"What is the Matrix? Control."
This essay was originally written by Daniel A. Nagy and published on his Facebook page on July 7th, 2015. It is the second part in a series. The first part is available here: http://fare.livejournal.com/184653.html. Both parts were originally published on facebook: Part 1, Part 2.
In that first part, I have discussed the so-called "independent media", the seeming conspiracy of mass-media workers, especially, but not exclusively journalists, in creating and perpetuating a virtual reality by biased reporting and analysis, serving the interests of the International Community™. I have argued, that there is no need for these people to actually conspire or to be in the service or the pay of some shadowy background power; they are merely following their own perceived interests and their own thirst for power and status.
In this second part, I am going to discuss another very important institution of power and its nexus with Independent Media™:
Student Activists™ and Community Engagement
As the cynical proverb goes, those who get through higher education by studying are doomed to get through life by working. However, there are plenty of other things one can do at university, some of them commonly denoted by the nebulous term "community engagement", ranging from participating in university-based organizations like the Student Union to doing volunteer work for various organizations in the non-profit sector, community organizing and direct political action.
It is "community engagement" where the most power-thirsty and politically ambitious among the students get the opportunity to network with all the right people. It is in these institutions, where they get their first real-life experiences of the workings of power, politics and corruption.
While all political and religious movements worth their salt do their best to gain a foothold at campuses, the International Community™'s grip on the better universities around the world seems inescapable. Conversely, whenever some other politicised group manages to gain the kind of pervasive influence on a campus typically enjoyed by the International Community™, such as introducing entire fields of studies with a political agenda, directly influencing salaries and scolarships and so on, the school immediately sinks in all academic rankings, starts losing out on the best students and faculty. It becomes little more than a training ground for the next generation of its political masters and a propaganda outlet masquerading as an institution of higher learning. Its real scientific output dwindles.
Not so with the International Community™! The fact that a university offers advanced degree programs in subjects like "gender studies" or "international relations" or "political science" does not, by any means, reduce the value of its physics, history or law degrees. The fact that its students are regularly doing the footwork for political campaigns and revolutions (both at home and abroad) is surprisingly reconcilable with academic excellence, albeit typically achieved by a very different part of the student body (with the exception of the aforementioned politically charged subjects). So, who are these foot soldiers of the International Community™ and what motivates them?
At first, just like in the case of media, it seems like a vast conspiracy. Surely, these agents are planted by some shadowy organization? Well, if you state that much in public, you are only going to make a fool of yourself. They all went through the regular recruitment process, and even if there were some strange irregularities (that actually happens more often than people are willing to admit), there is usually no third party to them; just the prospective student and school officials. Now, there might be some institutionalized "irregularities", such as formal or informal minority quotas and other preferences that might have helped these students get in, and you would surely find the International Community™ throwing its full weight behind these policies, but again, no shadowy puppet masters are pulling the strings, everything happens quite transparently, in broad daylight, so to speak.
Student activists are primarily motivated by an unsatiable thirst for power. It is regarded as the stepping stone to positions of greater power, such as journalism, diplomacy, politics and academic administration. The funding keeping these people from accidentally doing something productive in case they get hungry comes from a variety of sources; some of it is scholarships and stipends from other branches of the International Community™, but relying primarily on such direct payments would make the link too obvious. A far more common way of keeping activists paid is by pretending that the usual side shows of their activism, such as journalism, photography or art are worth paying for. For example, instead of paying them directly for participation in demonstrations and for bringing in more people, they are going to get paid for the pictures they take and the articles they write about the event, so that they, too, can believe that they are doing all the footwork of political activism out of pure and noble conviction. However, they do not need to take one minute off their activism to put bread on their plate. The quality of their journalistic or artistic output is not very relevant at this stage.
As we can see, there is no mysterious secret conspiracy here: news organizations (a.k.a. Independent Media™) has both the means and the motivation to recruit willing students for doing activist footwork for protecting and spreading the political system that keeps them enormously powerful. Ambitious students, on their part, constitute both a talent pool for future recruitment and a rich source of cheap labor.
In our next installment, we will look at why and how university faculty are not only tolerating but often encouraging such parasitic activities on campus. Again, without puppet-masters, entirely out of their own self-interest.