pressure from below to the “revolutionary” trends of then70’s. When I first came into contact with Americanneducation, in the very early 50’s, I was struck by the myriadndemands addressed to schools and colleges by pressurengroups like businesses, banks, civic clubs, and advertisers,ndemands that servile school boards immediately translatednas “courses” in the curriculum. Thus I was not at allnsurprised when, 20 years later, the pressure started comingnfrom rebels with or without a cause, then from minorities,nfeminists, gays, and other radicals. Schools which hadnyielded to the local supermarket (they called it “consumerneducation”) or to car dealers and police (they called itn”driver’s education”), easily took the leftward turn, adjustingntheir curriculum to new commands issued by BlacknPanthers or pedophiles. “Higher” education (by now innquotes) automatically followed the trend. It even providednthe “leadership” (quotes again). I remember a panel discussionnin the 60’s, where a high-school principal boasted ofn”120 courses” offered at his school. I equally remember thenchairman of the philosophy department at a northwesternnuniversity who proudly announced that his courses covernthe latest in the field.nToday, as a report in the Wall Street ]ournal has it,nuniversities congratulate themselves on the popularity ofncourses on the Vietnam War, drawing “capacity crowds.”nAs yesterday’s youth begin to vote, it is explained by severalnhappy deans, “they want to know whether current foreignnpolicy is a viable one.” Other groups also congratulatenthemselves because now the textbook industry too gets innhigh gear (the WS] explains); the market opens to just aboutnanything on Vietnam; and everybody, including PresidentnReagan and the veterans, is satisfied. (Let me remark thatnwhere education is taken seriously, 50 years must passnbefore history may focus on past events. Otherwise, coursesncan only consist of half-baked information and the confrontationnof passions.)nThe whole process has nothing to do with education,nhigher or otherwise. The slogan has turned into reality:nGive them what they want to hear, or rather, to buy. ButnVietnam on the academic agenda is not a fortuitous item.nCompare it with what high schools offer, taken fromnanother report: courses on alcohol and drug abuse, abortion,nsuicide, nuclear war, homosexuality and rape, preandnextra-marital sex, witchcraft, illegal behavior, contraception,ncommunism. This is worse than brainwashing: It isnthe systematic dismantling of mental and moral faculties.nYet, by no means is it a deviation from the earlier, but stillnongoing, policy of teaching students how to open a banknaccount and how to behave on a date. The overall guidelinenfor schools, colleges, and universities is to deal with socialnproblems as they arise, following the sacralized principlenthat only the instantiy experienced phenomenon has value,nand even that on the most vulgar plane of responses tonstimuli.nWe recognize here not so much the effect of televisionnbut the fact that television too is a product of the publicnobsession with the frivolous, the “what works,” the immediatelynsensational and salable. Public hypocrisy insists thatntelevision is guilty of programming violence and of gluingnchildren to the screen for an average of 40 hours a week.nThe Athenians too sat through half-a-day in the theater.nand not all plays were written by Sophocles. (Of course, thisnwas only once or twice a year!) Nor is violence on TV per sento be condemned, since it merely caters to a puritanicalnsociety which, too timid and soul-denying to display genuinenemotions, plunges in blood as a substitute. Television isna product of society exactly the same way the school is: anscrapbook for a disjointed culture.nThe consequences for students are devastating. In mynown observation, confirmed by all those I know and whonare willing to speak frankly in private (let’s not close our eyesnto intimidation in our free society), they are uninterested,nlistless, and uncurious—not only about ancient and farawaynthings, but about current affairs and issues also, sincentheir originally receptive minds have been thwarted, fooled,nunderfed. The tiny handful that has resisted countereducationnfeels isolated, marginalized, locked up in a psychiatricnclinic for nonconforming to the average, the mediocre, thenclichemonger. Hence, their knowledge too is sporadic,nunsystematized by a general grasp which could only comenfrom a well-ordered curriculum leading them throughnelementary, secondary, and university education. Thencontent of their knowledge, acquired after Herculean travails,nresembles the nucleus of a cult, without communicationnwith adherents of other cults. This near-absence ofnlinks with other fields of knowledge and their adepts reducesnthe striving of the better-endowed student to intellectualnloneliness and makes him deficient in articulation: There isnaround him no educated milieu where ideas could benprobed, exchanged, tested, challenged. For a member ofnthis clandestine minority to excel, the cost may be innernexile or moral collapse.nWithout hesitation, I call this state of affairs and the fatenreserved to its victims an immense disaster, an intellectualnholocaust. The conspiracy against a real education mayncount on the participation of powerful vested interests:npopular magazines and television, the culturally pretentiousnpress, the textbook, the audio-visual and the electronicnindustries, the bureaucracies and the politicians, the governmentnbranches and the university oiircials—none ofnwhich would know how to prepare, and what to do with, anneducated man. This is why all of them praise such lowestncommon denominators as television programs which arenideologically safe and through which the collective BignBrother can watch himself in action. Thus everythingnconverges to produce the average man, our society’s ideal,nwith the correct doses of work-and-leisure, mixed accordingnto the mediocrity-formula. Once again, this is achieved notnwith strong-arm methods but by not discriminating betweennone course and another on a hierarchically ordered tablet,nby catering to every whim, by persuading the studentcustomernthat a mechanical existence is better than annexamined life.nI needed this mini-essay to reach the topic I had beennasked to write about: What should a university teach? I verynmuch wonder if the question has a meaning in our presentnsituation. We no longer have universities, places havingnfaith in a higher Being to whom links—through contemplation,ncreation, and knowledge—are sought by the teachingnand learning participants. We have only, whethernstate-owned or private, monstrous production lines whichnaim, underneath the Tartuffian discourse, at the quickestnnnAPRIL 1987 /17n