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Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual (An analysis of liberalism on campus)
Chronicle of Higher Education ^ | 11/12/04 issue | MARK BAUERLEIN

Posted on 11/10/2004 3:16:36 AM PST by jalisco555

Conservatives on college campuses scored a tactical hit when the American Enterprise Institute's magazine published a survey of voter registration among humanities and social-science faculty members several years ago. More than nine out of 10 professors belonged to the Democratic or Green party, an imbalance that contradicted many liberal academics' protestations that diversity and pluralism abound in higher education. Further investigations by people like David Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, coupled with well-publicized cases of discrimination against conservative professors, reinforced the findings and set "intellectual diversity" on the agenda of state legislators and members of Congress.

The public has now picked up the message that "campuses are havens for left-leaning activists," according to a Chronicle poll of 1,000 adult Americans this year. Half of those surveyed -- 68 percent who call themselves "conservative" and even 30 percent who say they are "liberal" -- agreed that colleges improperly introduce a liberal bias into what they teach. The matter, however, is clearly not just one of perception. Indeed, in another recent survey, this one conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles, faculty members themselves chose as their commitment "far left" or "liberal" more than two and a half times as often as "far right" or "conservative." As a Chronicle article last month put it: "On left-leaning campuses around the country, professors on the right feel disenfranchised."

Yet while the lack of conservative minds on college campuses is increasingly indisputable, the question remains: Why?

The obvious answer, at least in the humanities and social sciences, is that academics shun conservative values and traditions, so their curricula and hiring practices discourage non-leftists from pursuing academic careers. What allows them to do that, while at the same time they deny it, is that the bias takes a subtle form. Although I've met several conservative intellectuals in the last year who would love an academic post but have given up after years of trying, outright blackballing is rare. The disparate outcome emerges through an indirect filtering process that runs from graduate school to tenure and beyond.

Some fields' very constitutions rest on progressive politics and make it clear from the start that conservative outlooks will not do. Schools of education, for instance, take constructivist theories of learning as definitive, excluding realists (in matters of knowledge) on principle, while the quasi-Marxist outlook of cultural studies rules out those who espouse capitalism. If you disapprove of affirmative action, forget pursuing a degree in African-American studies. If you think that the nuclear family proves the best unit of social well-being, stay away from women's studies.

Other fields allow the possibility of studying conservative authors and ideas, but narrow the avenues of advancement. Mentors are disinclined to support your topic, conference announcements rarely appeal to your work, and few job descriptions match your profile. A fledgling literary scholar who studies anti-communist writing and concludes that its worth surpasses that of counterculture discourse in terms of the cogency of its ideas and morality of its implications won't go far in the application process.

No active or noisy elimination need occur, and no explicit queries about political orientation need be posed. Political orientation has been embedded into the disciplines, and so what is indeed a political judgment may be expressed in disciplinary terms. As an Americanist said in a committee meeting that I attended, "We can't hire anyone who doesn't do race," an assertion that had all the force of a scholastic dictum. Stanley Fish, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, advises, "The question you should ask professors is whether your work has influence or relevance" -- and while he raised it to argue that no liberal conspiracy in higher education exists, the question is bound to keep conservatives off the short list. For while studies of scholars like Michel Foucault, Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri seem central in the graduate seminar, studies of Friedrich A. von Hayek and Francis Fukuyama, whose names rarely appear on cultural-studies syllabi despite their influence on world affairs, seem irrelevant.

Academics may quibble over the hiring process, but voter registration shows that liberal orthodoxy now has a professional import. Conservatives and liberals square off in public, but on campuses, conservative opinion doesn't qualify as respectable inquiry. You won't often find vouchers discussed in education schools or patriotism argued in American studies. Historically, the boundaries of scholarly fields were created by the objects studied and by norms of research and peer review. Today, a political variable has been added, whereby conservative assumptions expel their holders from the academic market. A wall insulates the academic left from ideas and writings on the right.

One can see that phenomenon in how insiders, reacting to Horowitz's polls, displayed little evidence that they had ever read conservative texts or met a conservative thinker. Weblogs had entries conjecturing why conservatives avoid academe -- while never actually bothering to find one and ask -- as if they were some exotic breed whose absence lay rooted in an inscrutable mind-set. Professors offered caricatures of the conservative intelligentsia, selecting Ann H. Coulter and Rush Limbaugh as representatives, not von Hayek, Russell Kirk, Leo Strauss, Thomas Sowell, Robert Nozick, or Gertrude Himmelfarb. One of them wrote that "conservatives of Horowitz's ilk want to unleash the most ignorant forces of the right in hounding liberal academics to death."

Such parochialism and alarm are the outcome of a course of socialization that aligns liberalism with disciplinary standards and collegial mores. Liberal orthodoxy is not just a political outlook; it's a professional one. Rarely is its content discussed. The ordinary evolution of opinion -- expounding your beliefs in conversation, testing them in debate, reading books that confirm or refute them -- is lacking, and what should remain arguable settles into surety. With so many in harmony, and with those who agree joined also in a guild membership, liberal beliefs become academic manners. It's social life in a professional world, and its patterns are worth describing.

The first protocol of academic society might be called the Common Assumption. The assumption is that all the strangers in the room at professional gatherings are liberals. Liberalism at humanities meetings serves the same purpose that scientific method does at science assemblies. It provides a base of accord. The Assumption proves correct often enough for it to join other forms of trust that enable collegial events. A fellowship is intimated, and members may speak their minds without worrying about justifying basic beliefs or curbing emotions.

The Common Assumption usually pans out and passes unnoticed -- except for those who don't share it, to whom it is an overt fact of professional life. Yet usually even they remain quiet in the face of the Common Assumption. There is no joy in breaking up fellow feeling, and the awkward pause that accompanies the moment when someone comes out of the conservative closet marks a quarantine that only the institutionally secure are willing to endure.

Sometimes, however, the Assumption steps over the line into arrogance, as when at a dinner a job candidate volunteered her description of a certain "racist, sexist, and homophobic" organization, and I admitted that I belonged to it. Or when two postdocs from Germany at a nearby university stopped by my office to talk about American literature. As they sat down and I commented on how quiet things were on the day before Thanksgiving, one muttered, "Yes, we call it American Genocide Day."

Such episodes reveal the argumentative hazards of the Assumption. Apart from the ill-mannered righteousness, academics with too much confidence in their audience utter debatable propositions as received wisdom. An assertion of the genocidal motives of early English settlers is put forward not for discussion but for approval. If the audience shares the belief, all is well and good. But a lone dissenter disrupts the process and, merely by posing a question, can show just how cheap such a pat consensus actually is.

After Nixon crushed McGovern in the 1972 election, the film critic Pauline Kael made a remark that has become a touchstone among conservatives. "I don't know how Richard Nixon could have won," she marveled. "I don't know anybody who voted for him." While the second sentence indicates the sheltered habitat of the Manhattan intellectual, the first signifies what social scientists call the False Consensus Effect. That effect occurs when people think that the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. If the members of a group reach a consensus and rarely encounter those who dispute it, they tend to believe that everybody thinks the same way.

The tendency applies to professors, especially in humanities departments, but with a twist. Although a liberal consensus reigns within, academics have an acute sense of how much their views clash with the majority of Americans. Some take pride in a posture of dissent and find noble precursors in civil rights, Students for a Democratic Society, and other such movements. But dissent from the mainstream has limited charms, especially after 24 years of center-right rule in Washington. Liberal professors want to be adversarial, but are tired of seclusion. Thus, many academics find a solution in a limited version of the False Consensus that says liberal belief reigns among intellectuals everywhere.

Such a consensus applies only to the thinking classes, union supporters, minority-group activists, and environmentalists against corporate powers. Professors cannot conceive that any person trained in critical thinking could listen to George W. Bush speak and still vote Republican. They do acknowledge one setting in which right-wing intellectual work happensnamely, the think tanksbut add that the labor there is patently corrupt. The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hoover Institution all have corporate sponsors, they note, and fellows in residence do their bidding. Hence, references to "right-wing think tanks" are always accompanied by the qualifier "well-funded."

The dangers of aligning liberalism with higher thought are obvious. When a Duke University philosophy professor implied last February that conservatives tend toward stupidity, he confirmed the public opinion of academics as a self-regarding elite -- regardless of whether or not he was joking, as he later said that he was. When laymen scan course syllabi or search the shelves of college bookstores and find only a few volumes of traditionalist argument amid the thickets of leftist critique, they wonder whether students ever enjoy a fruitful encounter with conservative thought. When a conference panel is convened or a collection is published on a controversial subject, and all the participants and contributors stand on one side of the issue, the tendentiousness is striking to everyone except those involved. The False Consensus does its work, but has an opposite effect. Instead of uniting academics with a broader public, it isolates them as a ritualized club.

The final social pattern is the Law of Group Polarization. That lawas Cass R. Sunstein, a professor of political science and of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, has describedpredicts that when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs. In a product-liability trial, for example, if nine jurors believe the manufacturer is somewhat guilty and three believe it is entirely guilty, the latter will draw the former toward a larger award than the nine would allow on their own. If people who object in varying degrees to the war in Iraq convene to debate methods of protest, all will emerge from the discussion more resolved against the war.

Group Polarization happens so smoothly on campuses that those involved lose all sense of the range of legitimate opinion. A librarian at Ohio State University who announces, "White Americans pay too little attention to the benefits their skin color gives them, and opening their eyes to their privileged status is a valid part of a college education" (The Chronicle, August 6) seems to have no idea how extreme his vision sounds to many ears. Deliberations among groups are just as prone to tone deafness. The annual resolutions of the Modern Language Association's Delegate Assembly, for example, ring with indignation over practices that enjoy popular acceptance. Last year, charging that in wartime, governments use language to "misrepresent policies" and "stigmatize dissent," one resolution urged faculty members to conduct "critical analysis of war talk ... as appropriate, in classrooms." However high-minded the delegates felt as they tallied the vote, which passed 122 to 8 without discussion, to outsiders the resolution seemed merely a license for more proselytizing.

The problem is that the simple trappings of deliberation make academics think that they've reached an opinion through reasoned debate -- instead of, in part, through an irrational social dynamic. The opinion takes on the status of a norm. Extreme views appear to be logical extensions of principles that everyone more or less shares, and extremists gain a larger influence than their numbers merit. If participants left the enclave, their beliefs would moderate, and they would be more open to the beliefs of others. But with the conferences, quarterlies, and committee meetings suffused with extreme positions, they're stuck with abiding by the convictions of their most passionate brethren.

As things stand, such behaviors shift in a left direction, but they could just as well move right if conservatives had the extent of control that liberals do now. The phenomenon that I have described is not so much a political matter as a social dynamic; any political position that dominates an institution without dissent deterioriates into smugness, complacency, and blindness. The solution is an intellectual climate in which the worst tendencies of group psychology are neutralized.

That doesn't mean establishing affirmative action for conservative scholars or encouraging greater market forces in education -- which violate conservative values as much as they do liberal values. Rather, it calls for academics to recognize that a one-party campus is bad for the intellectual health of everyone. Groupthink is an anti-intellectual condition, ironically seductive in that the more one feels at ease with compatriots, the more one's mind narrows. The great liberal John Stuart Mill identified its insulating effect as a failure of imagination: "They have never thrown themselves into the mental condition of those who think differently from them." With adversaries so few and opposing ideas so disposable, a reverse advantage sets in. The majority expands its power throughout the institution, but its thinking grows routine and parochial. The minority is excluded, but its thinking is tested and toughened. Being the lone dissenter in a colloquy, one learns to acquire sure facts, crisp arguments, and a thick skin.

But we can't open the university to conservative ideas and persons by outside command. That would poison the atmosphere and jeopardize the ideals of free inquiry. Leftist bias evolved within the protocols of academic practice (though not without intimidation), and conservative challenges should evolve in the same way. There are no administrative or professional reasons to bring conservatism into academe, to be sure, but there are good intellectual and social reasons for doing so.

Those reasons are, in brief: One, a wider spectrum of opinion accords with the claims of diversity. Two, facing real antagonists strengthens one's own position. Three, to earn a public role in American society, professors must engage the full range of public opinion.

Finally, to create a livelier climate on the campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue. Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement. Syllabi that include the same roster of voices make learning ever more desultory. Add a few rightists, and the debate picks up. Perhaps that is the most persuasive internal case for infusing conservatism into academic discourse and activities. Without genuine dissent in the classroom and the committee room, academic life is simply boring.

Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory University and director of research at the National Endowment for the Arts.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: academicbias; campusbias; collegebias; discrimination; diversity; education; educrats; intolerance; liberalism; multiculturalism; orthodoxy; pc; rigidity; schoolbias; universities; universitybias

1 posted on 11/10/2004 3:16:36 AM PST by jalisco555
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To: Republicanprofessor

Ping


2 posted on 11/10/2004 3:18:32 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: jalisco555

Great article! Really sums everything up nicely.


3 posted on 11/10/2004 3:19:11 AM PST by blitzgig
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To: jalisco555

Bump.

Good article.


4 posted on 11/10/2004 3:22:57 AM PST by Skooz (Any nation that would elect John Kerry as it's president has forfeited it's right to exist.)
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To: jalisco555

"If you disapprove of affirmative action, forget pursuing a degree in African-American studies. If you think that the nuclear family proves the best unit of social well-being, stay away from women's studies."


Few have made note of the fact, that the sheer numbers of far-lefties on campus is greatly enhanced by the existance of these new "disciplines". And sadly, industry seems to encourage people who pursue degrees in these areas by offering them extremely high-paying positions in order to appear as properly PC.


5 posted on 11/10/2004 3:28:22 AM PST by David Isaac
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To: jalisco555
"Weblogs had entries conjecturing why conservatives avoid academe -- while never actually bothering to find one and ask -- as if they were some exotic breed whose absence lay rooted in an inscrutable mind-set. "

You try and get hired in academe if you are a straight white male, mid-40's. Can't be done. I've tried. Two Master's degrees, extensive experience in national defense and policy-making, worked in the White House, published. . .doesn't matter to these yahoo's. . .can't get a job teaching Government/Pol-Sci when all they see is a straight white male. (This dirty secret was shared with me by a guy on a hiring committee. He was an honest lefty and wanted to be straight with me).
6 posted on 11/10/2004 3:32:18 AM PST by Gunrunner2
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To: jalisco555

"Yet while the lack of conservative minds on college campuses is increasingly indisputable, the question remains: Why?"

An older person very familiar with Academia told me a few years ago that in the pre-60s era, colleges and universities were populated largely with conservative professors and in an attempt to live up to the goal of exposing all kinds of ideas in the educational arena, the decision was made to correct that imbalance. So, they began to fill openings with liberals. No one envisioned that the left was of an ilk to get the foot in the door, then to aggressively let their friends know immediately of any teacher openings as they came up and to push aggressively for those people to get the positions. Before long, they were a majority in academia and once a majority was reached they used their well known energy and aggression to root out the conservatives, once again creating a one-tract midset which would censor out ideas other than their own. Sheer reasoning would tell anyone with honest thinking that ideas which cannot stand exposure to debate should not prevail. This is what I was told. Knowing what we know about the left, it makes all kinds of sense.


7 posted on 11/10/2004 3:38:17 AM PST by jazzlite (esat)
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To: jalisco555

Brilliant and true.


8 posted on 11/10/2004 3:39:43 AM PST by ultima ratio
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To: jalisco555
Finally, to create a livelier climate on the campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue. Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement.

But that's the problem for the Left. If they open it up for honest debate, they will get they equivalent of John O'Neil of the Swiftvets laying out a calm case filled with facts, opposed by Lawrence O'Donnell foaming at the mouth shouting "Lies! Lies! Lies! Lies!"

Such a scenario will seriously impact the Left's attempts at brainwashing. The Left cannot debate on the basis of facts. And they know it.

9 posted on 11/10/2004 3:42:56 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (The fourth estate is a fifth column.)
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To: jalisco555

Interesting article that seems to boil down to one conclusion: Liberalism is a mental disease caused by inbreeding. Liberals only talk to each other and don't explore any conservative thought with any sort of open mind. They have convinced themselves that they are the world's leading thinkers and that we conservatives are just off our rockers to believe otherwise.

Actually, that explains a lot.


10 posted on 11/10/2004 3:43:03 AM PST by DustyMoment (Repeal CFR NOW!!)
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To: Gunrunner2
You try and get hired in academe if you are a straight white male, mid-40's. Can't be done. I've tried.

Perhaps it's because you disagree with this sentiment from the article

Or when two postdocs from Germany at a nearby university stopped by my office to talk about American literature. As they sat down and I commented on how quiet things were on the day before Thanksgiving, one muttered, "Yes, we call it American Genocide Day."

11 posted on 11/10/2004 3:43:50 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: DustyMoment
Liberals only talk to each other and don't explore any conservative thought with any sort of open mind. They have convinced themselves that they are the world's leading thinkers and that we conservatives are just off our rockers to believe otherwise.

Exactly.

12 posted on 11/10/2004 3:45:40 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: Gunrunner2

I used to work in public higher ed (on the administrative side of the house). Later, I went to work for conservative public policy org. Unless we're talking private Christian university setting, it's not likely I could ever return. But then, I wouldn't want to. Public universities and colleges are so tragically mired in waste, fraud, and abuse.


13 posted on 11/10/2004 3:58:25 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: jalisco555

Good article. I believe, though, things are changing. Harvey Mansfield was just elected to the board of the American Political Science Association; a conservative student of Leo Strauss. Strauss's other students are doing great work elsewhere: Thomas West, University of Dallas; Harry Jaffa, Claremont McKenna College; Thomas Pangle, University of Toronto etc. Other conservatives have great books out too; Henry Edmaondson, Georgia State; Lucas Morel, Washington and Lee. Buck up, things are changing, the left is dying.


14 posted on 11/10/2004 3:58:33 AM PST by ALPAPilot
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To: jalisco555
As a college graduate who has had to sit through many an incoherent tirade directed at conservatives by ultra-liberal professors going back more than twenty-five years, I would heartily concur with the above sentiments. I've never heard one of my profs utter any conservative opinions. They were all either liberal or way far-left to the point of defending Castro and even Stalin for crying out loud. I would bet that few of them ever heard of Von Hayek or Sowell. Chomsky is their hero.

Fortunately most of the students I knew ignored their leftist splutterings. But they do still affect many negatively. It seems to me that the academics with the least amount of analytical reasoning ability and common sense tend towards the liberal arts. In short most of the wackos get into sociology and other mostly useless avenues of study. Which as most readers on this forum know is pretty old news.

15 posted on 11/10/2004 4:07:08 AM PST by driftless ( For life-long happiness, learn how to play the accordion.)
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To: David Isaac
Few have made note of the fact, that the sheer numbers of far-lefties on campus is greatly enhanced by the existance of these new "disciplines".

The "chairs" of these "colleges" are often funded through endowments. Think of the usual suspects supporting NPR, and you get some idea who is funding this BS. Thomas Sowell & Walter E. Williams have been very critical of the intellectual rigor found in these academic disciplines (and I use that term advisedly).

The embedding of political philosophy into a particular course of study is a very big problem. After all, who cares if your mathematics professor is a liberal? But try getting through a social science class with a liberal professor -- it's like negotiating a minefield.

16 posted on 11/10/2004 4:35:57 AM PST by Tallguy (Don't disturb me with talk of Hillary08!..I'd just like to bask in the afterglow for a while longer!)
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To: sauropod

Ping


17 posted on 11/10/2004 5:04:19 AM PST by Lil'freeper (Error 404. The page you requested was not found.)
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To: jalisco555
Instead of uniting academics with a broader public, it isolates them as a ritualized club.

As with organic systems, this isolation will cause their decline and fall.

And from the looks of some of the tenured "freaks" on campus, that fall is fast approaching. All but the most naive young students see them for what they are and ignore their nonsense.

18 posted on 11/10/2004 5:09:47 AM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: jazzlite

There's also a draft-dodger factor.

Take a look at any given faculty in America. You'll find that many of them got their PhDs in the late '60s. They stayed in school not for intellectual pursuit, but to stay out of the war.

Many of them ended up on faculties, and choked the hiring system by their numbers. Closed the door on new hires for about 20 years at some places.


19 posted on 11/10/2004 5:42:26 AM PST by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: Gunrunner2

G,
You are dead-nuts on. That's a big reason I took an MA and fled without a PhD.

I work in higher ed, but in admin. Believe me, the assumptions this writer mentions are the same here as among faculty. Every meeting I go to I expect to find new arrogance and am rarely disappointed.

Matter of fact, I know I lost out on an opportunity here- I KNOW this, because I was at the meeting- because the school was under "alot of pressure" from the President to hire a non-white, non-male for the position.

Considering I am one of 2 men in this office of about 30 women, I'm not sure how THAT celebrated diversity, but my opinions can't count because they're not PC.

Besides, I have my white privilege to fall back on.


20 posted on 11/10/2004 5:47:24 AM PST by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: jalisco555
Awesome and insightful article. I had excerpted a ton of quotes to reply to, and then I lost it as I hit post-reply again. I'm still getting used to the mechanics of posting.

conference announcements rarely appeal to your work I submitted a perfect paper to a national conference that had to do with artworks that reflected one's childhood. Silly me. How did I know that they were probably expecting papers on child abuse, emotional trauma etc.? I sent along my happy childscapes of love and family closeness. I don't even think they read my cover letter. I never even got the courtesy of a polite rejection letter (along the lines of "there were so many excellent papers submitted...blah, blah." Of course, only a few papers are accepted at conferences like this, so maybe there were other reasons for my rejection. As noted elsewhere in the article, we conservatives develop thick skins.)

When a Duke University philosophy professor implied last February that conservatives tend toward stupidity, he confirmed the public opinion of academics as a self-regarding elite...Professors cannot conceive that any person trained in critical thinking could listen to George W. Bush speak and still vote Republican

Now I understand why they think all of us are stupid, including those of much greater intelligence than I: George Bush and John Ashcroft and Clarence Thomas etc. It's not because conservative arguments don't make rational sense, it's that they've rarely been exposed to them...they've rarely stretched their own brain outside their cocoon. Same thing with the two German postdocs who saw Thanksgiving as 'American Genocide Day.' Says a great deal about how Europe thinks too, n'est-ce pas?

Now I'm trying to think of whom to send this to at my university. I know a far-left philosopher. Can he open his mind to these ideas? We'll see. Thank goodness I have tenure.

21 posted on 11/10/2004 5:51:01 AM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: driftless
I've never heard one of my profs utter any conservative opinions.

My wife is a member of the humanities faculty of a large northeastern university and I get to attend lots of faculty parties. The amazing thing is that they use jargon in social settings as well as teaching settings. Words like "patriarchal society", "hegemony" and others are actually used by these people. The Pauline Kael observation is also very apt- no one admits to having voted for Bush. When they found out that I did they were incredulous, as if I'd admitted to being a cannibal.

22 posted on 11/10/2004 5:53:59 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: Republicanprofessor
Thank goodness I have tenure.

I'm glad you liked the article. I'm curious how you feel about the whole concept of tenure. Doesn't it create the very situation that is described in this article? People with lifetime job security appear to have created a guild in which no one but the proper sort can be admitted.

23 posted on 11/10/2004 5:59:46 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: jalisco555
I'm curious how you feel about the whole concept of tenure. Doesn't it create the very situation that is described in this article?

That is a good point. From my point of view, I do feel freer to speak out conservatively. (In fact, in the hall at school yesterday a student and I were admitting we were both conservative, even as another--liberal--prof walked by. We looked over our shoulders a bit, but weren't worried. I said "Different opinions, that's what it's all about anyway.")

Actually, at my school now they have post-tenure review. Thus professors can be in trouble if they haven't produced much since their last promotion.

But I don't think it weeds out many professors. I used to be against tenure, thinking one should prove oneself every year. But now I am relishing the freedom to speak out as a conservative, especially with the support of freepers. And the unions at my college are pretty strong and won't tolerate getting rid of tenure. They whined as it was with the post-tenure review.

24 posted on 11/10/2004 6:19:39 AM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor
But now I am relishing the freedom to speak out as a conservative, especially with the support of freepers.

It's a shame that people have to wait all those years before feeling safe enough to express their opinions. I think that more than a few just give up and leave academia altogether which is a real shame. I'm glad you stuck with it.

BTW, I've been coming here for six years now. It's a great place for moral and intellectual support. The range of opinion and knowledge here really belies the liberal stereotype of conservatives.

25 posted on 11/10/2004 6:40:47 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: Gefreiter
Yeah. . "White Privileges" keep me warm at night.

Actually, looked into admin as well.

Was told by one hiring committee they wanted someone with experience working in a major organization (as if the USAF with--at the time--600,000 people in it doesn't count as a major organization.
26 posted on 11/10/2004 10:17:11 AM PST by Gunrunner2
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To: Gunrunner2

No, military counts for zero in this world. My resume says Army instead of USAF, but same thing. We're pretty sparsely populated huh?

But you bet your butt I take Vet's Day off as a floating holiday every year (I work at a private, so work most holidays). Hope you do too.



27 posted on 11/10/2004 10:40:14 AM PST by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: Gefreiter

As President of my own consultancy, I take whatever time I think I need.

Of course, it's just me and I am not missed.

;-)


28 posted on 11/10/2004 1:42:12 PM PST by Gunrunner2
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To: jalisco555
So I sent that article to my lib philosopher colleague, and this is a bit of what he responded.

"I think most academics think that a person that prizes the life of the mind will take change in the world seriously and regards mental flexibility as essential. I think that both of these areas would be regarded as more liberal than conservative."

I'm still wondering about it. Sometimes I don't get the mind-bending of philosophers very well, but I thought that philosophy would make him look at the article from a broader viewpoint, and perhaps open his mind (since he is often involved with college committees.) Does he mean that liberals are more broad-minded with more flexible minds? I think the article posited just the opposite.

BTW, I've been reading FR for 5-6 years, but not on a regular basis. My husband has had the greatest time posting for all that time (or longer). Now I know why. It's great to "meet" everyone on line, or at least connect ideas.

29 posted on 11/10/2004 6:08:07 PM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor
"I think most academics think that a person that prizes the life of the mind will take change in the world seriously and regards mental flexibility as essential. I think that both of these areas would be regarded as more liberal than conservative."

I guess I'd take that argument more seriously if I hadn't personally observed how close-minded and frozen-in-time is the thinking of so many people on the left. Take social security. There is literally no "mental flexibility" on the left on this important social issue. All the original thinking is from the right. Where is the mental flexibility with respect to affirmative action? I could go on and on. I hope this sort of thing is changing. I have a son who is an undergraduate at a big university and he tells me there are lots of conservatives among his fellow students so maybe the next generation of academics will take back the universities.

30 posted on 11/10/2004 6:33:09 PM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: jalisco555
I've been thinking more about my colleague's statement. Why can't academics write in down-to-earth language? Why the acrobatics in writing? Is it to obscure what they are saying? I sometimes think postmodernists purposely write in obscure and obtuse language because they have nothing meaningful to say.

You are absolutely right about the lack of "mental flexibility" on the left, not the right. I have often found that what the left accuses the right of is more true of the left than right: i.e. the "lies" by their presidential candidate, "racism," etc.

I guess the only solution for such closed-minded academics is retirement; and your son's observation offers hope: an incoming flux of conservatives. It's overdue time for that pendulum to swing.

One more thought, re liberals only keeping company with liberals. I had one liberal friend in history; but we don't even have lunch any more. I never even had a political debate with her. I should have; I wouldn't have lost anything. She disapproved of some "politically incorrect" things I said in the class she visited and wrote accordingly on an evaluation. Luckily it didn't have repercussions; but I haven't seen her since. She couldn't stand the challenge to her orthodoxy.

31 posted on 11/11/2004 5:41:25 AM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor
I sometimes think postmodernists purposely write in obscure and obtuse language because they have nothing meaningful to say.

Isn't that the truth. Right after Derrida died I tried to read some of his work (my wife has a lot of post-modern books) and could make no sense of it. Obviously these folks have no interest in speaking to anyone else but fellow academics. That's why there has been such an explosion of history writing by non-academic historians. There is a hunger for well-written non-fiction among the the general public but most academicians seem to scorn this audience, preferring jargon and theory to telling a compelling story.

As to the whole mental flexibility argument I can't really improve on what the author of this article had to say about the liberal cocoon. I'm sure you had to really sharpen your arguments to get where you are, a challenge your liberal colleagues never had to face.

32 posted on 11/11/2004 7:09:00 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: jalisco555
The final social pattern is the Law of Group Polarization. That law as Cass R. Sunstein, a professor of political science and of jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, has described predicts that when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs. In a product-liability trial, for example, if nine jurors believe the manufacturer is somewhat guilty and three believe it is entirely guilty, the latter will draw the former toward a larger award than the nine would allow on their own. If people who object in varying degrees to the war in Iraq convene to debate methods of protest, all will emerge from the discussion more resolved against the war.

I think this explains a lot (like, for example, DU).

33 posted on 11/11/2004 7:17:19 AM PST by kevkrom (Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutely, too.)
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To: kevkrom
I think this explains a lot (like, for example, DU).

I agree. Look for the absurd notion that Ohio went for Bush due to rigged voting machines to become the conventional wisdom there.

34 posted on 11/11/2004 7:19:40 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: jalisco555

Stanley Fish long-ago destroyed the English Department at Duke University. For that alone, he should be studied as an example of arrogant Know-Nothingness and a prime example of deconstruction and PC nihilism can destroy sound literary analysis and make great literature devoid of its greatness. In time, I think this will happen. For now, Duke is a wasteland for intellectual diversity.


35 posted on 11/11/2004 7:25:06 AM PST by WashingtonSource (Freedom is not free.)
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To: jalisco555

The danger, of course, is that we look into a mirror to make sure we don't fall into the same traps over here at FR. I think we're somewhat safe -- there is enough disagreement on issues that people are forced to defend many of their beliefs and assumptions.


36 posted on 11/11/2004 7:26:24 AM PST by kevkrom (Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutely, too.)
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To: jalisco555

makes me glad I got out of Academe when I did...about 10 years ago...sounds like it's a lot worse now.


37 posted on 11/11/2004 7:32:27 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: jazzlite
An older person very familiar with Academia told me a few years ago that in the pre-60s era, colleges and universities were populated largely with conservative professors and in an attempt to live up to the goal of exposing all kinds of ideas in the educational arena, the decision was made to correct that imbalance. So, they began to fill openings with liberals.

I agree. My college years were from 9/59 to 6/63. I got a B.S. in chemistry, but it was a liberal arts college with heavy requirements in arts/humanities/social sciences. Almost all my non-science professors made it known in one way or another that they saw it as their job to "educate" us as to how our conservative parents were wrong and parochial. As you say, the "conservative imbalence" was well on its way to correction even then.

38 posted on 11/11/2004 7:43:37 AM PST by FairWitness
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To: kevkrom
The danger, of course, is that we look into a mirror to make sure we don't fall into the same traps over here at FR. I think we're somewhat safe -- there is enough disagreement on issues that people are forced to defend many of their beliefs and assumptions.

That certainly is a risk but I agree it's unlikely to happen. Our ideas are still sufficiently heterodox that we must keep our arguments sharp to prevail in the wider world. We have a long way to go in persuading people before we run the risk of becoming intellectually lazy.

39 posted on 11/11/2004 7:54:00 AM PST by jalisco555 ("The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." W. B. Yeats)
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To: Republicanprofessor

Linking "the life of the mind" to "change in the world" doesn't make any sense. How are these related?


40 posted on 11/11/2004 11:16:19 AM PST by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: Gefreiter
Good question. I don't see them linked as he does, or if linked at all.

I think he is trying to say that those who value "the life of the mind" (i.e. liberals) also value "change in the world" (i.e. more to the liberal left).

However, as I think the article proves, this is the unquestioned mindset of the liberals in academe. This same man was shocked when I questioned his Marxist assumptions in a class we co-taught. He still seemed to believe Marxist ideas would work, but that there had to be a better mechanism than communism. But for Marxism to work, there has to be someone forcing others to do distribute their income, work where the state tells them to, etc. I mentioned the fall of the Wall, how bleak life was on the East side of the Berlin wall, but he didn't seem to get it. (The students did, however. But others of them have no conception of the lines people used to wait into buy a few ounces of meat for dinner, etc.) I have a class upcoming on Solzhenitsyn and Shostakovich and repression under Communism, so they'll get the point then. Even the liberals who have to report on Solzhenitsyn.

What I find interesting in his choice of words (written recently, after the election): "change in the world" to me denotes George Bush who is bringing radical change to the world (especially to the Muslim world). I see that it is the conservatives who value "diversity" of thought and the "life of the mind," as proved in this article.

However, I have abandoned hope of arguing with my colleague for a while. It won't go anywhere. Those mind walls are too firmly erected. Retirement....

41 posted on 11/11/2004 11:37:22 AM PST by Republicanprofessor
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To: Republicanprofessor

I think the problem here is the stolen concept 'liberal'.

For these lefty ideologues to descibe themselves as liberal is a perversion of the historical roots of liberalism. They are not liberals - they are Liberals, a mere factional label, largely enjoyed by those who believe im some sort of totalitarianism, the logical antithesis of liberalism.

The only true liberals I meet regularly are right here on FreeRepublic.


42 posted on 11/11/2004 12:02:52 PM PST by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: Republicanprofessor

R,
It's deplorable that faculty members, who are supposed to be both teaching and seeking to further humankind's knowledge, can make assumptions like you describe.

You have a stronger constitution than I. Like I told gunrunner2 on this thread, politics and the pressure that comes from it was enough to send me packing.

I am heartened that some academics are still willing to stand up to these Marxist philosopher types. You, the man from Smith who was denied tenure, the writer of this Chronicle piece- maybe eventually higher ed can make sense again.


43 posted on 11/12/2004 4:55:04 AM PST by Gefreiter ("Flee...into the peace and safety of a new dark age." HP Lovecraft)
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To: Gefreiter

>> There's also a draft-dodger factor. Take a look at any given faculty in America. You'll find that many of them got their PhDs in the late '60s. They stayed in school not for intellectual pursuit, but to stay out of the war.

Exactly. Shortly after the Vietnam War ended there were so many PhD's in the soft 'sciences' (Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Political Science, etc.) that quite a few were pumping gas. Many that did not get a University faculty job eventually ended up as one of the Army of Federal and State government Social Workers (recall this was near the beginning of Johnson's disastrous "war on poverty").


44 posted on 11/12/2004 5:57:05 AM PST by PhilipFreneau ("Our real disease is ... democracy" - Alexander Hamilton)
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