I’ve been frustrated lately with our education system. It’s not a new idea, but it seems increasingly obvious that our high schools and universities are becoming corporate employee farms instead of learning institutions.
This is a problem for many reasons, but I’ll just grapple with one of them: The perversion of otherwise bright and talented individuals into soldiers of the conventional.
Since taking my first job I’ve interacted with dozens of these corporate soldier types, and they have some fascinating characteristics that I want to capture.
Attributes of the Corporate Soldier
They are intelligent. They are probably averaging 120 IQ or higher, just as an estimation, and usually don’t struggle at all through university.
They are disciplined. They often have advanced degrees, which they knocked out in a very disciplined way. They likely received high marks throughout.
They lack respect for those who are unconventional. They may simply distance themselves from them, or they may speak poorly of them when they’re not around, but whatever the mechanism it’s clear to others that they don’t agree with people who do pretty much anything other than what they did.
They only respect people who go into jobs that make money. When they hear about someone going to college for art, or a science discipline that doesn’t pay well, their reaction is usually something like, “Oh great, another person in the welfare line. I have no sympathy for anyone who gets a degree in something useless.”
They are uncreative. Whether this is true at a deep, talent level, or whether it’s simply been hammered into them by their peers growing up is unclear. But they tend not to do anything creative with their lives. They tend to consume rather than produce—with the exception being while they’re at work.
They don’t read. And if they do, it’s definitely not fiction. In the rare case where it is fiction, it better be fiction that’s extremely close to reality, like Tom Clancy or something. That’s practical, you understand—not some fantasy crap that’s best left to children.
Nearly all their spare time is spent watching TV and movies. Consuming mainstream media is their primary recreational activity. They’re often up on every single movie, every actor, and are tracking over a dozen TV shows. They see it as a just reward (relaxation and input) because they put in so much at work.
They don’t think they’re smart at anything but their work. They know they’re good at their job, and those are their hidden peacock feathers they call their pride. But anything else they essentially feel retarded at, because they technically are.
Their happiness comes from striving and climbing the corporate ladder. They aren’t unhappy, as they have a clear purpose and drive that gives them some satisfaction, but they wonder how it is that others (usually creative types that they don’t respect) seem so much happier.
They revere their college education as something that sets them above others.. They don’t value other types of learning or knowledge nearly as much as their formal education. This is precisely because of the core problem: They trust authority above all else. Official education is the only real education because it’s official.
Their primary goal in life is making sure their children have the ability to repeat their steps. Their core mission is to do exceedingly well at work so that their children can go to a good college and get a good degree (meaning one that pays really well) so they can be corporate workers as well.
They’re usually conservative. This is true because conservatives give clean, protective narratives that require less effort to believe. And if they’re not strongly conservative, they’re likely to be somewhere in the middle due to some cognitive dissonance caused by their intelligence. But that’s only if they’re paying attention. Most simply abstain from political thought because it’s taxing on the mind, and that energy needs to be saved for work.
They’re religious. This is for the same reason as their being conservative—it’s clean. It’s simple. It’s all-encompassing. It’s self-containing. The moment you step outside that belief system it gets seriously uncomfortable, and that takes effort that could be used at work to get promoted. Better to go with the flow and check out the new show coming on.
They don’t know who their congresspeople are. They’re politically uninvolved in any form other than occasional flare-ups at the liberals and how they’re breaking our country. After the outburst they go back to their TV and get ready for work in the morning.
If you were a fictional villain, bent on subjugating the population by coaxing them into inactivity, you couldn’t build a better group than this.
They’re smart, they scowl at the unconventional, they are great at their jobs but are functionally neutered outside of work—it’s a tyrant’s dream. It’s a population that will do exactly what the corporation (and its sister media outlets) tell them to do, and will willfully ignore the “crazy liberals” talking about the loss of the republic due to their apathy.
It’s a Mr. Burns finger tent the size of the St. Louis arch.
That’s really my problem with it: It’s un-American. Not the working hard part—that part’s good (and American). But the unthinking part. The lack of participation in our society. The ignoring of the politics. The lack of interest in who holds their strings.
This is precisely the dimness that evil men need in the population to be able to manipulate it. Early Americans didn’t abide by this sort of thing. They were aware. They knew who their representatives were. They were active.
Unsupervised Learning — Security, Tech, and AI in 10 minutes…
Get a weekly breakdown of what's happening in security and tech—and why it matters.
They were citizens.
That’s what this corporate influence has done—it’s removed the citizen from the man. It’s wielded the education system and the media to transform active participants into passive placeholders. It’s turning the best among us—our college graduates—into a quiet mass of politically inert conformists.
The problem with these types is not that they are unintelligent, or that they’re immoral. I’ve met some great people who have these characteristics. They tend to be highly dependable and kind. So the problem is not that they’re bad people—it’s that their potential as human beings, and as citizens, has been destroyed by the fetishization of convention.
Look for these signs in your friends. Look for them in yourself. Oppose them.
Oh, and before you smile smugly and give me a high five because you don’t fit the description above, who is your congressperson? Who are your state’s senators? Have you ever written them? How often?
If you don’t know who they are, and/or if you don’t regularly participate in your government, then you’re part of the problem. Your inaction is the clearest possible “go ahead” signal to everyone who wishes to do our country harm. You are the reason the daily news looks like a SNL skit.
Get active. Be a citizen. Your country needs you.
There is a single meta-answer to why our country is a mess right now: The smart, capable people who actually have good opinions on things are either completely apathetic or completely passive with respect to politics. As long as this is true, evil men will take advantage and the decline will continue.