Universities Operate Like Mafias

Universities Operate Like Mafias
Protesters hold up signs at a university campus in California on Sept. 24, 2017. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)
Loretta Breuning

I’ve studied the Mafia for decades because my grandparents were Sicilian. Also, I was a college professor for 25 years, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to observe the commonalities between mafias and universities.

Let’s start with some familiar clichés and then dig deeper.

They Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse

This line from “The Godfather” explains why people go along with mafias despite the moral compromise. Universities also make an offer you can’t refuse because you’re told that you’ll be digging ditches for life if you don’t go to college. Once you accept the offer, moral compromises start to appear.
Maybe you’re pressured to condemn all men or all white people or all cisgender heterosexuals or anyone the professor disagrees with this week. Maybe you embrace theories you think are false to avoid angering the professor. Maybe you help to ruin someone who fails to follow the party line.

Omerta: The Mafia Code of Silence

In a Mafia town, you could kill someone in the public square and no one would admit that they saw it. In universities, no one will admit that standards have fallen to the point of absurdity. Everyone can see that good grades come without doing the work, but no one would dare to say it.
The word “omerta” is Sicilian for “humility.” (Umiltà in Italian.) You can pretend that humility motivates your silence when selfish concern for your own welfare is the real motivator.

The Robin Hood Image

Mafia leaders win the support and even love of the communities they pillage by presenting themselves as protection from “the real bad guys.” They define “the real bad guys” in any way that appeals. Colleges do this by claiming to defend the 99 percent from the oppression of the 1 percent. This seems to appeal to the 99 percent.

Do people really see the Mafia as the good guys even as it robs them of their hard-earned money? Just in case, mafias sweeten the deal by giving you a cut of their ill-gotten gains. They hire your unemployed brother-in-law and build a soccer field for your kids, as long as you cooperate. Universities give grants, internships, and high-paid DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] positions to people who cooperate.

The Mafia shoots people who resist. They give you a choice between silver or lead (“plata o plomo”), in the famous words of Pablo Escobar. The choice of silver makes the brutality go down easier.

Universities don’t shoot you, but they have many ways to hurt people who resist their ideological mandates. First, you’re shunned and shamed, and if you still don’t submit, you’re accused of an “-ism.” You’re guilty if accused because no one will risk coming to your defense and getting attacked themselves. You can’t get a job or a date unless you submit to the latest academic theory.

Voodoo Economics

Mafias are parasites that enrich themselves by extorting resources from others. They don’t produce anything—they just squeeze people who do. Universities do this in a high-brow way. They sneer at careers where you actually produce something, and steer students toward careers where you extract resources from those who do produce.

Mafias enrich themselves by providing “access” to illegal goods and services. Universities attract students with a party scene and look the other way when it violates the law.

Mafias lend at usurious rates to people with bad credit, and if you don’t pay they break your legs. Universities hook you up with banks that lend you more than you can handle and then lobby public officials to let you off the hook.

You’re in It for Life

You can’t leave a mafia once you join. The only way out is in a coffin.

University professors never retire. Alumni contribute forever. And students live forever with the consequences of the bad habits they learn in college.

Neuroplasticity is high in adolescence, so your behavior in those years gets deeply wired in. If you get “A”s without studying, it wires you to expect rewards without effort in the future. If you court popularity in ways that harm your body, it wires you to socialize in self-destructive ways later on.

Colleges do harm when they reward bad behavior, but they blame it all on society, thus training students for a lifetime of finger-pointing.

Friends in High Places

Mafias make payoffs to public officials to protect themselves from tedious law enforcement. Universities pay off government officials by teaching students that government should expand endlessly.
Of course, there’s a difference because mafias burn and kill, while universities only advocate burning down society and making excuses for people who kill.


There’s a Russian Mafia, a Chinese Mafia, a Mexican Mafia, a Colombian Mafia, and many regional mafias throughout Italy. You may ask what good such diversity is if the outcome is still violent crime.
You better not ask that at a university, where diversity is an end in itself. If you ask about outcomes, you’re branded a racist, and that makes you guilty of a hate crime. If you disagree with anything said in the name of diversity, universities say that your words are “literally violence,” and that justifies a violent response.

Mafias Deny Their Own Existence

No one talked about the Mafia when I was growing up. If I asked, they would say it was an invention of Hollywood. Imagine how surprised I was to find out that mafias not only existed but preyed on my own ancestors, who probably ... ahem ... participated.

Mafia members have always insisted that the Mafia doesn’t exist. This defense has worked pretty well for them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Universities pretend that their Marxist agenda doesn’t exist. They insist that they’re just serving the greater good by following “the Science,” and this has worked for them despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Perhaps they learned from Hitler’s theory that really big lies are easier to pass off than small lies.

Following Like Sheep

When people cooperate with a mafia, euphemisms are used to make it comfortable. You still know you’re doing something wrong, but it seems OK because everyone else is doing it. I can forgive Sicilians for this because they literally herded sheep for centuries. But I get upset when Americans go along with anti-democratic herd behavior.

Then I’m reminded of the 1961 book “A Nation of Sheep.” It says that communist countries have better ties with third-world nations because communists provide scholarships to universities that glorify their own system, while the United States provides scholarships to universities that vilify their system.

An African leader said this in a clever way: “We like to send our kids to college in communist countries because they come back hating socialism. If we send them to America, they come back loving socialism.”

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Loretta G. Breuning, Ph.D., is founder of the Inner Mammal Institute and Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, East Bay. She is the author of many personal development books, including “Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels” and “How I Escaped Political Correctness, And You Can Too.” Dr. Breuning’s work has been translated into eight languages and is cited in major media. Before teaching, she worked for the United Nations in Africa. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Tufts. Her website is InnerMammalInstitute.org.
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