food on the table, but have since developed a significant enough interest to call it a passion.

  • By his own admission, Rush does his thing for the money. It seems that he also believes his unwashed brand of free-market, limited-government opinions are the best overall for the majority of the people.

    The kicker: the liberals, e.g., Obama-worshiping geniuses that can’t find work like the ones at #OccupyFAIL, give him so much to talk about.

    Limbaugh’s not the only person raising the “higher education bubble” issue. See Instapundit’s periodic entries.

    Here is one of my “take-aways” from reading the Classics: In stressful situation, I often ask myself, “What would Odysseus do?” In other words, think about why he was the only one to get home to Ithaca. Although, I think that killing all the suitors was, ahem, “overkill.”

  • I sometimes listen to Rush and I enjoy his program. I accidentally tuned in back in the early 90’s and found that his views are sometimes my views. I especially loved his early satire. Remember the timber updates. He has a good work ethic, makes tons of money and is annoying at times. Just turn it off if it sends you over the edge. One of my daughters graduated with a major in political science and a minor in history. She took the law exams, passed and said she would never want to be a lawyer. I said get a job, any job. Find work because you have to support yourself. She started in a small communications business, applied and finished her masters degree at a local university and through the years has worked herself into a very good position with a fortune 500 company in the field of energy. College can be a boondoggle. Students entering should always think about how they can apply their studies to the real world.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

  • I don’t get the animus against Rod Dreher. Granted, he’s a personal friend of mine, but I generally find that he has more interesting things to say on any given day than just about any other blogger anywhere.

    Well, he is not a personal friend of mine, so I just have to react to what he writes. Some of those who contribute here locked horns with him for years at Open Book. Others just observed his shtick.

    1. It is exceedingly imprudent to remark without qualification on what you read in the newspapers about criminal prosecutions or civil disputes. It tends to provoke even more irritation when you a putatively a journalist and supposed to evaluate things with a skeptical ear, no?

    2. What your gut tells you does not matter much. Emotional freight (yours or someone else’s) is not probative.

    3. If you have a habit of framing something in terms of the embarrassment or upset it causes you, you tend to alienate people.

    —-

    4. More particularly, the most salient problem associated with the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was as follows: uncorroborated accusations delivered 15 years after the fact are very difficult to evaluate in a satisfying way. That was not the only vector operating in diocesan chanceries, but it was perhaps the most powerful one. Also, one’s sense of plausibility does change given experience. A bishop who has in his files four or five accusations accumulated against priests in the previous 40 years (the mode in 1978) will likely listen with a different kind of ear than a bishop who has received four or five accusations in the previous 18 months (the mode 10 years later). In addition, a mass of accusations against priests is indicative of a general problem. It is not very helpful in evaluating specific cases, any more than crime statistics help you dispose of specific indictments.

    I am not sure Leon Podles ever acknowledged any of the foregoing. Rod Dreher did once in regard to a priest he knew personally. Having faced the issue once, he then stopped facing it, and returned to being irked, bored, and impatient with anyone who raised the matter. Interfered with his narrative.

    5. The vicissitudes of life, public and private, commonly cause people who are not completely pig-headed to make incremental adjustments to their worldview. Some people make radical adjustments, though usually not in middle-age. This sort of experience should temper your vehemence.

    6. With regard to the above, and more generally, if your default mode is one of accusation, you tend to alienate people.

    7. Also with regard to the above, and more generally, if your priority seems to be one of appearance (being seen with x, y, or z), it tends to be alienating. Lack of a certain bravery under fire tends to be alienating as well.

    8. A great many of us are hypocrites in large matters and small, including yours truly. When an obnoxious advocate of child safety and the simple life mentions off-hand that all the windows in his house are painted shut and he has the a/c running 24/7, one is amused (if one was previously alienated; struck dumb otherwise).

    9. Whittaker Chambers did not claim to have invented his own dispensation in political thought, crunch crunch.

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .