Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

18 October 2021

Retaking College Hill - The Adults Are Back by Walter Donway

This is the 5-Star Review I have just posted on 

A wonderful story of ideas, courage, reason, love, action, and commitment to reform an irrational university

Ideas have consequences.  They have life and death consequences for billions of individuals living their daily lives and pursuing their individual values.  Good ideas are not easy to identify. Very bad ideas are all too often passionately adopted by intelligent people.  Discovering good ideas and rejecting bad ideas demands a commitment to reason, knowledge of mankind’s history, and the willingness to debate those ideas with others.  We rely heavily on the education of young people to provide them with the knowledge that they may engage ideas to improve their lives, the lives of their family members, and the lives of their neighbors.  Education in America has lost its way and betrayed its mission.  This is especially true of our colleges and universities.  

Walter Donway’s new novel Retaking College Hill - The Adults Are Back takes on this most crucial issue in our civilization.  He tells a thrilling story of how a thoroughly postmodern, neo-Marxist, group-identity-centric university might be set back onto its proper education mission.  The story is one of ideas, melded with romance, and acts of courage in the face of intimidation and actual violence.  Men of reason have to confront the howling, brutal mobs that too many students and faculty have joined.

The university is an elite, historic university modeled upon Brown University, from which I graduated in 1969 and from which the author graduated in 1966.  It was in the late 1960s when many elite and many not so elite universities started to seriously take a path away from teaching the intellectual values of the Enlightenment and the history of Western Civilization, or any comprehensive and contextual history at all.  This was certainly true of Brown.  Brown has continued down this path, taking an evermore collectivist, group identity, and anti-individualist direction.

Damian, a graduate of the university returns from service in the Navy to see his father, a dean of the university. His father is alone in the university administration still committed to trying to admit the brightest and best prepared students without regard for group identities.  He is also committed to teaching the values of the Enlightenment and the history and values of Western Civilization.  He has a few, a very few, allies on the faculty.  There is a philosophy professor and a physicist on the faculty who are allies.  The physicist shares my evaluation that catastrophic man-made global warming is a failed hypothesis, so his life is threatened.  Asian and Jewish students must have several hundred points higher scores on their SATs compared to other identity groups to even have a chance of admission.  Courses have to be simplified and made subjective, rather than objective, so that intellectually less capable identity group students can pass the courses.  There is a huge administrative bureaucracy dedicated to diversity.  But worst of all, there are faculty and student groups determined that the only ideas that can be held or discussed on the campus are those of postmodernism, neo-Marxism, collectivism, group identity with oppressor/oppressed tags, anti-carbon fuel, and anti-free market ideas.

A speaker brought to the campus by the philosophy professor to give a talk opposed to these ideas is met with extreme violence.  The dean is also threatened with violence.  Fortunately, Damian has invited a SEAL friend to spend his leave with him.  His SEAL friend is able to help Damian deal with some of the violence on campus and near it.  This is a novel of action as well as one of ideas and their consequences.  It is directed primarily at thinking people, but it is not at all necessary to be an intellectual to enjoy this novel.  The characters are well-developed and just interesting people.  The main characters are people with whom you should enjoy spending some time!

Damian is an admirer of the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, as am I.  There are very brief discussions of her philosophy with Damian’s philosophy professor mentor and with his lively and beautiful girlfriend. She is a very intelligent student thoroughly committed to socialism who grew up in Israel.  Atlas Shrugged has a transformative effect upon her as she reads it to better understand Damian.  It has such an effect upon many young people who want a rational and integrated philosophy of life.  Of course, Objectivism, like all ideas, should be subject to vigorous discussion and evaluation on our college campuses.  It is Damian’s dream to become a college philosophy faculty member to assure this happens.  I wish him the best of good fortune!