Ah, back to school. The crisp autumn air, the stroll down the Quad, the hustle and bustle of campus. Time for Boola Boola, Hoya Saxa, Chu-Chu-Ra-Ra and all the rest. But this year, for the first time, Joe College sets foot on campus with an unbeatable ally: a fresh copy of The Undercurrent.
And not a moment too soon. Arrayed against Joe College is a set of unprecedented obstacles threatening to derail his education and his future.
So what are these obstacles? Bush administration budget cuts? An uncertain labor market? That crusty old dean? Far from it. The leading threat to your future is your college education…or lack thereof.
The threats range from the mundane to the metaphysical.
Sitting in your dorm room, you now face innumerable distractions in competition with your education: LiveJournal, Facebook, fall rush, video games, parties, and the roommate stumbling home at 4AM. It takes discipline to get an education these days. At The Undercurrent we love to see you in focus, so we gladly offer up advice on how and why to integrate work with fun (“Studying Your Way to Ecstasy”).
But even the disciplined student faces a dizzying array of choices on campus, and needs the wisdom of experience to guide him. Choosing a student organization is a case in point. All too many campus clubs seem to be geared towards students seeking escape from the responsibility of education, rather than a complement to it; towards taking comfort in an artificial group identity, rather than shared values and interests. Thus The Undercurrent furnishes you with a handy shopper’s guide to these clubs (“The Collectivist Club”).
Sadly, when it comes to mind-expanding coursework, the pickings are slim. Students at today’s universities have the opportunity to excel in a range of classes related to the professions, but when it comes to the humanities–the cornerstone of a proper liberal education–our educators have defaulted on cultivating in us a concern for the universal and the timeless as expressed in the Western canon. It is little wonder, then, that students lack a historical perspective that allows them to evaluate even the most crucial issues of the day (“9/11: How Our Teachers Help Us Forget”).
Faced with an endless parade of readings in the folklore of Kung tribesmen and the sociology of the Trobriand Islanders, is it any wonder that we take refuge in the (by comparison) larger-than-life and epic tales of one young Harry Potter? A schoolboy like ourselves, Potter convinces us that even in the face of great obstacles, growing up can be magical. If only the cultural critics of the left and right (begrudgingly admitting their own affection for Potter) could understand why this is true (“Harry Potter and the Half-Stumped Critics”).
But we can’t expect the cultural left and right to understand literature, not when they don’t even want to understand the basic tenets of the scientific worldview. The imminent convergence of religious and postmodernist forces against all that is holy and rational grows more ominous, even as we speak (“The Anti-Science Convergence”).
Say what you want about the postmodernists, but some of us think they’re too silly ever to make much of a real difference. The religious right, on the other hand, has centuries of experience to draw on in laying waste to the values of the intellect. From the Inquisition to the Scopes Trial, religion has threatened the values of liberal education and returned with a vengeance even after its many temporary respites (“Freedom From People of Faith”).
But fear not, young scholar. There is much to learn in college, if you approach it with the right attitude, armed with the proper principles. At The Undercurrent we hope to supply you with these principles as we have learned them from Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.