There has been an article floating around the internet called “20 Ways to be Popular at an Expensive Liberal Arts School.” While I technically go to an expensive research university, not liberal arts school, I think it’s a pretty funny microcosm of the type of vapid contrarian counter-culture that the left has morphed into in this generation. The list is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it wouldn’t take long on any campus I know of to find some pseudo-Marxist who would agree with the principles presented – “The more things you take offense to the better. Throw terms like sexist, racist, and homophobe at everyone/everything that has the audacity to disagree with you. The more you use these terms the more valid they become, so try to squeeze them in every other sentence.”
Of course, that is probably a timeless principle of campus lefties. Maybe one item on the list more particular to my generation would be the “rise of the hipster” or our modern day spoiled-brat-turned-hippie. Characterized by their obsession with fetishizing the ‘authentic’ (largely through trying too damn hard to be authentic) number 17 of the list hits the mark quite well:
“Remember those shirts you wore in 4th grade? They’re definitely cool again. People will find your Spongebob Squarepants shirt refreshing, ironic, and above all absolutely hilarious. Match it with a scarf and nonprescription glasses (the thicker the frame the more serious you are) because you’re not all fun and games. You’re an academic, a political activist, and a poet/author/musician/artist.”
The sixties had hippies and anti-war protestors, but my generation just sort complains about … well, not much. But by golly we are good at complaining (see 5 & 4)! Since I have been in college, I have seen multiple “takeovers” of college buildings on campuses (Berkeley and NYU, most notably) and riots over tuition costs rising. Say what you will about hippies, but at least they stood for something other than whining about their student loans. My generation lazily bemoans the rise in cost of college, but doesn’t even consider that state subsidies and an overemphasis on attending college – even when it is wholly unnecessary – may be at the root of the cause.
In short, if you’d like to know what it is like to be a right-of-center philosophy major (see also, #14) the “20 Ways” list is a pretty apt window into my world.