Let Them Eat Cake

The Inevitable Is Upon Us

Once or twice upon a time, the warrior monks rode out of their citadels of learning to assess the world, talk to the peasant, wallow in the mud and blood with the common man. I dare say they were the better for the experience, as experience is a fine instructor. Today, however, those educated elites instructing young minds have had no experience, for experience reeks of the world outside of the Ivory Tower. They may whisper, let them eat cake, as they spurn the world, avoid the masses, and demean those whose worn shoes do not shine. Moreover, within their own walls, souls are crushed for,

“elite universities disdain honest intellectual inquiry, which is by its nature distrustful of authority, fiercely independent, and often subversive.” *

No, free thought is not wanted in the Tower. Daring and bravery are not wanted. What the string pullers want is for their lauded professors and students alike to retreat into specialized fiefdoms surrounded by walls of impenetrable research. They retreat into these segregated kingdoms of expertise and no longer have anything of worth to say to the world at large. They speak to colleagues. They write for academic journals. They retreat, retreat, retreat; those extra letters after their names tucked away like tails between their untried legs.

Those legs are more often than not hidden under a desk mere feet from bookshelves lined with the thoughts of others. Here they write in a language that cares not one bit for universal understanding or appeal; picking and choosing from a list of obscure words that obfuscate communication altogether, and deliberately so. The illusion of profundity is created and thus the uninitiated ask no questions and propose no objections as the initiated blindly carry on, ignoring the larger moral and social issues boiling over just outside their ivory walls. When the moat is awash in blood, eating away at the foundations of their citadel, it will not stand. The fires of discontent are spreading, the smoke is thickening, and a pile of bodies has made a bridge to an untended gate. Will those inside join the battle?

I challenge our great thinkers to join the fray, to preserve the very culture they purport to teach, to pick up both pen and sword and come out of hiding. While these bright minds have indeed painted themselves into very prestigious corners, the time has come for the brave amongst them to brazenly walk out of the Tower or turn and tear down the walls, laughing as the dust settles behind them. The alternative? Crushed in the rubble of their own fallen kingdom. Know this: it will fall. The inevitable is upon us and a decision must be made. Choose your weapon.

*Hedges, Chris.  The Empire of Illusion: The End Of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.  NY, NY: Nation Books, 2010, p. 89.


Rachel Summers