Higher Education

The most effective way to enslave a man — most effective in the sense of providing the greatest possible assurance that one need fear no significant rebellion — is not to forcibly restrain him, against his desire to flee. For such restraint merely reminds him, at every moment, that there is a place which your interests demand that he never go, thus whetting his appetite, or at least sustaining his curiosity, for what he might find there, and stoking his interest in why you are so adamant in denying him access to it. Rather, the means to a truly secure and peaceable enslavement is to deprive the man of any awareness of the places to which one might flee, let alone of any accessible roads to such places.

But if you cannot completely conceal the very existence of those other places, then you must do the next best thing: Persuade him that all the other places of which he might catch a glimpse are merely pale, harsh, underdeveloped replicas of the one in which he now lives. Teach him that all other lands inevitably resolve or dissolve into this one, and all roads lead only in this direction, such that the very notion, “somewhere else,” is emptied of all content but an abstract, vaguely terrifying, supremely unattractive intimation: “here, but much worse.”

In sum, to enslave a man in the truest sense is to enslave his mind, and this, in its highest practical manifestation, means denying him an undistorted view of the potentially enticing horizons, or an unfiltered hearing of the strange, alternative voices trying to reach him from the distance. In brief, the modern academy.

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