What is the ultimate difference between a Stalinist, totalitarian state, and the average, 21st century university campus, populated by the fluorescent-haired, bespectacled creature known as the “Tumblr feminist” or the “social justice warrior”? (A better-suited term would be social justice pariah.) The answer: one was headed by an overweight, masochistic despot, whereas the other is propagated by your average tax-evading teenaged son or daughter.
Universities possess their very own hierarchy, almost reminiscent of the blatant class warfare of the 1930s-50s, so successfully satirised by Tom Sharpe. However, we are no longer trading in old English surnames, country estates and inheritance funds (although there are, of course, exceptions to this rule) – instead, it’s an endless competition, a continuous swarm, a catwalk of connivance: the battle over who is the most racially, sexually and religiously ostracized. Step aside, Miss Universe, and welcome Miss Diverse to the stage. There is no longer a middle ground. According to O’Neill, university students have effectively transposed the “fascist model” of the 1930s; they are akin to the Brown Shirts of Hitler’s book-burning, intellectual-murdering regime, obliterating all semblance of free speech. You step into a lecture theatre; they’ll take your coat, whilst they check your white privilege. You’re pale: check. Heterosexual: check. Christian? Check. Your coat’s made of tweed? You must be middle class: check. You’ll have to dodge the flying pens and hard-backed copies of Critical Race Theory as you make for the nearest exit.
But how did this police state begin? It didn’t simply spring up overnight; it’s a product of a prolonged roasting inside a scholastic prison, in which we are condemned to boil from childhood to young adulthood. I served my sentence in a multitude of these, where I was introduced to identity politics and “social justice warriors” in all their youthful, untried, 21st century flesh. Yet I survived. I’m torn, scratched, bleeding, doubting my sexuality, ethnicity and indeed, my sanity, but I survived. How’s that for a victory?
Yes, Millennials are annoying. They’re whiny, bratty, selfie-obsessed; they spend inordinate amounts of time watching funny cat videos and tweeting under: #relationshipgoals. But we are all, to a certain extent, moulded by our environment. Repeated exposure to radiation will leave you with cancerous cells – just as constant dipping into the educational bloodbath may eventually leave you infected with AEDs (Avaricious Entitlement Disorder). According to social learning theory, we tend to reproduce behaviour displayed in our immediate environment – which for most millennials, has largely consisted of the warm, stifling, deodorant-peppered air of the high-school classroom. It sends us forth, armoured in Benjamin Zephaniah, clutching our rape kits to our educated bosoms. These are the people trawling university campuses across Britain and the U.S, armed with their fascist fanaticism. You can’t clap or whoop in order to express your appreciation; perhaps it will “trigger” a few delicate females within the audience. One cannot use the word “slave” without having their current livelihood snatched from under them before they can say “Martin Luther King”.
Such is the regurgitated result of our current education system, in all its mangled glory. Perhaps some of the blame can be directed towards those who have, arguably, helped create these mini-monsters? If you repeatedly pacify a bratty, wailing toddler, it will continue to stamp its feet and wail some more – because it knows that this works. Every single stage of our adolescent lives has been managed by an elusive, extraneous source, which is fiercely rooted within our “auspicious” education system. Some have referred to it as the “nanny state”; the oppressive, governmental influence, robbing us of our fundamental rights in a manner which is largely incongruous: “we can have sex, publicly, on Brighton beach – but we’re not allowed to smoke on it”. (Brendan O’Neill, people – talking about the real problems). Kicking these rather inane issues aside, let’s carve down to the bones.
It’s largely a matter of operant conditioning. You felt safe, secure, validated within school classrooms: each time you highlighted a so-called “minority opinion” in all its stinging fluorescence, you were rewarded with a gold star, a house point, a glowing remark on your report. English literature exams: “Jane Eyre is built largely upon colonial wealth”, “Atticus Finch is a segregationist” – tick, tick. Drag out the injustices, the more the better. Mandatory appreciation of a marginalised race every October – bang. We played the diversity card. The human resources department gets another smattering of government funds.
Two more years of gruelling advanced qualifications aren’t enough for some; instead, it is necessary to popped back into the fiery ovens of academia for a second roasting. University modules: “Empire and the Colonial: Race, Genders, Sexualities”. Let’s break out the brush of the marginalised, and flick multi-coloured drops across our whitewashed curriculum. The real squirts of knowledge and logical reasoning can only be drizzled on a university-cooked pie. Young adults must march directly from the cooking pot to the slaughterhouse, where they must pay to be eviscerated. Seated upon an intellectual throne, they are free to survey the masses, whilst aping the behaviour of their esteemed lecturers, who repeatedly cave to their demands.
Millennials are not a monolithic group. Those shaking their heads and declaiming in horror: “Jesus, this lot are our future policymakers!” – have no fear. There are tons of other young whippersnappers roaming free from the cage, already with one leg up the industry ladder; there’s more than one way to get into parliament, and university is no longer the sole option. They’re out there, people. You just need to get better at looking.