When people describe Stanford ideally, they want it to be not only the pinnacle of Western liberal education but also genuine and truthful. Of course, we should continue to want this and everything more, but we would be fooling ourselves to believe that Stanford will ever live up to that description.
This is a City of Man, a corrupt reflection of what could be heavenly if Stanford weren’t so very human and startlingly average at that.
Most students and alumni probably wish it didn’t make a biweekly appearance on the list of Twitter Trending topics for all the wrong reasons…. One week it’s imposter students, the next it’s political correctness, and finally an attempt by Stanford bureaucrats to censor those very topics.
In short, it’s absurdity—not felicity. At Stanford, wokeness and inanity are winning. If we don’t aim for a more radical vision of the good, we’ll only receive the bad. But where the Review comes in, this publication is one of the few places students can still find both freedom and dissent.
We’ve all seen parts of Stanford’s bad… most viscerally last month at the Maoist struggle session that arose from Judge Kyle Duncan’s attempted speech. What was alarming is that students not only felt so comfortable not only trampling on free speech but confident they could do so without any consequences.
Philosopher Slavoj Žižek recently wrote an article in Compact Magazine entitled “Wokeness is Here to Stay,” in which he argued “the woke are a relatively privileged minority of a minority allowed to participate in a top quality workshop of an elite university.” Zizek contended that submitting to woke demands offers an “easy way out—you gladly assume your guilt insofar as this enables you to go on living the way you did.” There’s no real change, only passivity to the dominant culture. It’s not only wokeness, but laughable stories like the largest-ever perpetrator of fraud on an ankle bracelet near the Row.
Do not be mistaken: there is no end in sight for this university or the tide of insanity that’s hit it like a pile of bricks. The most likely scenario is that Stanford continues to sputter along, each year becoming more incomprehensible in its actions (especially with the social justice nonsense now adopted by the majority of Americans).
None of these factors mean we should be ungrateful for this institution (or everything it has done for low-income students, like myself). Nor does it mean that we should give up the desire for sanity and reason. It just means that Stanford does not live up to its mission, that the last thing remaining is Epimethean pragmatism—a knowledge that we may never fix this university but the tempered will to try anyway.
The German reactionary polymath Oswald Spengler wrote in his magnum opus, The Decline of the West:
We are born in this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who during the eruption of Vesuvius died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that cannot be taken from a man.
These few sentences particularly describe the proper attitude toward the decline of a pillar of the West: universities. We can guess what end this and every elite university is destined toward—one filled with increasingly incoherent policies and high-levels of conformity. The Review holds the line, without this publication we would only see Stanford’s deficiencies and not the lofty heights that it could ideally reach. Even as those heights get farther away and perhaps lost, holding the impossible position allows at least some good to remain. The Review is one of the few places on this campus where I actually learned something.
Thanks to everyone who ever saw promise in this idiosyncratic Rust Belt oddball and mentored me, taught me how to write well, and showed me how to lead. Without each one of you, I’d never have learned all of the wonderful things the Review taught me—which are greater than anything I could have ever found in a classroom.
In Volume LXVI, we covered everything from the Internet Observatory and the Mein Kampf incident to Stanford Law’s mob of anything but tolerant leftists. We had thoughtful opinion pieces on a variety of topics like affirmative action, nebulous and discriminatory admission practices, and anti-tobacco campaigns.
For this work, I’d like to thank Walker Stewart, Julia Steinberg, Robin Zhang, Aditya Prathap, Josiah Joner, Tom Adamo, John Puri, Cees Armstrong, and all the other characters that contributed to Volume LXVI! Walker’s volume is already underway and I’m confident that he’ll do an excellent job carrying the Review forward and preserving its legacy as Stanford’s contrarian and conservative paper.
Mimi St Johns
Editor-in-Chief Volume LXVI