Imagine living in The Truman Show — that movie starring Jim Carrey in which he plays a man whose entire life was planned and built by a production team who turned it into a 24/7 reality TV drama — and having no grasp of actual history, reality, or what the future holds. Well, one associate professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame argues that this is the plot of America’s current education crisis. Patrick Deneen has written one of the finest articles I’ve read on the state of education in our country, and I wanted to share some of his insight with you. 

Our society is currently navigating through a progressive culture that has allowed a new guard of fascism to rise. Using his experience as a professor at his current school and previously at Princeton and Georgetown, Deneen has pinpointed exactly where we went wrong and what he discovered is that the American education system isn’t broken like the experts tell us, but is going according to plan.

“My students are know-nothings,” he begins ominously. “They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Deneen describes his students as “superb test-takers,” able to ace every class, respectful, able to “build superb resumes,” and to the best of their mostly shallow understanding, are non-judgmental and genuinely “respect diversity.” But this is all a result of learning “exactly what we have asked of them,” Deneen writes, “to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.”

However, this “respect” for multi-culturalism and ability to get good grades is overshadowed by the fact that these students have simply not been taught to dig into history and gain an understanding of what the world has been through so they know where it’s going. This is not necessarily their fault, Deneen states, but can be traced back to former teachers leaving out lessons on important historical literature, wars, philosophical viewpoints, and the founding documents of their own country. But that’s the whole point, he argues:

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West…

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Essentially, future generations are being groomed to “live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes ‘flexibility’ (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).” They’ve been trained to believe that “possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance” are mere “hindrances and handicaps.” That way they can be little homogenized “perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments.”

Deneen continues:

Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions.

They won’t fight against anyone, because that’s not seemly, but they won’t fight for anyone or anything either. They are living in a perpetual Truman Show, a world constructed yesterday that is nothing more than a set for their solipsism, without any history or trajectory.

Even so, Deneen holds out hope that their wrongly fostered ideals will one day come crashing down and usher in “the true beginning of a real education.”

Read more here.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

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