On The Scholar’s Mission

Dartmouth’s administration tells us that progress is the ultimate ambition of mankind. The Dartmouth Indian, a noble and most ancient symbol of The College’s heritage, was banned because of the offense it caused to groups which are presumed protected. More recently, the Hovey Murals were decreed unrepresentative of Dartmouth’s values, even though they were commissioned by President Hopkins and painted by a loyal son of Dartmouth. How much longer till the administration decides that Rev. Wheelock must be unpersoned because his proselytism is inconsistent with the edict of secularism all but issued by the Board of Trustees? The College has lost her essence, and thus is losing her very soul. Her administration has forgotten the reason for Dartmouth’s existence, and her students care only for her name, not for the ‘enlightenment values’ she was once a bastion for. We have forgotten the Scholar’s Mission.

It was on that very issue that the legendary intellectual Orestes Brownson spoke here in 1843. Since it seems to me that few college graduates can claim to be truly “educated” these days, I would expect that Mr. Bronson’s name is unfamiliar to many. One of the greatest minds of the 19th century, his life is proof that 175 years ago, intellectualism was not the stale rote Progressivism that it is today. Amherst historian Henry Steele Commager noted that, “in his day, Orestes Brownson was respected and feared as were few of his contemporaries; European philosophers regarded him with hope; American politicians enlisted his vitriolic pen; denominations competed for his eloquence; and when he listed himself among the three most profound men in America there were those who took him seriously.” His genius cut across petty worldly politics, garnering him praise from everyone from President Woodrow Wilson to Russell Kirk. Brownson was a man whose ideas transcended the barrier of time, making him as relevant today as he was during the time of the Civil War. The profundity of even these relatively few notions alone are unmatched by much of modern intellectual literature.

Brownson believed that a scholar was anyone who had mastered, as well as possible, all the ideas and notions that were of interest to the human mind. A similar definition was produced by one of Jeffrey Hart’s professors , who often said, “the goal of education is to produce the citizen,” the citizen being he who, if need be, could recreate his civilization. According to this definition, suggesting that only a minority of college graduates have even tried to educate themselves is an understatement; we as a society have, out of avarice, rejected the breadth of knowledge available to us and have each embraced a single obscure field of study. We, like most college graduates, view our Alma Mater as the means to advance our own professional agenda. We must, instead, see it is an opportunity to better mankind. By ignoring the obligation that the Dartmouth community has to the world at large, we have been derelict in our duty to God. No one man can change this social phenomenon spontaneously, but we must all endeavor to urge mankind in the direction of Providence’s intended destination, for, in the words of Edmund Burke, “nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Orestes Brownson also understood that religion was an integral part of a man’s life, another ancient idea that society has since rejected in favor of a Satanic humanism. As cliche as it may sound, it is primarily the decline of religion that is responsible for this aforementioned iconoclasticism; When humans are elevated to an almost angelic (or demonic) status, emotion supersedes tradition and the institutions we venerate are reduced to a huddle of meaningless structures. Brownson told the Men of Dartmouth that the primary duty of a scholar was to master those sciences that impel us to discover our destinies and then go on to fulfill them. Today, Dartmouth’s most of loyal sons do not care to find life’s purpose, principally because most of them have no need to. The median income of the family of a Dartmouth student is high by most standards. Wealth without religion tends to lead to unbridled pride, which in turn cultivates a sense of entitlement. At Dartmouth, the ennui this frequently results in alcoholism. Of course, fraternity necessarily requires the occasional revel, but unless men are tempered by a thirst for life’s purpose, fraternities might as well be honky-tonks. Similarly, if the Men of Dartmouth are irreligious, The College might as well be a glorified brothel, a mercantile entity which exist solely for the fulfillment of the libertine desires of humanity’s elite.

But what is the chief goal of man? Brownson, as a Calvinist, turned to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, wherein he found that it was “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” It is to grow up and strive to be of scholarship, but merely lends credibility to his already-existing erudition. We must admit that it is undoubtedly true that most people lack either the ability or inclination to learn those sciences needed for a complete understanding of humanity and for the betterment of life. Every individual fulfils a certain purpose in his role as a cog in the machine of humanity, but sometimes, he must be convinced, not just told, of his role in society. The only people who can do that are those who have sufficient knowledge of the theological and metaphysical sciences. Just as a doctor does not need to have been afflicted by a disease to prescribe its treatment, a scholar does not need to have personally experienced social marginalization to divine the best course of action for those unfortunate people.

It is only natural to feel unworthy of this burden of near-aristocracy, for it is one of the heaviest a man will be asked to bear. One must remember, however, that all stable societies require classes, a sentiment which was best articulated by Edmund Burke: “We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so affected.” A classless society crumbles under the unnatural burdens of social egalitarianism. The question like the perfect being of Christ. To phrase it in a more secular way, the purpose of life is to aspire to the highest, to strive towards that bright ideal we call Truth and to reach to that ethereal entity that we sense hovering over all of us. In the realm of religion, that entity has a name, but in the interests of secularism, I will fall back on Carl Friedrich Gauss and say “truths of this kind should be drawn from notions rather than from notations.” It matters not what we call it, only that it is there.
There exists, however, a caveat. We can never actually attain perfection, which means that scholarship is a journey, not a destination. We must not, under any circumstances, seek to immanentize the eschaton, for if Providence is not worth waiting for, what is? Spiritual transcendence is meaningless unless it is the reward for a life well-lived. In the interests of ecumenism, the irreligious phrasing would be, again in the words of Gauss, “It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest [fulfillment].”

As important as this is, religion is constrained entirely to the individual. The scholar has an additional responsibility to the world, the duty of instruction.

This obligation should feel natural to the graduates of The College, if only they inoculate themselves against the plague of relativism. We must understand that the privilege of education raises us above the masses, and thus obligates us to inspire them to do their duty, one which is wholly different from ours. As conceited as it may sound, the fact that we are at Dartmouth bestows upon us a kind of intellectual elitism, one we would be well-advised to embrace. The self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” means only that we are all entitled to a certain dignity by virtue of our anthropic nature, not that we are equally capable. Some people are faster than others, some are taller than others, and yes, some are more fit to be society’s elites than others. To some, this would be sound just as self-evident, and to others, I ask that you forgive that blasphemy against the gods of egalitarianism. Different people have different abilities and excel at different things. Brownson understood that it is this “diversity,” if I may be so bold as to call it that, that must be cherished and preserved, not the ethnic fetishization that prevails at the College today.

Let me be clear, I am in no way suggesting that college-educated men are superior to the illiterate, huddled masses. Graduating college does not bestow upon man the supreme honor of immorality only arises if the classes of equivalence are along arbitrary lines, as might have been the case in South Africa, or continues to be true in much of the Third World. Why must class not depend on the ability to understand the ordinances of God and their implications to society? In my eyes, no other civilization could be more sublime.

All of this obviously depends on the humility of the scholar. More often than not, a society’s elites presume themselves to know how best to run other people’s lives, abusing their God-given power. The primary obligation of the upper classes is to act as a bulwark against the whimsical fantasies of the hoi polloi, not to obstruct the reasonable wishes of the people. One must know his place in society, but be aware of the reality of social mobility. As a result, man must neither seek power nor discard it, but wield it as his conscience demands. As humanity is inherently flawed, our race is cursed with a proclivity for disorder. The purpose of education, the very reason we strive for perfection is, as Orestes Brownson understood, “to withstand this leveling tendency downwards.” The corresponding obligation attached to that privilege is the duty to oppose the concentration of power in ourselves because, in the immortal words of William F. Buckley Jr., “it is the extent, not the source, of … power that impinges on freedom.”

  • Fuck.Donald.Trump

    You’re f’ing insane and brainwashed. I cant believe people like you are accepted into our POS university. THe fact that they dont expel you after your digital vomit has seeped into our internet culture is beyond both me and the God your parents beat into you. F you and f Donald Trump