QUESTION: WOULD AMERICA BE BETTER OFF WITH OR WITHOUT YALE? Pretty sure I know the answer. Even the good Yalies seem to have been seduced by the prestige and power. These conservative Yalies are, I believe, missing the point:
- “Conservatives, Don’t Give Up on Yale.”
- “The New Battle at Yale.”
- “YALE AND THE EDUCATION OF GOVERNING ELITES.”
Subsequent experience with the world has left me a little less starry eyed about the program. My high school self did not understand the extent to which programs like these are fundamentally Ivy League networking clubs. That is not, alas, what the Ivy League student most needs. Yale is a sick institution, home of the “excellent sheep” who have sold out their souls to leap through higher hoops. The process of getting into Yale breeds an insecurity in its student body, who are ever striving for more exclusive sources of external validation. The relationship these sheltered strivers have to their privileges veers on the pathological. The problem, as C.S. Lewis told a different body of honored students a century ago, is that the pursuit of the “inner ring” is all consuming.2 It leaves little space to ponder—much less study—big questions. Thus Yale is left with a coterie of students towering in their IQ yet puny in their learning. Providing Yalies with the high of applying to yet another resume-buffer that only the very best and brightest of the best and brightest can finagle their way through is the Ivy League equivalent to giving away cocaine in a halfway house. Wining and dining with David Petraeus and Victoria Nuland feeds the complexes of students who have less need of high powered connections than of being brought down a notch. . . .
. . . America is, and for several generations yet will be, a superpower. This superpower has produced—and is in part itself a product of—a colossal state apparatus. This state must be governed. Its governing class will disproportionately hail from institutions like Yale. These facts are unlikely to change. The Brady-Johnson program was a tacit admission of these realities.
Even that tacit admission wisped away. A program conceived to teach future elites how to wisely use state power has morphed into a program teaching them how to wisely oppose it. This transformation is one more illustration of Dashan’s thesis. At Yale we see the American predicament made concrete: an entrenched governing class that enjoys the privileges of elite status but refuses to prepare for the responsibilities of elite station.
Unfortunately, what happens at Yale does not stay at Yale.