South Africa

23 December 2007



Dear Jeff


I received my copy of Disciplined Minds on Friday and read it and finished it Saturday.  I then immediately re-read 1984 by George Orwell, because I think your book falls in that intellectual political tradition.  And while reading 1984, I came across this passage:  "...That is what has brought you here.  You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline.  You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity.  You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one.  Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston."  I thought this passage captured the essence of the idea that informs your book.


Apart from reading, I know the process and the system you describe in your book from my own experience as a graduate student.  Your book gave me a better understanding of the politics of affirmative action.  Like most leftists, I have always supported affirmative action on the bases of diversity; I have never really thought about the ideology control that goes with the politics of affirmative action.  Your book made me look at my situation.  Because of South African history, affirmative action is a big thing in South Africa.  Consequently, people like myself are accepted to do postgraduate work at predominantly white universities.  Under "normal" circumstances the ideological radar would alert the people in power that I am an undesirable.  But because of affirmative action the powerful get to find out later and have to make political concessions in the process.




Name withheld

Graduate student