The continued control exerted in systematic fashion on graduate students in order to achieve a PhD has served to maintain the status quo. In essence, this is higher learning indoctrination. If the intelligentsia is believed to be the vanguard of an egalitarian and civil society, then the establishment of such rigid guidelines serves to indoctrinate and control future generations who would otherwise institute real change through individuality in ideas eventually expressed in action. It has been postulated and speculated by many who have experienced higher education that academics often serve as gatekeepers, effectively controlling the allowable discourse and debate, especially among social sciences. As a result, higher learning is about indoctrination.
No one cares about PhD theses; in fact, even publishers routinely dismiss raw PhD dissertations. Instead, they request a ‘revision’ that amounts to the purging of one’s original idea from the ‘noise’ it has been drowned in, in order to get the academic title.
The above statement reflects the often overlooked grim reality which numerous PhD candidates discover in the course of their studies. If the highest levels of western educational hierarchies are indeed subject to so much overt control, then this would be an extreme example of collectivist direct action to serve the preexisting establishment. The end result would be to insure the continued herd structure by stifling any individual academic examination and curiosity.
As Chomsky has revealed in numerous lectures and talks regarding the control of education and the limitations on critical opposition thought. This is something dangerous as it can potentially set a precedent and be used as an example for others who possess a similar perspective.
Ironically John Locke once said that the only defense against such a system was to be self aware and educated to it’s realities. After all, ignorance of any situation can lead to detrimental results in which every outcome is uncertain and unpredictable. It would appear this principle has application in a myriad of settings from conventional warfare strategy, see Sun Tzu to secular and private affairs, such as the politics in the workforce or the hierarchy inherent within the upper echelons of academia.
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
As Gustave Le Bon, the French social theorist wrote in his seminal work, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind concerning crowd dynamics and herd behaviour: The group mind does not think in the strict sense of the word. In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits and emotions. In making up its mind its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader. In similar fashion, Reinhold Niebuhr, respected theologian commentator on politics and public affairs who wrote, Moral Man and Immoral Society stated man loses his moral compass in a group but not as an individual. Hence, academia perpetuates this level of social indoctrination through a unique filtering system in which students reiterate status quo perceptions advocated by their instructors and mentors. Dissent is detectable and easily filtered considering the inherent bias within humanities, liberal arts and soft science subject matter. Grades are one method of administering a top down disapproval of unacceptable student interpretation and perceptions regarding controversial subject matters or topics of contention. Lack of recommendations in order to advance to higher tier educational opportunities is another method which prevents student advancement and in return, propagation of ideas which are counter to the academic establishment status quo. Viewed in this respect, higher learning and structured education can be detrimental to individual academic expression and critical thinking.