Achtung, spitfeuer.

A long long time ago in a universe far far away, academia served as a lifeboat for certain individuals who though they were seriously creative thinkers, wouldn’t survive for more than five minutes in the real world. Academia itself was a niche and they were an endangered species safely barnacled within it, protected by their own colleagues, especially when they were having one of what was euphemistically referred to as their episodes. They hid them. A bitta love, a few cuddles, keep them safe.

You see, their colleagues, whom you’d categorise as extremely bright sparks in their own right, were still wise enough to know that the more God gave out with the right hand, the more he took away from other areas of you with the left one. Nobody gets all the gifts, and there’s always a price to be paid for the few ones you might be fortunate enough to receive.

Mostly you protected the blessed ones from the world, sometimes the world from them and more usually them from themselves, not only because you felt they’d deliver some interesting goodies in the end but because it was simply the decent thing to do. Days gone by I suppose.

Like Maud, when they were good, they were very very good, but when they were bad, they were horrid.

That tolerant attitude trickled down to set the tone for how undergraduates, who are still children after all, were to be viewed for a number of centuries. Their occasional outrageous behaviour was to a certain amount indulged and to some extent encouraged, because for most of them a spell at university was their first sojourn outside the parental nest and by common understanding, the fresher year was a write-off in terms of marks counting towards your degree as young people off the leash for the first time in their life learnt how to drink, have sex or simply grow up. You can rearrange those three activities in any order you like, just as they do in a chaotic fashion.

Given what used to be termed a liberal approach to education, and I use that word liberal in its original and best sense, it was one big free-for-all, with ideas jostling from every point on the compass for centre stage. Nothing was unthinkable, nothing was unmentionable, nothing was off the table and all the loves could dare speak their name. Within sensible parameters, your dissertation was marked on how cogently it was argued, rather than if the conclusions contained therein were actually in alignment with some rigid consensus or in agreement with your tutor’s views. All the guardians knew it was a glass bead game and it was the quality of the moves which were important.

It wasn’t a perfect system but it was fit to purpose, namely exposing young bright minds to ideas and more especially viewpoints they’d never encountered before, and never would in their natural habitat of Nantucket. If you’d gone to university for nothing more than just to emerge after three years clutching a degree in your sweaty hand, you’d missed the qualitative point completely.

It was a nice musty Gormenghast environment that actually produced some very creative thinking and the odd usable idea until the politicians and the academic apparatchiks themselves decided to abandon the dreaming spires for the moneychangers in the temple. Not only did it become an election promise that little Jimmy, who even on the most Christian view by his doting granny wouldn’t be one of life’s deeper thinkers, was going to university, but that it was only fair.

Once the politicians set a metric of how many kids were going to do the third level tango, the problem for the industrial educational establishment became how the hell does one with any semblance of decorum get an intellectually-challenged but some voter’s golden haired boy like Jimmy into the appropriate statistic. The answer of course was to do the dreaded dropping of standards, which everyone rants on about but I won’t go there because if you ain’t seen it yet, you never will. All that was very saleable to electorates because it plays to the everyone has to be equal principle which as we all know cannot be refuted even when it’s patently in your face wrong.

However, all stable systems when disturbed are like a spinning gyroscope you’ve poked with your finger in that they tend to regain a dynamic equilibrium, but not necessarily the one it was in before you interfered with it. Chaos rules and Heisenberg, as always, has the last laugh.

Millions of kids started going to sixth-form colleges or polytechnics which with a magic star-spangled Disney tap of the educational Fairy Godmother’s sword on their shoulder were told to arise Sir University, which would somehow make the degrees they were handing out to anyone and everyone like sweeties more credible. Everybody naturally piled their kids in because we all want them to have that cachet, but as always the question came down to who’s going to pay for this largesse?

Given the resultant explosion in the number of students, it certainly wasn’t going to be the politicians because that would involve the unpopular move of raising taxes, so the best thing to do was to get the kids to pay for it themselves by automatically brokering a loan for them with some old pal usurers from the temple.

Everyone was happy with the accommodation, except the kids who actually weren’t aware what the fuck was going on, which was that they were being introduced to the first easy step into being debt slaves.

Tuition fees not only tripled but went ten-fold, never mind the extra loans you took on just to feed yourself. Any kid who wants to do the full three years is now looking at a debt equivalent to the average person’s salary for five years, and that’s before they’ve even secured that first elusive job. It’s no wonder that only one third of them ever graduate from any course that could be called academic. As the “graduates” rolled off the mass-production educational conveyor belt, the graduate entry schemes into business were scrapped because commerce is all about the bottom line, not some bullshit about employing a load of politically correct mediocrities at premium rates. Believe it or not, businessmen are not stoopid.

The darker side of the disaster kicked in as well – the clever kids began to realise a degree would not only saddle them with huge amounts of debt, but there was also no longer any guarantee of a job even if you lasted the course. The best young minds, who should have been heading in that direction, just voted with their feet, went out into the world and got a job.

I am a product of the blue collar world. That was the true betrayal of so much that people such as I and my parents had fought heart and soul for. Higher education has now gone back to being the exclusive milieu of the rich, the well to do upper middles or the smarter examples of the welfare class sharpies who really know how to wank the system.

As the able ones were weeded out by the system, the talentless worked it for all it was worth and not only came out of it clutching a piece of paper that no longer had any real value but gradually became the people actually running what had by now become the dark satanic mills of higher education. It was the final victory of mediocrity. Hail, hail, hosanna in excelsis.

Satan Mekratrig and his fellow fallen seraphim are now in charge of Heaven. No more laying about the burning marl casting baleful looks around, they now owned the bitch’s ass and would shape its buttocks to their comfortable egalitarian ends. From now on, there would always be an official position on anything – and one and only one position by the way, or else your ass was about to become grass as well. Gradually, any dissent from the official position was punished and compliance to it rewarded by tossing the children a sprat, as if to a performing seal every time it acted as you demanded it should do. Leap, fish, leap, leap, fish, fish. Slap, slap. Leap, fish and keep on leaping.

They now leap on demand when there isn’t even the prospect of a fish in sight.

That sort of basic conditioning has by now been going on for nearly two decades and we’re so often listening to the witless cyborgs produced by it who are under the delusion they’ve had an education. I read a dissertation recently which earned a First and was appalled. Truly, madly and desperately appalled. It was like reading a dreary and rather uninspired grocery list.

All is consensus, nothing is conviction. In place of some understanding or genuine insight, we now have nothing more than convention, a bit of safe politically sexy posturing. In place of some gutsy conviction intellectualism, we now have oily Uriah Heep conformity and all the marginally smarter bunnies in the system know that’s exactly the successful game to play nowadays, and they’re of course right. Just do your porridge and get out of there with that employable degree box tickable on your résumé.

All balance has been lost, there is no dissent allowed over anything. It’s a monolith, a one party state, a one think, one viewpoint, one permissible opinion, a North Korea of the free intellect and since there’s no credible opposition surviving within the institution to somehow regain some equilibrium, the list to port now threatens to capsize the whole damn ship.

You can read this piece as some condemnation of the supposed universality of higher education by some curmudgeonly elitist old fart or even worse, a reactionary afflicted with a good old days complex. Why not go the whole hog and say I think the youth of today are not a patch on us – they’re shite.

None of that is true. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the dog’s bollocks generation.

The cream will always float to the top, and it doesn’t have to be in any academic environment either. They’re in a new world that we’d be strangers in. I can’t express the pleasure I felt this week upon hearing about the local newspaper bumming on about one of my son’s friends who was always a good rock-n-roll band member, but who not only made it through military selection but had by the votes of his fellow troopers, been awarded a distinction which has an official name but everyone calls it the soldier’s soldier award.

Recognition doesn’t get any better, believe you me. Nobody gets to vote for that one except your comrades who’ve all earned that right after surviving being put through exactly the same gruelling six months of hell. All honour to him. I couldn’t be more proud of him and he’s not my son.

Compared to him and so many other fine young men and women of the non-privileged and refusing to play the victimhood card provenance, the smug dimwit with the self-inflicted porcine ring through her nose pictured above is nothing more than a self-indulgent, cruiser-weight, pseudo-intellectual pushing thirty and hiding behind the crumbling remains of multiculturalism. Yeah, kill all the white people. Really?

Welcome to the age of the truly brainless snowflake, and happy hunting. When they get out into the real world, they’re going to be easy, help yourself everybody, there’s no fighter escort, because it’s now like that flight stabilised Heinkel one eleven cruising along with lots of people putting bullets into it but there’s no longer anyone with any fight left alive in the thing. The act of mercy would be a waste of munition.

You’d be surprised at what a few spitfires and hurricanes with the right children inside them can do.


Related articles by Pointman:


The Age of Unenlightenment.

For a friend.

Click for a list of other articles.

21 Responses to “Achtung, spitfeuer.”
  1. nofixedaddress says:

    +100 Pointman!

    In Australia my observation was that the ‘rot’ started to bubble to the surface towards the mid 70’s and began to really ‘flower’ in the 1980’s.

    Zip forward 20+ years to the 2000’s and now the 2010’s and Australia’s employment growth areas are ‘Health’ and Education’ and they just need more money spent on them and everything will be okay.

    And, of course, shut down coal mining, natural gas development and iron ore mining and we will all live in an idyllic world.

    “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”


    • Old Rooster says:

      I’d have to agree with your suggested timing. The KRudd and Gillard were both awful products of the post 1972 Australian tertiary education system. The Dawkins reforms of the late 80s fuelled the growth of tertiary education into a major industry sector that dropped standards a further order of magnitude. The later pursuit of the foreign student dollar has debased the coinage even further. I spoke several times a few years ago to an academic teaching in one of the Advanced (Graduate) schools of our National University who complained he was frequently overruled in his student assessments of Masters and PhD students by his superiors in order to avoid giving candidates failing grades, especially the overseas ones.

      By the mid 80s there were already more law students than jobs for lawyers, now we can’t be far off having more law schools than jobs for lawyers! A related phenomenum was the drift from apprenticeships for professions such as pharmacy, accounting, nursing, and the law to the degree mill.

      The time may be fast approaching for a new coinage to be minted.


  2. MishaBurnett says:

    Wait–the woman whose picture opens this article is exhorting her cohorts to kill all the white people? That seems awful risky, considering her skin is considerably lighter than mine, and folks tell me I’m white. (Isn’t it ironic–Jews finally get accepted as white just as being white becomes a bad thing. We never catch a break.)


    • Graeme No.3 says:

      Don’t worry Misha, they will discriminate against you anyway.

      “Two legs bad, four legs good” from George Orwell is now the new optimum, so those of us who have mastered walking on our hind legs will be the target of those who cannot do so (with reference to intellectual ability).


  3. Blackswan says:


    Reality bites doesn’t it? The imperative to conform explains a great deal about the culture of compliance that permeates everything about our society; it’s seeped into every aspect of our lives. And if we have the temerity to think for ourselves then some university-educated prat will introduce some Legislation or Regulation to ensure the sheeple can be herded more conveniently and in line with the Manifesto. Makes everything so much tidier – no room for recalcitrants in the 21st century.


  4. Rastech says:

    Buckminster Fuller reckoned it all went to shit with the First World War.He was one of the last ‘Old School’ trained, and saw a noticeable decline in education standards of those leaving ‘Education’, by the late 1920’s (this dramatically accelerated from the late 1960’s on).

    He blamed it on radio. As a Navy guy, pre-radio, everybody had to be able to think on their feet, and know how to deal appropriately with any new situation or posed threat. Personal responsibility, in other words.

    Once fresh orders could come through via the radio, obeying orders became paramount, and Education was adjusted accordingly. This was all well and good (maybe) while those Senior Officers on the other end of the radio, could still think on their feet.

    Things had become so dumbed down by the mid 1960’s, recruits couldn’t even pass the basic engineering tests (and for promotion you have to pass them). So instead of improving the standards, the standards were reduced so anybody could pass them. All those that had taken the prior test, could take the new test.

    A friend who did take the new test after passing the old test, was deeply unhappy with this, because those passing the new test would only be able to do the required job by accident – if they happened to have the talent and interest anyway (in which case they would have passed the old test).

    To me it is inevitable that something major is going to go wrong with this approach, at a time when we won’t be able to afford it going wrong. This is basically the same mistake Napoleon Bonaparte made with his basic education and Academy system, Basic Education for ‘cannon fodder’, the Academy system for logistics and Officers.

    It contributed greatly to his eventual defeat, imho.

    Well, this shower of shit that think they are in charge, have a major defeat in their future, and as the old saying goes, “There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth”. They deserve all they will get.


    • Blackswan says:

      Ras – They may well deserve all they will get, but it’s the rest of us who will have to deal with the consequences.


    • PeterK says:

      Rastech: My personal opinion is that we lost the cream of the crop in World War One and that is why society has spiraled downward. I often wonder how much different would our world be today if we had not lost the cream of the crop. But then again, maybe…


      • Rastech says:

        Well the ‘cream of the cream’ went not long before WW1, in the Boer War. We only had a professional Army of around 160,000 at the time (and our ‘competitors’ couldn’t understand how we could run such an Empire with so few men at arms).

        The loss of officers was so bad, remember, that khaki was adopted so that long range Boer snipers (who had been taking them out at 2,000+ yds!) couldn’t tell them apart from the rest of the troops.

        It was the Militia volunteers that boosted the numbers to fight the Boer War (units like the City of London Mounted Light Infantry, that with Redvers Buller, managed to sort out how to fight a modern war, which was creating massive problems when up against the magazine fed smokeless powder rifles, it took so long to sort out, it cost Buller the lead, and unfortunately he was replaced by Roberts and Kitchener, who were both a bit clueless – especially perhaps as regards hygiene in the climate, why the Boer refugee camps, set up after the Boers sent their families to be looked after by us while they continued the fight, suffered so badly, but no differently to the losses among the troops from the same causes, which also decimated loads of good people – just as Buller had it cracked).


  5. lectorconstans says:

    (Here from your note on WattsUpWithThat)

    I hadn’t heard of “the soldier’s soldier award” – evidently accounts of real celebrity find a cold welcome in the MSM.

    Would that be SGT George Long? (Article in the Army Times.)

    “The cream will always float to the top” – that’s the very thing Progressive Liberals are trying mightily to overcome. All must be equal. Income inequality is the root of all society’s evils. But even then, some will be more equal, as we’ve seen in the old Soviet Union and in today’s Russia).

    They want everyone to go to college. In the Old Days (a few decades ago), a high-school education signaled to employers that you were ready to take on a job of moderate difficulty, and could communicate intelligently. Those of more than modest means went on to Harvard, Yale, Princeton; those of more than modest intelligence went on to MIT and Cal Tech. A graduate of one of those institutions could expect to get a good job in industry, finance, or research labs.

    Today, a high-school education signifies very little Graduates write and speak no better than when they started. College graduates – unless they’re in one of the hard disciplines – are probably at the same level as the high-school graduates of a few decades ago.

    Not only that, but most of them are saddled with student loan debt – the one debt that’s extremely hard to discharge with bankruptcy.

    What better way to create a serf middle-class? Bound by debt to the government; hard to just pick up and move (unless you’re a self-reliant tradesman (of either physical or mental work).

    (It’s good to read someone who cites Dickens and Mervyn Peake and James Blish in one swoop.
    From a close reading, I’ve concluded that you’re of British extraction. Your “About Me provides no clue (nor need it).)


  6. Mike Singleton says:

    Guess I’m a cynical old fart, I remember that when I went to university in the early 60’s in the UK there were only enough places for 3-5% of the school leavers per year in the hard sciences and engineering. Getting a place was very competitive, just passing A-levels wasn’t enough.

    I hired a lot of graduates over my career and I was dismayed at the falling standards I observed over a 40 year period. I also developed a feeling of pity for those that had been suckered in and conned by the big business that advanced education has become.


  7. Truthseeker says:

    “Progress is like a herd of pigs, very useful but you still have to deal with all the shit.”

    – Zoltan Chivay – The Witcher (game).


  8. Pointman says:

    Christina Hoff Sommers. Interesting viewpoints, especially on an incapacity to take a moral stand by youth.



  9. Blackswan says:


    The decline in the standards of our tertiary institutions that you describe so well, is reflected in so many other facets of society, and the reason can be traced right back to our children’s earliest schooldays and the Socialist Left’s 1970s seizure of the West’s Education Systems, where egalitarianism rules all.

    On Sydney talk-back radio this week, a caller lamented his decision to close his small business and retire due to his complete inability to find decent trade apprentices. He said that young people today simply refuse to be told how to do anything. They turn up late for work (if at all), are often drug or alcohol affected, resent any instruction on how to do their jobs which they see as personal criticism, and are simply incapable of taking direction on anything. On top of that, so many of these applicants for apprenticeships seem to be functionally illiterate, unable to decipher the instruction manuals they need to even begin to learn their trades.

    It seems even some apprentice hairdressers bitterly resent having to sweep floors and make cups of coffee for clients and expect to be ‘star stylists’ within two weeks of beginning their new careers. So many are dropping out or being fired that it’s becoming a burden on small business.

    The radio station’s switchboard lit up with hundreds of other business owners calling to relate the same experiences.

    Obviously not all students fit such a sweeping generalisation, but what an indictment that such people are so exceptional. Much more likely that those who refuse to conform to the lowest common denominator are snidely labelled “over-achievers” and are not considered to be “team players”.

    It shouldn’t be “exceptional” to have a work ethic or to take pride in excellence. Who is teaching that these days?


    • lectorconstans says:

      It’s discouraging – but not surprising – to find out that America is not the only one. From your comment, it sounds like Australia is in a bit worse shape than we. But still,our “underachievers” and “team players” are frothing at the mouth in anticipation of a $15 (about 19 AUD) “minimum wage”. It’s actually a starting salary – no-one expects to retire at 65 still making “minimum wage”.

      The other question (outside the scope of this discussion) is where the bloody hell does government get off telling companies what they may or may not pay their workers (and CEOs)?


    • aussieguy says:

      In Australia…(regarding education)

      1970s => Infection installing. Virus remained stagnant as the people weren’t in positions of power yet.

      1980s => Infection initiated, but hadn’t completely destroyed the existing. Slowly, slowly, they change things like the syllabus. Introduce pointless, time-wasting activities, etc.

      1990s => Infection in full effect. Spelling, reading, writing, mathematics standards fall. Environmentalism installed and indoctrination begins with “hole in Ozone layer” campaign. Plus “Captain Planet” eco-cartoon broadcast on state-sponsored TV. (ABC Australia).

      2000s => Now they demand more taxpayer money to “fix” the problem they created. The only people cheering are the Education and Teacher’s Union. Those in Australia will recall the Education Union’s “I give a Gonski” campaign. (The basic premise of the Gonski plan was to throw money at the problem…There wasn’t anything specific about anything happening on a classroom level).

      When I was in primary school, they teach times tables up to 12.
      Today? They teach up to 10!

      …They hope to compete with Asians in the Global Market? LOL! Good luck with that!

      I knew Australia was in trouble when my sister told me someone couldn’t add fractions in a 1st year mathematics course in university during early 2000. ie: They can’t do basic primary school mathematics, but they somehow manage to pass the pre-requisites to enrol in a university-level mathematics course? WTF?!!! No one is maintaining standards!

      You also have a culture that has been moulded into thinking depending on the Govt is a good thing. It isn’t. Dependence doesn’t breed strength. Instead, it just creates many complainers. ie: Where’s my fair share?!

      “Fair share” is political Left codeword for “Where’s my cut that I can take from someone who has done better than me?”

      My advice to future business owners is this:

      Start your own business in Singapore and automate as much as you can. Be picky with candidates. Put them on 1 yr probation period. Keep an eye on robotics area and new inventions…Better yet, just move to Singapore. Where taxes are low, education standards are high, the Asian culture is of meritocracy. Not mediocrity.


  10. Blackswan says:

    Shock ,horror!!!! 30% of medical students guilty of lying and cheating? Say it isn’t so ….

    “ABOUT one in three third-year students are believed to have been involved in falsifying reports and making up patients for a compulsory program last year …”

    ” … conduct was assessed to have been a major breach of the university’s academic dishonesty policy … “

    Universities have an “academic dishonesty policy”??? Obviously doesn’t apply to Climate Science then. It seems medicos are held to a higher standard of integrity than students who dabble in forecasting the weather.


    • aussieguy says:

      I attended that university a few years back, but I did engineering.

      The “dishonesty policy” was simple in Engineering Dept:

      (1) They have evidence you cheated.

      (2) You are put in front of a panel of engineering professors who have looked at your case. You must explain yourself.

      (3) If you did cheat and admitted it, they give you an automatic “FAIL”. You have to repeat the course and pass. But its still recorded as a “FAIL” on your transcript.

      That’s what happened to my former friend…

      “Former” because I found out he took my major assignment! Witnesses saw him take it out of the assignment box! The tutor backed my side because I always went to him and asked questions. He saw my assignment as I was doing parts of it and recognised my work. (The assignment was worth 50% of the course, as the other half was the final exam.)

      After that, I ignored this “friend” for the rest of my degree.


  11. Blackswan says:

    Lest we be considered naïve in our estimation of modern education …..

    Indeed, there’s a recognised thriving commercial industry hiring scores of ‘ghost writers’ who guarantee ‘plagiarism-checker’ proof bespoke essays.

    NSW high school students are paying hundreds of dollars to have assignments written for them by private companies and individual tutors as teachers struggle to contain a cheating culture they have described as “endemic”.

    “One … graduate insisted that she did not endorse plagiarism but was prepared to sell digital copies of her essays that had scored in the highest range of marks for Advanced English and Modern History.”

    She might be a smart cookie, but she has zero grasp of the definition of ‘ethics’.

    The article didn’t identify what any Sydney-sider knows. The schools and suburbs listed are recognised ethnic enclaves of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants, and it’s English where the high demand for ghost writers increases. Parents are obviously exerting great pressure on their children to succeed … at any cost.

    Why are we shocked at the falling standards in Education and in particular, Science? This isn’t just post-normal Science … this is an era of post-normal Ethics and Morals.

    “Whatever it takes, at whatever cost” and you’re a chump if you aren’t in on the action and working the System.


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