VIEWSrnTo Hell With Collegernby John LukacsrnIask my readers not to be shocked by the title of this essay.rn”To Hell With Culture” was the title of my last essay publishedrnin Chronicles, in September 1994. Readers of it saw thatrnI was not an enemy of culture; and now I am not an enemy ofrnhigher education. I wish merely to emphasize that the problemsrnare wrongly stated. Culture is not being threatened, butrncivilization is—for many reasons, one of them being the acceptedrnidea that culture is of a higher order than civilization.rnAnd now it is not colleges that are threatened, but intelligencernand civility—for many reasons, among them the lopsided beliefrnthat these virtues are the outcome of higher education. Thernopposite is true: the quality of higher education depends on thernrespect that people have for intelligence and civility.rnAllow me to begin with a long-range view. In the histories ofrngreat nations universities were seldom important. The universitiesrnof Italy had little to do with the art and the literature ofrnthe Renaissance. At the peak of the Elizabethan Age, the influencesrnof Oxford and Cambridge were nugatory. During thern18th century, the university of France was creaking and antiquated;rnthe influence of the Sorbonne on the French Revolutionrnin 1789 was nil. Yet those were glorious periods in the historyrnof those nations.rnIn the 19th century, there came a change—the rise of universalrneducation, among other things. Among them were thernpractices, the curricula, and the structures of higher educationrnin Germany—adopted and emulated in many places of thern]ohn Lukacs is the author of two forthcoming books, The Hitlerrnof History (Knopf) and A Thread of Years (Yale UniversityrnPress).rnworld, including nations that were unrelated and unfriendly tornGermany. In many cases the results—the adoption of the Germanrnmiddle-school curriculum and of universities that trainedrnspecialists—were salutary, even though the German system ofrnmental training was forced at the expense of what could berncalled character education.rnThe evolution of higher education in America was unique.rnMore than 100 years ago it evolved into a compound of Englishrnand German influences and structures; the college system wasrninherited from the British Isles, and universities followed thernGerman model of specialized graduate training. (In this sense,rnit may be argued, “multiculturalism” began not after the 1960’srnbut at least two generations earlier.) The American college’srnorigins were English, including its nomenclature, such as thernBachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The graduate schools of thernuniversities adopted the German model, with the Ph.D. degree.rnYet these, though important, were but secondary phenomenarnwithin the enormous rising tide of universal, or nearuniversal,rneducation. This involved most of the nations of thernWestern world, too; but what was peculiarly American was thernmultiplication of educational institutions beyond anythingrncomparable elsewhere. By 1880, a state such as Ohio had aboutrn70 colleges and universities—perhaps half as many as all of thernrest of the wodd combined. In 1955 Herbert Hoover wrote:rn”With only about six percent of the wodd’s population we havernalmost as many youth in our institutions of higher learning asrnthe rest of the world put together. We could probably enumeraternmore libraries and more printed serious work than the otherrn94 percent of the people of the earth.” Four years before thisrnemanation of Progressive optimism, T.S. Eliot wrote: “Wern14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn