In his 1942 swan song, The New Leviathan, dying British philosopher-historian R.G. Collingwood called the life of the mind “a magic journey.” Remarkably free of illusions regarding the life of the university, however, Collingwood argued for “domesticating” professors, rather than being subject to them. But things have only gotten worse since then. Whether “public” or “private,” today’s university might more aptly be termed an “antiversity,” where reason, science, evidence, and debate are held in Thrasymachean contempt, while repression, privilege, pseudo-science, and violence are lionized. Public and private campuses alike are dominated by massive government subsidy and coercion. This is particularly true in New York.

Take, for example, the City University of New York (CUNY). With the departure last September of CUNY’s embattled chancellor, W. Ann Reynolds, some observers thought this once great institution, with an enrollment of 210,000 students, might yet be reformed from within. The 20,000 full-time employees who live large at the taxpayers’ expense in CUNY’s $4.4 billion-a-year patronage mill have had a generation to consolidate the culture of failure established in 1970 with the policy of “open admissions.” A bread-and-circuses response to fears of black race riots, open admissions guaranteed acceptance at CUNY to every graduate of New York City’s public schools.

CUNY’s Asphalt League of urban higher education will be reformed from without, or not at all. Among the obstacles to internal reform are “bilingual” (read: English-free) Hostos Community College. Over 65 percent of CUNY’s students at four-year colleges, and 87 percent of its community college students, fail tenth and 11th-grade-level examinations and require remediation in reading, writing, and/or math. The community college graduation rate is 1.3 percent after two years, and the senior college rate under nine percent after four years. Thousands of “college-level” courses require no English fluency, while hundreds of classes are given entirely in Spanish. Activist professors seek to abolish all grading and all testing in English. CUNY alumni have the lowest passing rates on law boards and teacher certification exams (yet comprise over 80 percent of the city’s public school teachers, and continue teaching despite failing the exam) in the state of New York. Student and staff goons routinely intimidate faculty, students, and administrators. The adjunct “gypsies” who comprise 75 percent of CUNY’s faculty are exploited and abused. Administrators and professors assume the racial inferiority of the black and Hispanic students who make up 80 percent of CUNY’s student body. Finally, CUNY leaders vehemently oppose students on welfare performing even 20 hours a week of workfare activity. All of these problems derive from open admissions and its underlying welfare mentality.

Confronted in 1993 with a tearful, angry white woman who had just flunked a remedial reading final for the second consecutive semester, I realized why such courses are a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Aside from their childish level, they assume that reading is some sort of specialized skill, like welding, as opposed to a way of life. Meanwhile, reading courses are geared towards “students” who are indifferent or hostile to the written word. The most prolific reading textbook writer, John Langan, and the department heads who assign Langan’s books, refuse to admit that you cannot teach welding to people who are anti-welding. CUNY’s defenders insist that people who despise the intellect have a “right” to a higher education.

Any slender hopes I still held out for internal reform were dashed upon encountering neoconservative “reformers” within CUNY’s ranks. Just as multiculturalists think that quoting Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire makes them revolutionaries, neoconservatives think that dropping Allan Bloom’s name will make them classicists. At an almost empty meeting of the predominantly neoconservative National Association of Scholars, a request by CUNY Vice-Chancellor Herman Badillo (a City College of New York alumnus) that reform-minded instructors research their schools’ practices inspired only a complaint from a tenured Brooklyn College professor that the demands of teaching four courses per semester and sitting on the odd committee were giving full-timers “heart conditions.” These slackers have lifetime jobs, paying $60,000 to $110,000 per year, plus ample benefit and pension packages, for perhaps a 40-hour week—with five months’ vacation time!

The professor responded to Badillo, “We have to work here,” explaining that some students might not appreciate being criticized by their instructors. CUNY’s full-time professoriate is composed of genteel OPU (overpriced private university) educated “aristocrats” of all colors who look upon their students alternately with terror and condescending fascination. Full-timers pander shamelessly to—and pass—student bullies, sometimes sicking them on colleagues. Yet seeing their students as genetically inferior punks is essential to maintaining full-timers’ fragile self-esteem.

CUNY adjuncts are paid an average of $2,300 per course on a piecework basis (still twice as much as many New York-based adjuncts make at New Jersey schools), receive no benefits, and must hustle every semester anew for work. (CUNY once commonly hired its own alumni as full-time faculty, but now almost never does.) Ruthless department heads routinely make empty promises of work to some adjuncts, while other adjuncts quit just as a new semester begins, or walk out on ongoing classes. Recently, a full-timer at Bronx Community College quit two weeks before midterms. At the replacement teacher’s first class, a late-arriving, 240-pound black man who refused to identify himself lectured the white professor, “You got an attitude!” The following morning, a student sobbed to the department’s secretary that she had flunked the same course, a graduation requirement, under two separate professors the previous semester. Certain that the new man would turn tail and run (he didn’t), she feared she would never graduate. The professor’s black female department head then sought to humiliate him in front of his students. Meanwhile—surprise, surprise—security guards and custodians reported recurring violent incidents in that department’s classes.

Thanks to the nationwide policy of “mismatching,” chronicled by Thomas Sowell in Inside American Education, CUNY is at the bottom of a pyramid of black failure. For over 30 years, admissions officials have systematically “mismatched” black applicants, admitting them to schools for which they were unqualified, and thus setting them up for failure. As a result, black graduation rates remain at 29 percent nationally, half the white rate. Even mediocre American-born black students avoid CUNY like the plague. They know that more prestigious schools are sure to admit them and generously subsidize them as well. Their presence, however brief, boosts “elite” school minority enrollment figures and thus officials’ self-esteem, while contributing to black student bitterness and a privately acknowledged belief in black inferiority among white students, instructors, and administrators.

Prior to 1970, City College of New York (CCNY), the Harlem-based “jewel in CUNY’s crown,” had tougher standards than Harvard College and produced more Nobel laureates than any other American undergraduate institution. Early in this century, desperately poor Jewish boys pursued profane learning with a religious fervor at CCNT. At the same time, as James Traub reported in City on a Hill: Testing the American Dream at City College, CCNY’s neurotic, argumentative Jews utterly lacked the social skills so prized by the Ivy League. They combined intellectual brilliance with a working-class toughness since buried under layers of arriviste (think: Woody Allen) and multicultural revisionism. In A History of the Jews in America, Howard M. Sachar recalled that the same slums that spawned CCNYs first Jews also produced many of the era’s dominant boxers (e.g., Al McCoy, Abe “Battling” Levinsky, Benny Leonard) and most vicious gangsters (“Dutch” Schuitz, Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, Abe “Kid Twist” Reles).

Initially, two merit-blind patronage systems blocked the path of Eastern European Jews: the Ivy League/Seven Sisters world run by WASP “bluebloods” and New York’s shanty Irish Catholic system, run through Tammany Hall’s Democratic machine. As Chris McNickle chronicled in To Be Mayor of New York, in making hiring and promotions for city jobs incumbent upon passing objective tests, the 1916Civil Sendee Law broke the Irish monopoly. CCNY was the path to those merit-tested jobs. Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic admissions and hiring quotas instituted during the 1920’s at the nation’s predominantly Protestant private colleges ensured that over 90 percent of CCNY’s male students and Hunter College’s female students were Jews, and caused New York to have the nation’s best-educated corps of public school teachers.

As Roger Starr observed in The Rise and Fall of New York City, a series of activist mayors, most notably Robert Wagner, Jr. (1954-1966), squandered the postwar economic boom on massive social programs and then mollified the middle class by creating entitlements and administrative jobs to inflate its already rising standard of living. New York’s Irish and Jews profited most from those emoluments. Moving to the suburbs, they sent their children to overpriced private universities: the Irish kids to Catholic schools, and the Jews to the Ivy League, which had dropped its anti-Semitic quotas. During the fiscal crisis of 1974-75, the state put the city in the receivership of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, and CUNY began charging tuition.

Prior to World War II, there was no CUNY system. After the war, returning soldiers received hard-earned educational benefits under the C.I. Bill. But the typical veteran was no rocket scientist. New colleges accommodated him. Riding the national wave of public-college boondoggles, and buoyed by the cult of professionalism, the civil rights movement, and the technocratic “multiversity” movement (led by sociologist and UC-Berkeley President Clark Kerr), the city instituted John Jay (1967) and Lehman (1968) colleges, and the black colleges, York (1966) and Medgar Evers (1969). (Like the Social Gospel’s secular church, the civil rights/New Left vision foresaw the university as serving a myriad of non-cognitive functions, and ultimately revolutionizing, liberating, and saving society.) Medgar Evers proved so horrendous that it managed to lose its four-year accreditation and now is a two-year school, much to the chagrin of its conspiracy-obsessed, Afrocentric keepers. The same period also saw a boom in community colleges: Bronx (1957), Queensborough (1958), Kingsborough (1963), Borough of Manhattan (1964), Hostos (1968), LaGuardia (1971), and Staten Island (1976, but since expanded to include both two and four-year components). As a matter of economic survival, community colleges introduced the practice of “open admissions.” Each new second-rate school further eroded the dominance of CCNY and Hunter College. The burgeoning empire was consolidated in 1961 as the centrally administered “City University of New York.”

As James Traub has noted, white labor union leader Harry Van Arsdale was perhaps the crucial ally of open admissions in the 1960’s. Initially, the children of Van Arsdale’s Catholic rank-and-file flooded into CCNY during the 1970’s, and later filled city agency and teaching jobs.

With over 50 percent of U.S. residents now attending college, Jews are disproportionately represented in the snobby student bodies and faculties of schools such as New York University, Columbia, and Princeton. If nothing else, today’s WASP-imitating, GPU Jews possess the “social skills” their forebears lacked.

Some 30 percent of OPU student rolls are composed of second-raters for whom admissions standards were waived: alumni and faculty brats, affirmative action cases, and athletes. Cheating is big business, and has been refined to a science. As a result of the growing irrelevance of intellect in academia, I often encounter OPU-trained, tenured instructors of German literature who can’t speak German, and “specialists” in German philosophy who can’t read the language.

In 1994, over 80 percent of Princeton’s graduating class received honors. Last October, CUNY Vice-Chancellor Herman Badillo’s reaction to the revelation that 50 percent of Brooklyn College’s graduating class had received honors was, “They can’t all be geniuses!” Like CUNY’s OPU-trained full-timers, Badillo had no such qualms about Princeton.

In 1996, I trained as a “rater” on the CUNY Academic Certification Examination (ACE), a future graduation requirement. In the AGE’S quantitative section, pie charts showed that fat content in the American diet had risen from an average of 12 percent in 1910 to an average of 42 percent by 1960. Many students responded that the percentage of fat had risen “30 percent.” The half-dozen OPU-trained faculty I queried all thought the preceding answer was correct.

There is a difference between the leveling socialism of a Bill Clinton, whose plan to guarantee that every American spends at least two years confined to an institution of higher education presupposes the open admissions model, and the pre-open admissions CCNY, whose socialism was limited to being tuition-free. CCNYs socialism was ameliorated by a radical meritocracy that severely limited access, provided no financial aid, had no remedial and disability-ed specialists, and no affirmative action, student social services, and feminist and racial spoils bureaucracies. CUNY’s four-year colleges now charge $3,200 tuition per year, yet thousands of their students net up to $5,000 in financial aid, under criteria that penalize work.

In the 1970’s, the civil rights vision that rationalized “open admissions” was joined with the New Left’s “race model” in the powerful hybrid of affirmative action. In making higher education universally “accessible” and its function all-embracing, these movements robbed it of cognitive content, undermining its foundational beliefs in objective knowledge and morality. The rise of the analytic delusion of philosophy as a neutral “science” and the concomitant eviction of biblical and New Testament-based philosophies from mainstream academia left philosophers impotent against two assaults. First came the New Left’s reduction of all knowledge to the power to oppress, followed by postmodernism’s nihilistic “irony” (which, while also worshipping power, explicitly denied the possibility of objective knowledge or morality). The university was refounded on the bases of privilege, bread and circuses, and naked violence.

Responding to the campus takeover of CCNY in the spring of 1968 by students and “community activists,” sociologist Daniel Bell, a CCNY alumnus, noted the ineffectiveness of collegiate remedialism and presciently predicted the ascendance of the university to the dominant institution in American life. Both states of affairs must be rolled back, and then some. For CUNY to return to something resembling a true university, all remedial, English-as-a-second-language, and ethnic and gay academic ghettoes must be demolished, non-academic “services” radically curtailed, tenure eliminated, the status of adjuncts improved, and enrollment reduced by 50 to 75 percent.

Socialist historian Russell Jacoby has complained, in Dogmatic Wisdom, of the increasing “vocationalism” of campuses dominated by business majors. The well-intentioned, articulate Jacoby notwithstanding, when “higher education” is not merely an OPU-graduate jobs program, it is a provider of economically inefficient job training. A love for the liberal arts won’t be sparked through the “correct” sort of propaganda in mandatory multicultural or neoconservative core courses taught by OPU-trained ignoramuses, but rather through diminishing the role of institutionalized mass higher education, and its primary and secondary-school counterparts. To paraphrase philosopher Erwin Edmonds’ 1940’s musings, we have a better chance of inspiring a rebirth of interest in the humanities by banning their teaching outright than by enforcing it.

In exhorting parents to educate their children at home, as his father had educated him, R.G. Collingwood anticipated the homeschooling movement. Like the love of the liberal (i.e., free) life, the love of the liberal arts will never thrive at the public trough. Such love is nourished at one’s mother’s breast, or not at