Recently I shared some thoughts in a twitter thread about the Philosophy is a Great Major website. Justin from Daily Nous had a good question about whether what I was saying applied equally to undergraduate education as it does to graduate education. I’ve spent some time thinking about this in the past, reflecting on my experience teaching undergraduates as well as having been a philosophically minded third-world youth studying philosophy in euro-america’s “elite” universities at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

One of the ways I think about it is that undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy is the tip of the spear. First, this is where philosophically minded people are formally socialized into the modes of thought of bourgeois philosophy that are the currency of intellectual life in a place like the euro-american nation state. This socialization disarms the philosophically inclined youth of groups not served by imperialism and does not prepare them for doing philosophy that serves their interests in an unjust world ― this cost is not measured by “economic success” metrics. Second, this is also where the unjust social structures of imperialism, imperialist academia, and academic philosophy are made normative to philosophically minded people by professors and graduate students who serve as role models and spokespersons (i.e., who serve as agents) representing the system.

Euro-american Economy and White Supremacy

Before going into those two themes it’s important to point out that for neo-colonial populations, “economic success”, even by the standards of the Philosophy is a Great Major site, comes at a cost higher than the debt accrued by pursuing higher education in the euro-american nation state. It comes at the cost of discovering oneself unwelcome in the institutions of the “business world” and having the disparity between the idealism of bourgeois philosophy and the reality of imperialist society blow up in their face whenever their euro-american “colleagues” somehow ―as if by magic, “succeed” more than they do. An undergraduate degree in bourgeois philosophy doesn’t stand out as a special way to carve a niche of economic success for oneself in a neo-colonial system of white power and dog-eat-dog capitalism. Instead, for non-euro-american people, it’s more like a way to be socialized into the language and thought necessary for being neo-colonial subjects in the petit-bourgeois and labor-aristocratic classes of that system. This reality is summed up in something Malcolm X said in an interview with Playboy magazine: “The entire American economy is based on white supremacy. Even the religious philosophy is, in essence, white supremacy.” Substituting ‘religious’ for ‘academic’ here preserves truth value.

Malcolm X Capitalism

It takes a deep commitment to the supremacy of imperialist society (really it just takes a chauvinist caucacity) to promote reform and collusion strategies with the class, national, gender, and ability hierarchies of imperialist society for non-euro-american people. For non-euro-american victims of imperialism who are against the national chauvinist, patriarchal, ableist, and economically exploitative structures imposed from without by settlers and other colonists, formal training in bourgeois philosophy doesn’t stand out as a special way to succeed at achieving the type of political and economic power required to challenge imperialism. And while some will find a way to position an undergraduate or graduate philosophy degree to market themselves in imperialist society, the disarming effects of bourgeois philosophy at both the undergraduate and graduate level don’t help its moral appeal as an area of emphasis among the oppressed.

Imperialist Education and Bourgeois Philosophy

Whether it’s the Roman empire or European colonialism, culture and language enforcement through education has helped control subaltern populations. In the current context of economic imperialism and neo-colonialism, the global dominance of imperialist culture and values is often called cultural imperialism and refers to this dominance in media, the sciences, the humanities, education, and politics. For those who benefit from the current global system of economic imperialism, bourgeois philosophy is a treasured codification and expression of their social identity. For everyone else, it’s cultural regulation that threatens the philosophical expression of social identities defined against imperialism.

Tom Torlino, Navajo victim of euro-american settler education. Settler assimilation philosophy, expressed in Henry Pratt’s dictum, “Kill the Indian, save the man”, persists in the form of assimilating the philosophical thinking of neo-colonial populations to bourgeois philosophy.

There are three important considerations to keep in mind when reasoning about the role of bourgeois philosophy in contemporary cultural imperialism. First, the nature of the relationship between the imperialist western powers and the rest of the world. Narrow academic and individualist dogmatism about this relationship anchors the debate to ridiculous platitudes with ill-fitting binaries about the relative “dominance” of imperialist culture ―either the imperialist powers explicitly, deliberately, and completely dominate the culture of the colonized, OR, the neo-colonial peoples explicitly, deliberately, and completely gave themselves over to the culture of the colonizers. This is stupid. Such “analyses” treat culture as monolithic instead of as a characteristic of nations in the grip of a tug-of war for class power; such analyses are unable to account for the fact that the different classes of the neo-colonial nations react differently in terms of relative receptivity to and collusion with the cultural imperialism of the west. Second, the nature of the dominance of imperialist culture itself can be regarded by bourgeois thinkers as mysterious or is dismissed altogether, characterized as a crude conspiracy. Such mickey-mouse accounts of cultural imperialism make it seem as if cultural influence can only be conspiratorial (as if groups of individuals in a smoky room conspired to make sure the humanities push a neo-colonial agenda) OR it’s something that happens randomly for the benefit of no one ―and the imperialist aspects of culture are the accidental result of ephemeral market-like phenomena, perhaps the “invisible hand of culture”. The reality is that power exists and it’s wielded by social groups along gender, class, and national lines. Depending on the relative power of groups such as these, they can, by doing nothing more than acting in their common self-interest influence, shape, and determine the policies and laws of the institutions of culture to their benefit. This, of course, is all apart from official special operations by the euro-american nation state’s repressive agencies to hijack and influence culture and to advance the goals of euro-american imperialism in line with nefarious domination schemes like the Marshall Plan, all with the collaboration of important bourgeois philosophers like Sidney Hook, Isaiah Berlin, and Hanna Arendt. I have in mind here programs like the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom, which operated from 1950 to 1967 and “had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with public performances” (from the introduction to Who Paid the Piper?). Third, all this means that education, humanities education, and philosophy education have a social function that is in no small way shaped by the power of these groups, and that to understand it we must separate what bourgeois philosophers think their function is and what academic institutions claim as their function from the concrete effects of academic philosophy as a steward of core aspects of imperialist culture.

On this last point ―education in general transmits knowledge and culture from one generation to the next and it develops human characteristics that contribute to new knowledge creation, economics (as in career and class role), and social stability. Depending on the economic order of society and the corresponding dominant ideology of the ruling classes, these things are positioned accordingly. So, for example, in an imperialist settler society like the euro-american nation state, the purpose and effects of education are positioned in a bourgeois liberal way with the familiar mythology that imperialist education is a “democratic” way for social classes and neo-colonies to “get ahead” socially and economically in a society that is unjust by design.

It’s a myth because the growth and expansion of imperialist education is not egalitarian (and can never be, short of the abolition of classes). The change from the classical colonial structures ― settlements and occupied territories to that of neo-colonial republics abroad and internal semi-colonies in the imperialist countries, consisted of a procession of intermediary economic forms ranging from free-trade colonialism to dependency on foreign monopoly and finance capital. Educational changes and expansion at each stage were characterized by the guiding utility of the structures of neo-colonialism. This means that educational changes and the relative expansion of education occurred only when education was consistent with the class and national hierarchies of neo-colonial economics, and especially with structural hierarchies that maintain at the top, the political and economic national elite facilitating neo-colonialism. These features of the history of colonial and neo-colonial education fly in the face of the prejudice of bourgeois philosophers and other imperialist academics that education either serves no purpose or that its only possible purpose is benevolent.

While bourgeois academics and philosophers are sometimes willing to acknowledge the chauvinism and one-sidedness of western liberal education during the colonial period, thinking that it’s part of a past that modern liberal academic institutions have “overcome”, they frequently ignore or resist acknowledging the neo-colonial character of contemporary western education. But it is this neo-colonial character that reveals the dominating mission of bourgeois philosophy of socializing groups of people into receptivity to and conformity with the schemas of imperialism and renders it a malevolent, and disarming philosophy.

A Disarming Philosophy

The disarming effects of bourgeois philosophy come by way of its usefulness to neo-colonial white power and euro-american imperialism in at least two ways. One way is policing the public space of philosophy to promote a way of doing philosophy that is first-world chauvinist, idealist, individualist, and uncritical of bourgeois liberalism. Philosophizing along these lines limits the scope of philosophical arguments to only those that help justify the schemes and methods of the minority of the world’s people who benefit from economic imperialism and thus disarms the world’s people of doing philosophy that serves their interests. Another way is by socializing groups of people into receptivity to and conformity with the structures of euro-american economic domination. The institutions of bourgeois philosophy can do this both within the imperialist countries and on a global scale by opportunistically preying upon and influencing people all over the world who are philosophically inclined because euro-american culture and institutions are artificially propped up by the inequities of global imperialism and neo-colonialism.

Now, bourgeois philosophers like to emphasize a class of individual skills when promoting undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy. Skills like “critical” thinking, analyzing and making arguments in an idealist way, and facility with central concepts and questions from ancient and modern times enshrined in the culture of the powerful classes of our age because they’re basic aspects of ideology to be trafficked by anyone who counts as educated in an imperialist society. Promoting bourgeois philosophy from the point of view of the supposed value of these skills is but one approach for finding a way for bourgeois philosophy departments to survive the threat of extinction in the era of neo-liberal education in the first-world. It’s part of a general pedagogical defense of the “humanities” by intellectuals that benefit from imperialism that goes like this: philosophical thinking along first-world chauvinist, individualist, and idealist lines that are uncritical of bourgeois liberalism is useful in a wide variety of settings in bourgeois society, including securing gainful employment! So, it’s worth signing up for a bourgeois philosophy class, which will then not be struck off the catalogue and help the department secure funding again.

This strategy works in tandem with the justification of bourgeois philosophy found in the section on the Philosophy is a Great Major website on non-economic arguments for bourgeois philosophy. There we find a collection of banal stories about the virtues of critical thinking and the civic good for bourgeois society. Philosophical reflection along first-world chauvinist, individualist, idealist lines and in a way that is uncritical of bourgeois liberalism is supposed to “cultivate humanity” ―that means that it serves the bourgeois conception of the absolute value of beauty, truth, and the good by nurturing ideological receptivity to imperialist society, even in cases where people’s material reality is incongruent with this ideology, and keeping the illusion requires a lot of double-think. Don’t forget to promote the “civic component” as well ― first-world chauvinist, individualist, idealist, philosophical training that is uncritical of liberalism cultivates an intellectual conformity before an abstract democracy in a biased way that favors the status quo to justify the injustice of actually existing bourgeois democracy in the neo-colonial form of the imperialist countries. Yay!

There are other negative effects that accompany formal training in the ideology of the educated classes in an imperialist society. These are more difficult to showcase positively so they are for the most part ignored by academic demagogues in search of funding. For example, people heavily influenced by academic philosophy exhibit an inability to relate abstract thinking to concrete thinking and appear unable to carry out the latter philosophically or at all. While certain limited mode of concrete thinking is emphasized in the sciences and some of the social sciences, ―mostly having to do with technical and bureaucratic efficiency, philosophy is treated as completely autonomous from anything having to do with concrete thought, and is proudly featured as not just highly abstract, but “pure” ―something high and removed from the world, a thing for experts. The result is that the one-sided emphasis on abstraction and purity segregates an entire class of philosophical problems ―those that aren’t framed through bourgeois ideology― from the scrutiny of philosophical analysis at the same time as it disconnects bourgeois philosophers from most of the world’s people.

And it happens that some of those problems are important from the point of view of the people who don’t benefit from imperialism and liberalism. As an example, consider the ethics of liberal “lesser evil” arguments made during the 2016 presidential election in the euro-american nation state, where the neo-liberal wing of imperialism represented by Hillary Clinton lost to the fascist wing of imperialism. In bourgeois terms, philosophers might have considered it “rational” to ask: What abstract, unbiased, framework can I use to evaluate the question of political leadership? But because this question is something asked by real people in a real world in the midst of an imperialist power struggle with real consequences, what they’re really asking is: how can I position my liberal ideology as an abstract, neutral framework for evaluating the question of political leadership in a way that in practice gives fascism a fighting chance at seizing the reins of power here and now?

The material lives of people invested in euro-american imperialist society (including its most fascist elements, the “justice” system, the police and other repressive agencies like the FBI and the CIA, euro-america’s prisons, and border protection), beget the ideological receptivity of bourgeois liberal people to questions and lines of thought like the above that enable and facilitate the rise of fascism expressed philosophically in “rational”, and “open-door” attitudes towards it. Philosophically minded persons who aren’t invested in the preservation of imperialist society and/or who are its victims and don’t benefit from having an “open-door-policy” when it comes to fascism and imperialist neo-liberalism don’t even ask such things.

For social identities defined against neo-liberal and fascist imperialism, philosophical inquiry related to political leadership isn’t constrained by servility to ideologies that facilitate them. Instead, philosophical inquiry is non-bourgeois ―it’s internationalist, grounded in an understanding on the social relations between groups of people, openly on the side of the majority of the world’s people, and not idealistic. And non-bourgeois philosophy develops questions and lines of thought in accordance to this and informed by the methods of abstraction and critique used in arguments and drawing conclusions according to some logic. Consequently, the relevant “rational” question is more like: How can the methods of philosophy, practiced in accordance with internationalism, grounded in an understanding on the social relations between groups of people, openly on the side of most the world’s people, and non-idealistically, contribute, if at all, to the organizational, agitational, and physical resistance goals of groups of people who aren’t ideologically ambivalent about fascism to stop the fascist rise and consolidation of power? The answer to this question is far from null and stems from the very basic fact that collective social identity can articulate itself using the methods of abstraction and critique used in arguments and drawing conclusions according to some logic. The place to showcase such an answer is elsewhere ―the point here is to illustrate that whereas the supposed abstract “rationality” of bourgeois philosophy expresses the moral ambivalence towards fascism of people who benefit from imperialism, the concrete thought of non-bourgeois philosophy expresses the unequivocal anti-fascist standpoint of people who aren’t invested in the success of imperialism, whatever its form.

In general, western, academic, bourgeois philosophy is catastrophically poor at expressing the social identity of non-euro-american, non-bourgeois people through philosophical activity that serves their interests for self-determination and national democracy as historically constituted groups oppressed by the bourgeois liberal, neo-colonial form of economic imperialism. Disingenuously limiting philosophical activity to the bourgeois, as is the case in undergraduate and graduate education in philosophy in the imperialist countries, amounts to disarming the groups victimized by imperialism from using philosophy to help themselves. And from the point of view of these groups, the Philosophy is a Great Major website comes off as narrowly centered on irrelevant neo-colonial “success” metrics while neglecting the great deficit of bourgeois philosophy in nurturing the type of philosophical activity necessary to express a social identity defined against the systems of liberal imperialist neo-colonialism and white supremacy and essential to conceiving alternatives to these systems.

Legitimizing Injustice

Under the institutional force of a capitalist empire, undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy is the tip of the spear for making the unjust social structures of imperialism, imperialist academia and academic philosophy normative to philosophically inclined people. This is a broad topic that deserves a longer analysis and sustained critique but there are still some things we can say here about the variety of ways that adaptive responses to the unjust structures of imperialist academia and academic philosophy are inculcated among philosophically inclined students by the institutions of bourgeois philosophy and its agents.

First, undergraduate training in bourgeois philosophy normalizes prejudicial sanctions in practice: As undergraduates, philosophically inclined students learn that it’s verboten to be non-bourgeois, and that they will be sanctioned in their formal evaluations and ostracized from the culture of academic philosophy for reasoning philosophically in ways that are internationalist, grounded in an understanding on the social relations between groups of people, openly on the side of the people of the Global South, and not idealistic. Philosophical investigation must attach to the norms and values of imperialist society or it will count against you. This is irrespective of philosophically inclined students’ ability in creating meaningful new philosophical ideas, interpretations, and methods outside of bourgeois constraints ―which is devalued, and disapproved. At the same time, formulating the norms and values of imperialist society in the rehearsed terms of bourgeois philosophy is rewarded. But while creating new ideas, meanings, and methods under bourgeois constraints counts in terms of adaptability, it’s not required (unless you are non-european, non-euro-american or from anywhere in the global south), especially in cases of white privilege, where intellectual mediocrity is glorified, and those who offer run-of-the-mill expression of imperialist values are said to be blessed with having  “innate ability”, being “highly intelligent”,  being “gifted”, showing “promise”, being “talented”, and being “a star”.

The schoolmaster featured in Pink Floyd’s The Wall on undergraduate bourgeois philosophy education: How can you have any pudding if you don’t fall in line with imperialist liberalism?

Second, undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy normalizes the physically and mentally oppressive features of bourgeois academia and sets the stage for their realization at the graduate level. Undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy in the euro-american nation state comes with all the infantilization of subaltern populations and the negative impacts on the mental and physical health of students that are common in higher education under the structural inequality, discrimination, and injustice of capitalism. But because philosophy is a fundamental human activity having to do with social identity, undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy stands out in terms of how the infantilization of philosophically inclined students contributes to patterns of adaptability under injustice. As a matter of course, students enrolled in bourgeois philosophy courses are infantilized by philosophy educators, their abilities and potential underestimated by the norms and values of imperialist society not limited solely to the pillars of bourgeois thought and philosophy (individualism, idealism, first-world chauvinism, uncritical engagement with liberalism), but exacerbated by patriarchy, ableism, and other national and class chauvinisms that are the baseline of social identity for the imperialist liberal petit bourgeoisie. Backed up by the academic institutions of imperialist society, this sets the stage for philosophically inclined students to be entangled in the tyranny of depression, anxiety, low self-worth, feeling unworthy of success, a submissive alter-ego when dealing with agents of the system, downplaying one’s own intelligence, insomnia, irregular eating patterns, and projected fear about the future that characterize the psychological make up of many bourgeois and non-bourgeois people trying to “make it” in the world of academic, bourgeois philosophy. But it is at the undergraduate level where the weakening of resistance to the injustice of imperialist academia and the institutions of bourgeois philosophy begins, as well as the disintegration of philosophical non-bourgeois thought because of the continuous normative pressure across multiple dimensions exerted on philosophically inclined students.

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With the complicity of graduate students, professors, and administrators, sexual assault and sexual predation on the part of academic philosophers is normalized, and is an “open secret” in the imperialist academy.  

Third, undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy normalizes the oppressive and exploitative neo-colonial form of imperialism in terms of “representation” in imperialist institutions: It is here where bourgeois liberal academic philosophers and graduate students first begin to promote imperialist “diversity” in academia as the principal and permissible way for philosophically inclined colonial peoples to carry out philosophical activity. The “diversity” model for imperialist academia simultaneously erases the national identity of the oppressed and expresses the racism of euro-americans who benefit from the system and has a host of negative and disarming consequences for non-bourgeois people. I’ve written at length about this here, and here.

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Undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy: entry point for philosophically inclined students to begin playing the game of “representation” where the rules are set by white power.

Fourth, undergraduate training in bourgeois philosophy normalizes the chauvinism of first-world labor struggles. First world people plugged into academic hierarchies in terms of employment draw their academic compensation from either the imperialist government or from endowments tied to the success of imperialist corporations. And adjuncts and graduate students who are the foot-soldiers of ideology control often organize to make a deal with the educational institutions of imperialism to advantageously share in the exploitation of the rest of the world while disingenuously showcasing this to philosophically inclined students as desirable, “progressive” activism. This first-world chauvinism is shared by many “progressives” in academic philosophy and is a popular concern in New Guard ways of thinking about higher education in imperialist society, so a few comments about this are in order here.

To tell the workers in a handful of rich countries where life is easier, thanks to imperialist pillage, that they must be afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment, is counter-revolutionary ―V.I. Lenin, “The Second Congress of the Communist International”

In terms of their relation to production, labor aristocrats in academic philosophy are not so different from labor aristocrats in other sectors of the domestic imperialist economy: their working life is characterized not by the creation of surplus value appropriated by capitalists at an exploited wage, but by the reapportion of surplus value resulting from the exploitation of the people of the world and sectors of the internal semi-colonies in the imperialist countries. Ideologically, all labor aristocrats, including those in the bourgeois academy, are united in the prejudiced belief, universal among first-world “progressives”, that they are among the “oppressed” and “exploited” by imperialism on par with the people of the Global South.

Accounting on the labor aristocracy (see here, and here) and on the global transfer of wealth from the third world to the first world tells against this chauvinist mythology. The reality is that all people earning an imperialist country minimum wage up through skilled workers, trade unionists, and paper pushers earning a salary are not only among the most privileged people in the world today, but they have no material interest in abandoning bourgeois aspirations and the unjust basis of their lives in the interests of a just global economic arrangements.

Think of just one popular figure circulated by the chauvinist activists for first world privilege ―that adjuncts in the euro-american nation state earn “only” between $20,000-$25,000 annually and have to work two or more jobs to make the comparable imperialist country “living wage” of $84,000 annually of full time academics. Setting aside first-world chauvinist standards of “poverty” and thinking internationally, consider that according to the World Bank, to be in the top 20% of the world by income it “only” takes earning $1,830 per year. This means that everyone earning an imperialist minimum wage is in the top 20% of the world by income. This minority of the world’s people consumes 86% of the global GDP, 45% of all meat and fish, 87% of all the world’s vehicles, 84% of the world’s paper, and 58% of all the world’s energy. Additionally they constitute 82% of the world’s export markets, 68% of foreign direct investment, 74% of all telephone lines and 93.3% of all internet users (Divided World, Divided Class, pp. 332-333).

Low Income Grad students
First-world chauvinist wealth and income standards that conceal the global transfer of wealth from the Third-world to the First-world encourage the world’s most privileged people to play the victim and rally for more economic concessions from imperialism at the expense of the world’s truly oppressed people.

This is unconscionable privilege that can’t be explained by the value produced by first-world labor including the rank and file stewards of bourgeois ideology in imperialist academia ―but which is easily accounted for by the global exploitation of labor by the imperialist countries (Divided World, Divided Class, pp. 207-214). This is the milieu of being a first world person and it comes with the added bonus of standing to benefit from imperialist subsidized social programs covering access to education, including government and endowment sourced grants, loans, and opportunities to participate in a world where, using chauvinist standards of poverty $20,000-$25,000 per year (supplemented, of course, with other employment remunerated by imperialist theft) for providing ideological training to young people in the service of neo-colonialism is considered a pittance. Still, the first-world chauvinist “left” in the imperialist countries, including imperialist social democrats and academics like to distinguish between the disproportionate privilege of the general public in the first-world won for them by imperialism and the lifestyles of the chiefs of imperialism that they refer to as “the 1%”.

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From an internationalist point of view, the relevant difference for righting the injustice of global imperialism isn’t the difference in lifestyle between Fortune 500 CEOs and rank and file labor aristocrats, but between the 20% of the world’s people whose way of life is founded on the exploitation and oppression of the remaining 80%.

From the internationalist point of view of the critique of bourgeois philosophy the relevant difference for righting the injustice of global imperialism is not the difference in lifestyles between Fortune 500 CEOs and rank and file labor aristocrats, but between the 20% of the world’s people in the first-world whose way of life is destroying the planet, and who exploit and oppress the remaining 80%. The Fortune 500 imperialists and rank-and-file first-world workers owe an enormous debt to the working people of the rest of the world ―and focusing on setting up a system for repaying this debt is a principal task of any labor movement that can lay claim to progress. Because labor aristocrats in academia, adjuncts and graduate students, fail to identify the problems their privileges cause for the people of the global south, positioning their struggled for a bigger share of imperialist plunder as “progress” normalizes the unequal relationship of all first-world people to everyone else and advances the economic nationalism of the labor aristocratic classes of imperialism.

Fifth, undergraduate training in bourgeois philosophy normalizes the model of “trickle down epistemology” that alienates people who don’t benefit from imperialism from philosophical activity that serves their interests. Graduate students serving as TA’s and carrying out teaching activities as part of their graduate work in bourgeois philosophy are the shock troops of liberal thought control enforcement and cultural regulation at the undergraduate level. Even the “good ones” who subjectively maintain sub-reformist ideas about their role as educators buy into some version of what bourgeois “reformers” of academic philosophy Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle call “trickle down epistemology” ―a trend started in 1945 when bourgeois scientists and imperialist politicians determined that settler society could benefit from scientific research ―but were uncertain as to how. They decided on using imperialist profits to fund scientific research across diverse areas with the hope that it’d pay off in the future. The upshot was the creation of a tiny field of accountability among researchers: “I’ve presented/discovered/investigated a timeless truth ―it’s up to others to figure out what to do with it”. Is it going to be used to aid the CIA torture individuals as part of a campaign of terror to maintain euro-american economic hegemony in the middle east? ―Hey, don’t ask me, I just work here! This model for scientific research was copied by humanities departments in search of imperialist funding. It infects the thinking of graduate students and early-career bourgeois philosophers who tow-the line and crunch out peer-reviewed journal articles and books hoping that someone will stumble over their work and do something (good/bad/whatever) with it. And it also infects the thinking of “woke educators” who do nothing more than imparting some supposedly neutral or even benevolent knowledge, understanding, or perspective to students, trusting to dumb-luck that it will pay off in some way or another and have a positive social impact. Trusting to the individualist mythology of a happy chance that results in a fortuitous payoff may be what makes individual philosophers feel good about their role in a system of indoctrination that dictates and enshrines the liberal ideology of people who benefit from global economic exploitation and national oppression while disarming philosophical activity to the contrary, but the social role of the institutions of higher learning of the imperialist countries and their disarming effects (some described above), propagated as cultural imperialism are neither happy nor adventitious. And the posture of impunity exemplified in practice by educators in bourgeois philosophy who promote a narrow field of accountability as a good thing, as “making a difference” in the “individual lives of students” normalizes the model for philosophical activity that alienates groups of people who don’t benefit from imperialism from the value of philosophical activity as an expression of their social identity in a way that serves their interests while it works against them.

These are just some of the ways that undergraduate education in bourgeois philosophy legitimizes the injustice of imperialist society and the subcultures of imperialist academia.


To position a major in bourgeois philosophy as something “great” takes a commitment to disarming people not served by imperialism from the tools necessary to carry out philosophical activity in a way that serves their interests. And it takes a high level of satisfaction with the imperialist status quo that treats the injustices of imperialist society, imperialist academia, and the institutions of bourgeois philosophy a “normal”. The ability to selfishly promote bourgeois philosophy on the part of bourgeois philosophers is a privilege of those served by the dominant structures of what is a fundamentally unjust society. For those who aren’t served by those structures, those whose entire social identity is defined by resistance to imperialism and neo-colonialism, a major in bourgeois philosophy is far from great. Instead, it is another method of cultural regulation that results from the inequities of global imperialism that benefit a minority of the world’s people living in the first world.